The Old Farmer’s Almanac for May 3: 100 WAYS TO AVOID DYING

 

100 WAYS TO AVOID DYING

ACCORDING TO FOLKLORE, THESE ARE THE BEST WAYS TO STAY ALIVE!
By Tim Clark

Doctors and scientists are always telling us ways to live longer. Usually they involve a healthier diet or lifestyle: that is, eating fewer carbs and more vegetables, getting more exercise, or giving up smoking. Instead, here are 100 ways to avoid dying according to folklore!

We wholeheartedly endorse the rigorous and unpleasant methods of extending life suggested by doctors, but our research into centuries of American folk wisdom has turned up 100 EASY ways of avoiding death by observing a few simple rules in everyday situations. These beliefs come from all over this country and were actually collected by students of folklore and anthropology.

None of them were made up. Just remember: if you fail to observe these rules, we won’t be responsible for the consequences!

HOUSEKEEPING HINTS

1. Don’t take ashes out of the fireplace or wood stove between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
2. Never place a broom on a bed.
3. Close umbrellas before bringing them into a house.
4. Avoid sweeping after sundown.
5. You mustn’t wash clothes on New Year Day.
6. Don’t shake out a tablecloth after dark.
7. Never wash a flag.
8. Don’t turn a chair on one leg.
9. Keep cats off piano keys.
10. Don’t hang a dishcloth on a doorknob.
11. Sweeping under a sick person’s bed will kill him or her.
12. Don’t ever, ever rock an empty rocking chair.

RENOVATION AND DECORATING

13. Never add-on to the back of your house.
14. You mustn’t cut a new window in an old house; the only way to avoid fatal consequences is to toss your apron through the new window, and then jump through it yourself.
15. Never drive a nail after sunset.
16. Don’t move into an unfinished house.
17. Avoid carrying axes, shovels, and other sharp-edged tools through a house; if you must take one inside, always take it out by the same door.
18. If you move out of a house, don’t move back into it for a year.
19. Don’t hang your sweetheart’s picture upside-down.
20. If a picture falls from the wall, don’t pick it up.
21. Never carry a peacock’s feather into a house.
22. Keep cut flowers out of bedrooms overnight.
23. Don’t ever carry a bouquet of wildflowers indoors before May 1.

SEWING AND FASHION

24. If you cut out a new dress on Friday, you must finish it that same day.
25. Don’t make new clothes between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
26. Never hold a stick in your mouth while sewing.
27. Always sew cross-stitching on your underwear.
28. Don’t walk around in one shoe.
29. If you see a will-o’-wisp while out walking at night, turn your coat inside-out.
30. Never wear another’s new clothes before they have worn them.
31. A woman who makes her own wedding dress will not live to wear it.

COOKING AND TABLE MANNERS

32. Never set three lamps on a table at the same time.
33. Don’t set the table backwards.
34. Never serve 13 at a table.
35. Avoid drinking coffee at 5 o’clock.
36. You mustn’t write on the back of a dish.
37. Never return borrowed salt.
38. Don’t ever cross knives while setting the table.
39. Be sure that someone else cooks your birthday dinner.
40. Don’t put two forks at one place setting.
41. Never, never turn a loaf of bread upside down.

 

SLEEPING

42. Sleeping with your head at the foot of the bed is surely fatal.
43. Don’t sing in bed.
44. If you hear a dog howl at night, reach under the bed and turn over a shoe.
45. Don’t count stars.
46. A man should never dream of a naked woman; a woman should never dream of a naked man. (You know who you are…)

PERSONAL HYGIENE

47. Never rub soap on your skin on a Friday.
48. Don’t look into a mirror over another’s shoulder.
49. Avoid combing your hair after dark.
50. Absolutely no haircuts in March.
51. Let a baby’s hair and fingernails grow until their 1st birthday.
52. Don’t let two people comb your hair at once.
53. Never shave at night.
54. NEVEREVER share a razor used by a dead man.

FUNERAL ETIQUETTE

55. Never hold a funeral on a Friday.
56. When a person dies in a house, you must immediately cover all mirrors and stop all clocks.
57. Children should not pretend to have funerals.
58. Don’t ever try on a mourning veil.
59. Always remove a dead body from a house feet first.
60. Never ride in a hearse, unless you are the driver.
61. Don’t count the cars in a funeral motorcade.
62. Avoid wearing new clothes to a funeral, especially new shoes.
63. Pull the shades in a room where a funeral service is taking place; if the sun hits a mourner’s face, he is the next to die.
64. When walking in a funeral procession, don’t look backwards.
65. Never point at a grave.
66. Try not to step across a grave.
67. Never leave a grave open overnight.
68. Don’t ever be the first to leave the graveyard after a funeral. (And hope that not everyone else follows this rule, too…)
69. If a corpse lies unburied on Sunday, another in town will surely die soon.
70. Wait a year before putting up a tombstone for a family member; if you don’t, another family member will go before the year has ended.

