Here in the Midwest, we are very conscious of ethic backgrounds, especially in the larger Metro areas–in Milwaukee and St. Louis and especially in my hometown, Chicago–of our own and others. Those Feast Days we celebrate, especially in winter . If you were in Chicago last year in March for ACDA, you know we all become Irish! It is much the same for other Feasts–the Paczkis are out this weekend.
What are Paczkis you may ask? It is a Polish custom for Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday or Paczki Tuesday. Paczkis are filled donuts much like any jelly donut you would get any where in the country–I think they are a bit heavier, myself. I like the custard filled, with chocolate but you can get them in almost any flavor you would like. They are available in most regular grocery stores, supplied by one or two bakeries in the area. The white boxes, with red lettering proclaiming “Paczkis” in English and in Polish, are stacked in the middle of the stores where all can see. I was in the grocery store yesterday and they were out of them–no rain checks. My husband brought some home this morning to satisfy my craving. It was a way, much like the Pancakes of my own ethic upbringing, of using up the animal fat or oil in the house before Lent began in those days when we were all a bit more religious. Hot Cross Buns will be available by the end of the week–I do have a hankering!
I started to live in the seasons, consciously, when I taught school and had a children’s choir. We all celebrate Christmas and Easter (and Advent and Lent) when it’s happening but it goes further than that, I think. Musically, it makes sense to perform a “Requiem” during late winter, Lent or just after Easter and a “Magnificat” in fall or Advent. It feels wrong to sing a “Requiem” in December for some reason, though a good reason would be because it was premiered at that time of year. “Messiah,” though often performed in Advent–whether completely or the Christmas portion–was premiered during Lent but with “Messiah,” anything seems to go.
I love “Israel in Egypt” and think it’s a great idea to perform right before Passover. The “Five Flower Songs” are wonderful in spring. I can think of any of a number of pieces to program at certain times of the year. Much like eating locally and seasonally, I’ve been programming more seasonally lately as well.
Well, have to go. There’s a Paczki with my name on it waiting!