Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wisdom of the past: The rite of "churching" new mothers

It was with great interest that I read the article in Rachel Murphy's Irish Family History blog about the rite of churching. "Churching" refers to the visit to the church and corresponding priestly blessing conferred upon a married woman after the birth of her child. It seems that this was a religious tradition carried on in past centuries. A beautiful idea, yet unfortunately it may have collected some superstitious beliefs along the way.

I revisited this article recently after the birth of my baby. It read:

‘Churching’ refers to a blessing that mothers were given following recovery from childbirth. After remaining at home for 4-6 weeks after giving birth, the woman would go to church where she would thank God for the safe delivery of her child and receive a blessing from the priest. Only married women were eligible for the blessing. They were to be appropriately dressed, and would carry a lighted candle. The priest would then mark the woman with the sign of the cross in holy water.

What struck me when I read this now, after some time has passed following the birth of my new baby, were the words 4-6 weeks. Remain at home for four to six weeks? What a joy that would have been! By the time my baby had reached that age, I had (with baby along, of course) attended the wedding of one family member and was getting ready to take a trip for another family member's wedding, made my way through the hospital several times with one of my other children who had a broken leg, celebrated my little one's Baptism (complete with party afterwards), hosted a birthday party for another child, and begun many of the routine errand-running that life requires.

How I would have liked to have a church-sanctioned reason to stay home for four to six weeks! I have often wondered how mothers have navigated through motherhood throughout the centuries. Life did not slow down for this mother of several children living in today's world. It seems that new motherhood may have been a little bit different for mothers of new babies in previous generations. Our modern disposable diapers and other conveniences (like car seats, strollers and baby carriers) make it too easy to be mobile too soon.

Several times after the birth of my little one I have wished that the world would stop for a few weeks so that I could enjoy my new baby without all the distractions of the rest of life. Too late I've discovered the excuse I should have used: the long-ago tradition of churching. It would have allowed me to tell friends and family, "Sorry, but I can't leave the house yet. It's not yet time for me to be 'churched'. I'm staying home with my baby."

Painting: Berthe Morisot's The Cradle, 1872.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Join us in creating an "album" of stories

The deadline for the upcoming 16th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, entitled Irish Portraits, is coming up on Sunday, November 1. Hope you'll join us in creating an "album" of stories about individuals with Irish heritage, photo or no photo. Here are the details:

Share with us a story about an Irishman or Irishwoman within your family tree. If you have a photograph of the ancestor, share it along with the story of their life (or a small and interesting portion of their life story). If you don't have a family member to write about, choose someone with Irish heritage and share their story.

Deadline for submissions to the Irish Portraits edition of the carnival is Sunday, November 1, 2009. This edition will be published at Small-leaved Shamrock on Wednesday, November 4, 2009 .

Looking forward to reading your stories!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Got a "weird and wonderful" Irish story in your family?

Here's a last minute project for you writers out there...

Eneclann is running a competition and has requested entrants to submit a short "weird and wonderful" Irish story that has been passed down through the generations. If you are interested in participating, check out the Folklore contest webpage and submit your entry by tomorrow, October 15.

Nothing like a swiftly approaching deadline to get the creative juices flowing, don't you think?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taking "baby steps" back into the blogosphere...

While I've been busy living in "babyland" and trying to keep up with the rest of life, the genealogy blogging world has been busy. I haven't quite been able to get fully back into the blogosphere yet, but I've made a few visits here and there.

On a visit this morning I learned that Small-leaved Shamrock had been chosen as one of the nominees in the running for Family Tree Magazine's Top 40 genealogy blogs. What a surprise to receive this honor! Thanks very much to those that nominated this humble little blog hiding out in my little corner of the web. Thanks also to my faithful readers who are patiently waiting for the full return of this Mommy back into the genealogy world.

If you are a fan of Small-leaved Shamrock, the proud birthplace of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, please take the time to vote for this blog in Family Tree Magazine's "Heritage" category (category number five). There are many more blogs of interest within the nominees, although I have many more favorites that didn't make the list. Stop by and cast votes for your personal favorites before the deadline passes.

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