 

GENERAL AND MISCELLANEOUS

71. Drink May rainwater.
72. When sick, don’t look in mirrors.
73. Don’t give a person a peony.
74. Never measure your own height.
75. Try not to imagine it’s Saturday when it’s not.
76. Don’t count cars on a passenger train.
77. Never whistle in a coal mine.
78. Avoid measuring a person who is lying down.
79. Don’t walk backwards.
80. You mustn’t allow a candle to burn itself out.
81. Never sell a dog.
82. Try not to kill a crow; but if you do, be sure to bury it while wearing black.
83. If you transplant a cedar tree, you will die by the time it is big enough to shade a grave.
84. The same is true of a willow tree (as in 83)
85. Don’t ever hang your hoe on a tree branch.
86. Don’t skip a row when planting corn or beans.
87. If you watch a person out of sight, you’ll never see them again.
88. Avoid stepping over a person who is lying down.
89. When your name is called, don’t answer the first time—it may be the Devil calling you.
90. Never shake hands through a window or over a fence.
91. Try not to sit with your back to the fire.
92. Don’t burn sassafras wood.
93. If you walk with your hands locked behind your head, it will kill your mother.
94. Don’t even THINK of mocking an owl. (Who?)
95. Don’t store your shoes above your head.
96. Never kill a locust.
97. Never kill a lizard.
98. If you hear a hen crow, you must kill the hen.
99. If you are on a train when a woman boards, dressed in black, get off.
100. Whatever you do, don’t let a lizard count your teeth. (Seriously, just DON’T.)

 

SOURCE:

Originally published in The 1990 Old Farmer’s Almanac
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The Old Farmer’s Almanac for May 3: SPRING ALLERGIES AND SUFFERIN’ SINUSES

 

SPRING ALLERGIES AND SUFFERIN’ SINUSES

SPRING ALLERGY RELIEF

Indoor and outdoor allergens can wreak havoc on your sinuses!

In most regions of the nation, spring brings on a pollen assault. For days, sometimes weeks, pollen fills the air. It dusts the car and buildings, the surrounding landscape. Many of us don’t have to see it to know that pollens have blown in: Our stuffed-up sinuses deliver the message.

FROM POLLEN ALLERGIES TO POST-NASAL DRIP

Those affected snort, cough, sneeze, blow their noses all day and can’t breathe all night. Their eyes may itch and swell shut, their faces get puffy, their jaws and even their teeth ache. They get hit around and just behind our eyes with blinding headaches. Sometimes they can’t smell or taste much.

And that’s just the seasonal allergies. Other folks suffer from year-round post-nasal drip, frequent colds, or recurrent full-blown sinus infections that just won’t quit.

If any of this misery describes you, you have a lot of company. What medical specialists who study and treat inflamed sinuses call rhinosinusitis is among the most common diseases in the U.S.  Chronic rhinosinusitis afflicts 15 percent of the population, and 30 million of us will come down with acute (short-term) rhinosinusitis this year.

WHAT ARE SINUSES, ANYWAY?

The paranasal sinuses are air-filled spaces in the forehead, behind and around the eyes, behind the nose, and under the cheekbones. They produce mucus that drains into the nasal passages.

The functions of these holes in our heads remain something of a medical mystery, although scientists say they help humidify the air we breathe in, may contribute to immune function, and provide strength and structure to facial bones.

WHAT CAUSES INFLAMED SINUSES?

Setting aside chronic illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and asthma, inflamed sinuses have a variety of causes, including infections (usually viral, but sometimes bacterial or fungal), allergies, environmental irritants, a deviated septum, nasal polyps, infected teeth, even stress.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Specialists suggest toughing it out for the first week to 10 days of an acute bout with stuffed-up sinuses, since most sinusitis comes from a viral infection and clears up without medical treatment.

See a doctor if your stuffiness lasts more than a couple of weeks, if you spike a high fever, if you experience chronically inflamed sinuses, or if you fall prey to recurrent respiratory illnesses.

Don’t be quick to beg your doctor for an antibiotic to treat your sinus inflammation. Infectious disease experts say only a small percentage of cases result from a bacterial infection that may respond to antibiotics. Most rhinosinusitis results from a cold virus, and antibiotics don’t treat viral infections.

Using antibiotics when you don’t need them helps promote antibiotic resistance, a serious global threat, which means that antibiotics may no longer work to treat serious bacterial illnesses.

Depending on your symptoms, physicians have an array of drugs to help manage your sinus problems. You’ll also find a dozen or more decongestants and antihistamines on pharmacy shelves that work in various ways to alleviate clogged sinuses (though they effect no cures). But all prescription or OTC congestion-relieving products have side effects, some serious.

People with chronic illnesses, or who take other prescription medications, should check with their doctor before using over-the-counter sinus relief products. Longterm or too-frequent use of some OTC products can worsen your symptoms or interact with other medications.

SELF-CARE FOR SINUSITIS

Many simple, drug-free self-care practices can help relieve acutely or chronically inflamed sinuses:

  • Try one of these safe, quick tricks for immediate (though temporary), relief. Amazing!
  • Especially when you have a cold, stay well-hydrated (lots of water and warm tea).
  • Humidify the air in your home, and if you’re really stuffy, try a good, old-fashioned steam (hold a big towel over your head to catch the steam from a pot of simmering water). You might also try a personal steam inhaler, available at pharmacies.
  • Irrigate your sinuses and nasal passages with a warm saline solution to clear dust, pollen, and excess mucus. If you choose to try this ancient sinus-irrigating technique of the neti pot, please read and follow these FDA instructions to the letter. It’s especially important to use only boiled or sterile water in your pot.
  • Before sleep, slap on a Breathe Right or other brand of nasal strips. These band-aid like devices gently pull open the nasal passages and keep them open through the night.
  • If allergies are causing your sinus congestion, try allergy-proofing your home. (Serious work!)

