Growing up Jewish always brought a host of questions this time of year. Did we really have to do the whole “matzah thing” again for an eight-day stretch? What was the deal with eating fish on Fridays? And that most perplexing of all mysteries – what do colored eggs, jelly beans, and rabbits have to do with commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The sacrifices of the unleavened Passover diet were difficult enough for a bread-obsessed, food-focused kid, but watching my friends make what seemed to be drastically reduced abstentions with Lent and gorging on spiral ham, Peeps, and Cadbury eggs at Easter made this time of year even harder to swallow.
The passage of time and the onset of maturity have given me a more accepting take on the practices connected with these Spring festivals, but I’m still left with unanswered questions regarding my Christian brothers’ and sisters’ Easter observances. An attempt divine some answers via an Easter-themed google search may have given me more than I bargained for in the “things that make you go huh?” department. It should come as no surprise that the internet is filled with an abundance of informational sites that pop up when you type in “What is Easter?”, so grab a big proverbial grain of salt for my findings, and let’s dig in!
1) Did you know that depending on whom you believe, the name Easter stems from the pagan goddess Ashtaroth, goddess of Spring and Fertility, or the Egyptian fertility goddess Astarte, or the Anglo-Saxon fertility goddess Ostara. or…the commonality of all of these goddesses and their names leads me to my next point, which is…
2) Were you aware that the Christian holiday of Easter evolved from pagan celebrations honoring their fertility goddesses upon the arrival of Spring? There are even descriptions of families celebrating their savior’s resurrection by decorating their homes with flowers and bunnies, painting and hiding eggs, observing 40 days of abstention ending in a worship service at dawn and a ham dinner with all the fixings. Only these weren’t early Christians, they were Babylonian families celebrating the resurrection of their god Tammuz, who was led back to life by their fertility goddess Ishtar. Sounds a bit like Easter, only the events just described took place over 2,000 years before the birth of Jesus!
2) Did you know that the celebration of Easter wasn’t commonplace in America until nearly 100 years after the country was founded? The Puritans who arrived on our shores seeking freedom to observe religion in the manner they saw fit were leery of the pagan festivals connected with the arrival of Spring. These misgivings about the “chiristian nature” of certain holidays included Christmas as well. The appearance of Easter as a celebration of the mystery of faith (the death, resurrection and ascension to heaven of Jesus) became more commonplace shortly after the Civil War.
3) Lastly, the connection of rabbits and eggs to the holiday is somewhat murky, but both served as symbols of fertility and life dating back to some of the earliest pagan practices, and seemed to accompany the transformation of pagan spring festivals into what is more commonly known as Easter.
None of this, of course, is shared with any intention other than to illuminate some lesser known aspects of a celebration that is a mainstay in our lives. As is often the case, the celebrations and traditions that have been a part of many of our lives for as long as we or our parents and grandparents can remember are not necessarily what we might have expected. The research (if you can refer to a google search as such!) leaves us with the impression that no matter what the explanation, these times of year are likely descended from universal and time honored celebrations of man, hope, life, faith, and family brought on by the burst of life that arrives with Spring each year.
Most importantly, keep in mind that Spring and the arrival of the holidays like Easter and Passover create a wonderful time to gather with friends and family, be grateful for our many blessings, and send lots of beautiful arrangements from the folks at Exotic Flowers as a token of that gratitude! Happy holidays, and Happy Spring!
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Have you ever wondered about those “kosher for Passover” shelves that crop up in your local grocery store when Spring arrives? Are you one of those people who like to eat the “matzah crackers” your Jewish friends choke down this time of year while you’re obliviously munching on chocolate bunnies? Or are you simply curious about the “Seder” dinner that you’ve been invited to by one of your Jewish colleagues? Well, wonder no more, you amongst the hebraically-challenged! The sandwich guy is here to ‘splain all about the holiday of unleavened bread with his “Passover Primer”!
Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is one of the three major pilgrimage festivals on the Jewish calendar. These festivals are so named in light of the historical pilgrimages Jews made from all over the world to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate these special holidays. Passover commemorates the Exodus, the part of biblical Jewish history where the Israelites were freed from generations of enslavement at the hands of the Egyptians to travel for forty years in the desert (yes, even back then, men refused to stop and ask for directions despite the protestations of their wives) on their way to the Land of Milk and Honey, otherwise known as Israel.
The holiday lasts eight days, during which Jews observe a special diet absent foods made with leavening agents. These dietary sacrifices were inspired by the unleavened bread, (or matzah) the Jews prepared in their haste to leave Egypt once the Pharoah had finally been convinced to grant them their freedom. The aforementioned haste was a result of said Pharaoh’s multiple renegings on similar promises. The Jews were taking no chances that the Egyptian leader might change his mind again, and anyone familiar with the parting and closing of the Red Sea allowing the Jews to flee their Egyptian pursuers who were swallowed up by the swift unparting of those same waters understands their haste.
