HOLIDAY BLESSINGS,  Chapter 5:  Faith, Family, Festivals, Food, & Fun –


Dr. James J. S. Johnson


This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.  (Psalm 102:18)

God first institutionalized the family, beginning with Adam and Eve, and their children. The first family “birthday” was not a normal birth at all — on Day 6 God created mankind by making Adam and Woman (later re-named Eve) by putting human life, bearing His own holy image, into sculpted mud (Adam), and then performing the first surgery to make Woman from Adam’s side! (For the overview summary, see Genesis 1:26-27; for the details, see Genesis 2:7-25.)  Therefore, the first normal “birthday” occurred when Eve gave birth to Cain, and then Abel (Genesis 4:1), and mothers have been bearing the pain (and gain) of childbirth ever since (Genesis 3:16-20).

The most fundamental moral duties of mankind are often summed up by looking to the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), the fifth of which mandates respect for ancestors:


Faith Foundations for Family History Celebrations

Family history days include birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the like (e.g., some celebrate Grandparents’ Day or Children’s Day), plus family reunions. Some countries have unusual family holidays. For example, in South Korea, May 8th is used to celebrate Parents’ Day (instead of celebrating mothers and fathers on separate days).

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.  (Exodus 20:12)

Obviously, the duty to practice respect to and for one’s parents is not limited to Father’s Day and Mother’s Day!  Rather, it is a constant obligation, and a constant reminder that it was God Himself Who selected the specific parents (and ancestral forefathers and foremothers) that each one of us was procreated to have.

Certainly we should appreciate, be thankful for, and celebrate our own ancestral heritages, especially our own mothers and fathers! The parental heritage that each one of us was created with, according to God’s sovereign providence,[1] is a precious part of who we are, as God intended us to become the exact and unique person (both physically and otherwise) that each one of us is.  (See Psalm 102:18 & Psalm 139:13-16.)[2]

Elizabeth-Webel-birthday.SteveWebelAccordingly, every birthday we celebrate should include conscious gratitude for God’s choice to make each individual who celebrates a birthday, as well as His many providential deeds over every generation since the beginning (i.e., Day 6) that have procreatively contributed to the specific and unique birthday boy or birthday girl who is enjoying the privilege of beginning another lap around the sun.

Brendan, age 4, with sister Olivia

Festivals Celebrated Near and Far

Birthdays are celebrated all over the world. How are birthdays celebrated in your family?  Do we expect our family members to remember our own birthday, each year?  (The answer to that question is revealed by answering this question:  if your birthday is forgotten by your loved ones, does that disappoint you?  Surely your reply is “yes”.)  Does your family add ice cream and cake to the family’s evening meal when a child celebrates another birthday?  Does the cake have some kind of special decoration, such as colored frosting with a picture and the salutation “Happy Birthday, (name of the birthday boy/girl)”?


Was the birthday child given birthday presents, wrapped in some kind of packaging, that are opened (hopefully to the appreciation of the birthday boy or girl)?  Did the cake have lit candles on it, to be blown out by the birthday boy or girl?  Did the number of candles on the birthday cake match the new age of the birthday boy or girl?  Was the birthday child allowed to do something special on his or her birthday?

Mother’s Day is a classic family holiday: everyone has a mother to thank for arriving on planet Earth!  And after birth, someone gave you motherly love – whether that was your biological mother, stepmother, foster-mother, or a grandmother.  So whoever loved you as a mother, when you were a child, should be honored on Mother’s Day. (For most of us it was our biological mother who loved us through our childhood.)

Consider this Mothers’ Day message (“Appreciating Mothers“), given at a church in Florida, on the God-given value of human mothers:

Some say that more long-distance telephone calls occur on Mother’s Day, than on any other day of the year. Did the family take Mom out to eat on Mother’s Day, or did she have to prepare her own Mother’s Day dinner?  Was she given a Mother’s Day gift, or flowers, or chocolates, or at least a Mother’s Day card?

In America, since AD1914, Mother’s Day has been an official holiday, devoted to appreciating mothers (and other maternal ancestors, such as grandmothers, as well as stepmothers and foster-mothers). Mother’s Day is most often celebrated in on the second Sunday in May.

Besides America, about 80 other countries celebrate Mother’s Day then, including Australia,[3] Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kurdistan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Macau, Netherlands, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vietnam, Venezuela, Zambia, and Zimbabwe  —  just to name a few!

In the United Kingdom a more antiquated tradition is practiced: celebrating Mothering Day, on the fourth Sunday after Lent (with Lent being calculated according to liturgical calendar of the Dark Ages, and continuing on as a custom of the Church of England), apparently from a tradition of visiting one’s mother’s church on that Sunday.  The American observance of Mother’s Day became known to British soldiers and sailors and airmen during World War II, and thereafter Britain’s Mothering Day blended with aspects of the American Mother’s Day (assisted, no doubt, by British merchants who saw an advantage for retail commerce!).

