Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


April 7, 2014

Pleasant Hill Ramblings: Pleasant Hill welcomes Equinox with Spring Fling

CROSSVILLE — The Vernal Equinox in March was thoroughly welcomed at the “Spring Fling” held in the Pleasant Hill Community Church, United Church of Christ. Pastor Nayiri Karjian explained the spring customs in the Middle East. The Rev. Nayiri is an Armenian-American born in Syria, educated in Lebanon and the United States, who is currently serving as an interim pastor for the Community Church. In the Middle East, Mother’s day is celebrated on the first day of spring, March 21, since motherhood and spring are about giving birth. Children make things for their mothers. Sweets made from all forms of wheat, barley, rice, nuts, as well as eggs are served. It is time for spring cleaning. The season marks the Persian New Year, Nowruz, New Day. Nowruz is a time for family and friends to gather and celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next. The festival was celebrated as far back as the 6th century BC when Cyrus and Darius ruled over the Persian Empire.

Jim Olds, Eloise Disseler and Ted McKnight explained other countries' spring customs. In Russia, the celebration of Maslenitsa is observed as a time of the return of light and warmth. This folk festival is celebrated about seven weeks before Easter. During the Lent season, meat and fish and dairy products are prohibited. Maslentisa is the last chance anyone will get to enjoy those items for a while, so it's typically a big festival held before the somber, introspective time of Lent. Navroze, a spring celebration in parts of India commences with cleaning the house, sweeping out cobwebs, painting the whole house. New clothes would be ordered for the entire family. Garlands of roses and jasmine decorate all doors and windows. Steps, thresholds and people are marked with beautiful patterns in color powders.

Tradition and ritual play a strong role in Italian culture, especially during celebrations such as Easter, the Christian holiday based on the pagan festival called Eostur-Monath. There are many ceremonies and culinary customs that are religiously upheld. There was a festival for "Eastre," a Saxon goddess of fertility, in pre-Christian times, which was integrated into the Christian calendar. The date is moveable, because the calculation is based on phases of the moon. In Scotland, to this day, "hot cross buns" are baked, containing spices and fruit, with a white pastry cross.

The Armchair Theater "performed" a reading of the light comedy, "When Shakespeare's Ladies Meet" in full costume depicting their characters. This play by Charles George is a delightful comedy with a bite of satire. Juliet has just fallen for Romeo. Six of the Bard's most noted heroines descend on the Capulet household to offer their oh-so-helpful opinions on men, love, men, marriage, men and more men. Juliet is visited by Portia from The Merchant of Venice, Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew, Desdemona from Othello, Ophelia from Hamlet and Cleopatra from Antony and Cleopatra. Portia's advice is very legal; Katherine suggests the ways of a shrew bring results; Desdemona tells how Othello smothers her with affection; Ophelia is as mad as a March hare, and Cleopatra imparts her methods with the stalwart Anthony.

In the end, they learn that the innocent Juliet can give them all lessons in love, despite her extreme youth. The Armchair Theater gathers twice each month to read and discuss play scripts from an extensive collection. They share classics and contemporary dramas, comedies and issue plays, full length scripts and shorter one-acts. Dorothy Faunce (Portia), Gail Ford (Katherine), Betty Cole (Ophelia), Corey Boniface (Desdemona), Chere Schatz (Juliet) were joined halfway through their dialogue by a surprise Cleopatra listed in the program as Donna, but in reality, Don Nelson. All of Shakespeare’s ladies were appropriately dressed for their characters including the exotic Cleopatra who sported a beard and mustache.

There is a commonality in the foods enjoyed at spring festivals around the world. Often served are apples for beauty, garlic for health, vinegar for patience, sweet pudding or painted eggs for fertility, sprouts, seeds, and nuts for rebirth. Hyacinths represent spring and coins, prosperity. Refreshments served at the Spring Fling were deviled eggs, a variety of sweets (several from the Middle East), and many foods made with nuts and seeds. Spring was abundantly welcomed in Pleasant Hill. Now if only the weather would cooperate.

This week in Pleasant Hill:

Wednesday and Friday — Free tax preparation in Pleasant Hill Community House. Call 277-3096 for appointment. Ends April 11.

Thursday, April 10 — Uplands Health Fair in Adshead Hall of Fletcher House.

Friday, April 11 — Oh, You Beautiful Dolls!! Exhibit from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Reception at 3 p.m. at Adshead Hall.

Saturday, April 12 — Highway Beautification/Trash Pick-Up from 7 to 10 a.m. central headquarters, Pleasant Hill Community House.

Sunday, April 13 – Hike Rock Island State Park. Meet at 1:30 p.m. in the Pleasant Hill Community Church parking lot on the corner of Church and Main Street to carpool.

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