In the midst of a hurricane for the ages and on a day now known for sorrow and outrage, there is another lesser known celebration.
Hot cross buns, once viewed as a Good Friday food for Christian families, actually pre-dates Christianity. The buns were eaten then because of the sugar-water frosted cross that was supposed to symbolize the crucifixion of Christ. This practice became less restrictive. Now you can eat this sweet bread treat any day.
Many myths and rumors grew around this tasty baked good. It was developed by a 12th-century monk was the first person to mark the bun with a cross on Good Friday. The first definite record of hot cross buns comes from a 16th and 17th century text stating: "Good Friday comes this month, the old woman runs, with one or two a penny hot cross buns."
They stay fresh for a whole year. If you hang a hot cross bun from your kitchen rafters on Good Friday, legend has it that the bread will remain fresh and mold-free throughout the entire year. This harkens back to the body of Christ, which, according to the Bible, did not show any signs of decay after his crucifixion and prior to his resurrection.
They expel bad spirits.
Due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits. They're also said to prevent kitchen fires from breaking out, and ensure that all breads baked that year will turn out perfectly delicious. Likewise, taking hot cross buns on a voyage at sea endows the boat with some protection from shipwreck, according to legend.
And cement friendships.
Those who share a hot cross bun are supposed to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old rhyme captures this lore, says Irish Central: "Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be."
They're too sacred to eat any old day.
In 1592, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that hot cross buns could no longer be sold on any day except for Good Friday, Christmas or for burials. They were simply too special to be eaten any other day.
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/five-great-myths-about-hot-cross-buns-traditional-pre-easter-pastry-180951130/#8cbH0QBRVCQHXx8P.99 Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter
But what about crosses themselves? Where did they come from? Greece or earlier? I'll tell you a little bit about it later, but first...
Last week we met Leslie Conzatti author of the book "Princess of the Undersea". This week she has brought us Ylaine (pronounced "Eh-LANE"), the main character in her book.
1. Go ahead and introduce yourself.
My name is Ylaine, and I am betrothed to the Prince of Overcliff, Nathan.
2.Tell us where and when were you born.
I was born 300 Great Moons ago, in the Coral Palace of Undersea. I am the only child of King Davor, and heir to that throne by blood, but now that I am human and betrothed to the Crown Prince of that kingdom, I can no longer inherit my father's throne.
3. How would you describe yourself?
As a mermaid, I had violet-colored hair, blue scales, and a black tail. When I became human, my hair turned black, but I still had aquamarine-colored eyes.
As far as my temperament, I tend to keep to myself a lot. Being the only princess, it was hard enough to socialize with the other merfolk; having a magical Gift infused into my voice that made people do what I wanted only made it worse because no one dared trust me. I spent a lot of time with my godmother, Nayidia.
4. Tell us about where you grew up.
Undersea spans the seabed under the channel between the island kingdom of Overcliff and Crossway on the mainland. Most of the structures are made from whalebones, wood boards from shipwrecks, or colonies of coral. The palace is made of mostly coral and stone. It is a large kingdom, and the limits are very clearly marked by a border, set by the King and patrolled by mer-guards, level with the highest point of the tallest coral colony, and stretching as far as a merperson can swim close to the human kingdoms without being detected. The northern border, in particular, stretches to just before the exact spot where my mother vanished, tangled in the net of a fishing boat. Her disappearance is the whole reason my father set the barrier.
5. How old are you?
According to human reckoning, I would be about 25 years old.
6. Did you have a happy childhood? Why/why not?
I can definitely say I was lonely. My mother disappeared on a hunting trip, when there were plenty of human fishing boats about. My father blamed the humans, and he became obsessed over avenging her supposed death by convincing the other mer-kingdoms to band together and attack the kingdom of Overcliff. The one reason it's been so long and he hasn't attacked already is because none of them have figured out a way for merfolk to survive beyond the surface.
The main struggle with growing up was between my father and I. With my Gift as a constant reminder of losing my mother, he never really spent time with me, instead only coming to see me when all the officials from the other kingdoms convened, and requiring me to sing for them, so that no one questioned his methods.