A few of the other countries celebrate Mother’s Day at some other time. For example, in Poland May 26th is calendared as Mother’s Day.  Sweden uses the last day in May, in order that bloomed flowers will be available for mothers. Luxembourg uses June 1st for Mother’s Day, as does also  Nicaragua. Since AD1996 Belarus (“White Russia”[4]) recognizes October 14th as Mother’s Day.  Argentina observes the third Sunday in October as Mother’s Day.  Russia uses the last Sunday of November.  Israel uses Shevat 30, which usually falls somewhere within the month of February.

Many show their gratitude for being born by attending church with their mothers. Some folks estimate that Mother’s Day hosts the third-highest church attendance, only behind Christmas (Christ’s Birthday) and Easter (Resurrection Sunday).

In fact, even animal mothers should be respected for their valuable labors of love, as is illustrated in this Sunday morning message (“Animal Mothers and the Genesis Mandate:  Critter Mamas are Pro-Life and Pro-Filling”), recorded at a church in Tampa:

Father’s Day is recognized as a family holiday in most cultures.   (Before the era of cell phones, it was said that more long-distance “collect calls” occurred on Father’s Day, illustrating how many children recognize themselves as dependents who expect Dad to pay the bills.  Was the evening meal (whether at home or at a restaurant) a favorite meal of the father being honored (even if it was him who paid the bill for it)?  Did Dad receive a meaningful Father’s Day gift, or at least a decent Father’s Day card?

The third Sunday in June is when America officially celebrates Father’s Day. Most of the rest of the world uses the same time for celebrating Father’s Day. For example, besides America, these (and other) nations use the third Sunday in June for celebrating Father’s Day:  Albania, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Canada, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kosovo, Laos, Macau, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Oman, Philippines, Qatar, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Turkey, United Kingdom (i.e., Great Britain & Northern Ireland), Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Some of the other nations, however, celebrate Father’s Day at some other time. For example, Russians celebrate Father’s Day on the 23rd of February.  March 19th is designated as Father’s Day in several countries, including Andorra, Belgium (in Antwerp), Bolivia, Honduras, Croatia, Italy, Switzerland (Ticino canton), Liechtenstein, Portugal, and Spain.  The second Sunday in May is Father’s Day in Romania. For Tonga it is on the third Sunday in May.  Most of Switzerland (i.e., excluding Canton Ticino) and Lithuania observe Father’s Day on the first Sunday in June.  Respecting national forefathers, Denmark combines Father’s Day with Constitution Day, so both are celebrated by Danes on the 5th of June.  Nicaragua observes Father’s Day on the 23rd of June, as does Poland. Several Moslem countries (e.g., Egypt, Jordan, Syria) observe Father’s Day on the first day of summer (i.e., June 21st).  Taiwan observes it on the 8th of August.  Brazil and Samoa use the second Sunday in August for Father’s Day.  The first Sunday in September is Father’s Day for Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea.  For Latvia it’s the second Sunday in September.  For the Ukraine, it’s the third Sunday in September.  For Luxembourg, the first Sunday in October.  In several Nordic countries (Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), however, fathers are not honored until the second Sunday in November.  In Bulgaria, Father’s Day is not observed until the 26th of December.

In America, for many generations, Father’s Day is celebrated with less zeal than Mother’s Day. Why?  In fact, Mother’s Day has been an official holiday in America since AD1914, yet Father’s Day was not an official American holiday until AD1972, more than a half-century later.[5]

There are many opinions as to why, but one guess would compare the difference between a church sermon on Mother’s Day and one on Father’s Day. Have you ever compared the two?  Some have said that a Mother’s Day sermon is usually about how wonderful mothers are, yet a Father’s Day sermon is an exhortation for fathers to do a better job of fathering.  (Reader, what do you think?)

In Germany  this seems to make sense, since German men often celebrate Father’s Day (Vatertag, the Thursday 40 days after Easter) by getting drunk, so much so that (especially in East Germany) alcohol-related traffic accidents triple on this day there.  A worthier tradition, in Germany, is the awarding of a special ham (by the village’s mayor) to the father with the most children.

Can you sympathize with the father who was “left behind”, as other fathers were being honored on Father’s Day? (Consider the limerick that follows.) If so, try to imagine how God the Father feels, when He is “left behind” by throngs of ungrateful human creatures.

Ode to the Work and Woes of Fatherhood

To be a dad is a thankless chore;

                   Do your best – you should’ve done more:

                             Unlike grandpas, who have fun,

                             A father’s job  is never done;

                   To be a dad is a thankless chore.[6]

In fact, we see that very problem, in the Old Testament’s last book (Malachi), where it says:

A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. . . .  (Malachi 1:6a)

Every father who has ever been disappointed by his child’s ingratitude should better appreciate, with at least a bit of finite empathy, the grief that God the Father experiences, as the next limerick indicates.

