Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent, Saint Nicholas Day, And A Delicious Escarole Soup Recipe

As I began to write this post, my eyes glanced at the calendar, and as I looked closer, I read that tomorrow is December 1st. It was only Thanksgiving last week. As I get older I learn that each year the days and months get shorter. With that being said, the beginning of December means that Advent is upon us. Advent is the religious countdown to Christmas, which is my favorite holiday of the year. It seems to be a magical time, as I start to decorate my house for this joyous season. Everyday another room gets transformed into what my family calls “Dottie’s Christmas Village“. I have many candles and lots of beautiful angels plus you can’t forget the tree, with jolly old St. Nick under its branches. My Nativity takes a special place on my mantle surrounded by golden angels and branches of pines trees which fills the room with the scent of outdoors. As I unpack all of the decorations and ornaments for the tree, I seem to travel back in time. I am reminded of all my treasured keepsakes and who gave them to me throughout the years. One of the first items I take out is my Advent calendar and place it in a spot that all could see. During the Advent season, Christians all over the world start to prepare for the birth of Jesus. In celebration of his birth, there are many preparations, such as decorating your house and tree, wrapping gifts, cards to write, meals to plan and cook, baking cookies, gingerbread houses and most of all who will be attending Midnight Mass.

Advent is a tradition in my home, when my son was young. My grandmother (Nanni) started giving him an advent calendar every year, so he could understand how many days were left till Christmas Day. Everyday my son looked forward to opening another door and see what was behind it. Sometimes a short poem, a Christmas word, a chocolate kiss, or even something that pertained to the birth of Jesus. After my Nanni passed on, I continued the tradition for my son as well as my nieces and nephews.

Advent wreaths are different. They do not start on December 1st, but this wreath has a liturgical meaning, and starts usually the last Sunday in November for 4 consecutive Sundays till Christmas. This wreath consists of 4 candles. (3 purple and one pink) One candle is lit on each of the Sundays leading up to Christmas. The circle of the wreath means, God’s eternity, no beginning or end. The green of the wreath means the hope that we have in God, and the candles symbolize the light of God coming into the world through His birth.

The beginning of December is not only for Advent but on December 6th we celebrate the feast of Saint Nicholas. Whether you call him, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, St. Nick, or any other names that are used for him, Santa is still the hero of millions of children in the whole world. He had a reputation for secret gift giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and that is how he became the model for our modern day Santa Claus, which also comes from the Dutch name called Sinterklaas. St. Nicholas (San Nicola) is the patron saint of Bari, in Italy, where his relics are buried in the Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of St. Nicholas). So don’t forget to put your shoes outside on December 5th and see what goodies St. Nicholas puts in them on December 6th. 

My Parents Wedding 1951
As I end this post, I have one last event that I must share with you my readers. This year on December 2nd it will be my parents “60th” Wedding Anniversary. As I reflect on many memories, this poem says it all. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad, Thank you, and I love you both. ©

One by one each year flew by. Since you both said “I do”
60 years of memories, Shared by the two of you.
From big events and holidays, To simple daily pleasures,
Some tearful times along life’s way, Some joys that can’t be measured,
One by one each year now gone, But still they’re yours forever,
Each and every memory. Of “60” Years together!


My recipe this week is my mom's Escarole Soup. This recipe is a traditional dish that is made to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, on December 6th. Its origin is Italian and you can also add white kidney beans and tortellini to the soup.

Escarole Soup


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pound of escarole, chopped and washed
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
Freshly ground pepper
Grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the escarole and sauté until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Add the chicken broth, cover and simmer about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. You can add a can of white kidney beans (washed and rinsed) plus cooked Tortellini. Serve with crusty Italian bread and top with grated Pecorino-Romano cheese.

 Till Next Time……

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  1. Lovely post! This looks very comforting and delicious. It's a must try for the holidays. ;)

  2. Dottie Sauchelli BalinDecember 4, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for your comments. Do try some of the recipes, you will really enjoy them. Hope that your holidays are fantastic and delicious as well.

    Dottie :)