Thursday, April 21, 2011

Green Thursday

In both the Czech and German traditions, Thursday of Holy Week is known as Green Thursday, or  Zelený čtvrtek  (Czech) and Gründonnerstag (German).  Explanations range from that before the thirteenth century, green vestments were used for the Mass that day to references to "the Green Ones," the penitents who, being re-admitted to the Church, wore sprigs of green herbs to express their joy. More than likely, however, ir does not derive from the name of the color but is a corruption of the word "greinen" (weinen, to weep). A strict fast used to be observed on Green Thursday. Because only a single, meatless, complete meal - free of any food of animal origin - was allowed, only vegetables were eaten. Thus, Green Thursday.

The eating of green vegetables is still a customary part of the meals served on this day in many parts of Europe and, to some extent, in the United States. The Czechs and Moravians eat a soup of green herbs, followed by a green salad.

In the Czech Republic, the children must go out very early in the morning and bathe - naked! - in the river. This is supposed to be a cure for laziness. And when they come in, shivering and complaining that they’ve just been made to do something they would be punished for in summer, when they would enjoy it, they are given a braided bread that was made the Monday or Tuesday before. Supposedly this bread, made to look like rope, suggest the fate of Judas Iscariot, who "went and hanged himself". That's a little too morbid for me.

In Slovakia, the housewives diligently sweep around the home, the yard and the street to ward off harm to the home for the coming year. During the course of this Thursday, the women wash the wooden boards upon which they make noodles. They also wash the rolling pin, the large wooden mixing spoon and the bowl used for mixing the dough for bread and kolaches.

I decided  my family would celebrate by eating an all green supper.

We had a Green Goddess Salad with Green Goddess Dressing, Green Beans with  Brazil Nuts, and Okra Strips in a Lemon-Tarragon Viniagrette. All recipes can be found here.

I spent the day in my gardens. I can't imagine being greener than that! The fresh smells released when I stroke each plant as I talk to them are pure bliss.

Some people shy away from greens because of scares of contaminated vegetables in the past. There are ways to protect yourself:
Rinse all produce with cool water before serving. Tap water is just as effective as bottled veggie washes and a lot cheaper. Don't use dish soap! It can leave a film and upset your stomach.
When in doubt, wash! Many bagged lettuces say washed and ready, but if you aren't sure, wash!
Discard outer layers of leafy vegetables like cabbage and lettuce. Place leaves in a bowl of cool water with 1-2  T. of vinegar and stir for 20 seconds. Soak for 30-60 seconds, dump the water and repeat. Or to heck with that and compost those outer leaves, instead!
Scrub firm fruits and veggies, like apples and carrots (you can use your fingers) for about 30 seconds. Clean the skin even if you don't plan to eat it - that way bacteria can't pass from the outside in when you slice it.
Don't use the same cutting board for veggies and fruit that you'd use for other things (like meat. Ick.)

I hope your Green Thursday was pleasant!

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