Empathetic Appreciation for God our Heavenly Father

Fatherhood’s no place for a bluffer;

 It demands your heart, and you’ll suffer:

                             With sacrifice, care, and tears,

                             Serving ingrates through the years;

 If you’re a dad, you’ll learn to suffer.[7]

One of the most painful, yet most precious, experiences a Christian can have, on this earth, is the human marathon-endurance experience of parenting. It provides a microscopically small taste of what parenting is (somewhat) like for our great God, a bittersweet experience of caring and loving one’s children, through thick and thin.  If you have been there you know what I mean.

Grandparents’ Day is a little-known, and even lesser observed, family-related holiday, observed (in America) on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Rather appropriately, the official flower for Grandparents’ Day is the forget-me-not (a blue spring flower).

A few other nations observe a special day for grandparents. For example, Queensland, Australia, employs the first Sunday in November for celebrating Grandparents’ Day. (Other parts of Australia also celebrate Grandparents’ Day, though not necessarily on the same day.)  For France, Grandparents’ Day is on the first Sunday in March. Taiwan observes Grandparents’ Day on the last Sunday in August.  Canada uses the second Sunday in September for celebrating Grandparents’ Day, as does also Estonia.  Germany’s day is the second Sunday in October.

Poland observes two consecutive days for appreciating grandparents: January 21st for grandmothers and January 22nd for grandfathers.

Two other holidays will be noted in passing, Children’s Day and Parents’ Day, only to note that their family-friendly labels were (for the most part) misleading, due to their original advocates’ intent to promote anti-family agenda political objectives.

Wedding anniversaries are just that, annual celebrations of the oldest social institution on earth: the marriage of one man to one woman (Genesis 2:24, endorsed in Matthew19:5, Ephesians 5:31, & 1st Corinthians 6:16).  Usually these matrimonial anniversaries are observed by husband and wife taking time aside to do something special, insulated from everyday distractions.  Because it is God Who puts man and wife together, spouses should specially appreciate and thank God, as a celebrating couple, for their marital blessings.


Family, Friends, Fellowship, and Fun

A multi-generational family reunion — i.e., a gathering of an extended family, based upon shared ancestry (and marriages with descendants of that shared ancestry) —  is another precious example of a family history-based festivity.  This kind of event is enhanced if an older member of the extended family give a speech about the family history, especially if the speaker employs anecdotal details that are likely to be remembered by the young children in the audience.  Photographs arranged on a table, with short verbal explanation, are also a worthy aid to presenting family history to young eyes, and to not-so-young eyes as well.

Family reunions can be informal events, simply getting together for Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or a high school (or college, or military) graduation. Or a family reunion can be an event specifically organized to celebrate the importance of being descended from the same ancestors (or marrying descendants of those ancestors).

Organizing a family reunion is no small project, but if it is done well it is a truly wonderful and valuable extended family experience. Imagine four generations of females, plus a couple of males, trying to get ready for a family reunion, sharing a small farmhouse’s solitary bathroom!

4 Generations Getting Ready for the Family Reunion

One little bathroom, shared by 6 folks,

                   The in-and-out traffic jerks and chokes:

                             “Just wait your turn; now don’t you fret!”

                             “But I gotta go!  —  aren’t you done yet?”

                   One little bathroom shared by 6 folks![8]

GLATTFELDER family crest (Switzerland)

This author had the privilege of attending a 100th family reunion, in AD2005, a get-together of a very extended family that traced common ancestry to German-speaking Swiss ancestors (surnamed Glattfelder) who migrated to America in AD1743, before America was a nation!  A portion of that experience is quoted below, from a report provided to a family history journal.

This year [i.e., A.D. 2005), Pennsylvania’s Casper Glattfelder Association happily hosted their 100th annual family reunion, and God having been willing, Texas was represented.  The multi–generational migration behind that Texas’s Glattfelder lineage, providentially speaking, connects emigrants from Germany’s Rhine to immigrants settling in East Texas pine, via linking a trans-Atlantic voyage (in A.D. 1743) to a later Texas transmigration (during A.D. 1888).  . . . .

Thus, the family of the Casper Glattfelder, along with that of his recently widowed sister-in-law, Salomea, … traveled downstream, on the mighty Rhine River, from the convergence of the Rhine and the Glatt, all the way to Rotterdam (Holland), and from there sailed  (aboard the Francis & Elizabeth ) to the American port of Philadelphia, arriving there on August 30th of 1743.

While in Pennsylvania, many of the Glattfelder immigrants settled in Pennsylvania’s York County, and many of their descendants live there to this day (and some have even returned to Glattfelden, for a nostalgic visit).

