Carol Browne visits my blog today with a discussion of British traditions and some delicious-sounding vegan soup!
|Photo by imagerymajestic|
What is this thing we Brits call Boxing Day that takes place every year on December 26th? Does the stress of the festive season require a violent catharsis? Do people engage in fisticuffs in the street? Is there anarchy in the UK?
No, it’s a civilised affair dating back around 800 years, when the church alms boxes were opened and the money within was distributed to the poor. This tradition of being charitable is reflected in the Christmas Carol Good King Wenceslas, which concerns a Medieval king who takes food to a poor family on Boxing Day (also known as St Stephen’s Day. Traditionally, servants had a day off from tugging their forelocks, and were allowed to celebrate Christmas at home with their families and friends.
|Photo by graur razvan ionut|
In the not-too-distant past, tradesmen and merchants would receive a Christmas box from their customers. This was like a tip to thank them for their work throughout the year. This custom has largely died out but I recall when I was a child, my mother setting aside money or small gifts for Christmas boxes that would be given to people like the milkman and the postman. We had so many things delivered in those days and I seldom saw the people responsible so that, thanks to my child’s imagination, they became an assortment of surreal characters that still make me chuckle to this day: The Potato Man, the Paper Boy, the Fish Man, and the Coal Man, for example!
Although Boxing Day is a public holiday in the UK (and other countries with a connection to it, like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia) many people prefer the frenzy of the Boxing Day sales to chilling out with friends and family. It is also an important day for sport, especially horse racing and football. Many people go for a long walk, perhaps to burn off some of that food they have overindulged in. It was traditional for the upper classes to go fox-hunting too, but, thankfully, this barbaric practice has been outlawed now.
After the excesses of Christmas Day, why not try a simple vegetable broth for your Boxing Day lunch? A steaming mug of this with a chunk of crusty bread is both warming and nourishing and just the ticket on a chilly winter’s day. The following recipe is vegan but if you’re a meat-eater, you can add some of that leftover turkey if you still haven’t had your fill of it!
|Photo by KEKO64|
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 large carrots, diced
1 swede (rutabaga), diced
1 large potato, cut into large chunks
1 leek, chopped
2 pints vegetable stock
vegetable oil or vegan margarine
Heat the oil or margarine in a large pan and add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sweat them together until soft.
Add the carrots, leek, and rutabaga. Sweat these with the onion/garlic mix, ensuring they are mixed well.
Stir in the potatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down as low as possible and place lid on pan. Simmer and stir occasionally until vegetables are tender.
How about a glimpse into the life of a strong woman while your soup is simmering?
In 2012 when young Polish immigrant Agnieszka visits fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home for the first time, she thinks it a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.
Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and a death march to freedom.
The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.
Will Agnieszka be able to keep her promise to tell her story, and, in this harrowing memoir of survival, what is the message for us today?
Carol Browne regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honors degree in English Language and Literature. Carol writes speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also a ghost blog writer, proofreader, copy editor, and copywriter. Along with a passion for gardening, Carol is an avid animal lover.
Carol lives in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky.Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.