Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Feasting

Le Moi de Janvier from Les Tres Riches Heures de Jean, Duc de Berry  
Musee Conde, Chantilly
As you might imagine, I follow a number of health and fitness people on social media (follow me on Twitter @stephaniehsiang, Instagram @momsatthebarre, or on Facebook here.) This time of year I see numerous posts on how to handle the onslaught of delectable treats that surround us. Some very useful tips on how to be restrained. How not to go overboard. Restraint. Discipline. Etc.

Somehow this doesn't sit well with me on the fourth Thursday in November. Not that we should stuff ourselves on Thanksgiving. That just feels yucky. But this is a feast day! It's a day for wine and song. It's a day for treats. Is it so terrible to feast on a feast day?

No. It isn't. Feasting is a blessing. It's a celebration. It's for our benefit. To sit around a table with people we love and/or like (that's not always the same thing) and feast together. And be thankful. There is feasting all over the Bible. There are feast days built into the church calendar. To celebrate with food is a beautiful thing. There is a season for everything under heaven, and Thanksgiving is for feasting.

The problem is not the feasting on the feast days, it's feasting on all the other days. It's when we're hiding from our kids in the basement with the potato chips so we don't have to share. It's when we're mindlessly noshing in front of the TV. If you don't feast on the ordinary days, then you can really enjoy the feast days, not fear them.

The thing about a feast day is that it's usually just that--one day. The exception, of course, is Christmas, which was traditionally twelve days, starting on Christmas Day and culminating with the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. Now Epiphany really gets the shaft, which is a shame, because it's a great day. Three kings day! It's the last hurrah.

Now, however, it seems people feast from Thanksgiving all the way to January 2nd, at which time some strict regime of penitence is undertaken. A period of atonement for all the excessive feasting. Oh dear. It should not be so. The atonement is finished. We feast for that on Easter Day. But, really, if you bypass the cookie jar on the ordinary days, the feast days are much more fun.

And so, my friends, let us enjoy this day. Let us eat good yummy food until we're satisfied, not stuffed. Let us enjoy our people and our food and drink. Let us keep the feast!

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