However, others moved on: for example, 12-year-old Johan (“Hans”) Rudolf Glattfelder, who left Glattfelden in 1743 (with his widowed mother, siblings, cousins, Uncle Casper, and Aunt Elizabeth, the  year after his father died.  After arriving in Pennsylvania in 1743, with them, young Hans Rudolf acclimated to America, marrying Veronica Hershberger at  the “First Reformed Church” of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

Thereafter, in York, Pennsylvania,  Hans Rudolf and Veronica Glattfelder parented a son named George Clodfelter, sometime around 1768  (when father Hans Rudolf was in his 30s), accommodating to America’s English language by changing the child’a surname spelling to  “Clodfelter”, to match the Anglicized (“American”) pronunciation.

Eventually, George Clodfelter migrated southward, to North Carolina, and died in Catawba, North Carolina, after having been married to a wife named “Mary” (who was herself born in 1768, and who died in a year unknown).  Providentially,  George and Mary Glodfelter had parented a daughter named Frances [“Fanny”] Clodfelter.

Fanny Clodfelter married a James Abernethy (of North Carolina) – and this line of the Glattfelder family tree now continues within the Abernethy line she married into.  Both James and Fanny lived, died, and were buried in Gaston County, North Carolina  — but they parented a son, George Washington Abernethy, who eventually married a Holly Goodson in 1827.

Very importantly, Holly Goodson’s brother Aaron moved to the Piney Woods of East Texas in 1852.  This would become the historic catalyst that would prompt the Abernethy/Abernathy – Glattfelder/Clodfelter line to migrate to Texas, because the son of George W. and Holly, James Alford Abernethy, moved to Aaron’s Texas community (Hughes Springs, in Cass County) in 1888.  When James Alford Abernethy did so, he took his beautiful wife (Janie Weatherspoon, also spelled Witherspoon) with him.

Thus, the Glattfelder line, as married into the Abernethy line, arrived in the green Piney Woods of East Texas, in the year of our Lord 1888.  Obviously, this branch of the Glattfelder family tree is still growing   —   and the descendants continue to issue forth, just like the Glatt River, which issues forth and flows into the Rhine River, and then flows into the North Sea, and thereafter into the Atlantic Ocean  —  and God (Who guides providential history) only knows, and ultimately directs, where that flow goes on from there.

(Quoting from the Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society.[9])

Glatt River, Glattfelden, Switzerland

The family reunion was a huge gathering: 497 attended! In retrospect, it was an unforgettable weekend that commemorated God’s providence in the lives of some humble German-speaking Swiss immigrants, ancestors from whom the lives of many (in posterity) would depend, procreatively speaking.  And for many who would marry into that precious family, it was a priceless migration that provided God’s provision of family life by affinity, enabling future generations to be produced by the marriages that further extended the immigrant family lines.

On the warm weekend of July 29th, 30th, & 31st, A.D. 2005, about 500 members [497 was the official count!] of the Casper Glattfelder Association of America celebrated their 100th annual family reunion in York County, Pennsylvania (with some of the events occurring in the Heimwald Pavilion, pictured above), in the very community where the High German–speaking Glattfelder immigrants settled, shortly after their arrival in America on August 30th, A.D. 1743,  —  in an America that was then a British crown colony! For anyone interested in the particulars of these events, please visit the following website:   (a website wealthy in family history data).

(Quoting from the Journal of the German Texan Heritage Society[10].)

Many other family reunions are “younger” in their repeated observance and more localized in attendance. Of course, most family reunions will not include hundreds of attendees.  But it is quality, not quantity, that counts.  (Of course, a large family reunion, like the Glattfelder Reunion in Pennsylvania, is famous for both quantity and quality.)

However, celebrating family history and heritage is important, so do it as best you can  —  don’t wait for someone else to do it better! 

Use family reunions as an opportunity to facilitate older generations to speak to the younger generations about how things used to be, about what is important in life, about how ancestors met, married, worked, and worshipped.  How else will the younger generations know their family history, unless it is passed on?

Furthermore, get the family history recorded  —  photographs, writings, letters, certificates, family genealogies, — all of those details are important to God, and they should also be prized and preserved by family members, living and to be born in the future (Psalm 102:18).


Foods to Match Birthdays and Other Family History Celebrations

What kind of food is used to celebrate family history celebrations? Birthdays are famous for ice cream and (birthday) cakes, but that was noted above, already.

For Mother’s Day, imagine a beautiful “afternoon tea” presentation of Danish open-faced sandwiches, called smørrebrød (which literally translates “butter-bread” because the base of each is a single slice of bread, usually rye, on which is smeared butter, and atop that a combination of foods called “the topping” – there is no second slice of bread, so it is called (in America) open-faced sandwich, and is best eaten sitting with a knife and fork).

A couple of examples of smørrebrød recipes are given below. The first example combines ham,[11] the classic meat of Denmark, with what the Danes call “Italian salad”.



The Danes love all pork products and a wide variety of ham is sold ready-cooked in stores. Garnished with another favourite, a simple pea and carrot combination known in Denmark as Italian salad, this ham [open-faced] sandwich is fresh and satisfying.  You need to make the salad in advance.

