Saturday, April 19, 2014

Other Easter Traditions or Happy Smingus-Dyngus!

The Easter Bunny creeps me out. I've just never been able to get behind the idea of a ginormous bunny rabbit creeping into my bedroom while I am sleeping.

An elf, sure.

(What? What does your tooth fairy look like?)

A small fairy, I'll allow. 

I can't explain my aversion to the EB, but it runs deep. It could be because he looks crazier than hell in most pictures:

And to be clear, I like rabbits. In fact, if I woke up and saw Bugs Bunny in my room, I would be
thrilled! I'D say, "What's up doc? You must have taken a wrong turn at Albuquerque," and we'd have a big laugh.

While thinking about the Easter Bunny this week, I wondered if this was the strangest Easter custom in any culture. I mean, does it get weirder than a giant hare sneaking into your house at night and leaving you a basket of eggs?


It does.

Check these out:

Whip 'Yer Woman (or Fifty Shades of Easter)

In some parts of Eastern Europe, Easter week is the time get out your pomlázka, a braided whip, and smack your wife or girlfriend with it. Legend has that anyone hit with the pomlázka will be happy and healthy in the upcoming year--similar to the Western tradition of birthday smacks, except with a braided whip. And only given to women. And not on birthdays. Never mind. 

If the women in your life are anything like the women in mine, I would suggest not sharing this custom. In fact, I would suggest not even mentioning it.

If You Can't Whip Yer Woman, Douse Her With Water

The Polish and Hungarians have an Easter tradition called Smingus-Dyngus--say that out loud and
you will agree that it is the most fun word combo EVER--which involves soaking a woman with buckets of water. Legend says if the girl is soaked, then she will be married in the upcoming year. What I am saying here is that you basically just find a bucket of water and dump right on a woman. I would suggest yelling, "SMINGUS-DYNGUS!" as you release the water, just for the proper effect.

I have to say, I really want to incorporate Smingus-Dyngus into my Easter celebrations. Not only for the spectacle of it, but also to be able to yell, "Smingus-Dyngus!"

The Easter Witch

In Finland, the week before Easter is the time children dress up a la Halloween to help ward off the Easter Witch. Similar to trick-or-treating, these little witches carry twigs decorated with feathers and paper, and come to your house offering to rid your home of evil spirits in return for treats.

Instead of, "Trick or Treat," the traditional greeting is, "Virvon, varvon, tuoreeks terveeks, tulevaks vuodeks; vitsa sulle, palkka mulle!" which means, "I wave a twig for a fresh and healthy year ahead; a twig for you, a treat for me!" It isn't as catchy as "Trick or Treat," and most Americans are too lazy to say something that long in return for a Jolly Rancher, but with some tweaks, we could be on to something here, people. Free candy about six months after Halloween? Perfect!

 So while we Americans are stuck with a creepy, human-sized rabbit, you can see the traditions could be worse, especially if you are an Eastern European woman. At least our kids get candy and chocolate without being beaten or soaked. Although, I would like to try this Australian treat. It is a chocolate Bilby, but to me it just looks like a chocolate pregnant rabbit:

Whatever your Easter traditions, I hope you and yours have a wonderful day and remember the true reason for the day.

The Easter Witch
In Finland and parts of Sweden, children bring the Easter Witch to life, dressing up in old clothes, rags and shawls and carrying broomsticks or even copper kettles.  They then head door-to-door, in true Halloween fashion, begging for treats.  The merry bands of sorcerers take to the streets on either the Thursday or Saturday prior to Easter.  In the days leading up to Easter, bonfires and fireworks are lit across the land to ward off the witches believed to be flying around between Good Thursday and Easter Sunday.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Is That a Chicken Leg on Your Wrist or Are You Just Happy To Be Here?

Stairway to Heaven.
Under the Sea.
An Evening in Paris.
Or if you attended Leslie County High School in 1989, I'll Be There for You.
It's prom season, that special time of year when girls spend an inordinate amount of money on a dress, shoes, and accessories and guys shell out $89 for a rental suit.

(Good 'ol Stan)
Prom is a rite of passage for teenagers, giving many their first real taste of adulthood. They are allowed to drive a car for the evening that is usually 3-4 level grades above what they normally drive to school. In my case, I was allowed to drive my Mom's car, which meant it had two working windshield wipers, did not smell like sweat and hush-puppies, and would accelerate faster than 52 miles per hour--all details that could not be said for my regular wheels, a Datsun Stanza (RIP, Stan).

(Look at 'em! Eating at the big table.)
Prom also means dinner reservations, and eating at a restaurant that doesn't make you order your food  at the front, wait there for it, and then carry it on a tray back to the seating area. For most teens, this is huge. When I was in high school, showing someone a big time on a Saturday night usually meant a stop off at the Taco Bell and then a stroll through the local Wal-mart. If I had some extra coinage, I may have sprung for a DQ Blizzard (that would we split, I wasn't made of gold) for a nightcap. So, to actually go to a sit-down-look-at-a-menu-and-keep-your-voice-to-a-minimum-level type of restaurant is a big deal.

Because prom is such a special night, every single thing needs to be perfect. The guy's cummerbund
(No cummerbund, but they match.)
must be the shade of his date's dress, the car must be washed and waxed, her hair must be hair-sprayed stiff enough to withstand hurricane-strength winds. It's all about the details, people.

One detail that perhaps has not gotten enough attention in the past is the traditional corsage given to the girl by her date. Corsages are usually an unfortunate afterthought--a simple flower in the right color family of the young lady's dress picked up on the way to start the evening.

Well, get ready to clutch your pearls because I have some big news!

B-I-G      N-E-W-S!

