Have you ever teased that “It must be a full moon?” A couple of weekends ago, this was a common phrase around here. (A few of our residents were a bit agitated.)
Can the Moon make people act strangely? Science doesn’t think so, but could centuries of folklore be wrong?
Doctors, nurses, EMTs, and police officers generally agree that full Moons will bring crazier behavior. Studies have failed to turn up evidence of “the lunar effect,” as some call it. In fact, admissions for psychosis are lowest during the full Moon, and psychiatric emergency room visits decline. Yet 43 percent of healthcare professionals and 81 percent of mental health care specialists believe in the lunar effect.
One explanation might be that people are more likely to notice things that confirm a preexisting belief. So if something weird happens on the full Moon, you say, “Must be a full Moon.”
Where do these ideas and superstitions come from?
Lunatic is an old term referring to a person considered mentally ill, dangerous, foolish, unpredictable, or crazy—conditions once attributed to lunacy. The word is derived from lunaticus meaning “of the moon” or “moonstruck.” The term was once commonly used in law. A synonym for lunacy is dementia. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. The most common form is Alzheimer’s .
Until at least 1700, it was also a common belief that the Moon influenced fevers, rheumatism, epilepsy and other diseases.
Why is so much of the “lunar effect” attributed to the full Moon? After all, the Moon affects the ocean tides. People use the Moon as an indicator on when to plant gardens and crops. The birth rate of cows increases and, a study done in the United Kingdom between 1997-1999 concluded that animals have an increased inclination to bite a human during a full Moon period.
My personal experience occurred while caring for a loved one. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she exhibited unusual behavior on a daily basis, like “forgetting” she ate when she had just finished a meal. During the full Moon, especially when it was closest to Earth, it seemed as though her medications stopped working.
The full Moon occurs only once every 29.5 days; this means that based on the theory of lunacy, the other 4 weeks of the lunar month should be less dangerous and unpredictable. Therefore, if you notice any unusual behavior, it might just be a full Moon!
Today, for dessert, our residents enjoyed cheesecake. The question came up, though, why do they call it cheesecake; they don’t put cheese in it, do they? We realize that there is not what we might call “normal cheese,” but there is cream cheese. Actually, though, some parts of the world do include actual cheese in this tasty dessert. Cream cheese, in fact, has a relatively short history, originating in 19th century America.
Cheesecake, itself, however, goes back much further, even
possibly as far back as about 2000 BC in the ancient Greek world, on the island
of Samos, where excavations found cheese molds dating back to that time. Nonetheless, the first surviving Greek recipe
for cheese cake is not found until 230 AD.
Next came the Romans, who adapted the Greek delight to
include eggs and crushed cheese. Later,
as the empire spread, this creamy treat made its way to England and other parts
of Europe. It took centuries, though, for cheesecake to come to resemble more
closely the dessert we enjoy today. There
are two main types of cheesecake, baked and the version made with uncooked
In the late 1800s, with the invention of cream cheese, the
treat took a delightful turn. Now, New
York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and St. Louis have their own characteristic
Italians, however, have their own version of dessert which is rich in flavor as well as history. They use ricotta cheese. Elsewhere, Germans use cottage cheese, Greeks use feta, and Japanese use, of all things, egg whites and corn starch. South Africa and India also put their own twists on it, as do some other parts of Europe.
The story of Silent Night begins in Salzburg, Austria. A woman there of very little means and no hope of raising her lifestyle or marrying, lived alone. She fell in love with a soldier stationed there. They conceived a child, who was born December 11, 1792. Being an unwed mother with a child, she knew the rejection of society. So she asked the hangman to be godparent to her baby Joseph.
The new mother provided as best she could for Joseph, and realized that a good education was his only hope of a future. The local parish priest recognized his brightness and singing ability. He arranged for Joseph to attend a famous abbey school of Kremsmunster. Young Joseph excelled in his studies, later realizing he had a vocation to the priesthood and entered seminary at 16. Finally, at 22, when he was ready for ordination, Joseph needed a special dispensation since he had no father.