Makes 4 [servings of this variety of smørrebrød]

  • 25g/1oz/2 tbsp salted butter, softened
  • 2 slices rye bread
  • 2 leaves round (butterhead) lettuce
  • 8 thin slices (125g/4¼ oz) cooked ham
  • 12 slices cucumber
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  •             For the Italian salad
  • 115 g/4oz/1 cup chopped carrots
  • 115 g/4oz/1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 50 ml/2fl oz/¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 5 ml/1 tsp lemon juice
  • 10 ml/2 tsp chopped dill
  • Salt and white pepper {if no white pepper is available black pepper will suffice]
  1. To make the Italian salad place the carrots in a pan with 50ml/2fl oz/¼ cup water. Bring to the boil and cook for 4-5 minutes until nearly tender. Stir in the peas and cook for 2 more minutes. Drain the vegetables, refresh under cold running water, drain again and place in a bowl.
  2. Leave the vegetables to cool completely, then stir in the mayonnaise, lemon juice and chill and season with salt and pepper. Chill until needed.
  3. To make the [open-faced] sandwiches, butter the slices of bread to the edges, top with the lettuces leaves and cut each slice in half [diagonally, to form 2 triangles].
  4. Leaving one curl of lettuce visible on each piece, pleat or fan two slices of ham over the lettuce. Top the ham on each sandwich with 15ml/1 tbsp Italian salad. Garnish with cucumber slices and parsley sprigs. Combine chopped [boiled] egg and any kind of smoked, pickled, or salted chopped herring. Spread on buttered rye, crisp, or brown bread. (Quoting from Nika Hazelton’s Classic Scandinavian Cooking.[13])Now imagine a special afternoon “tea” for Mother’s Day, festively presented on a decorated table (decked with a mostly white tablecloth, plus a centerpiece of flowers, and maybe even candles, with special plates and silverware),   — with varieties of smørrebrød choices, such as those described above, plus others such as these, each built atop a triangular slice of buttered rye bread:
  5. Open-faced sandwiches often combine boiled egg slices with sliced meats, fish, shrimp, cucumbers, cheeses, and various sauces. An alternative to boiled egg slices (or halves) is stuffed eggs, what some Americans improvidentially call “deviled eggs”. TO get really fancy, stuffed eggs can be color-enhanced by paprika or black caviar.
  6. Top with watercress or parsley spriglets. Or place chopped, boned herrings or herring strips lengthwise on chopped hard-cooked [i.e., hard-boiled] eggs, or overlapping slices of hard-cooked [i.e., hard-boiled] eggs.


Here is another example of a Danish-style smørrebrød (because nothing dominates Danish cuisine more than herring!), with a lot less detail regarding preparation, but the delicious ingredients pretty much speak for themselves (quoting from Judith Dem’s Danish Food and Cooking.[12])


  1. Danish, Greenland, or Florida shrimps atop boiled egg slices, resting on lettuce;
  2. slices or rolls of ham, salami, and/or turkey, topped by mustard with capers, circled by the ring outline of a tomato slice (with or without a ring of red onion);
  3. smoked salmon filets slices (or the marinated salmon filets called gravad lax, a/k/a gravlax), topped with a ring formed from red bell pepper, encircling balack caviar atop a dab of cream cheese;
  4. spinach leaf, topped by 2 slices of mild cheeses (such as Havarti, Jarlsberg, Muenster, or Swedish farm cheese), topped by a row of 3 or 4 small sliced dill pickles, topped (at right angle to the pickle slices) by 2 or 3 asparagus spears, topped by a dab of mayonnaise, topped by a slice of cherry tomato;

— or whatever combinations you can artistically build atop slices of buttered bread!  Then add something to drink that the celebrated mother likes – maybe long-leaf Earl Grey tea, colorful napkins, and some kind of fruit combination (maybe grapes, tangerines, pineapple slices, orange sections, blueberries, strawberries, and anything else that is colorful and tasty).

Maybe your mom is different  — the point is, make her happy by doing something special she likes.

Don’t forget to ask God’s blessing before the meal, combined with gratitude to Him for making Mom who she is. A Mother’s Day “tea” not to be soon forgotten!

For Father’s Day, recall that in parts of Germany it has been a tradition to award the father with the most children with a special ham.  Accordingly, a ham recipe follows, for Father’s Day.

Remember: Dad may not appreciate the fancy presentation that Mom likes, but Dad is likely meat-hungry, so don’t be chintzy with the meat portions on Father’s Day!  In parts of Germany it has been a tradition to award the father with the most children with a special ham.[14] Accordingly, a ham recipe follows, for Father’s Day.

Since the men from all ages (after the global Flood) have enjoyed eating  meat,[15] it is also unsurprising to find a Welsh ham recipe that satisfies a man’s hunger.