HERBAL REMEDIES FOR ALLERGIES AND SINUS CONGESTION

Many people find relief from seasonal allergic rhinitis or chronic sinus inflammation with herbs, (including me).

First, the caveats:

  • Chat with your doctor about trying an herbal remedy. Remember, if an herbal product is effective, it works as a drug. You may experience an allergic reaction or side effects, and the herb may interact with other drugs or herbs you’re already taking. Your doctor will have access to information that might not be readily available to you.
  • Unless you’re under the supervision of a medical professional, don’t take any herbal products if you’re pregnant or nursing, or if you have a chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma.
  • Tell your doctor about all herbs or supplements you take.
  • Don’t take more than what’s recommended on the label of the product you choose.

Indigenous peoples have used, and modern herbalists still use, many native herbs to treat both short-term and long-term congestion. Among the best-known and most widely used: stinging nettle and butterbur. Small clinical studies have shown positive effects for both these herbs.

  • Stinging nettle has been used for centuries as a remedy for allergic rhinitis (and many other ailments). Modern freeze-drying apparently concentrates the compounds that soothe inflamed nasal passages and sinuses.
  • Some research has shown that butterbur eases allergic rhinosinusitis (and also migraines), though the unprocessed herb contains potentially toxic compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). If you want to try butterbur, use only a product that’s certified PA-free.

MY STORY WITH SINUSITIS

After years of intermittent severe pain in my left upper molars, and repeated visits to endodontists who couldn’t detect anything wrong, a dental hygienist finally diagnosed the problem from an X-ray.

“Oh, look!” She exclaimed, pointing. “See how the roots of these molars extend way up into your sinus cavity. Whenever your sinuses swell up, they press on those roots and cause your discomfort.”

I’ve suffered from an irritating post-nasal drip for decades, which may (or may not) be related to pollen, woodsmoke, wood ashes, sawdust, and careless housekeeping. My colds lasted for weeks.

I tried OTC antihistamines, prescription steroid sprays, and a Chinese herb that gave me heart palpitations. I used neti pots and steamers. I drank copious amounts of my homemade mix of dried goldenrod-yarrow tea all winter (works well to open stuffed sinuses, but the results don’t last long.)

After reading recommendations from two herb-friendly medical doctors to take freeze-dried nettles for sinus congestion, I decided to try them. I knew I wasn’t allergic to the plant, since I’d pulled and eaten the young leaves in large quantities every spring for decades. (They flourish as weeds in my raspberry patch.) I don’t take any prescription medications, so I didn’t worry about drug interactions.

I started one spring morning with a single 300 mg capsule. Within minutes, my airways cleared, my head stopped pounding, and my eyes stopped itching, without any of the uncomfortable dried-out feeling I get from antihistamines.

Ever since, I’ve taken one or two 300-mg capsules whenever I start feeling stuffy, every few hours if needed. I know stinging nettle won’t work for everyone with a sinus problem, but it’s been life-altering for me.

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for May 3: NATURAL REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND STRESS

 

 

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND STRESS

HERBS FOR ANXIETY AND NATURAL ANXIETY RELIEF

Herbs and natural remedies can help calm anxiety and stress. Here’s a list of ways to relieve anxiety naturally.

First, attempt to calm thyself. If gardening or another relaxing activity doesn’t calm your nerves and make you sleep well, you’ll have to try some of these other tips involving herbs for anxiety and anxiety remedies. If gardening does help, you can grow some of these herbs so that you can beat your anxiety in two ways.

Insomnia can often be caused by stress or anxiety, or insomnia can lead to anxiety. For this reason, we include some natural remedies for insomnia here as well.

HERBAL TEAS

  • Teas of chamomile, basil, marjoram, sage, or mint help ease stress. Use about 1 ounce fresh herbs (half of that if dried) for every 2 to 3 cups water.
  • A tea of elderberry flowers is considered relaxing to the nerves and is sleep-inducing, too. (Caution! Avoid if pregnant.)
  • For insomnia, drink bee balm. It acts as a mild sedative, calming the nerves and aiding sleep. Take an infusion of 2 teaspoons chopped leaves in 1 cup boiling water.
  • Drink rosemary tea to alleviate melancholy or depression.
  • Native American tea ingredients for insomnia included lady’s slipper (decocted), yarrow, mullein, hops, and purslane (decocted).
  • Valerian tea (or capsules) is a natural sleep aide. In infusions, 1 ounce of the roots in 1 pint boiling water is a common recipe, consumed by wineglass as needed. (Caution: Too high a dose may lead to negative side effects!)

HOME REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY: FOOD

  • First, do not eat your final meal late in the evening, and keep the meal light.
  • Eating lettuce with your dinner is supposed to be calming, helping you to sleep and have pleasant dreams. Some say you should not have vinegar with your lettuce.
  • Mandarin oranges are soporifics, so consider adding them to your evening meal to help insomnia.
  • Native Americans reportedly ate raw onions to induce sleep. (They also used a variety of herbal syrups and poultices, but they’re a bit too complicated for most of us today.)
  • Trying to remain relaxed but alert? Some studies suggest that the smell of apples, apple cider vinegar, or spiced apples have this effect. The right smell can make all the difference.
  • Adding some calm-inducing foods to your diet can also be helpful. Try this collection of herb recipes to see if you can incorporate beneficial herbs into your meals.