7. Past/ present relationships? How did they affect you?
The most constant relationship I had as a mermaid was my godmother Nayidia. She would listen as I complained about my father's treatment of me, she would not hesitate to show me all of these interesting things she would find in the ship graveyard just outside the boundary of the kingdom. I trusted her, and believed in what she told me, and it made me more afraid and resentful of my father than ever. I have learned since how foolish I was to trust her so explicitly, but it nearly cost me everything as far as my life!
8. What do you value above all else in life?
It may seem a little strange, considering my situation, but I really value having a voice, being heard. That's probably what drew me so strongly to Nayidia, because she really made me feel heard in a time when my father was constantly pushing me away. It was also my motivation for becoming human, at least temporarily: I wanted to be able to bring my father along and show him first-hand that life above the surface wasn't all hatred and violence like he wanted to assume. It also made me realize how noble Nathan really was, because without my Gift, I could still speak but my voice sounded terrible and it took me a long time to say anything because of a horrible stutter I could never overcome. In spite of this, Nathan never failed to wait for me to finish speaking, and he talked to me as if I sounded normal.
9. What are you obsessed with?
Obsessed? I'm not sure; keeping peace between the realms, perhaps? It has certainly taken up much of my focus for many moons, whether I was mermaid or a human trying to appeal to the prince. I want things to go back to the way they were when the Three Realms (that's the humans, the merfolk, and the fairies) traded with one another in good faith, when my mother was alive, and my father was happy. I wish for that more than anything.
10. How do your beliefs make life better for yourself and the people you care about?
I believe in giving others the benefit of the doubt. I believed that I could still have a relationship with my father at some point. I believed that Nathan had his kingdom's best interests at heart. I believed we loved each other. Sometimes that belief put people in danger, like when I believed what Nayidia told me about the way my father felt about my disappearance, and it almost convinced me to abandon Nathan and return to being a mermaid, but on the whole, it's served me well.
11. Biggest fear?
My biggest fear was that I would fail in trying to make peace between the humans and the merfolk, and the resulting conflict would spell death for many on both sides, perhaps even my father, and I would inherit the throne of a kingdom I never wanted. I feared this outcome every day, even as I walked the streets of Overcliff; fear that any day would be the one my father chose to strike, and what would he think if he saw me among those he perceived as an enemy? I fear breaking trust with those whose trust I value. I fear being mocked and disbelieved when I try to speak the truth.
12. What line will you never cross?
No matter what, I would never use someone else and manipulate them to get what I want. I have been on the receiving end of such manipulation, and I have seen it succeed and both times, it always ended badly for more than just the two directly involved. I cannot stand to see such mercenary tactics employed by others, and I certainly hope never to be driven to stoop so low.
13. What is the best thing that ever happened to you? The worst?
The best thing to ever happen to me was meeting Nathan. Granted, it was a bit of a shaky start, but the more time I spent around him and with Giles, his mentor, the better I thought of him—and now we are engaged!
The worst thing was probably losing my mother. It absolutely devastated my father, and was the one thing that I believe facilitated the dissolution of our relationship. I still think of her often, though I was too young when she died to form any memories of her, and I wonder if there might be a way to discover whether or not she might still be alive. She wasn't actually killed all those moons ago, so I haven't given up hope. I just don't know how it could be possible, if she is.
14. Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
The first thing that comes to mind is my first day as a human. It was so hard to walk—and it just so happened that I came out of the water for the first time right in front of the old harbormaster! The poor man just about toppled over, but I couldn't say anything to reassure him or let him know what I needed because I wasn't at all sure how my mouth worked! I still remember (because it wasn't so long ago) exactly what it felt like to lurch and stumble my way through the city streets, where absolutely everything was brand new, and the animals were all so much bigger than I expected, and everyone so loud—I tripped and fell into a barrel of fish, and I met Nathan because he helped me back to my feet again! I was so frustrated, though, that I did my best to snub him—rather a difficult thing when one can barely walk, and doubly so when one can only speak with a terrible stutter!