Of course, hams are often used to celebrate other holidays, such as the Christmas ham famous in Sweden. See, e.g., the brine-cured, cooked, glazed, and garnished “Swedish Christmas Ham” in Nika Hazelton’s Classic Scandinavian Cooking (New York, NY: Galahad Books, 1994), page 113.



The ham [5 to 6 pounds!] should be soaked overnight in cold water.  [Then add:]

  • 1 large onion
  • 8 [or maybe a few more] cloves
  • 2½ cups clear cider and water (½ quantities of each)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of brown sugar   Mix together.
  • Place the ham into a large stewpan. Prick the onion with the cloves: add all other ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer slowly for 25-30 minutes, to each pound [of the ham]. Cool, then peel off the skin.
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon made mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon mace
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Press the mixture into the harp and place into a greased pie dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes in moderate oven.  Serve with vegetables or salad.  Can also be served with the traditional parsley sauce.   Makes 6 to 8 servings.

[Quoting from Helen Smith-Twiddy’s Celtic Cookbook.[16]]

Ham is truly a versatile meat (appreciated by most Gentiles the world over!). It even appears on pizzas, sometimes, such as “Hawaiian pizza”, the pizza dominated by sliced pineapple and ham toppings.

Meanwhile, never let it be said that open-faced sandwiches are only proper for fêting Mother’s Day! An example follows, of a platter of open-faced sandwiches,[1] used for a birthday party.

(Other traditional occasions for open-faced sandwiches include Christmas celebration get-togethers and summer crayfish parties.[2])



It is typical of Scandinavians to present a variety of cold foods with which guests can build their own sandwiches. This recipe will serve eight to twelve people.

  • 2   heads Bibb or Boston lettuce, washed and separated

  • ½   [or more] pound cooked shrimp, chilled

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar marinated herring bits in sour cream

  • 1 (8-ounce) jar marinated herring bits in wine [or mustard] sauce

  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved

  • 2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms

  • 1 cup sliced radishes

  • ½ cup sliced green onions [i.e., scallions]

  • Assorted dark and light breads, thinly sliced

  •             Dressing

  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

  • Curry powder [to taste]

On a large platter, arrange the lettuce leaves and pile the shrimp in one place. Drain the herrings and arrange on the platter along with the eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, radishes, and green onions. Cover and chill until ready to serve. To prepare the dressing, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Blend in the lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Add curry powder to taste. Serve the dressing alongside the platter of sandwich fixings and assorted breads. For 8 to 12 guests. . . .

[Quoting Beatrice Ojakangas, Scandinavian Feasts: Celebrating Traditions Throughout the Year (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), page 56.]

What a birthday party that would be! – and, surely, much healthier than the American tradition of ice cream and birthday cake. But there must be something with lit candles on it, for the birthday boy (or birthday girl) to blow out, with a wish (or better, with a prayer) for a good next year.

Final Thoughts on Family Holidays and Celebrations

Family history is worth appreciating, recording, and transmitting to future generations. Consider how the successful transmission of precious family history (with a perspective of gratitude for God’s multi-generational providences) is like a multi-generational relay race, except a lot slower.


Here are some serious thoughts about the trans-generational importance of prizing and preserving one’s family history and heritage:

When watching a relay race recently—as runners handed batons to their teammates—it reminded me that some of my mother’s ancestors fled from Scotland to Iceland, but they stopped en route in the Orkney Islands. God was at work there! That stopover—what many would consider an insignificant detail of a family’s travels—led to one daughter staying behind in Orkney (as the rest continued north). This daughter eventually married a local man; they became parents. Many generations later, in America, God graciously made me one of their many descendants. That family lineage, from two Orkney ancestors to me, is like a biogenetic relay race. It is a precious part of my family history—I thank God for it! And I can teach it to my own family, so they too can better appreciate God’s providential work in history.

What is a Relay Race?

A relay race requires a team united in their efforts to reach a destination within a certain timeframe. Each relay runner runs part of the race’s total distance. Besides running, relay races may involve cross-country skiing, swimming, ice skating, or even race-car driving. A relay race is a team sport—if the team doesn’t work well together, the unsurprising result is a failure to win. Picture the “Hood to Coast Relay,” sometimes called the “mother” of endurance relays—with a race track stretching a 199 miles! Originally run in 1982, this race begins at Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood (in Oregon), about 90 miles southeast of Portland. The course ends at Seaside, Oregon, on a sandy beach of the Pacific coastline. Each relay team has at least eight and no more than twelve runners. What a marathon! Just to be on a team that successfully finishes is both a feat and an honor.

Planning and preparation—including division of labor decisions and logistical support—are important for successfully competing in a relay race. Who will lead off? Who will run the next “leg” in the sequence? Who is supposed to finish the “last leg” of the race? If a baton must be transferred from one runner to another, the transfer of the baton can “make or break” a successful outcome. Dropping the baton, instead of successfully handing off to the next teammate, can quickly disappoint the whole team.

