Joanna Bristow Watkins

CouncilOfNicaea

  • Thursday 15th February, Fritter Thursday in Christian Tradition

    Apple fritters by RitaEThursday 15th February, as well as being Lupercalia, this year, it is also Fritter Thursday (in Lancashire it takes place a day earlier on Ash Wednesdayand is thus known as Fritter Wednesday). The days leading up to and into Lent were Collop Monday, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Fritter Thursday and Kissing Friday (source: Lia Leendertz's2020 Almanac).

    According to The Free DictionaryFritter Thursday took its name from the custom of eating apple fritters, which were fruit-filled cakes deep-fried in fat, on this day. Image of Apple Fritters by RitaE is free for commercial use via Pixabay Licence. 

    I was surprised that this would be an acceptable dish once Lent had commenced (as 'fritter' suggests batter which would contains egg and milk) and on further research I discovered that inLancashire (source: lep.co.uk) traditionally ‘Shrovetide’ meant the three days before Lent and comprised of ‘Collop Monday’, ‘Pancake Tuesday’ and ‘Fritters Wednesday’ (rather than Thursday) with the fritters being sliced apples fried in batter.

    Confused by this, I contacted Lia Leendertz and asked about her sources for the 2020 Almanac. I'm delighted to say that she kindly responded to confirm that Fritter Thursday is featured in Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones, apparently as a Yorkshire tradition, and that it is also mentioned in the Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson. Like me, she was at a loss to explain how it was allowed as this wasn't explained anywhere. However, she noted that fried pieces of floured applewould be good even without full batter or sugar. Lia also uncovered a 15th century recipe for Lent Fritters in Jane Grigson’s English Food and it was found to contain milk, eggs and sugar! A mystery. Maybe it’s Jane's (non Lenten) version of it.  Thank you Lia for your thoughtful contribution...

    The date of Lent - which takes place in either February or March but always seven weeks before Easter - varies from year to year according to the lunar calendar which determines when Easter falls. The fact that Lent, and indeed Easter, are determined by the lunar calendar tends to suggest that they were superimposed over Pagan celebrations.

    The Council of Nicaea, in 325 AD, approved a 40-day fast duration to celebrate Lent.  This was the time period during which Constantine was striving for a harmonious union between the Christians and Pagans within the Roman Empire.

    The start date of Lent was still under debate even after the Council of Nicaea. Pope Gregory, in 601, moved the commencement of Lent to Ash Wednesday (from the fourth Sunday of the year); this being 46 days before Easter. This allowed for 40 days of fasting with the six Sundays counting as feast days, making a total of 46 days for Lent. The tradition of using ashes to create the shape of a cross on parishioners foreheads was also instigated by Pope Gregory. 

    See bibleinfo.complant-lorecom websites for references. The latter website flags up as insecure.

    By partaking in Fritter Thursday, confessing sins and living a modest life throughout the period of Lent, Christian's believed that it would enhance their harmony and wellbeing.

    Harmony Healing utilises the philosophies of the Ancient Egyptians, in the form of Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) Egyptian Alchemy Healing, to bring balance and harmony. Our live interactive Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) Level 1 training course modules run periodically htroughout the year, but sessions are recorded, so study can start at any time.

    Through Harmony Healing, Joanna offers a wider spectrum of events designed to nurture your welbeing. If you are looking for regular spiritually enlightening activities which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have our monthly Full Moon Guided Healing Meditations. The next one is Saturday 24th February at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT). Participants all receive a deeply healing experience. Cost to participate is £20 by online BACS payment (£1 admin fee added for PayPal) or half price to RSE graduates. There are multi-buy packages for regular attendees. Book at the Harmony Shop.

    Other services
    Within Surrey, via Harmony In Nature, we facilitate Forest Bathing Sessions to help adults reconnect with nature and reap the therapeutic benefits.

    MP3 meditations and distant readings and healings are proving popular and we offer Harmony Healing Vouchers for any value for use on Harmony Healing services andHarmony in Nature vouchers for Forest Bathing vouchers (£35).

    To receive regular Blog updates (headed with a title detailing the occasion or event so that you can choose whether to open it or not), featuring New and Full Moon, meteor showers, eclipses and other meteorological events, interesting anniversaries, ancient festival dates plus notification of dates of numerological significance, sign up for the Harmony Healing e-newsletters above or at the top of any page of this Harmony Healing website. The nature of the Blog means that whenever there are several key dates in close succession, there will be frequent mailings. The sender e-mail address is  (and the sender will show as Joanna Bristow-Watkins @ Harmony Healing). You may need to add this email to your safe list and check your junk filter initially.