As if that wasn't bad enough, I do believe I made an utter fool of myself in front of Nathan's father, King Theodore himself, at the dinner table that evening. So many customs of which I was completely unaware, and the ones to which I was accustomed were outlandishly silly in comparison!
15. Biggest secret?
The biggest secret I ever kept was my dual nature as a mermaid. My hope was that I could successfully manage to broker peace between the two kingdoms, and perhaps return to my father after that, but unbeknownst to me, my godmother had other plans, and the effects of the potion nearly killed me, so I had to tell Giles my secret, or risk losing my life!
16. What is the one word you would use to define yourself?
I'm different, that's all. I'm different than what you'd expect for the Prince's bride, I'm altogether different than the human I appear to be—I'm different than I was before.
17. What is your current goal?
My current goal is to rebuild the relationship between myself and my father. War is no longer imminent, so we have time to make the peace I have long sought, even though I can never be a mermaid again. I only hope that this time, he is willing to listen to me, if there is to be any chance of reconciliation.
The Cross is a symbol found in some form in every land and ancient culture. Most of us have seen a Cross in Native American Art as a broken wheel or obverse swastika. In Meso-American Art the cross was a symbol of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent in his aspect as a Dragon-god of the winds. In that case, the arms of the cross refer to the cardinal directions. The Celts cross is famous as a cross in a circle. Here the arms refer to the seasons. The original cross that became the Christian symbol came from Egypt. It began as the Ankh. The Ankh is known as key of life, the key of the Nile or crux ansata (Latin meaning "cross with a handle"), was the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic character that read "eternal life".
Egyptian gods are often portrayed carrying it by its loop, or bearing one in each hand, arms crossed over their chest.
This is originally an African symbol that represents Physical and Eternal life. It's also considered the "original" cross. It also stands for the elements of water and sun. In Egyptian art the ankh is seen at the fingertips of various gods & goddesses so that they can transmit life to the dead.
The ankh symbol was often carried by Egyptians as an amulet, (see illustration) either alone, or in connection with two other hieroglyphs the djed and the was that mean "strength" and "health." Mirrors were often made in the shape of an ankh.
the combined symbol was that of Ptah, or Ptah-tenen as the creator. (below - and Children of Stone readers will note the ray coming from his third eye)
In Alchemy the symbol represents Venus or the female reproductive system. This symbol, known benignly as Venus' hand-mirror, is much more associated with a representation of the female womb.
In astrology the same symbol is used to represent the planet Venus.
In Alchemy it represents the element copper.
In Biology to identify females.
Hermeticism is an Egyptian belief system whose beliefs may explain many of the Ankh's meanings. If the Hermetic concept of the ankh suggesting the joining of the masculine and feminine is correct, with the top opened up to look similar to the feminine (genitalia) and the bottom shaft seen as a phallic symbol, then the rest follows. If God is both male and female, as this philosophy believes, the ankh is a symbol of hermaphroditism and represents God, fertility, and reproduction.
The Ankh and the Cross
The long standing importance of the Ankh, and its deep symbolism to the dynastic Egyptians, led to it being gradually adopted by the very early Christian church in Egypt (which eventually became the Coptic Church).
This is highly significant, as it is almost certainly the genesis of the cross, as the central thematic symbol of the Christian religion.
The association in Egypt of the ankh cross with both God the Father, and Jesus the Son, felt right to the Coptic priest, many of whom had been educated in the Egyptian mystery religions. Elsewhere, the main christian symbol at the time had been a stylised alpha, resembling a fish, and therefore known as Ichthys, the Greek word for fish. However, the new "more positive" symbol of a cross eventually spread throughout the Christianized Empire. The distinct circular or "gothic arch-like" upper part of the Ankh was kept well into medieval times.
The internet is a wild an wonderful place full of authors. I've met many on Facebook who hail from all over the world. One wrote me for an interview from the Netherlands - a children's author.
