Friday, March 21, 2008

On not planting parsley and other muddled thoughts...


Good Friday.

Tradition has it that today is the day on which to plant parsley seed - perhaps because on this day alone the Devil is deemed to be powerless. It's slow to germinate too, so don't expect to see anything for a number of weeks; my father always told me this was because the seed is reputed to go to Hell and back 6 times. We may plant it for its flavour and decorative qualities but Parsley has associations with doom and death - which are not things you want to see garnishing a prawn sandwich.

However, bearing that in mind, I shall tempt fate and leave the packet unopened today. It's very windy here and I think a handful of seed would be blown quickly to the 4 corners of the kingdom of Trelystan. The forecast is poor for the weekend - but it is only the end of March after all.

And today is Good Friday - the saddest day in the Christian Calendar. I'll go along with that - although you'd have to search hard to find a holy bone in my body. Some years ago it was hard to find a shop open, shutters were down and doors firmly closed. It was most inconvenient, decidedly gloomy but quite appropriate. Members of the local Churches would process with solemnity along our main street - a faintly self-conscious pilgrimage - the sturdiest of their number had the job of toting a large and rugged cross. A stream of traffic backed up irritably at the rear.

A similar pilgrimage takes place here, over the course of the day, between the churches of a number of local parishes. It's quite a long and taxing walk, taking in some hilly terrain and today, I think, some inhospitable weather. It seems a good and purposeful thing to do. While I might not choose the prayers and services, the chance for quiet and contemplation would be welcome. A chance to 'go placidly amid the noise and haste'. (Although that always did remind me of something plodding, submissive and bovine.)

Otherwise things are much the same are they not? Sunday hours, a holiday weekend, TV specials and another retail opportunity.

I think what I am trying to say is this: whether one believes or not there is no denying that the barbarous events on a Jerusalem hillside 2 millennia ago have had a significant effect on culture and society in the western world. That must be worth thinking about. Quietly. Surely we can all manage without a visit to B & Q for 24 hours?

16 comments:

The Eyechild said...

Parsley seed goes to hell and back six times?

That's pretty rock and roll. Having said that, I seem to remember you telling me that grandad used to walk across old battlefields with his index and little finger extended to ward off evil spirits (am I remembering that right?).. which is quite heavy metal.

What a bizarre bit of folklore though..

mountainear said...

Grandad did indeed - his drive home took him across the site of the Battle of Edgehill - along the road where the dead and dying were carted off the battlefield to Kineton - it was known as the Blood Road. Most of the site was on MOD land and it is said that there were places where the guard dogs would refuse to go...A ghostly recreation of the battle is said to take place too around the time of Halloween. No wonder he extended his fingers....

Inthemud said...

Well, learn something new every day! Never heard about the parsley seeds before going to hell and back 6 times!

As you say, whether you are christian or not the event of 2000 years ago were barbaric and had enormous consequences throughout the whole world and a few hours of not shopping is something we could all manage I'm sure,(though even I did nip out for short shop, but did church too!) I'm so glad that Easter sunday nearly every thing is closed!

Happy Easter!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

How strange is that ...I was in Dobbies this afternoon ...too cold to search for a shed...and what attracted me was the parsley. My plants have all disappeared and I needed some new ones.....

Faith said...

I didnt know about the parsley.

I always tend to feel a bit sad on Good Friday. I didnt go out today, except for a short walk. I try not to shop as don't feel its that appropriate.

Cait O'Connor said...

Good Friday is early this year, I agree I wouldn't sow parsley today. Freezing cold winds. Wintry showers. Roll on spring.

elizabethm said...

Mmm, pause for thought again here. I've never succeeded with parsley but will try again before buying some in the garden centre. i think we should be spooked now and then and wonder what we know. Might not happen on a visit to DFDS.

Isabelle said...

Happy Easter. I enjoyed your 7 random facts, though I'm amazed you survived your childhood!

Pondside said...

I'd never heard the parsley story for Good Friday. I guess it's because Easter, even when it comes in mid-April, is no time for planting in most parts of Canada.
When I was a child, Good Friday was a very long, dry and boring day. Fun was not allowed. No playing, no reading, no smiling. Now imagine all of that in the snow.
I've spent this Good Friday quietly by my fire, after a good brisk walk by the strait. I felt a little guilty about enjoying it so much!

Nikki-ann said...

I had no idea Parsley went to hell & back, let alone 6 times! I'm not at all religious, but to enjoy the extra days off work :)

Mopsa said...

I KNEW there must be a reason why I detest the taste and smell of parsley - it must be all that hellfire sulphur. Give me rosemary, coriander, mint or chives any day. And I used to live next to Edgehill!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Ah so I too have learned something new about parsely . . No chance of planting anything here the ground is frozen.

Yes I can remember when Good Friday was a real holiday and no shops were open and it felt as though it was an important day and we all came together to acknowledge the day. Here Friday was pretty much like any other day - we even got post, but Monday will be quieter.

the mother of this lot said...

I enjoyed this post - and I didn't know that about parsley either!

Pondside said...

Thanks for your comment:)
The photo behind the Easter tree is of my husband's great-grandfather. He was a dock worker in Denmark - a working man who could never have afforded such a portrait. The family story is that he passed the same photography shop every day on his way home from work, always greeting the owner, who often sat outside the shop. One day the owner beckoned him inside and took his picture. Many,many years later, one of my husband's aunts, knowing the story, went to the shop, which was still in business. The then-owner had been an apprentice all those years ago, and went in search of the negative - found the glass negative, and copies were made for the eldest children in each branch of the family. Great-grandfather is holding a loaf of bread, wrapped in white paper, under his arm.

Sparx said...

ack, now I wish I'd planted my parsley on Friday. I certainly will do asap though and won't be too upset if it doesn't just sprout right up.

Love this and love the folklore as well - and the Reverend's carvings. What a great place to be.

Anonymous said...

Apparently whoever gets parsley to grow is the boss in the household - the secret is to pour boiling water on the seed so that it germinates quicker - got quite a good patch of parsley meself