Thanks to the good people at Kentucky Fried Chicken and Nanz & Kraft Florist, you can be the toast of the town at this year's prom with the KFC Chicken Corsage. If you are local to the Louisville area, fresh baby's breath will accompany your chicken leg fixed in your choice of Original Recipe, Extra Crispy, or Kentucky Grilled.

If you are an out-of-town customer, don't fret, you can still order. The only difference is your baby's breath will be artificial. But anyone who has seen artificial baby's breath can tell you it is just as classy.

Just so we are clear, THIS IS A REAL THING. Click on the link here to order yours, but you had better hurry because they are very limited and once they are gone, well, they are gone.

I Am Ordering One Right Now!

If any of you do order, will you please snap a photo and send to me? And while we are talking about it, there is nothing saying you have to be going to the prom to send one of these to someone. In fact, it would probably make a very good gift to your favorite blogger. Just a thought. I love chicken. And flowers. And baby's breath. Real or fake.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Overcoming Absurdity April

As the final minutes ticked away in the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game last
(That's Katy Perry, not me.)
night, I resigned myself to the knowledge that my team, the Kentucky Wildcats, would finish the season #2. It was not something I necessarily was prepared for, although I knew our chances of winning were slim at best. Kentucky had been unranked when the regular season ended, and no one expected them to advance very far in the tournament. Just the fact that we had made it to the Final Four, let alone the final game, was a major victory in itself. Nevertheless, as each round of the tournament progressed, Kentucky was still standing--alive to play another game.

(Still not me.)
As the weeks lapsed, March Madness morphed into April Absurdity, and my confidence and anxiety levels soared along with my blood pressure, and strangely enough, my newly-developed superstitions. With Monday night's game, came the understanding that my fresh game-day-good-luck-charms were no longer "lucky," after all we were LOSING. The one thought that entered my head was, "Thank God, I can now wash this nasty outfit."

I have never been very superstitious. Sure, I will "x" my windshield if a black cat crosses the road in front of my car, and I don't ever open umbrellas indoors, but I will step on cracks all day
long with no fear at all of breaking my little mama's back to bits. Break a mirror? No problem. Pick up a found penny only if it is lying head's up? Whatever, a penny is a penny, and one more than I had before spotting that one. 
(Ain't nobody got time for that.)

I will admit to one long-standing, personal superstition that haunted me for years. When I was 12-years old, I convinced myself for some reason that when the Christmas carol "White Christmas"
(Shhh, don't say the words.)
came on the radio or anywhere within my listening range, I could NOT sing the lyrics. By not singing about a white Christmas, I would ensure an actual snowstorm bringing accumulating whiteness on Christmas Day--or Eve, either was acceptable--to my hometown. If I slipped up and actually sang the words, "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas," at any point before Christmas Day, it totally would screw up everyone in southeastern Kentucky's chance at a picturesque, snow-filled, Currier-And-Ives-ish holiday.

Now southeastern Kentucky is not best place to live if you want a white Christmas. We get snow, we do, but usually later in winter, like January or February. But there I was, neglecting a yuletide favorite for the sake of a Christmas miracle. Most years we had no snow on the 25th of December. Those days I would secretly apologize to the town and vow to do better the next year. On the years it actually snowed (I think there were 2), I strutted around like I was Old St. Nick himself. It was only after I moved to Florida in my late 20's and there was no hope at all for a snowstorm that I was able to break this embarrassingly futile superstition.

I had been able to live a moderately successful existence without any further stupid superstitions until this group of Kentucky Wildcats forced hope, determination, and the chance of having dreams come true upon me this March. I suppose the basketball team having such mediocre success from November-February had deadened any real hope I had for a deep run in the 68-team March tournament, but sure enough, as soon as those boys in blue hit the court for their first post-season game, I could sense something had changed. They were a different team. They were focused, cooperative, positive, and by golly, I was going to help them.

For some reason, I decided the best way to help was to wear the exact same outfit every time they played in the NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, I decided this after the first game, which meant I was stuck wearing what I had on that day--a flea-market purchased non-official Kentucky shirt that said "Kentucky -- School of Basketball."  I know, right? I mean, what does that even mean? My pants were some over-sized khakis that wrinkled the moment they were touched. It was not a flattering look.
(This. Is. Luck. In. Fabric.)

In order for the mojo to really flow for the Wildcats, I further decided the outfit could not be washed. It had remain untouched until we won the Championship. This is fine for a three-day tournament, but the NCAA tourney lasts for nearly a month. Even the most delicate person usually needs to wash his clothing after that many wears. Not me. I couldn't do it. To wash that outfit would mean sure death to my beloved Wildcats! Needless to say, Andy began hanging the outfit outside to "air out" during the off days in the later rounds of the tournament.

Then Monday night happened. The University of Connecticut defeated the the University of
Kentucky in the National Finals. We lost. It was over, and even though I was deeply hurt and emotionally devastated to come so close to the glory of another national title, I was a little bit relieved. My superstition could now be put to rest beside Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

Imagine if we had won and I credited my outfit for the victory. There is a very real chance I would have not washed those clothes for another season and continued to wear them for every UK game next year. What would have happened if I actually stuck to one of my diets and lost a bunch of weight? I would be forced to wear really dirty and way too big clothes in front of friends and family, if friends and family would still be seen at games with me. The potential for personal disaster was high and flammable.

I have decided it was best we lost. Runner-up is not that bad. If for any reason UCONN can't continue on as the National Champions for the year, Kentucky can step in and take over. In clean clothes. Dreaming of a white Christmas.

P.S. I may have one other superstition that is totally works. My gnome Tuck. To read about some of his adventures during the 2012 NCAA Tournament, click the links below.

Tuck New Orleans Part One

 Tuck New Orleans Part 2