Sunday, January 20, 2013

A GFCF St. Nina's Feast Day Tea

Please forgive the haziness of the photos in the post.  Between the poor quality of our camera and the smoke created when cooking corn cakes on the griddle between coming home from one activity and running out to work, the photos of our tea came out poorly.  They will, still, offer inspiration, I hope.

Another of our name days crept up on me this past week, and since I am re-committed to celebrating all of our family Name Days , I spent early Monday morning before the kids were awake gathering information to inspire a menu for a St. Nina tea.  This was not an easy task.  


I found no information online about how St. Nina’s day is traditionally celebrated and even discovered that, January 15, the date I had noted on my calendar as St. Nina’s feast day may or may not be correct.  But, more on the date question later.  First, let me share ideas for celebrating a St. Nina Feast Day Tea so others may enjoy doing so next year (or even later this year, depending on which of the many possible dates for celebrating St. Nina you would like to do so on.)


Icon images on candles the color of St. Nina's clothing
GFCF Tea Time Fare

Ready to feast!
Any Georgian recipe will work, since St. Nina is patron to the country of Georgia. 

After researching Georgian fare, which I was hitherto unfamiliar with, my mouth watered and I decided that we will be adding Georgian foods to our meal rotation for a while since I want to explore many of the delicious-looking recipe that I found. 

For our tea this past week, which we had planned as a “lunner” tea (late lunch, early dinner), I decided on:

  • grapes, since one of St. Nina’s symbols is a grapevine cross.
grapes left on their vines

  • grape juice, for similar reasons.
  • pomegranate juice, because pomegranates seem to be a part of some Georgian recipes.
  • a quickie adaptation of honey candied walnuts, because Gregorian churkkhela looks far too complicated to make, but caught the kids’ eyes when they awoke while I was planning the tea and a quickie version of Gozinaki seemed much easier.
These were quick, easy and delicious.

  • pomegranate seeds (for produce power, as pomegranate seemed to play into Georgian recipe fare.)
Oh, to find an easy way to get these out!

It tastes far better than it looks.
  • Mchadi corn cakes (because Luke always wants “a starch” and this one was an easy Georgian one to make, even if it was a bit dry.
I don't advise rushing these and cooking them on a cast iron griddle.  Smoke WILL happen.  Oops!

  • Soki from the Georgia Georgian site, which we easily adapted to casein-free.
Again, it tasted so much better than it looked.

  • chocolate almond milk (because no no "tea" in our home is complete without it according to our kids)
  • GFCF toast (because the kids were still hungry)
  • blueberries (for one of St, Nina's apparent colors), tomatoes and cucumbers (because the kids don't like dressed salads)
for the picky eaters
Other good options might be:


Nina also gave thanks for grapes, which were here favorite part of our tea menu.

Possible Activities
  • Read the Hymn of Praise and watch the youtube video featuring images of St. Nina at Mystagogy, an Orthodox website.
  • With older children or younger children who can handle it, watch the trailer to St. Nino, a movie that is in the works (or maybe already produced.  I am trying to figure that out still.)  (My kids actually wanted to watch this and liked it.  I just had them turn away during certain part.)
  • Craft stick or twig crosses with the horizontal piece pointing down modeled after St. Nina’s grapevine cross, which is depicted and described at Wikipedia.  (Nina and I made twig crosses without pointed down cross bars, using twigs and floss.)
  • Paint or color images of St. Nina based on the many icons for her.  (We did not do this this year since we had a busy day.)
  • Since Georgia is the country that St. Nina is patron to, look the country of Georgia up on a map and, then search online or in a book for interesting facts about the country.  (My son’s favorite book for looking up country’s lately is the Not For Parents Travel Book, which he got from his godmother for his birthday.  It has some “gross” facts, but Mike and I enjoy reading it to Luke and his sibling anyway.)
  • Do copywork of some of the verses said to have been on St. Nina’s scroll and then roll the papers into scrolls.  (We did not do this either, but I plan to next year.)
  • Listen to a Gregorain Chant while viewing images of St. Nina and the countryside on YouTube.  (We did this in the morning, not at the tea.)
  • Explore icon colors.  St. Nina is often depicted in red and blue.  (Nina not only asked me why Nina wears these colors, but if she could wear the colors for the day, too.  It led us into researching a bit about iconography and the meanings of colors.  If anyone knows of a trusted resource for exploring iconography and the meanings of colors used for St. Nina and other saints, I would appreciate it.  Please leave the name or link in the comments.)


Date Question

Jack doesn't care when we celebrate the day.  He just liked the corn cakes slathered with GFCF "butter".

St. Nina is honored in the Orthodox tradition for converting much of the country of Georgia to Christianity.  One Orthodox organization I found offered a thorough biography of St. Nina and listed her feast day as January 14.  Another, which offered a briefer bio, seconded that date.  However, then a site I stumbled into called Mystagogy stated that the Orthodox church in Georgia marks St.  Nina’s feast day “twice a year:  on June 1 – the Entrance of St. Nina to Georgia and on January 27 – the day of her passing away.”  Hmm... I decided to try searching “Catholic” and “St. Nina” instead of just “St. Nina” to see if I could discern a more “correct” date to celebrate my little girl’s namesake.


Doing so, I found Saints.SQPN,  a Catholic site which listed St. Nina’s feast days as January 14 and 27, much like Mystagogy did and Catholic Online, which went the non-commital route and simply listed St. Nina’s feast day as “January”.


Oddly, I also found information about St. Nina’s Feast Day date at Yeah Baby.  There, there were  a variety of Name Day dates based on what country the saint is celebrated in, but none for American Catholics.  (For the record, after viewing the list, I was tempted to delay our celebration until July 12, since that is when St. Nina’s feast day is celebrated in Slovakia and since one of the reasons we chose the name Nina for our little girl is because it is a saint’s name, a Slovak name – which would honor part  Daddy’s heritage – and an Italian nickname – which would honor part of my heritage.  But, I had already mentioned to our Nina that her Name Day was coming up.


So, I turned to Wikipedia, which although hardly a definitive source, gave me some insight into both when to celebrate St. Nina and what the differences between the Roman Catholic view of St. Nina and the Orthodox one are.


Then, curious if I could find more about the Catholic take—or even a “correct” Catholic day for honoring St. Nina, I tried searching the Vatican website.  The only mention I was able to find about St. Nina was in the Address of John Paul II to Ilia II, Catholicos Patriarch of the Ancient Apolistic Church of Georgia.  It did not help me with the date question much, but it did corroborate the fact that St. Nina was a great evangelist.  (The mention was that, “In time of peace and in times of persecution alike your Church has born a faithful and exemplary witness to the Christian faith and the Christian sacraments, a witness borne by many holy men and martyrs from the days of St Nina onwards.”)


Perhaps with further research at the Vatican site and elsewhere I could determine the actual date on the Catholic calendar for celebrating St. Nina, but since I did not have time for that on Monday morning, I went with the 15th for this year since that was what I had on the calendar and would welcome anyone who knows about St. Nina to leave me information about in a comment.  I want to know more about my little girl’s namesake.


Luke, too, preferred the corn cakes over everything... Well, everything except the juice and chocolate milk.  For our kiddoes, such sugary drinks are a favorite indulgence on feast days.
Do you celebrate Name Days in your house?  How?  Also, can you offer any insights about when to celebrate St. Nina or share stories and resources about her?  


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Anonymous said...

Hi! I was just looking for recipes and stumbled across this.

I am Orthodox, and thought I might help you out. :)

In the Orthodox liturgical year there are two dates for St. Nina. Both are correct. One is her main feast (January). The other is a celebration (I think) of her entrance into Georgia.

The Orthodox Church calendar has not undergone the liturgical reforms of the Roman Catholic church. There are multiple saints for each day of the year, and many saints have multiple feast days.

In Orthodox countries, St. Nina's main feast day is in January, although if you'd like to celebrate it when they do in Georgia, you'll have to wait 13 days, since they use the Julian calendar. :)

Hope that helps!!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the date of St. Nina's commemoration. In the Orthodox Christian Churches, she is celebrated on Jan. 14 for those using the Gregorian calendar (new calendar) and Jan. 27 for those using the Julian calendar (old calendar). That may be why you found references to both dates.


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