NATURAL ANXIETY RELIEF: MASSAGES AND RUBS

  • Massage your temples with lavender oil.
  • A warm bath with a couple of drops of chamomile oil aides sleeping. Add a splash of lavender oil for a relaxing aroma.
  • For a relaxing body rub, soak equal parts finely chopped dandelions, burdock (roots and/or aerial parts), yellow dock, and lobelia in a mason jar of vodka for two weeks. Apply externally (and avoid the temptation to drink the solution).

HOW TO RELIEVE ANXIETY AT BEDTIME

  • Strew lavender in the linen closet to scent your bed sheets with this mildly narcotic herb.
  • Try putting a few drops of lavender oil in or right under your nose—gently, with a cotton swab (Q-tip).
  • Sprinkle infusions of dill on your pillowcases and quickly iron them dry or fluff them in a clothes dryer.
  • Dill will also lull cranky babies to sleep. Add dill infusion to the bath, sprinkle on a baby’s blanket, or use as a hair rinse. (We all know babies can cause stress—if they can sleep, maybe you can sleep, too!)
  • Sage is considered a “ghost medicine,” used to prevent stressful nightmares. Strew it on the floor or in the bed.
  • Keep in mind: Not every fragrant herb is suitable for a good night’s sleep. Some can have the reverse effect. You may wish to consult an herbalist.

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.
–Irish proverb

SOURCE:

This page was first published in 2009 and is regularly updated.

 

 

 

 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for May 3: THE MONTH OF MAY 2019: HOLIDAYS, FUN FACTS, FOLKLORE

 

THE MONTH OF MAY 2019: HOLIDAYS, FUN FACTS, FOLKLORE

ALL ABOUT THE MONTH OF MAY

Celebrate the gorgeous month of May! The Sun is warming, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the garden is growing. See what fun and interesting days May has to offer—from holidays to history to advice.

Oh! fragrant is the breath of May
In tranquil garden closes,
And soft yet regal is her sway
Among the springtide roses.

—William Hamilton hayne, American poet (1856–1929)

MAY CALENDAR

May is named for the Roman goddess Maia, who oversaw the growth of plants.

  • May 1 is May Day. Mark the return of spring by bringing in branches of forsythia, lilacs, or other flowering shrubs from your region.
  • In Hawaii, May 1 is celebrated as Lei Day. Leis are garlands or wreaths that are often made with native Hawaiian flowers and leaves. Nowadays, they are given as a symbol of greeting, farewell, affection, celebration, or honor, in the spirit of aloha. Lei Day originated in 1927, when poet Don Blanding proposed a holiday to recognize the lei’s role in Hawaiian culture. Writer Grace Tower Warren suggested May 1 for the date because it coincided with May Day, a celebration also linked to flowers. She coined the phrase, “May Day is Lei Day.” The first Lei Day observance occurred on May 1, 1928. The following year, it was made an official holiday in the territory. (Hawaii did not become a state until 1959.)
    Today, Lei Day celebrations may include music, games, exhibits, and lei-making demonstrations and contests.
  • May 5 is Cinco de Mayo (“The Fifth of May”). This day celebrates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862.
  • May 12 is Mother’s Day! Do you have something planned to show appreciation for your mother?
  • May 20 is Victoria Day in Canada. This holiday celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria.
  • May 27 is Memorial Day—a poignant reminder of the tenacity of life. It’s tradition to post the flag on this day.

“Just for Fun” Days

May is Get Caught Reading Month and National Good Car-Keeping Month. Here are some more wacky things to celebrate this May:

  • May 1: School Principals’ Day
  • May 2: World Tuna Day
  • May 5–11: Root Canal Awareness Week
  • May 8: No Socks Day
  • May 14: Dance Like a Chicken Day
  • May 28: Slugs Return from Capistrano Day

EVERYDAY ADVICE

  • The wedding season is almost upon us.
  • Don’t get stressed!
  • Spring cleaning? See homemade cleaning remedies and other tips to help you around the home.

 

GARDENING

  • See our free vegetable, herb, and fruit growing guides for tips on planting, growing, and harvesting your most popular crops.
  • In May, enjoy new life by attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden!
  • Celebrate a new season of flowers by planting window boxes!
  • Mid-spring is also the time when moles start coming out.

MAY FOLKLORE AND FUN

A dry May and a leaking June
Make the farmer whistle a merry tune.

A snowstorm in May
Is worth a wagonload of hay.

Among the changing months, May stands confessed
The sweetest, and in fairest colors dressed!

–James Thomson, Scottish poet (1700–48)

 

SKY WATCH

  • May’s full Moon, the Full Flower Moon, occurs on Saturday the 18th, at 5:11 P.M. (EDT).
  • See the May 2018 Sky Watch to find out what to look for this month and the May 2018 Sky Map to navigate the night sky from your own backyard.