The first two nights of Passover Jews conduct Seders, ritual dinners that retell the story of Passsover by incorporating song, prayer, stories, and food. Seder literally means “order” referring to the many parts of the meal that must be observed in order to tell the story of Passover properly. The dinner is participatory by everyone in attendance, from youngest to oldest, ensuring that all involved participate in the retelling of our past enslavement and by doing so on an annual basis become less likely to forget where we came from.
Passover is a time for all Jews to be grateful for how far we’ve come and what we’ve gained during that journey. But you don’t have to be Jewish to engage in that exercise. Just send flowers! After all, what better way to show your gratitude and humility than by sharing nature’s beauty with those you care about!
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Not only has Red Sox slugger David Ortiz rung up Exotic Flowers in Boston for a number of spectacular flower deliveries to his lovely bride; Big Papi also personifies Exotic Flowers' vision statement: Reaction Guaranteed. Much like David's prodigious blasts and all around swagger, Boston's Premier Florist delivers our products in an over the top fashion. Both Exotic Flowers and David Ortiz have the wow factor.
David gives back to Bostonians and his homeland. Exotic Flowers will always remember its humble beginnings and neighbors in Roslindale. David brings his son D'Angelo to work. Exotic Flowers staff members always bring their kids into the shop to show them what we do for a living.
David's recent foray into Manhattan to win one New York fan over at a time mirrors Exotic Flowers' philosophy of serving one client at a time. David enjoys the food at Meringue on Blue Hill Ave in Dorchester, the Exotic Flowers staff eats there as well.
David Ortiz won the World Series in 2007 with the Red Sox; Exotic Flowers served as the Official Florist of the Boston Red Sox in 2007. David Ortiz has a huge legion of fans. Exotic Flowers has a huge legion of fans. David Ortiz sends premium flowers. Exotic Flowers sells premium flowers. David Ortiz speaks Spanish; Exotic Flowers has staff members who speak Spanish and a Spanish version of our website.
David Ortiz does not dwell on the negative. Exotic Flowers is the most upbeat florist in Boston. David Ortiz has an ego-centric nickname, Big Papi. Exotic Flowers' nickname, Boston's Premier Florist is just as over the top.
"Reaction Guaranteed !" It is what David 'Big Papi' Ortiz and Exotic Flowers, Boston's Premier Florist are all about.
David is a potential Hall of Famer. Exotic Flowers works with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY.
I guess the only difference may be that we are not about guys taking 'selfies'.
At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we value the arts and literature. We are all about creating. Our mission is to enhance the lives of everyone who has any contact or interest in our florist.
"A Flower to Die By":
- written by Boston Author, Suzie Canale
- You will be on the edge of your seat to find the killer of this murder mystery.
At sixteen pages, you will be asking yourself why this is not a movie.
Suzie is not only our favorite author, but my wife as well.
Download Your free short story here.
Most Bostonians believe spring training takes place in Fort Myers Florida or in places known as the grapefruit league and the cactus league. At Exotic Flowers, spring training takes place in our Boston store; what we call, the orchid league.
March in Boston is historically cold, average temperature this week in low 30's. As New Englanders, we can handle these last minute bursts of cold as the crocuses are already blooming in our yards. Because the staff at your local Boston florist are rabid baseball fans, we practice our own method of spring training in the 'orchid league'.
After our Valentine's Day wrap up, the floral designers at Exotic Flowers are reintroduced to the importance of creating floral arrangements in sets. We often create our floral arrangements in sets to minimize waste and increase our efficiency. During spring training in the orchid league, our Boston floral designers are reintroduced to simple basics and given new design skills as well. Much like the pitcher who has covered first a hundred times, a designer is reintroduced to the importance to working with a sharpened knife.
At Exotic Flowers, we attend design shows, read trade publications, join in webinars and continually hone our skills. Our March spring training is the most intense time of year for our training as we ready ourselves for Easter (4/20/14), Mother's Day (5/11/14), and Administrative Professional's Day (4/23/14). These three holidays are three of our busiest flower holidays of the year. Our goal is to remain Boston's Premier Florist. We cannot achieve this goal without continually training and innovating.
During spring training in the orchid league, our sales staff practices all types of role playing so that our staff is well spoken, alert, informed and courteous. We encourage the staff to facebook, blog and tweet to promote the importance of fresh flowers.
