Monday, April 28, 2008

Feast of the Ascension

There is a tradition in some areas of picnicking on hilltops on the Feast of the Ascension. Both The Easter Book by Fr. F.X. Weiser, and Florence Berger's Cooking for Christ share this traditional activity to commemorate the feast. We have incorporated this tradition for our family in the last couple of years.

With Easter so much earlier this year, the end of the Easter season feasts are early as well. The weather in your area may not be conducive to a spring outing, but if it is, a spring hilltop picnic might be something to consider in your plans for this week. Even if you don't have a real hilltop nearby, just find the highest elevation around. It was suggested by a member on the 4 Real forums that a ride in a glass elevator on this day would be helpful to illustrate ascending as well. You could picnic on the top floor. It could be on Thursday which is the traditional 40 days after Easter when the Ascension feast was celebrated or over the weekend, specifically on Sunday when we celebrate liturgically the Feast of the Ascension.

What would the menu for an Ascension picnic include? There is not a set menu, but it is traditional to eat a bird of some sort (pigeon, pheasant, duck) since Jesus "flew" to heaven. In our culture chicken or turkey might be more common and available even though they are not know for their flight abilities.

Also any fruits as they represent Christ, the first fruit of all men. The Italians specifically brought beans and grapes to church on the feast of the Ascension. The grapes and beans were supposed to be used as a feast for the dead in heaven. These were blessed after the Memento of the Dead with the words,

Bless, O Lord, these new fruits of the vine which Thou hast brought to maturity by the dew of heaven, by plentiful rains and by tranquil and favorable weather. Thou hast given us this fruit for our use that we may receive it with thanks in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Possible Ascension Picnic Menu:
-Chicken or chicken salad sandwiches representing the birds
-Grapes for the first fruits
-Cream puffs for the "cloudy" cream filling
-Bubbly/carbonated drink (sparkling water, soda, sparkling cider) for the "rising" bubbles
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  1. What a wonderful idea!! I just love your suggested menu too! It sounds delicious! :)

  2. This is just fabulous! Now, to find a hilltop...

  3. Oh I like this!! We will have to do something like this!
    Thank you!

  4. I just wanted to thank you generous and creative ladies for this wonderful new blog. In particular I wished to let you know I REALLY appreciate that the posts are a few days earlier than the feast. This enables me to put the ideas in place, being a day ahead of you in the US (I'm in Australia) it makes the world of difference:):)


  5. Great ideas!! Thank you, we have a huge hill behind our house, now if the weather here in MN will cooperate, we COULD do a picnic!!

  6. I love this idea Mary, I can't wait for thursday and a picnic on a mountain, you can be assured we have a few to choose from around here ;) Hugs!

  7. Wow, this is great. Since you are so full of wonderful ideas, do you have any for decorating our home altar for the Ascension?

  8. I'm so glad everyone is enjoying the ideas - and hopefully we'll be able to stay ahead like you mentioned. I know that helps!

    Off the top of my head, Trina, I'm thinking some decorating ideas would be cotton batting puffed and spread out around the edges of altar for a cloud-like feel. Also do you have a statue of the resurrected Christ (even a Sacred Heart or other Jesus statue could work)? Take the statue and using clear line (like fishing line) hang it from the ceiling above the altar. Lightweight or nonbreakable resin would be best. I'm going to make a little Ascension diorama under a glass dome (adapted from idea in Paula Deen magazine from a few months ago). I hope to post a pic of that on my blog by Thursday.