MAY ZODIAC SIGNS

Taurus: April 21 to May 20

Gemini: May 21 to June 20

MAY BIRTH SYMBOLS

May’s birth flower is the Hawthorn or Lily-of-the-Valley.

The hawthorn means hope, while the lily-of-the-valley symbolizes sweetness or the return of happiness.

May’s birthstone is the emerald.

A few fun facts about emeralds:

  • The emerald is a green type of beryl. Its color ranges from light to rich green; the more saturated hues are more valuable, especially if pure- or blue-green.
  • Natural emeralds are flawed, with fractures or other materials mixed in, called inclusions, which may appear as needles, columns, or cubes of minerals or bubbles of gas or liquid. Sometimes oil or resin is added to fill fractures and improve appearance.
  • Some of the best emeralds come from South American mines, although perhaps the oldest known came from Egypt. The emerald was a favorite gem of Cleopatra.
  • The emerald symbolizes rebirth and fertility and was thought to grant foresight, cure various diseases, soothe nerves, improve memory, and ensure loyalty.

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY

May 23: What’s Your Name?

On this day in 1707, Swedish botanist and naturalist Carl Linnaeus was born. One of his major achievements was the formal introduction of a system of classifying and naming organisms according to genus and species, called binomial nomenclature. The method uses Latin words (a language commonly used by scholars in his day). For example, humans are classified as Homo sapiensHomo, meaning “man,” is the genus and sapiens, meaning “wise,” is the species. Several species may exist within one genus, but each species only has one scientific name. Scientists today use a modified version of Linnaeus’s system. Because the same naming convention is used throughout the world, it eliminates much confusion when discussing organisms.

Did You Know?
Carl Linnaeus originated the use of 0 (the symbol for Mars) to mean male and 1 (the symbol for Venus) to mean female.

May 26: Terrifying Twisters

On this day in 1917, tornadoes struck central Illinois, killing 101 people. Originally thought to be just one tornado that wreaked havoc along a 293-mile-long path, the outbreak was later determined to be four to eight tornadoes. One of them lasted 4 hours and followed a track 155 miles long (including the distance traveled while in the air). Mattoon and Charleston were especially hard hit by an F4 tornado (original Fujita scale). In Mattoon, almost 500 houses were destroyed.

 

According to newspaper reports:

  • straw was driven ½ inch deep into a tree
  • a flagpole with flag was blown four blocks and planted upright in the ground
  • books and other items were carried 50 to 70 miles away

CALENDAR QUESTION

According to astronomers, what is a Julian day?

Answer: The term “Julian day” can be confusing because it has several meanings, including being a date on the Julian calendar. In astronomy, however, the Julian day (or Julian day number) is the number of days that have passed since the start of a Julian period. The Julian period is a year-numbering system developed by 16th-century French astronomer Joseph Justus Scaliger. He determined that the current Julian period began on January 1, 4713 B.C. of the Julian calendar; every 7,980 years, the count of years restarts.

For dating and comparing the timing of astronomical events and observations, John Herschel and other astronomers created a day-numbering system based on Scaliger’s Julian period. There are no months in a Julian day system; it simply counts the days, and fractions of days in decimals, since the period began. Julian day 0 occurred on January 1, 4713 B.C. The Julian day starts at noon Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time) so that nighttime astronomical events occur on one Julian day.

A Julian date includes the fraction of a Julian day. For example, on May 1, 2016 (Gregorian calendar date), at midnight (the start of the day on a common calendar) the Julian day number was 2457509, and the Julian date was 2457509.5. On May 1, 2016, at noon, the Julian day number changed to 2457510 and the Julian date to 2457510.0.

–Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for April 21: EASTER AND THE PASCHAL FULL MOON

 

EASTER AND THE PASCHAL FULL MOON

THE CURIOUS LINK BETWEEN EASTER, THE EQUINOX, AND THE MOON
April 18, 2019

A “Pink Easter Moon” will rise the morning of Good Friday! Did you know that the date of Easter—April 21 this year—is tied to the full Pink Moon and the Vernal (Spring) Equinox? Understand the curious connection …

EASTER AND THE PASCHAL FULL MOON

Easter is what’s known as a “movable feast”—in other words, a religious holiday that falls on different calendar dates from year to year.

The date of Easter is tied not only to the full Moon, but to the Vernal Equinox and the relationship between them, too. Thanks to this, determining when Easter will be can get more than a bit confusing.

Here’s the basic rule for finding the date:

Easter is observed on the Sunday following the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first full Moon that occurs on or after the Vernal Equinox.

For example, if the Vernal Equinox occurred on March 21 and the full Moon occurred on March 23, Easter would be observed on the first Sunday after March 23.

However, that is really putting it too simply…

 

Differing Dates

The biggest cause of confusion regarding Easter is the tangled web of dates that are used to determine the holiday. If you take the rule given above at face value, things don’t always work out quite right.

This is exactly what happened in 2019. The Vernal Equinox occurred on March 20 at 5:58 P.M. EDT, with the full Moon reaching its peak four hours later, at 9:43 P.M. EDT.But wait—that means that the full Moon and the Vernal Equinox happened on the same date, which should have landed Easter on Sunday, March 24, right? Well, not quite.

The dates of the full Moon and the Vernal Equinox that are used to calculate Easter are not the astronomical dates of these events, but rather the ecclesiastical dates.

