|The Annunciation by Fra Angelico source|
Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. The day when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive a son, named Jesus. It is exactly nine months before the birth of Jesus. So do we know the exact dates when these events took place in history? No, although they did take place in human history. We have record of the birth of Jesus outside of Scripture from non-Christian witnesses. Feast days, as we call them, are days set by the Church in order to commemorate important events in our Salvation history; or to commemorate certain saints.
On the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we celebrate the fact that Mary's yes brought about our salvation. Becuase of Mary, who was Immaculately conceived, God was able to be born and "dwell amongst men." God came amongst us! Can you wrap your head around that one? No other religious leaders in human history claimed to be God. In no other religion does God intervene in human history. He said, alright, you don't get this, you don't seem to understand my love, so I'll come and show you myself. That's it!
Here's a basic breakdown of the different types of feasts we celebrate in the Church from Catholic Straight Answers.
Solemnities are the most important celebrations. They begin at vespers (evening prayer) of the day before. During the Mass celebration, we say the Gloria and the Creed. Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation (U.S. Holy Days of Obligation are: Mary Mother of God, Ascension, Assumption, All Saints, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas) are solemnities. Other solemnities are St. Joseph (March 19), Sacred Heart of Jesus (Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi), and St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29).
Feasts are of second importance. They do not have a first vespers or Vigil Mass. An exception would be the feasts of the Lord which occur on Sundays in Ordinary Time and Sundays during the Christmas season. For example, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2) has its own first vespers. On these days, the Gloria is recited but not the Creed.
Finally, there are the memorials, which are classified as either obligatory or optional. Memorials commemorate a saint or saints. Obligatory memorials must be observed (meaning celebrated in the liturgy) whereas optional memorials do not have to be observed. For example, St. John Bosco (January 31) is obligatory while the memorial of St. Blase (February 3) is optional. Only the memorials of those saints who are of “universal significance” are observed by the whole Church and marked in the general liturgical calendar.
Other feast days would be local saints to a country, town, diocese or religious order.
One note: often we will hear the word feast used to refer to any liturgical commemoration, such as the Feast of the Annunciation, rather than Solemnity of the Annunciation. It is still referring to the solemnity.
So how exactly do we celebrate this day? So up until now, we haven't really celebrated this day in particular other than going to Mass. But now, that our children are a bit older we would like to add on some new traditions to commemorate certain liturgical feasts. The richness of the Catholic faith is that everything has meaning. Some traditions are not necessarily universal and some we just kind of make-up on our own. The point is that we commemorate this celebration with something not only festive but memorable so that the children will note that it is a special day. That gives us parents the opportunity to explain why it is a special day. A teaching moment. Always great!
So on this day, we will make waffles! Yep! Waffles. Why you ask? It's kind of a silly and fun tradition. Why not! Well over at Catholic Cuisine she points out that in Sweden, it is known as Vaffeldagen or Waffle day which is similar to Varfrudagen, which means Feast of the Annunciation, or, "Our Lady's Day." So why not have waffles in honor of Our Lady's yes!
So have fun cooking up those waffles! Only I used a Belgian Waffle recipe :)
Here's the recipe from food.com
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1⁄2 cup oil
2 cups milk
Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
Separate the eggs.
In small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
Mix together the egg yolks, milk and oil and stir slightly.
Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
Fold in beaten egg whites.
Cook in waffle iron.