Celebrating The Shamrock on St Patrick’s Day!

Irish_cloverNicola here! Today is St Patrick’s Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland, and if you’ve read Wench Susan’s post earlier in the week you will already be in the mood to celebrate with a pint of Guinness and some delicious soda bread!

Whilst the harp is the official symbol of Ireland, found everywhere from Guinness glasses to official coinage, the shamrock is another symbol that is as widely recognised and popular. It is said that this little sprig of green was important to the druids and that St Patrick used it to explain the concept of the trinity in his teaching, as it has three leaves.

The original shamrock has been identified as being either the lesser or the white clover, although down the centuries there has been a lot of discussion amongst botanists as to what genus of plant it actually was. Normally it has just the three leaves; if you find one with four then that is especially lucky! References to it in medieval literature refer to beautiful fields of it in flower – there is a story that St Brigid decided to stay in County Kildare when she saw a meadow clothed in glorious shamrock/clover flowers.

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New Year, New You?

XmasChampagneHAPPY NEW YEAR!

Christina here. Have you all been busy making new year’s resolutions and starting the year as you mean to go on? Me – not so much.

I think one can safely say I’m a “bah humbug” type person when it comes to new year’s resolutions. In short, I gave up on them years ago because I simply never stuck to them – not even for a week in some cases. So what was the point in making them? I just ended up spending money on expensive gym memberships I was never going to use or a bunch of vegetables I soon ditched in favour of chocolate. Willpower is difficult to summon up!

DarumaThere is one tradition I always follow at New Year though and it’s one I picked up when I lived in Japan. The Japanese celebrate New Year rather than Christmas and one of the things they do is to buy a little papier-mâché figure of Daruma. He is based on Bodhidharma, a monk who lived some time during the 5th or 6th centuries and was supposedly the founder of Zen Buddhism. These Daruma figures represent luck, perseverance, endurance, and the spirit to keep going despite setbacks – what the Japanese call ganbaru, or to do your best.

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The Writer’s Lucky Charm

Little writing friend

The Unnamed Bear

Joanna here, considering the delicate question of lucky objects for writers.

I have my own lucky object, a small brown Beanie Baby bear. It was sent to me by my first fiction editor after publication of my very first fiction book back in 1983.

He is … unnamed. I think it’s because he is unique and therefore doesn’t need a name.

My bear sits on my desk and holds my glasses and is one of a half dozen object that have kept me company from desk to desk and country to country, over the years, waiting patiently while I wrote, or surfed the web, or read books on the computer, or tried to figure out if houses in 750 BCE Europe were covered with whitewashed wattle and daub or the relative cost of sweet oranges in London in 1800.

Is he lucky for me?
I think of him mostly as company,
But maybe he’s lucky.

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