  • The astronomical dates of the full Moon and the Vernal Equinox are the actual, scientifically determined dates of these events. For example, the Vernal Equinox occurs at the exact moment when the Sun crosses Earth’s equator, when day and night are approximately equal. Similarly, the full Moon occurs when the Moon reaches peak illumination by the Sun.
  • The ecclesiastical dates of the full Moon and the Vernal Equinox are those determined long ago by the Christian Church, and they may differ from the actual dates of these events.

In A.D. 325, a full Moon calendar was created that did not take into account all the factors of lunar motion that we know about today. The Christian Church still follows this calendar, which means that the date of the ecclesiastical full Moon may be one or two days off from the date of the astronomical full Moon.

Additionally, the astronomical date of the Vernal Equinox changes over time (it may occur on March 19, 20, or 21), but the Church has fixed the event in their calendar to March 21. This means that the ecclesiastical date of the Vernal Equinox will always be March 21, even if the astronomical date is March 19 or 20.

Due to these rules, in 2019, the ecclesiastical full Moon occurred before the ecclesiastical Vernal Equinox, which meant that Easter would not be observed until after the next full Moon (the Paschal Full Moon) in mid-April. Thus, Easter will be held on Sunday, April 21, this year.

Fun Fact: “Paschal” stems from Pascha, the Greek and Latin word for Passover.

 

HOW LATE CAN EASTER BE?

For the western Christian churches and others that use the Gregorian calendar for their calculations, Easter can occur as early as March 22 and as late as April 25.

For the Eastern Orthodox churches and others that use the Julian calendar for their calculations, the observance can occur between April 4 and May 8 in the Gregorian calendar.

Interestingly, Easter Sunday will remain in April for the next four years. It won’t be in March again until 2024!

WHICH FULL MOON IS NEAREST TO EASTER?

The full Moon nearest to Easter can change. Sometimes, it’s the full Moon which falls in March and sometimes it’s the full Moon which falls in April.

Both tonight (April 18) and tomorrow (April 19), you’ll see a round full-looking Moon.

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

This new corner of Almanac.com will feature news, information, and cool stuff from The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its family of publications.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for April 21: WHEN IS EASTER 2019? | HOW THE EASTER DATE IS DETERMINED

 

WHEN IS EASTER 2019? | HOW THE EASTER DATE IS DETERMINED

WHY DOES THE DATE OF EASTER CHANGE EVERY YEAR?

April 20, 2019

Why do we celebrate Easter? And why is Easter so late this year? We’ll explain—plus, find out how the date of Easter is determined and why it changes every year!

WHY WE CELEBRATE EASTER

Easter is the most important feast day on the Christian calendar.

Regularly observed from the earliest days of the Church, Easter celebrates Christ’s resurrection from the dead, following crucifixion. It marks the end of Holy Week, the end of Lent, and the last day of the Easter Triduum (starting from the evening of Maundy Thursday, through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday), as well as the beginning of the Easter season of the liturgical year.

The resurrection represents the triumph of good over evil, sin, death, and the physical body.

WHEN IS EASTER 2019?

Easter is a “movable feast” and does not have a fixed date; however, it is always held on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25.

Many Eastern Orthodox churches follow the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian. In this case, the observance of Easter can occur between April 4 and May 8.

Year Easter Sunday
(Gregorian calendar)
Eastern Orthodox Church
(Julian calendar)
2019 April 21 April 28
2020 April 12 April 19
2021 April 4 May 2

HOW IS THE DATE OF EASTER DETERMINED?

Would you believe that the date of Easter is related to the full Moon?

Specifically, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox.

Interestingly, in 2019, the full Moon and the spring equinox fell on the SAME day—Wednesday, March 20. The full Moon—cresting at 9:43 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time—followed the spring equinox by less than four hours.

On religious calendars, the first full moon of spring is called the “Paschal Full Moon” (which we’ll explain below). Traditionally, Easter is observed on the Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon. (If the Paschal Moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter lands on the subsequent Sunday.)

WHY IS EASTER SO LATE THIS YEAR?

Following the general rules above, the full Moon on March 20 (the first full Moon of spring) should have been the “Paschal Full Moon.” So, why wasn’t Easter on Sunday, March 24?

As it turns out, to make things a little simpler for the Christian Church calendars, the spring equinox was determined to always be fixed on March 21. (In reality, the equinox can happen on March 19, 20, or 21.)

Given this, the first full Moon after March 21 doesn’t occur until April 19 this year. That means … Easter will be celebrated on Sunday, April 21.

As mentioned above, Easter can fall as early as March 22 and as late as April 25. So, now we have a rather late Easter!

The full Moon in April (on the 19th) will occur on the Good Friday this year. Passover also begins at sundown on the 19th.

 

For those who want to dig a little deeper:

The word “Paschal,” which refers to the ecclesiastical (Christian church) calendar, comes from “Pascha,” a transliteration of the Aramaic word meaning Passover.

We are referring to a date of the full Moon determined many years ago as the 14th day of a lunar month. Ancient calculations (made in a.d. 325) did not take into account certain lunar motions.

So, the Paschal Full Moon is the 14th day of a lunar month occurring on or next after March 21 according to a fixed set of ecclesiastical calendar rules, which does not always match the date of the astronomical full Moon nearest the astronomical spring equinox.