Joseph Mohr was assigned as the assistant pastor at St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, 10 miles northwest of Salzburg on the River Salzach. The parish was very modest and the pastor was strict – frugal to say the least. Here, Father Mohr became friends with Franz Gruber. Gruber, also the son of a weaver, had little appreciation for music. Franz was expected to follow in his father’s trade. Despite his father’s disapproval, Franz began playing the guitar and organ. The parish priest even allowed Franz to practice in Church. His talents were soon recognized, and he was sent to school for formal music training. He eventually settled in Oberndorf, working as a music teacher and raising his family of twelve children. Friends, Mohr and Gruber shared their love of music, and both played the guitar. On December 23, 1818, Mohr went to visit a mother and her newborn child. On the way back to the Rectory, he paused by the river, meditating on the first Christmas. He wrote a poem of that great event, and called it Silent Night, Holy Night. In his words, he captured the mystery of the incarnation and birth of our Lord: The holy infant Jesus, who is Christ the Savior, Son of God, and Love’s pure light, was born of Mary and filled the world with the redeeming grace from Heaven.
On his return to the parish, he received news that the organ was broken. Mice had eaten through the bellows, disabling the wind necessary for the pipes to produce music. Without the funds to repair the organ, he feared Midnight Mass would be silent. He rushed to the Gruber home and shared his problem. He handed Gruber the poem, and asked him to write a melody for guitar instead. Franz Gruber completed the tune in time. At Midnight Mass, 1818, the world heard the first simple song we know as Silent Night. The song was well received, and quickly spread throughout Austria, being called A Tyrolean Carol. Frederick Wilhelm IV , King of Prussia, heard Silent Night at the Berlin Imperial Church and ordered it to be sung throughout the kingdom at Christmas pageants and services.
Ironically, the music gained fame without any credit to its composers. Some thought Michael Haydn, the brother of composer Franz Joseph Haydn, wrote the piece. So the King of Prussia ordered a search. When the king’s agents arrived at St. Peter’s monastery, inquiring about the composers of Silent Night; Felix, Gruber’s son, a student there, approached them and told them the story behind Silent Night. He directed them to his father, who was now the choir master of another parish. From that time on, Mohr and Gruber were credited with Silent Night.Father Joseph Mohr died of tuberculosis at the age of 56, December 4, 1848. Gruber died at 76. Our English translation is attributed to Jane Campbell in 1863, and was carried to America in 1871, in Charles Hutchins Sunday School ymnal .Each year as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, we should take to heart the words of Silent Night and that its message is carried in our own hearts.
In a previous post, we offered information about the benefits of baking. We’ve realized this firsthand with a few of our residents, who enjoy the chance to “get domestic.” We’ve given them a chance to help mixing up cookies or other treats to serve. They remember doing such work in years past and enjoy being a part of a project like this; they don’t mind a compliment on their tasty results, either.
We’d like to offer you a similar opportunity!
Do you enjoy baking, but not have much of an outlet? (Maybe you’re not too eager for the extra pounds that come from indulging in a lot of baked goods.)
Our annual bake sale is coming up on October 27th. If you’d like to bake something(s) to contribute to our sale, we would appreciate it.
You can even fill out this form to let us know what you’re planning.
Last September, some residents and I pitted many small plums from Sr. Rebecca’s nieces trees in rural western Minnesota.
Some of you may further have heard of my little experiment, planting some of the pits in our raised garden over the winter and finding them sprouted in the spring. (I thought it would be fun for our residents to watch.)
From there, they’ve journeyed to pots, where they remained to this day.
However, early fall is a good time for planting trees, and with rains expected this afternoon, this morning was a perfect time to plant them.
Thanks to our maintenance man, Jasen, these four little trees are now snugly tucked into the ground for the winter. (I helped a little bit, but he did most of the work, including plotting out their location.)
After all the T.L.C. I’ve given them the past several months, I hope they survive a North Dakota winter. We’ll see.