Mantoan Family Traditions – March

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It’s time for my third Family Traditions post! I’m really enjoying writing these up as doing so leads me down rabbit holes of old posts and events I’d forgotten about. And in the research, I’ve come across posts to add to previous month’s collections. I was notorious for giving my older blog posts titles and tags that contained little relevant information about the post’s actual content. As someone who loves to organize, and gets sense of peace from doing so, compiling these posts feeds my need to be in control with less mess than a closet reorganization. So let’s get to it! (Note: even though Easter falls during March this year, I’m going to cover Easter season in my April post. However, I will cover Palm Sunday and Holy Week this month.)

Laetare Sunday – Fourth Sunday in Lent

The name for this Sunday comes from the first words of the Introit, “Laetare Jerusalem” or Rejoice O Jerusalem. Laetare Sunday is a midpoint in Lent and is one of the two occasions in the liturgical year when the priest wears rose vestments. (We’re usually not good about wearing pink as a family, though Tony does have a rose colored tie he will wear.) Traditionally called Mothering Sunday due to the readings’ focus on Jerusalem as the Mother Church, it’s still used as Mother’s Day in the UK and its when our family also celebrates Mother’s Day. (We focus on the grandmothers in May.) This year we went to a Chinese buffet I’d been wanting to try, and then a bookstore where I was gifted some books. When the kids were little, I got lots of drawings or homemade cards and early daffodils pulled from the yard. Tony would make a special dinner. Now that everyone is older, we usually try to go out to eat as a family and the older kids will give me small gifts. Because the date changes year to year, everyone usually needs a reminder that Laetare Sunday is coming up, so belated gifts are the norm. (None of us are gift love language people, so belated gifts are the norm for almost every occasion. I’ve warned all my kids if they try to date someone who’s love language is gifts, they will be woefully unprepared.)

St. Patrick’s Day – March 17

Fulton’s confirmation saint! When everyone was little, we’d watch the CCC movie about St. Patrick and read some of my favorite Tomi dePaola books:

Now, I usually just serve a meal of corned beef and potatoes with some Irish soda bread. We’ll put on our favorite Irish music too. (All Dubliners, all the time.) Our parish has a large St. Patrick’s party (ages 12+) that serves as its largest fundraiser. Tony usually volunteers, and the older kids have gone to meet friends, but this year, we all went and had a good time. It’s crowded and loud so I wasn’t sure Fulton and Teddy would have fun since there wouldn’t be much room to drive around, but they both are asking to go again next year.

St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach about the trinity, but the Muscular Dystrophy Association sells Shamrocks in March to fund all their great programs (like summer camp). Fulton was featured nationally on a shamrock in 2016. In 2019, Teddy was featured in the profile picture on the MDA’s national Facebook page for the duration of the Shamrock campaign.

St. Joseph’s Day – March 19

The feast of St. Joseph is a first class feast and always a welcome reprieve from the fasting of Lent. It’s also when we celebrate Father’s Day (unless I forget, then I get my act together for the Feast of St. Joesph the Worker on May 1). We’ve sometimes done a combined Laetare Sunday / St. Joseph’s Day meal out that coincides with when big kids are home on spring break. In the past, Tony also took off work this day and we’ve done special family field trips. (Usually listening to this Glory Story on the way somewhere.) St. Joseph cakes from a local bakery are a favorite breakfast treat. They’re so popular we usually order in advance. I actually don’t like them all that much, so I usually get sticky buns for myself. Our church does a really nice choral Mass in the evening which we always try to attend. If we’re on our A game, we even get in a novena to St. Joseph.

Feast of the Annunciation – March 25 (but moved when it falls during Holy Week)

Another first class feast! With Easter so early this year, it gets bumped, but usually we look forward to eating some sweets on this day. Otherwise, I don’t have any fun special meals or crafts that we’ve done on a regular basis. Like I said before, you don’t need to do AMAZING THINGS for every feast day. Just because your homeschool mom bestie lets her 15 kids do glassblowing every feast of the Annunciation doesn’t mean your kids need to play with molten glass too. Buy a pack of flavored Oreos and call it a day.

Passiontide – Last two weeks of Lent

One year Tony invested in a couple of yards of purple fabric to cover our statues at home. However, we keep acquiring religious art, so we’ve long ago run out of covers. Ultimately, he will put away some statues and images and place covers on the rest. At first I thought it might be a bit overkill, but now I like the connection between church and home. It helps to remind us that our faith isn’t just something for Sundays; bringing these visual traditions (that you can’t miss) into our home helps cement that I think.

Palm Sunday

Otherwise known as Happy “Stop Using Them As Swords!” Sunday (though that’s a less traditional title than say, Mothering Sunday.) In the past, we’d visit with my entire side of the family in Lancaster, PA on Palm Sunday and visit with Tony’s side on Easter since his parents either lived with us, or nearby. When my nieces and nephew were little, Tony’s brothers would also sometimes visit around Easter. Now, we spend both holidays at home, and my parents will visit us some time around Easter Sunday. I guess we stopped traveling to Lancaster shortly after my grandmother became unable to host Palm Sunday, and it became harder to get the boys into other homes. Tony’s parents now live near his brother in Virginia and so spend most holidays there. Times change and some traditions only last a season. I try not to be sad about it, but create the best memories I can with whomever I’m with for these feast days. Even as the kids get older and spend holidays away from home, I’m happy knowing we did so much and created so many memories while we had the chance.

I don’t have a set menu for Palm Sunday; it just has to be different from whatever I plan to serve the following week. Mass is extra long and full of all sorts of special music and ceremony, plus of course, green weaponry. Once we get home, we change out all the palm branches we have stuffed behind the crucifixes and various art hanging on the walls. Every year we say we’ll clear them out and burn them by Ash Wednesday, and every year on Palm Sunday I shove them in the fireplace (or previously the wood stove) and set them ablaze.

Holy Week

Lets go to church AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!!! Our parish has all sorts of stuff going on: Mass for Spy Wednesday, Mass for Maundy Thursday where we move the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose temporarily erected in our church hall, Good Friday service at 3 p.m., Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m., Easter Vigil on Saturday starting at 6 p.m, and two Masses Easter Sunday. Our parish used to also offer Tenebrae services Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings, but that ended a few years ago. When the kids were younger, Tony and I would take turns going to services, now we try to all go together whenever possible. This was also always a week off school until public school, or online and community college classes got in the way. Most years we enjoyed making an Easter candle using this set. This is also the week I buy Easter candy and try not to eat it.

We don’t have any family birthdays or anniversaries in March, so we rely on the liturgical year to provide all the excitement. What are your family traditions for this month?

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