How Are Family Lines Like Relay Races?

Biogenetically speaking, our family lines are like relay races, except the “race” is undertaken at a much slower (yet ultimately more demanding) pace. Thankfully, our parents transferred the baton of life to us; we do the same to our children. They must do the same for our grandchildren, and so on. Yet our own lives are the convergence of many relay races, funneling biogenetically into the one unique life that each of us calls our own. What if our parents had “dropped” the baton, procreatively, when we needed them most—so that we would not have been born?

Starting the Race Right

Relay races have rules. God has rules for human life, and these rules apply to all of the multiple generations that “relay” human life from parents to children and so on. No false starts, please! No one can “start” any “leg” of the multi-generational race unless and until God Himself procreatively makes that individual, and that requires literally thousands of years of God’s providential work—the details of which we can never learn in this lifetime. Yet, by God’s astounding kindness, He chose to make each one of us the exact individual each one of us is.

No other runner in the human race is exactly like you or me. That is how personal God is, as our Creator, and beyond that His Son has provided redemption for our fallenness. That alone is cause to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. What a start in life we each have, physically: each of us was individually planned by God, procreatively constructed—microscopically—in the womb, by God’s own artistic embroidery-like needlework (Psalm 139:15, literal Hebrew), using infinitely intelligent and caring artistry. And that’s just our physical life!

Imagine how inscrutable God’s work is to give each of us a unique personality—a thinking mind, emotions, the ability to make choices—all of those singularly human traits that pertain to being created in God’s image. And even before our physical bodies were formed, by the miraculous union of sperm and egg, the spiritual redemption that we each so desperately need (as Adam’s descendants) is already provided for, by Christ’s finished death and resurrection—as a gift which we receive simply by believing His good news about it. What an amazing start!

But, as members of a specific family, we are members of a team that must all run. So having a wonderful start is no place to quit. It is our duty to run with endurance, our assigned “leg” of the race, as we blend our part of the race with that of our family “teammates.” That includes focusing on Christ Himself—Who is our ultimate goal (Hebrews 12:1-2), pacing our race with endurance (that He provides), refusing to be distracted (by the world), and doing our best to help the next runner(s) to get off to a good start.

 Learning (Family) Line Upon Line . . .

Appreciating the big-picture value of a relay race requires that the participation of each team member be recognized and apprised for the contribution that runner made to the whole sequence. Here is the surprise application … how well have you appreciated those who “ran” before you, and who (biogenetically) passed a baton that became a necessary part of who—in God’s providence—you are today?

“Honor your father and mother,” to be sure, but don’t stop there! What work did God do to make sure that your father was born the boy he was? What details of human history made it possible for your mother to be procreatively created as the girl she was? What about your mother’s parents—what work did God do, in history, to make them who they were? Why and how did they meet? Realize that they did not know that your future existence hung in the balances, historically speaking, yet God foreknew it all, and He orchestrated details that controlled your future destiny. The same is true about your paternal grandparents. Have you thanked God for their lives?

Do the research. Learn your family history—as much of it as you possibly can. Organize the information. Convert oral histories into written records, somehow. Memories dim quicker than expected. Family members pass away, when it’s their God-appointed time. What family history can you pass on to the next generation, so they can know what to thank God for? Write it down. Make copies of family history records and photographs. Distribute these to family members who care. Talk about these family legacy matters in the home (Deuteronomy 6:7), with thanksgiving, as part of what it means to be a Biblical creationist.  Years later you will be glad that you invested the research time and effort, and transferred it during teachable moments.

(Quoting from “Family Lines are Like Relay Races”.[20])

God chose to create each of us to belong to the exact families that we each belong to – this should be appreciated and celebrated, as the following limerick reminds us.

Appreciating Days that Celebrate Family History, Because God Chose to Create Us to Belong to the Families He Selected

For our families we owe God our praise;

 As you celebrate, thank God for birthdays!

                             Fête Father’s Day, and Mother’s Day,

                             (Why not Sisters’ and Brothers’ Day?)

 Anniversaries should be days of praise! [21]

To celebrate a birthday without recognizing God’s personal Creatorship (Psalms 102:18; Psalm 139:15) is illogical and unthankful. Likewise, if we fail to thank God for our parents, on Father’s Day and on Mother’s Day, we are ingrates.  The same is true whenever we celebrate our own wedding anniversaries, or those of our parents.

Family history celebrations are a good and valuable custom to practice, year after year, but only if we remember Who made us and our families in the first place!

><> JJSJ


[1] Regarding God’s sovereign decision-making, careful selection, and caring providence, as our very personal Creator, see James J. S. Johnson, “Of Grackles and Gratitude”, Acts & Facts, 41(7):8-10 (July 2012), posted at .

