10/25/11

Traditions, truth, and you


One of the things I like best about Florida is something my youngest daughter does; namely, make every birthday special.  She goes out of her way to have a small party, and although there is not a lot of money to be had, still every one is always memorable.  I was wondering a bit about birthday traditions, so I did a little google search and here are the results:

"In classical Roman culture, 'cakes' of flat rounds made with flour containing nuts, leavened with yeast, and sweetened with honey were occasionally served at special birthdays, but more often at weddings as in Ancient Greece.
In early Europe, the words for cake and bread were virtually interchangeable; the only difference being that cakes were sweet while bread was not. In the 15th century, bakeries in Germany conceived the idea of marketing one-layer cakes for customers' birthdays as well as for only their weddings, and thus the modern birthday cake was born. During the 17th century, the birthday cake took on more or less its contemporary form. However, these elaborate cakes, which possessed many aspects of contemporary cakes (such as multiple layers, icing, and decorations), were only available to the very wealthy. Birthday cakes became more and more proletarianized as a result of the industrial revolution, as materials and tools became more advanced and more accessible.

Tradition of Putting Candles on Birthday Cake

Tradition of placing candles on birthday cake is attributed to early Greeks, who used place lit candles on cakes to make them glow like the moon. Greeks used to take the cake to the temple of Artemis, goddess of Moon. Some scholars say that candles were placed on the cake because people believe that the smoke of the candle carried their wishes and prayers to Gods who lived in the skies. Others believe that the custom originated in Germany where people used to place a large candle in the centre of the cake to symbolize ‘the light of life’.
In present times too, people place candles on birthday cakes and a silent wish is made before blowing out the candle. It is believed that blowing out all candles in one breath means the wish will come true and the person with enjoy good luck in the coming year. Some also smear out the name of the person before slicing of the cake to bring good luck.

Contemporary rituals and traditions

Fancy Contemporary Birthday Cake
The cake, or sometimes a pastry or dessert, is served to a person on his or her birthday. In contemporary Western cultures, two rituals are prominent: the singing of the traditional birthday song and the blowing out of candles decorating the cake by the birthday person.
The service of a birthday cake is often preceded by the singing of "Happy Birthday to You" in English speaking countries, or an equivalent birthday song in the appropriate language of that country. In fact, the phrase "Happy Birthday" did not appear on birthday cakes until the song "Happy Birthday to You" was popularized in the early 1900s. Variations on birthday song rituals exist. For example, in New Zealand, "Happy Birthday to You" is sung and is followed by clapping, once for each year of the person's life and once more for good luck. In Uruguay, party guests touch the birthday person's shoulder or head following the singing of "Happy Birthday to You". In Ecuador, sometimes the birthday person will take a large bite off the birthday cake before it is served.
The birthday cake is often decorated with small taper candles, secured with special holders or simply pressed down into the cake. In North America, Australasia and the U.K., the number of candles is equal to the age of the individual whose birthday it is, sometimes with one extra for luck. Traditionally, the birthday person makes a private wish, which will be realized if all the candles are extinguished in a single breath.
In North America, birthday cake is sometimes served with ice cream.
A birthday cake is shared amongst all the people attending a birthday party. This represents sharing of joy and togetherness. As a courtesy, it reflects one's hospitality and respect for guests.

Candles

Novelty candles may be used.
These common thin, stick-shaped candles are standing in peanut butter cups pressed into the frosting.
Though the exact origin and significance of the candle blowing ritual is unknown, the history of placing candles on top of the cake is well documented. This tradition can be traced to Kinderfest (Kinder is the German word for 'children'), an 18th century German birthday celebration for children. A letter written in 1799 by Goethe recounts: "...when it was time for dessert, the prince's entire livery...carried a generous-size torte with colorful flaming candles - amounting to some fifty candles - that began to melt and threatened to burn down, instead of there being enough room for candles indicating upcoming years, as is the case with children's festivities of this kind..." As the excerpt indicates, the tradition at the time was to place candles for each year of the individual's life with some added candles 'indicating upcoming years'.

Birthday pastry cultural variations

Variations on the birthday pastry exist outside of Western culture. The Chinese birthday pastry is the sou bao (壽包), lotus-paste-filled buns made of wheat flour which are shaped and colored to resemble peaches. A single large pastry is not often served, rather each guest is served their own. In Korea, the traditional birthday dish is a seaweed soup. In Western Russia, birthday children are served fruit pies with a birthday greetings carved into the crusts. The Swedish birthday cake is made like a pound cake and is often topped with marzipan and decorated with the national flag. A Dutch birthday pastry are fruit tarts topped with whipped cream. The Mexican birthday tradition involves a piñata, a colored brittle container filled with candy. In India it's common to rub a piece of cake icing on the face of the birthday person, after the cake has been cut."

So, traditions vary over time and geographical location, but whatever the custom, celebrating a birthday is a joyous event.  We should be happy for the life given to the celebrant and wish them well (no matter how old they are).  Birthday customs may change, but The Truth of the Gospel of Christ does not.  Paul was given a revelation of this by none other than Christ himself and warns those who wanted something more to their own liking about the danger associated with leaving God's truth for something "different".  He says...

