Last of a 4-part series
Throughout the ages, food has been a part of human celebrations, life passages and holidays. We seasonally rejoice in different foods each time of the year and there have been entire festivities dedicated to each harvest.
We are beginning to return to time-honored celebrations of food and harvest. There are more communal pot lucks with different kinds of foods as themes, but for the most part, our meals are rushed and eaten in front of the TV or computer just to fill our stomachs and we dedicate very little attention to honoring the food we are ingesting.
As this is the last part in the series of Conscious Eating articles, I would like to share some ways food is being celebrated with rituals from around the world, and then offer some thoughts on creating your own personal rituals to enhance your relationship with food.
There are many types of foods that are celebrated culturally and spiritually, from tea to corn. Contemplate these and then create your own food rituals that fit your life. Remember that when you put attention and focus on the shopping or harvest, preparation, serving and eating of your food, you are making it conscious and removing it from reaction and habit.
Let’s start with tea. The British have built their lives around “high tea” time in the afternoon, and the Japanese tea ceremony, also called the “Way of Tea,” is a sacred Japanese cultural activity and involves the ceremonial preparation and serving of matcha, a powdered green tea. Zen Buddhism was a foremost influence in creating the tea ceremony.
The native people of the world have rituals and use sacred foods and herbs for healing, journeying and enjoying such as the “Green Corn Ceremony.” This is a religious and social event celebrated by many Native Americans of the Eastern and southeastern tribes. The Green Corn Ceremony occurs in late summer and corresponds to ripening of the corn crops and the ritual includes dancing, feasting, fasting and religious observations.
Then there are the Italian rituals. The “Sunday visit” is one of the most popular. The intention is to spend time with family and friends while consuming espresso or wine and tons of food. I have memories of this while growing up with my father’s family on the East Coast. We would pack up and go to Aunt Mary’s house and — oh my! The food and people kept coming and going all day. They had vineyards in the backyard and broke out wine and music and would do the tarantella, an Italian folk dance, late into the evening!
The Norwegians have made an art form of Lefse making. Its goal is lefse, a thin, round pieces with not too much flour. Eating lefse and lutefisk is a tradition that Norwegian-Americans continue and is popular around the winter holidays.
One of my favorites is “The Slow Food Movement,” which unites the pleasure of food with responsibility, sustainability and harmony with nature.
We spend so much of our day planning, preparing, eating and cleaning up from the ritual of eating food. There are many ways to consciously incorporate these acts into our daily life in a way that will make the process more enjoyable, meaningful and memorable. Here are some ideas on creating your own food and cooking rituals:
- Make a ritual of the actual preparation of your food. Focus on the food. Sing over it or pray over it. Send it love and gratitude.
- Create a celebration around the first spring harvest of berries, greens, apples, etc. Dance and have a bonfire and enjoy!
- Create a solitary ritual of contemplation of your food and gratitude, affirming that you live in a world of plenty and envision abundance for all.
- Make a meal for your family or friends just because you love them. Make it beautiful sensual, aromatic and full of texture and color.
Remember, food is our life force and something to be consciously honored and appreciated. Taking a slower, more conscious approach to eating will give more meaning, inspiration and can have a profound effect on your life!