Who are you as a person?
My name is Koos Verkaik, I was born in The Netherlands, in a little village nor far from Rotterdam. Rotterdam is in South-Holland, it has one of the biggest harbors in the world.
How long have you been a writer?
I started writing stories at the age of seven, published a comic (three pages every week) in a weekly when I was sixteen, my first novel was published when I was eighteen. I never stopped writing since then, I write every day.
Are you Traditionally or Indie published? If not yet, what are you considering?
I am Traditionally published, both in The Netherlands as in The USA and Canada.
What writers inspired you? Favorite Authors?
A Dutch journalist by the name of Fije Wieringa, wrote about me in Penthouse:
"Once I asked the Dutch author Koos Verkaik, whose reputation in the Netherlands is similar to that of Stephen King, which book had influenced him the most in his life. Without losing a second he replied, “Alice in Wonderland, that is such a weird and scary book. A lot scarier than any of my own horror and ghost stories.”
Lewis Carroll wrote it in 1865. That is a classic! I have a couple of thousand books in my work room. Most of them are nonfiction books. Where fiction is concerned, I love all the books from the great master of fantasy and science fiction, Jack Vance. His work is sublime. I have a bundle with almost all stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Squeeze it and alcohol and blood comes dripping out, but he is a true genius and… also invented the thriller genre (the first culprit in his books is an ape…).
What is your book/series about
Alex and the Wolpertinger is about a very peculiar friendship between a boy and a wolpertinger. A wolpertinger is actually a German/Austrian saga figure. But in my stories it is a creature from the mysterious Downhills, where also dragons and monsters live.
Alex and the Wolpertinger is a series of books. I am going to write 30 different titles and work on book 14 right now. I write it in Dutch, then translate it into English.
What is the setting and genre?
The stories enact in the middle ages. It is fantasy. Alex lives in Cloverland, not far from the Alps. He works in the kitchen of a the giant prince Ruff Rumble. Alex is sent to the Downhills, a land that van only be reached by magic. He has to rescue an old magician and the prince wants him to find gold. Alex meets Ludo, a dangerous wolpertinger. To everyone’s surprise, the human child and the Downhills little monster become best friends.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
Hm. There are so many odd creatures in the series. Well, there is Uncle Balloon, who shows up in book number three. Looks very much like a mammoth and is as thin as a rake. But he can blow himself up and after he has tied up his knot, he can fly (he has little wings). He flies Alex and the wolpertinger through the Downhills. But when someone tells him a silly Downhills joke, he burst out laughing – his trunk unravels and then he crashed!
Downhillers love to shout silly jokes when Uncle Balloon flies over…
What character is most like you?
No one. Which means: all of them a little bit.
If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?
How about levitation? Being able to float in the air (but don’t tell me silly jokes then!).
As a matter of fact, I do have some particular experiences. Dreamt of someone who often came to visit me from Denmark, for business. One day after the dream he showed up and I could describe exactly how and where he lived, where is favorite chair looked like, how his living
room was furnished, what he could see when he looked out the window etc.
In one of my novels (it will be published soon in the USA by Writer’s Mill Publishing) I write about the strange phenomenon of synchronicity; ‘meaningful coincidences’ and I had some spectacular experiences myself with that too…
Would you say your book has a message or underlying theme? What is it?
No, I don’t have a special message. All I want is give the readers a good time. I write about adventure.
How are you marketing your book?
In many ways. I have my own website, for Alex and the Wolpertinger I have special websites in English, German and Dutch. I have my writer page and a Wolpertinger page on Facebook, I post on LinkedIn, etc., etc. I sign my work in book shops. For the children’s books I often read in schools. I never say no when a teacher invites me.
But there is more about this. There are publishers who say that you have to do it all by yourself.
That’s not how it should be. Publishers should take on less writers and be more critical. And then work with these authors to sell their books – and spend some money for advertising etc.
Fortunately I have found a company now with people who care about my work.