It sounds complicated, but the basic idea is to make it simpler for modern calendars. Rest assured, the dates for Easter are calculated long in advance.

WHAT IS THE GOLDEN NUMBER?

Readers often ask us about the Golden Number, which was traditionally used in calculations for determining the date of Easter.

The Golden Number is a value used to show the dates of new Moons for each year, following a 19-year cycle.

The Moon repeats the dates of its phases approximately every 19 years (the Metonic cycle), and the Golden Number represents a year in that cycle. The year of the cycle can then be used to determine the date of Easter.

To Calculate the Golden Number:

Add 1 to any given year and divide the result by 19, ensuring that you calculate to the nearest whole number; the remainder is the Golden Number. If there is no remainder, the Golden Number is 19.

For example, to calculate the Golden Number for 2019, we take 2019 and add 1, resulting in 2020, then divide it evenly by 19, giving us 106 with a remainder of 6. Therefore, the Golden Number for 2019 is 6, meaning 2019 is the 6th year of the Metonic cycle.

WHERE DID THE WORD “EASTER” COME FROM?

Easter, also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Let’s start with Pascha (Latin) which comes directly from Pesach, the Hebrew word for Passover. Going back to the Hebrew Bible and the story of the first Passover, Moses tells the Israelites to slaughter a passover lamb and paint its blood on their door. The Lord protected the Israelites from death by passing over their doors and would not “allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down” (Ex. 12:23).

In the New Testament (1 Corinthians 5:7), Paul connects the resurrected Christ to Passover. He refers to Jesus as the paschal lamb who has been sacrificed for his people’s salvation. Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples during Passover, so it makes sense that the Feast of the Resurrection is connected with the Jewish holiday. Today, Christians celebrate the “Paschal mystery.”

So, where did the word “Easter” come from? The exact origin of the word “Easter” is unclear. It’s not as simple as saying it has religious origins or pagan origins.

Some historians suggest that it came from the phrase hebdomada alba, Latin for “white week,” used to describe the white garments new Christians wore when they were baptized during Holy Week. In Old German, the word became esostarum and, eventually, Easter.

The Venerable Bede, a seventh-century Anglo-Saxon historian also known as Saint Bede, writes that the word Easter comes from the Anglo-Saxon dawn goddess of fertility Eostre, also the goddess of the dawn, who originated in what is now Scandinavia. Over time, early Christians started referring to the Feast of the Resurrection by the name of the month in which it was celebrated—Eosturmonath (what we now call April).

Alternatively, Easter may have from an old German word for “east,” which in turn is derived from a Latin word for “dawn.” In the past, the word easter could mean “to turn toward the east” or “rising” and didn’t necessarily have any implied religious meaning. (Note: It was the Germans who invented the “Easter Bunny” who visited “good” children’s homes, much like they invented Santa Claus.)

Bottom line, no one knows the etymological origins of the word, “Easter.” It is one of the oldest Old English words.

In the end, it is unimportant whether Easter comes from the goddess of the dawn or the Latin word for dawn. In whatever language, Easter today is a Christian holiday to celebrate Christ’s resurrection—and the reminder that death brings life.

 

EASTER RECIPES

Traditional Easter dishes include seasonal produce as well as symbols of spring such as lamb, ham, eggs, asparagus, spring peas, hot cross buns and sweet breads, and a carrot cake.

 

HAPPY EASTER!

From all the Editors here at The Old Farmer’s Almanac, we wish you a Happy Easter and a joyous spring season!

SOURCE:

Updated on April 18, 2019

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for April 21: THE SURPRISING ORIGINS OF EASTER SYMBOLS: FROM LAMBS TO LILIES

 

THE SURPRISING ORIGINS OF EASTER SYMBOLS: FROM LAMBS TO LILIES

WHY DO WE DYE EGGS? WHO IS THE EASTER BUNNY? FIND OUT!
By Catherine Boeckmann

From lilies to lambs, there are many beautiful Easter symbols that have significance to us. But do you know why? The origin of the Easter egg is based on ancient fertility lore. The Easter bunny tradition came from the Germans (similar to Santa Claus). And then there are the Easter foods! Understand the symbolism and how Easter traditions began—some table talk for your Easter dinner.

Easter is the most important feast day in the Christian church, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The feast day is “movable” and always falls on the first Sunday after the first full Moon after the spring equinox … sort of.

EASTER TRADITIONS

When you think of Easter—whether you’re religious or not—which family traditions come to mind? We decorate homes with colored Easter eggs, put out baskets for the Easter bunny, gift Easter lilies, and even eat traditional foods, from lamb to ham to special sweet breads.

The history of Easter symbols is really quite interesting. It’s not as simple as saying whether they are pagan or Christian; history is a rich and beautiful tapestry woven through the ages.

EASTER EGGS

The oval-shape egg has been a universal symbol in many religions across the millennia, symbolizing new life, rebirth, and fertility.

According to The Easter Book by Francis X. Weiser, S.J., “[t]he origin of the Easter egg is based on the fertility lore of the Indo-European races. To our pre-Christian ancestors, it was a most startling event to see a new and live creature emerge from a seemingly dead object. The egg to them became a symbol of spring. Long ago in Persia, people used to present each other with eggs at the spring equinox, which for them also marked the beginning of a new year.”