Galatians 1:6-14 (WEB)
6) I marvel that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ to a different “good news”;
7) and there isn’t another “good news.” Only there are some who trouble you, and want to pervert the Good News of Christ.
8) But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you any “good news” other than that which we preached to you, let him be cursed.
9) As we have said before, so I now say again: if any man preaches to you any “good news” other than that which you received, let him be cursed.
10) For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? For if I were still pleasing men, I wouldn’t be a servant of Christ.
11) But I make known to you, brothers, concerning the Good News which was preached by me, that it is not according to man.
12) For neither did I receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came to me through revelation of Jesus Christ.
13) For you have heard of my way of living in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the assembly of God, and ravaged it.
14) I advanced in the Jews’ religion beyond many of my own age among my countrymen, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
 
 Traditions can be fine things or bad news.  You be the judge.  God has given us something very special to celebrate, that is, a way to heaven not based solely on what we do in this world, but what Christ has done for us.  The next time your birthday comes around, celebrate as much as you want, in any way you want (even if it means having a fried egg with a lighted flame on it).  Just be sure that when it comes to The Gospel of Christ, you don't change a thing.  If you do, the yoke will be on you in the long run.

OT Bible Reading 10/25

Oct. 25
Song of Solomon 5, 6

Son 5:1 I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride. I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk. Friends Eat, friends! Drink, yes, drink abundantly, beloved. Beloved
Son 5:2 I was asleep, but my heart was awake. It is the voice of my beloved who knocks: "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled; for my head is filled with dew, and my hair with the dampness of the night."
Son 5:3 I have taken off my robe. Indeed, must I put it on? I have washed my feet. Indeed, must I soil them?
Son 5:4 My beloved thrust his hand in through the latch opening. My heart pounded for him.
Son 5:5 I rose up to open for my beloved. My hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the lock.
Son 5:6 I opened to my beloved; but my beloved left; and had gone away. My heart went out when he spoke. I looked for him, but I didn't find him. I called him, but he didn't answer.
Son 5:7 The watchmen who go about the city found me. They beat me. They bruised me. The keepers of the walls took my cloak away from me.
Son 5:8 I adjure you, daughters of Jerusalem, If you find my beloved, that you tell him that I am faint with love. Friends
Son 5:9 How is your beloved better than another beloved, you fairest among women? How is your beloved better than another beloved, that you do so adjure us? Beloved
Son 5:10 My beloved is white and ruddy. The best among ten thousand.
Son 5:11 His head is like the purest gold. His hair is bushy, black as a raven.
Son 5:12 His eyes are like doves beside the water brooks, washed with milk, mounted like jewels.
Son 5:13 His cheeks are like a bed of spices with towers of perfumes. His lips are like lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.
Son 5:14 His hands are like rings of gold set with beryl. His body is like ivory work overlaid with sapphires.
Son 5:15 His legs are like pillars of marble set on sockets of fine gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.
Son 5:16 His mouth is sweetness; yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, daughters of Jerusalem. Friends
Son 6:1 Where has your beloved gone, you fairest among women? Where has your beloved turned, that we may seek him with you? Beloved
Son 6:2 My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
Son 6:3 I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine. He browses among the lilies,
Son 6:4 You are beautiful, my love, as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners.
Son 6:5 Turn away your eyes from me, for they have overcome me. Your hair is like a flock of goats, that lie along the side of Gilead.
Son 6:6 Your teeth are like a flock of ewes, which have come up from the washing; of which every one has twins; none is bereaved among them.
Son 6:7 Your temples are like a piece of a pomegranate behind your veil.
Son 6:8 There are sixty queens, eighty concubines, and virgins without number.
Son 6:9 My dove, my perfect one, is unique. She is her mother's only daughter. She is the favorite one of her who bore her. The daughters saw her, and called her blessed; the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.
Son 6:10 Who is she who looks forth as the morning, beautiful as the moon, clear as the sun, and awesome as an army with banners?
Son 6:11 I went down into the nut tree grove, to see the green plants of the valley, to see whether the vine budded, and the pomegranates were in flower.
Son 6:12 Without realizing it, my desire set me with my royal people's chariots. Friends
Son 6:13 Return, return, Shulammite! Return, return, that we may gaze at you. Lover Why do you desire to gaze at the Shulammite, as at the dance of Mahanaim?

NT Bible Reading 10/25

Oct. 25
1 Thessalonians 2

1Th 2:1 For you yourselves know, brothers, our visit to you wasn't in vain,
1Th 2:2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as you know, at Philippi, we grew bold in our God to tell you the Good News of God in much conflict.
1Th 2:3 For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in deception.
1Th 2:4 But even as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who tests our hearts.
1Th 2:5 For neither were we at any time found using words of flattery, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness (God is witness),
1Th 2:6 nor seeking glory from men (neither from you nor from others), when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ.
1Th 2:7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother cherishes her own children.
1Th 2:8 Even so, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the Good News of God only, but also our own souls, because you had become very dear to us.
1Th 2:9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail; for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached to you the Good News of God.
1Th 2:10 You are witnesses with God, how holy, righteously, and blamelessly we behaved ourselves toward you who believe.
1Th 2:11 As you know, we exhorted, comforted, and implored every one of you, as a father does his own children,
1Th 2:12 to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own Kingdom and glory.
1Th 2:13 For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe.
1Th 2:14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the assemblies of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus; for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews;
1Th 2:15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and drove us out, and didn't please God, and are contrary to all men;
1Th 2:16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always. But wrath has come on them to the uttermost.
1Th 2:17 But we, brothers, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart, tried even harder to see your face with great desire,
1Th 2:18 because we wanted to come to you--indeed, I, Paul, once and again--but Satan hindered us.
1Th 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Isn't it even you, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?
1Th 2:20 For you are our glory and our joy.