I celebrated this New Year in Rio de Janeiro under the Brazilian sky. It was painted with thousands of glistening stars, cascades of shimmering rainbows, golden weeping willow showers of glistening sparkles, metallic explosions of light…the most elaborate fireworks I have ever seen. Was it that light…or was it the thousands of people dressed in white, festive garb gathered at the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, walking into the sea offering white flowers, roses, gladiolas—the foaming silvery sea at night receiving the gifts for the protective goddess of the ocean—that was so stimulating and exuberant? Night fireworks over the ocean create an electric energy wave very different from over a city of stones—skyscrapers, bridges, a sea of architecture. The excitement of thousands of people waiting for the once-a-year spectacle explodes at the same moment when the fiery stars cover the sky like colorful rain and envelops you in joy for the New Year.
Following in February come Carnival in Brazil, “Jankenoo” in the Caribbean islands, “Fastnacht” in Switzerland and Germany. Costumes are prepared all year, rituals celebrated and enjoyed for these festivities. The spectacular parades of fairy tales, folklore and historical theatrical charades recall centuries of finding joy in dressing up and hiding in costumes and masks in Venice, Basel, Cologne, Rio or the Bahamas. We love to drive out the dark spirits of cold winter nights and invite the light spirits of spring through play. But the fresh breath of Nature brings more glory and color than one can imagine. There is no need for costumes or artificial stars as we find great pleasure and exuberance in Nature herself, in the rejuvenating spring air and sunshine, and in the seasonal natural blossoming.
Now with the cycle of spring comes Easter and Passover and the good recipes come again for these holidays!
REFRESHMENTS FOR THE LIGHTNESS OF SPRING:
Maté Tea from Brazil
This healing tea is widely consumed in South America for its detoxification abilities for the liver, pancreas and gall bladder. This tea does not come from the regular tealeaf of Camellia Sinensis, but from the Yerba tree, a bushy tree where the roots and leaves are used. For the tea to serve as a medicine, the roots and leaves are used together. But for a regular aromatic golden brown tea you should take a handful of leaves, crush them in a bowl, pour hot water over them and let it all steep for five minutes. The taste is a bit tart like most detoxifying teas. You may want to add honey or brown sugar and a few lemon drops. A good tea after too much champagne for the New Year celebration!
Love Vine Tea is a regenerating tea from the Bahamas.
This is just the right stimulation for Spring!
Pick a handful of leaves from the vine of the bush, enough for one cup. Boil them in water and let it sit for a moment after. The taste is refreshing and pure. In the Bahamas they drink it “straight.” It is known to enhance fertility and potency, but also as a pain relief for muscle spasms.
East Friesen Tea from North Germany served with white rock sugar.
It is a festive comfort Tea, a mixture of Assam and Darjeeling teas derived from the tea tree Camellia Sinensis. Tea dealers on the island of East Friesland in the North Sea of Germany cultivated this elegant, tasteful combination of flavors, which is now creating its own history. They drink it with white rock sugar. I prefer brown sugar and a drop of milk. It is a strong tea and is great company to a healthy Easter breakfast.
Look for my forthcoming book: “Tea and Travels…Life Filled to the Brim”…coming soon.
Happy Spring days and a Prayer for New Beginnings