I signed contracts for ten novels. Both eBooks and Print. They have connections in the movie industry and I signed other contracts for these titles to allow them to discuss them with the film companies.
Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Genealogical research brought me back to an ancestor who was born in the year 1720. His name is Gerrit Jacob Verkaik. I would love to meet him, shake hands with him and ask him a thousand
questions. I would look him up if I was a time traveler!
A wonderful thing has happened! Hollywood wants to make a movie of your book! You get to pick the actors & actresses.
Alex and the Wolpertinger would be an animation movie. By the way, I already wrote the screenplays and my agent is looking for the right company.
What music do you hear (what songs) remind you of your story?
Instrumentals. Composed and played by myself. You can listen to some of them on: https://soundcloud.com/user-224641692.
What Favorite foods
My wife is from Indonesia. I like many rice dishes and the best invention is sambal. Quite different from just hot peppers. Sambal is an Indonesian invention and if you like your food both hot and tasteful, you should taste it.
What makes you laugh/cry?
An American translator once told me that not everyone in the USA could laugh when they watched Monty Python: he had fun, his family could hardly smile. I love that dry English humor.
Stupid violence in this world could make me cry.
What do you want written on your head stone and why?
‘His life was too short…’ Why? Because I have so much to tell. Even when I get a hundred years old, I wouldn’t have enough time to write everything down that’s in my head. That is why I am always in a hurry.
Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I have been a member of several blues-rock bands, playing lead guitar. I also play bass, drums, mouth harp, a little bit piano, etc. and now make my own recordings at home. Write my own songs.
What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
To be honest, I only watch the news. I seldom have the patience to watch an entire movie.
The best series is, in my opinion, The Big Bang Theory. That really makes me laugh, it is so cleverly written and all actors are great.
If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Then I would have liked to be a professional guitar player.
What are you working on right now?
I am used to write two books at the same time. I work on book 14 of my series Alex and the Wolpertinger and on a new fantasy novel for The Righter’s Mill Publishing. The work title: ‘The Lost Art’.
What future plans do you have in writing?
My publishers are already working with two of my books for film.
There is the novel ‘HIM, After The UFO Crash’, and another one, ‘The Dance Of The Jester’.
And it’s a fact, they are perfect for film. I have no idea where this will bring me. Hope to visit the USA more than often. Look forward to all these new adventures!
THIS IS ROUND TWO ... DO CONSIDER A VOTE ONCE MORE.
Because of your efforts I, and quite a few of my author friends made it to the second round in the Virtual Fantasy Con 2017 Competition.
THANKS!! I've seen who votes and am entering all who voted for me in a drawing for an e-book of one of my titles. This is a real e-book, not a Mobi copy. Here is the link again to copy and paste. Vote for your favorites, then vote for me in Fantasy Novel - Diversity Category and Fantasy Novel - Historical Category.
A Last note: Here's my coming subject matter and a list of weekly themes and authors. This is by no means complete or final, so if you would like to be featured, especially if you have a release message me via e-mail at email@example.com or via Facebook @ Children of Stone Book Series, Mary R. Woldering, or my inbox at Facebook Mary Woldering.
September 18First Love Day
Koos Verkaik Character Alex, a Voices in Crystal excerpt Marai in love with Naibe, Writing article, Kayla Matt Intro - Party Hat + Virtual Con September 25 World Dream Day Kayla Matt Character Travis, Article on lucid dreams & hypnosis, Amanda Jourdan Into, October releases October 2 World Architecture Day Amanda Jourdan Character Vanessa, Ancient Architecture and mythology, excerpt Opener of the Sky, Intro to Brhi Stokes October events
October 9 Native American Day
Brhi Stokes excerpt The Melee, On Diversity, Introducing Tahani Nelson October 16 Feral Cat Day Tahani Nelson’s Faoii-Kaiya Available for your interview - contact me!
October 23 Boston Cream Pie Day – Party Hat October 30 Create a Great Funeral Day Novel Writing Month - NaNoWriMo November 5 Saxophone Day
So There you have it. See you next wee so you can Fall in Love - Remember: