Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Traddy Calendar

It's Traddy Tuesday, so I shall write about that most traditional of household organizers, the wall calendar.

I come from a family of seven, so for decades the calendar on the kitchen wall has been filled with my mother's notations of who has a dentist's appointment when, etc. There is still a calendar on the go, but there is now less ink and rather more non-Christian holidays on it. My mother's calendar has always come free in the (I believe) Toronto Star; presumably it's free because it is printed by the Milk Marketing Board. The "Milk Calendar", as we call it, features photographs of meals made with hearty amounts of milk, butter and/or cheese. If it is meant to encourage the consumption of gallons and gallons of milk, it sure works in my parents' house.

Now that I have married and moved to the other side of the Atlantic, I have quite a different kind of calendar on the hall wall. April has two notations--"Imien. B'a" and "Apt 4 FOOT 9:50"--representing an anniversary and a doctor's appointment. However, instead of being illustrated by super-luxury macaroni and cheese with lobster or Thai-style fettucini alfredo, April features a photo of Br. Alfonso Maria pollinating the apricots in the Papa Stronsay greenhouse. Apparently Papa Stronsay has no bees, so the monks have to be their own bees. It would be more fun if Br Alfonso Maria were wearing a black and yellow striped jumper to do his bee duties, but apparently he's not on a windy island in the North Atlantic to have fun.

Meanwhile, there are no non-Christian holidays on this calendar: it is wholly Christian in tone. It is also very judgmental, branding some days to be first class and others only second, third or even fourth class. On the other hand,  April 23 is recognized to be I Class in England, if IV Class everywhere else, because it is the Feast (or Comm.) of St. George, M., so the calendar clearly recognizes regional diversity. Goodness, it's even got Pope Emeritus Benedict's Birthday in 1927 written in red italics. Have they got Pope Francis' birthday marked down, I wonder. Hmm.

This calendar took on new importance when for the New Year B.A. and I decided we would drink alcohol (and I would drink coffee) only on first and second class feast days in 2016. This was suspended for Easter, and goodness, I never knew there were so few first and second class feast days. Occasionally I would feel that a special saint (like St. Dorothy) deserved to be upgraded to I Class at the Historical House. Anyway, before Lent there was a lot of checking of the calendar, as if we were engaged in a sort of alcoholic NFP.

Of course the one tragic thing about the Traddy calendar aka the Old Calendar is that it contradicts the New Calendar. I can just see the argument for having Year A, B, and C for the liturgy*,  but not at all with moving the ancient feast days around, if  any argument was ever made. For one thing, it disrupts our ties to the Anglican communion, which gaily keeps on celebrating saints' days the days they have for centuries been commemorated in Britain and its Empire. Moreover, it disrupts our ties to the Catholic Church of centuries past. As Chesterton so quotably pointed out: "Tradition means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.... Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."

One of the curious thing about Anglicanism is that it unwittingly preserved a lot of Catholic culture--Catholic art, Catholic architecture and Catholic liturgical timing (e.g. "Stir-up Sunday") and the Catholic Calendar---even after the Catholics began (c. 1960) to junk their heritage. (Ironically, the anglo-papalists thought they should follow Rome even in this, and there was a lot of fussing and wailing among them.) There are a hundred anecdotes of High Church Anglicans rushing into the streets to rescue copes and statues from bins behind the Catholic Churches in that iconoclaustic decade. No wonder Evelyn Waugh died of chagrin. Surely it would have been an ecumenical gesture to stick with the other western Christians in terms of celebrating our common calendar, but the 1960s were terribly triumphalist while pretending they weren't.

In the 1970s, most people didn't talk about this to Catholic children. The rupture between what was in old (and not-so-old) books about Catholicism and what was all around was never explained, which is no doubt why I later got so terribly interested in it. Occasionally there were references to "the bad old days" which was greeted by kindly filial chuckles from the pews. The laity who still go to church are, in the main, a docile, obedient and trusting lot, if rather given to birth control. (It's very odd. The post-1963 laity will put up with absolutely any liturgical shenanigans but all but a minority in Canada draw a line at Humanae Vitae. It is, however, a relief that they also draw the line at pastors with convictions for sexual offenses. "But he's sorry, matured and gotten so far on his journey" just does not cut it in Calgary.)

Anyway, my parents accidentally infected me with traddism by giving me Father Lovasik's Heroines of God and each story mentioned the feast day of the saint at the bottom. Saint Dorothy's Day is clearly February 6, so I was terribly disappointed when I discovered she was supplanted, after Vatican II, by Saint Paul Miki and Companions. Naturally Saint Paul Miki and Companions are very important saints, particularly in the Church in Japan, but surely there was no need to shove out little Saint Dorothy who has been loved by Catholics throughout Europe (and perhaps even her native Cappadocia) for 1800 years. But I think I wrote about this in February. If your name is Mary or Elizabeth, you can have no idea how thrilling it is to hear your patron saint actually named at Mass.

Back to the Calendar. When we were in Norcia over Christmas, B.A. suggested that we buy the Benedictines' lovely traddy calendar, but I put my foot down and insisted on the Papa Stronsay calendar because of "our shared Scottish context", as theology students I know would argue. The Papa Stronsay calendar lists quite a few Scottish saints that others may have forgotten about (e.g. St Egbert of Iona) and they list important civil holidays in the English-speaking world, including Martin Luther King Day in the USA and Australia Day in the Antipodes. I see that they do not mention Robbie Burns on January 25, but as all trads in Scotland know, he was a Mason and therefore shouldn't be in our sacred calendar.

Naturally another fun thing about the Papa Stronsay calendar is seeing it in other Scottish traddy homes. It is a cultural artifact of traddism, just as traybakes are an artifact of Free Scottish Presbyterianism. (Okay, other people make traybakes and eat them on Sunday but when I asked Calvinist Cath to name a Wee Wee Free cultural artifact, that was the only clear thing she came up with.**)

Today is a Feria and IV Class so even though it is  still Easter maybe I shall not have any wine today. However, according to the Papa Stronsay calendar, it is the 1300th anniversary of the first Easter celebrated by the monks of the Abbey of Iona, so maybe a drink is in order.

*Needless to say, Year A,B, and C also represent a rupture in the Catholic sense of times and seasons.

**She could have mentioned  strictly unadorned psalm-singing, which is really unique. But then of course Presbyterians don't think of that as "cultural" but as liturgical....as I suppose the Calendar is.... You know, culture and religion are not always so distinct. Incidentally as the FPC is so vociferously against Catholic worship, you can see how brilliant it is that Cath has devoutly and equally vociferous Catholic friends. Paradoxically, I have a lot of respect for the FPC, the traddiest trads of Protestantism.

Update: In case you miss them or want to read more posts about Catholic traditionalism, here is a whole collection of Traddy Tuesday posts.

1 comment:

  1. Moving around feasts drives me batty! Epiphany is January 6, not a Sunday! How are the twelve days of Christmas supposed to make sense!?!?