[2] Regarding Psalm 102:18, see James J. S. Johnson, “’New from Nothing’: Is God Still Creating Today?”, Acts & Facts, 42(5):10-11 (May 2013), posted at . Regarding Psalm 139:15, see James J. S. Johnson, “Biblical Truth in High Definition”, Acts & Facts, 41(8)8-10 (August 2012):, posted at .

[3] The traditional Mother’s Day flower in Australia is the chrysanthemum, which is abbreviated as the “mum” – an appropriate flower for one’s “mum”. In China, however, carnations are most popular as a Mother’s Day token.  In Quebec (Canada) it is the rose that is most used on Mother’s Day.

[4] During the Soviet occupation years, Belarus (a/k/a Belo-Russia) observed the Communist “International Women Day” on March 8th.  October 14th was picked as the new date to match a preexisting Eastern Orthodox holiday extolling Mary.

[5] President Lyndon Johnson gave the first presidential proclamation (of Father’s Day) in AD1966; President Richard Nixon signed a Congressional recognition of Father’s Day, as a permanent national holiday, in AD1972.

[6] Limerick reprinted from James J. S. Johnson, “Ode to the Woes of Fatherhood”, Limerick Legacy series (Cross Timbers Institute, Short Paper # AD2013-06-16-B; © AD2013 James J. S. Johnson, used by permission).

[7] Limerick reprinted from James J. S. Johnson, “Empathetic Appreciation for God our Heavenly Father”, Limerick Legacy series (Cross Timbers Institute, Short Paper # AD2013-08-08-C; © AD2013 James J. S. Johnson, used by permission).

[8] Limerick reprinted from James J. S. Johnson, “Four Generations Getting Ready for the Family Reunion”, Limerick Legacy series (Cross Timbers Institute, Short Paper # AD2013-06-15; © AD2013 James J. S. Johnson, used by permission).

[9] James J. S. Johnson, “From Germany’s Rhine to the East Texas Pine: How an Immigrating Line of High German-speaking Glattfelders Stretched to East Texas’ Piney Woods”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 28(3):246, 253-254 (fall 2005).

[10] James J. S. Johnson, “From Germany’s Rhine to the East Texas Pine: How an Immigrating Line of High German-speaking Glattfelders Stretched to East Texas’ Piney Woods”, Journal of the German-Texan Heritage Society, 28(3):246, 254 (fall 2005).

[11] This is the first of several ham recipes. This author was created a Gentile with Scandinavian roots, so hma is to be expected as a main dish!

[12] Judith Dem, “Ham with Italian Salad / Skinke med Italiensk Salat”,Danish Food and Cooking (London: Anness Publishing, 2008), page 65.

[13] Nika Hazelton, Classic Scandinavian Cooking (New York, NY: Galahad Books, 1994), page 19.

[14] Of course, hams are often used to celebrate other holidays, such as the Christmas ham famous in Sweden. See, e.g., the brine-cured, cooked, glazed, and garnished “Swedish Christmas Ham” in Nika Hazelton’s Classic Scandinavian Cooking (New York, NY: Galahad Books, 1994), page 113.

[15] Bobby Freeman, Traditional Food from Wales (New York, NY: Hippocrene Books, 1997) (“In the early Dark-Age settlement of Dinas Powys in Glamorgan pigs were calculated to have accounted for 61% of all meats eaten there”), page 36.

[16] Helen Smith-Twitty, “Wales: Ham in Cider”, Celtic Cookbook — Traditional Recipes from the Six Celtic Lands: Brittany, Cornwall, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales (New York, NY: Hippocrene Books, 1998), page 64.

[17] This sandwich platter goes by different names: smørrebrødplade (Danish), voileipälautanen (Finnish), smørebrødsauser (Norwegian), and smörgåsarplatta (Swedish).  See Beatrice Ojakangas, Scandinavian Feasts: Celebrating Traditions Throughout the Year (Minneapollis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), page 56.

[18] Regarding summer crayfish parties, see your local IKEA store or Andreas Viestad, Kitchen of Light: New Scandinavian Cooking with Andreas Viestad (New York, NY: Workman Publishing, 2003), pages 140-143.

[19] Beatrice Ojakangas, Scandinavian Feasts: Celebrating Traditions Throughout the Year (Minneapollis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001), page 56.

[20] James J. S. Johnson, “Family Lines are Like Relay Races”, Home Education Family Association Blog, 10-29-AD2012 (© AD2012  James J. S. Johnson; later reprinted in AD2013 with author’s permission, for posting on ICR’s Your Origins Matter website.)

[21] Limerick reprinted from James J. S. Johnson, “Appreciating Days that Celebrate Family History, Because God Chose to Create Us to Belong to the Families He Selected”, Limerick Legacy series (Cross Timbers Institute, Short Paper # AD2013-08-08-B; © AD2013 James J. S. Johnson, used by permission).


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