Monday, January 30, 2017

Its all about the heart


Queen of Hearts Tea Party for Valentine's Day

Recently I became a big fan of Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass movie. With the primary icon of Valentine’s Day being a heart, Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts came to mind and I started doing research to find out whether the Queen of Heart’s obsessive painting of white roses had any connection with Britain’s Lancaster/York War of the Roses in the 15th Century. The Lancaster branch of the Plantagenet dynasty was represented by a red rose while the Yorks had a white rose. The not-so-civil war went on between the factions for 35 years until Henry Tudor of Lancaster claimed the throne and married Elizabeth of York, effectively turning the white roses red.


Stained glass images of Henry VII & Elizabeth of York at Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales.:

On a genealogical website, I once saw that I was a 14th great-granddaughter of Henry Tudor and so my research became more personal.  According to tradition, Henry and Elizabeth had a great love. She also loved the recently introduced French trend of playing cards (a little too much according to historians) and when she died following childbirth at the age of 37, according to legend, Henry had the image of the Queens of Hearts on all of playing cards in England made to look like her. 


Portrait of Elizabeth of York (1466-1503), amongst English Royalty was a daughter to a king, niece to a king, wife to a king, mother to a king and grandmother to a queen.:

But historians say that it was her mother-in-law Margaret who had a penchant for eliminating her enemies by removing their heads. Enough said.





Valentine’s Day is an enigmatic holiday. With pagan origins of fertility rituals at Lupercalia on February 15th, anything resembling the root words of Lu, Lugh or Lucifer always makes me uneasy. The pagan rituals included the sacrifice of dogs and goats; the goatskins were stripped and dipped in goat blood then used to flog hopeful young women wishing for love and fertility in the coming year. The names of eligible young women were gathered and drawn by bachelors with whom they would cohabit during the next season, the women probably hoping it would become a permanent arrangement. 

During the early part of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I combined Lupercalia and the day memorializing 3 Christian martyrs named Valentine who had been executed by Roman emperor Claudius II. Claudius had decided unmarried male soldiers made the best warriors and outlawed the performing of marriage for his troops. 



Image result for st valentine

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries at least three Christian priests named Valentine secretly performed marriages and as a result were caught and executed. After being sainted by the Catholic Church, the name St. Valentine became synonymous with the celebration of love and the result, like Halloween, was a hybrid holiday with both charming and unfortunate sinister roots. 




For centuries Valentine’s Day has been associated with love; it was thought that even birds paired off at Valentine’s Day. In medieval times, feasts included the lottery of love, like the pagans except guests were paired for the duration of the party. Promoted by Chaucer and Shakespeare, the holiday's dark past was mostly forgotten and now moderns woo one another with chocolate, flowers, candles and poetry (and occasional bling). Wishing to view the holiday from the glass half-full perspective, it may be appropriate to present a holiday tea party to celebrate love with the unfortunately dark roots hidden away from modern gaze.

Let’s return to the warm and wonderful realm of love. While I adore the idea of romance, apparently the romantic love needed to narrow our ardor and launch us into exclusive pairs expands and evolves into a less-dramatic, more stable variety of love a few years after marriage. Factor in a few delightful children and love becomes a more inclusive emotion with community-building ability. 

Apparently only a small percentage of the population is involved in the explosive youthful pairing love at any given time and more of us live in the world of brotherly, familial affection so I choose to focus on that stage of love; with that in mind, A Queen of Heart's Valentine's Day tea party complete with warm red hearts seems like just the thing for a cold winter afternoon.




Here is a fun little crown you can make for your own Liddells or guests on Valentine's Day. The author of the Alice in Wonderland stories, Charles Dodson or Lewis Carroll as we know him, was inspired by the Liddell girls, especially Alice. One day as he and a friend were taking the girls in a boat down the Thames, he made up the stories to entertain them. Encouraged to write them down, he eventually had them published and they became a huge hit. 






Queen of Hearts Crowns

Of course a Queen of Hearts tea requires crowns for each guest; these are inexpensive and easy to create.

For each crown you will need 
One  4” glittery red paper heart (buy or make from cardstock)
7 silver pipe cleaners 
Several heart rhinestones

For a large crown, twist together 2 pipe cleaners, leaving 3” tails at the twist. Bend each tail into a heart half and twist together. Repeat with a third and fourth pipe cleaner adjusting to fit the head of the wearer. Use a 5th pipe cleaner to make an arch and attach to the front of the crown. Attach the heart to the front arch using a hot glue gun then add two smaller arches that are glued to the front of the heart and the crown side . Curl the ends of the pipe cleaners and add sparkly rhinestones.   



  
The British are known for their iconic afternoon teas even though tea parties may have originating in France. A formal tea consists of 3 courses which may be creatively arranged on a 3-tier serving piece. On the lowest plate is the first course: finger sandwiches, and savory appetizers. The second tier contains warm scones, clotted cream (a decadent cross between butter and whipped cream) and preserves.  On the top tier are a variety of pastries, cakes, shortbread and fruit. For American tastes, try adding chocolate-dipped strawberries and clever little footed dishes filled with Valentine’s candy, truffles and nuts.




Of course a Valentine’s tea needs tea, but many of us don’t drink that beverage. A cup of tea minus the tea equals lemon and sugar or lemonade. Add pureed strawberries and strawberry hearts for a delicious pink drink to serve in porcelain tea cups with labels that read “drink me.”

P.S. Happy anniversary Arizona! 105 years today. And Happy Galentine's, Palentine's and Single Awareness Day! Plus a little eye candy for you: https://www.pinterest.com/pammcmurtry/family-love-and-valentines-day/

I was surprised to find that my article for the Deseret News in Utah was published the week following Valentine's Day, but here it is; it was also picked up by newspaper websites in Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky, Indiana and a newsfeed. 

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865672254/Recipes-to-host-a-Queen-of-Hearts-tea-party-for-holiday-with-hearts.html?clear_cache=1

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox Happy Valentine's Day xoxoxoxoxoxox