Leaving nothing to chance, our goal is to be the best. You can see the Red Sox inspire us quite a bit. We can even have our drivers address the vehicles' condition. A broken down vehicle could delay a timely delivery. Our maintenance staff may experience the most demanding training period. They must ensure all of our equipment. The maintenance team keeps our properties clean, well lit and safe.
Growing up 100% Italian is quite rare in Boston. I would never trade my heritage for anything. But growing up in Boston also surrounds you with many Irish people and even more Irish customs. My mother, whose parents came from Italy, even cooks corned beef and cabbage every Saint Patrick's Day. This tradition has even carried over to my own family where my wife Suzie, who is part Irish, looks forward to my boiled dinner of corned beef, cabbage, turnip, potatoes, carrots and pearl onions.
During Saint Patrick's week at my house, you will hear us reading the chidlren's book Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk or watching the Janeane Garofalo movie The Matchmaker on TV. At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we often speak about tradition and creating your own memories. Saint Patrick's Day is an ideal holiday to start your own tradition.
I have witnessed many clients at Exotic Flowers who celebrate St. Patrick's Day by buying green carnations in the Boston area. The green carnation reminds of the green shake from McDonalds. You only see them around Saint Patrick's Day. One client in Wellesley has been sending his wife 24 green carnations every year for more than twenty years, while a company on State Street in Boston has bought more than one hundred green carnations every year for the past ten years. They hand a green carnation to each one of their employees to celebrate the holiday.
So crack open a Guinness, hand your loved one a green carnation and listen to the Irish Rovers belt out my favorite Irish tune, 'The Unicorn,'.
The weather has been brutal. Thankfully, the Red Sox are in Florida and that crack of the bat is right around the corner. The past few weeks at Exotic Flowers were enlightening, entertaining and exciting.
We are proud to bring you a crisp and clean update to our website
. Please let me know what you think.
If you have Comcast for your cable TV, then I hope you saw us featured on their get local for Valentine's Day. If not, no worries; I have provided a link in this email.
Our most exciting news is Suzie's new children's book. This is her fourth children's book, maybe even her best yet. She has even decided to donate 100% of all her royalties to the One Fund to support the Boston Marathon bombing victims and their families.
At Exotic Flowers in Boston, we believe in the importance of reading to children and reading with children. Heck we believe that reading is one of the pillars of civilization. At Exotic Flowers, we share books, poetry and even have a favorite author. Yes, Suzie Canale is my amazing wife. She also writes amazing stories.
Her newest children's book, Boston, You're My Home is the story of a young girl named Sweet Caroline who is nervous about her family moving to the city. Worried about the unknown, her mother and father attempt to soothe her fears by telling her a bedtime tale inspired by Boston's strengths. Including everything from scholarly education to delectable seafood, Caroline slowly begins to learn about the wonderful benefits of calling Boston her new home. Suzie will be donating 100% percent of her royalties for this book to benefit The One Fund.
International Women's Day is celebrated throughout the world every year on March 8th. The Day traces its beginnings to the early 20th century as a result of the socialist movement. The holiday recognizes the social and political struggles that women have faced for centuries. It is also a chance for us all to show women how much we respect them and appreciate them.
The holiday stirs more emotions in some countries than others. The custom of giving the mimosa flower can be traced back to Italy around 1946. The flowers were intended to be given as a sign of respect and the mimosa's symbolism rivals that of a red rose on Valentine's day.
Mimosa's origin can be traced back to Australia. It arrived in Europe around 1820. The plant is quite invasive and should not be placed too close to other plants. Its blooms are often harvested for cut flowers, honey and oils for perfume. You may recognize the blossom at the premium cosmetic store, L'Occitane en Provence.
Many clients from Russia, Eastern Europe and Italy will often call or email to check on this fleeting flower's availability for March 8th. Mimosa has a lovely scent and Exotic Flowers in Boston will have Mimosa for sale on International Women's Day.
As we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss (March 2nd), florists and gardeners embrace Seuss' inspiration from flowers found right in our own backyards. Pictured above, Gladiator Allium showcase the imaginary worlds that Seuss created.
Summer flowers like Gomphrena show the fluffy spheres of color so prevalent in the children's stories.
Craspedia also known as Billy Balls are another flower that one can see inspired Dr Seuss to create such memorable images.
With two young boys in the house, there are many Seuss books in every nook of my house. I am also fortunate to be married to children's book author Suzie Canale
. Her book 'The Land of Chocolate Cosmos
' has been called 'The Lorax' of our generation.
Dr. Seuss and flowers are such a popular concept that PBS kids has even created an online game known as Dr. Seuss Flower Finder
where kids and adults can create their own flowers.
Dr Seuss has inspired so many creative people in the floral industry that a float in this 2013's Rose Bowl featured the Cat in the Hat.