  • Wednesday 14th February, Ash Wednesday in Christian Tradition

    Ash Wednesday 17thWednesday 14th February,this year, as well as being Valentine's Day, is also Ash Wednesday; generally said to have been named after the tradition of burning away old issues in preparation for Lent. The days leading up to and into Lent were Collop Monday, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Fritter Thursday and Kissing Friday(source: Lia Leendertz's2020 Almanac).

    The date of Lent - which takes place in either February or March but always seven weeks before Easter - varies from year to year according to the lunar calendar which determines when Easter falls. The fact that Lent, and indeed Easter, are determined by the lunar calendar tends to suggest that they were superimposed over Pagan celebrations.

    Similarly, Ash Wednesday, although observed as a Christian Festival probably originated as a Pagan Festival and could have obtained its name from an apparent tradition of placing a stick of Ash down one's sock for good luck!  

    Ouch, I can't see that being popular, but then maybe choice of a suitable stick is paramount.

    Ash Wednesday certainly isn't mentioned in the Bible, although in Biblical times, sprinkling oneself with dust and ashes was part of a Indian Vedic tradition as a mark of repentance, and repentance rituals were generally often accompanied with fasting. Furthermore, the German Pagans had a tradition of putting ashes over their brows to secure protection of the Norse God Odin (one of Odin's names in Norse is Ygg, which also means ash). Wednesday was Odin's day (our weekday name is directly derived from 'Odinsday'), making the naming of Ash Wednesday particularly pertinent.

    Ash Wednesday was also only accepted into Catholic Church beliefs at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD when the council also approved a 40-day fast duration to celebrate Lent. This was the time period during which Constantine was striving for a harmonious union between the Christians and Pagans within the Roman Empire.

    The start date of Lent was still under debate even after the Council of Nicaea. Pope Gregory, in 601, moved the commencement of Lent to Ash Wednesday (from the fourth Sunday of the year); this being 46 days before Easter. This allowed for 40 days of fasting with the six Sundays counting as feast days, making a total of 46 days for Lent. The tradition of using ashes to create the shape of a cross on parishioners foreheads was also instigated by Pope Gregory. 

    See bibleinfo.complant-lorecom websites for references.

    By partaking in Ash Wednesday and living a modest life throughout the period of Lent, Christian's believed that it would enhance their harmony and wellbeing.

    Harmony Healing utilises the philosophies of the Ancient Egyptians, in the form of Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) Egyptian Alchemy Healing, to bring balance and harmony. Our interactive Reyad Sekh Em (RSE) Level 1 training course modules are recorded, so study can start at any time.

    Through Harmony Healing, Joanna offers a wider spectrum of events designed to nurture your welbeing. If you are looking for regular spiritually enlightening activities which help to connect you with the lunar cycle, we have our monthly Full Moon Guided Healing Meditations. The next one is Saturday 24th FebruRY at 7.30-9.30pm (UK time = GMT). Participants all receive a deeply healing experience. Cost to participate is £20 by online BACS payment (£1 admin fee added for PayPal) or half price to RSE graduates. There are multi-buy packages for regular attendees. Book at the Harmony Shop.

    Other services
    Within Surrey, via Harmony In Nature, we facilitate Forest Bathing Sessions to help adults reconnect with nature and reap the therapeutic benefits.

    MP3 meditations and distant readings and healings are proving popular and we offer Harmony Healing Vouchers for any value for use on Harmony Healing services andHarmony in Nature vouchers for Forest Bathing vouchers (£35).

    To receive regular Blog updates (headed with a title detailing the occasion or event so that you can choose whether to open it or not), featuring New and Full Moon, meteor showers, eclipses and other meteorological events, interesting anniversaries, ancient festival dates plus notification of dates of numerological significance, sign up for the Harmony Healing e-newsletters above or at the top of any page of this Harmony Healing website. The nature of the Blog means that whenever there are several key dates in close succession, there will be frequent mailings. The sender e-mail address is  (and the sender will show as Joanna Bristow-Watkins @ Harmony Healing). You may need to add this email to your safe list and check your junk filter initially.