In Judaism, eggs are an important part of the Passover seder plate. For some Christians, the egg symbolizes the rock tomb out of which Christ emerged to the new life of his Resurrection. Also, there was a practical reason eggs that became popular on Easter: They were forbidden during the 40 days of Lent. However, chickens still laid eggs, so they were often collected and decorated.

In most countries, the eggs are stained in plain vegetable dye colors. Among Orthodox Christians, the faithful present each other with crimson eggs in honor of the blood of Christ. In parts of Eastern Europe, it’s tradition to create intricate designs on the egg with wax or twine before coloring. Called pysanki, these special eggs are saved from year to year like symbolic heirlooms and can be seen seasonally in Ukrainian shops. In Germany and other countries, the eggs are pierced and made hollow so that they can be suspended from shrubs and trees during Easter Week—much like on a Christmas tree.

Of course, many countries have egg hunts and games, too. Plastic eggs are often filled with candy treats, since it’s the end of Lent. Every year in Washington, D.C., there is an egg-rolling party on the lawn of the White House. This custom is traced back to Sunday School picnics and parades at Easter in the years before the Civil War. At these picnics, the children amused themselves with various games, and egg-rolling was one of them.

THE EASTER BUNNY

Easter comes during spring and celebrates new life. Which springtime animals better represent fertility than the rabbit or the hare, which produce so many offspring?

The rabbit symbolism had its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore, while the hare was the Egyptian symbol of fertility. The ancient Greeks thought that rabbits could reproduce as virgins, and in the early medieval times, the rabbit became associated with the Virgin Mary and commonly appeared in medieval art.

However, the “Easter Bunny,” who visits children on Easter morning, was an invention of German Protestants; the Osterhase or “Easter Hare,” brought eggs and sweets to “good children,” in the same way that Santa Claus brought gifts to well-behaved youngsters.

The Easter Hare played this Santa Claus–like role at the start of the Easter season, judging whether or not children had been obedient to their parents. The symbolism is not particularly religious, but we can be reasonably certain that the Lutherans of long ago were not intending to teach their children about fertility. Like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny is something fun to do with the kids.

The Easter Bunny followed German immigrants to the American colonies in the 18th century, and the folklore spread across the United States. Initially, children fashioned nests for their Easter Bunnies out of bonnets, hats, or boxes, and this became the colorful Easter basket that we use today!

EASTER LAMB

Among the popular Easter symbols, the lamb is by far the most significant of this great feast. The lamb is said to symbolize Jesus, as it embodies purity and goodness, but also represents sacrifice.

The lamb was a sacrifice made during the Jewish Passover, which is a holiday celebrating when the “angel of death” passed over the homes of those who had sacrificial lamb’s blood smeared on their doorposts, sparing the firstborn sons. Roasted lamb shanks are an important part of the Passover seder plate; roasted leg of lamb is popular for Easter in Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Greece.

Jesus was crucified during Passover week and then made the ultimate sacrifice, his life. He is referred to in the Bible as the “Lamb of God” and “our Passover lamb.” During Easter, we celebrate Jesus’ passover from death to life.

The oldest prayer for the blessing of lambs can be found in the 7th-century sacramentary (ritual book) of the Benedictine monastery in Bobbio, Italy. Two hundred years later, Rome had adopted it, and thereafter the main feature of the Pope’s Easter dinner for many centuries was roast lamb. After the 10th century, in place of the whole lamb, smaller pieces of meat were used.

Photo by stockcreations/Shutterstock

The ancient tradition of the Paschal lamb also inspired among the Christians the use of lamb meat as a popular food at Eastertime, and at the present time it is eaten as the main meal on Easter Sunday in many parts of eastern Europe. Sometimes, families will bake a lamb centerpiece made of butter, pastry, or sugar; this is often substituted for meat on Easter.

EASTER HAM

Since we’re talking about the Easter Lamb, let’s not forget the Easter ham. It is an age-old custom, handed down from pre-Christian times, to eat the meat of this animal on festive occasions, feast days, and weddings.

The pig is an ancient symbol of good luck and prosperity. In some German popular expressions, the word “pig” is synonymous with “good luck” (Schwein haben, i.e., “to have a pig”). In Hungary, the highest card (ace) in card games is called “pig” (disznó). Not too long ago, it was fashionable for men to wear little figures of pigs as good luck charms on their watch chains. More recently, charm bracelets for teenagers contained dangling pigs. Savings boxes for children in the figure of a pig (piggy banks) carry out the ancient symbolism of good luck and prosperity.

Smoked or cooked hams, as well as lamb, have been eaten by most European nations from ancient times and is the traditional Easter dish from coast to coast in this country. Roast pork is another traditional main dish in some countries.

EASTER BREADS

Sweet breads are also a tradition, especially with the arrival of the end of Lent. For Christians, the resurrected Christ is called, “the bread of life” (John 6:35), in whom believers will find their daily spiritual sustenance.

In Russia and Austria, the sweet breads are often marked with a cross or image of a lamb. In Germany, the Easter bread is baked in loaves of twisted or braided strands(Osterstollen). Another kind of Austrian Easter bread is the Osterlaib (Easter loaf), a large, flat, round loaf marked with the cross or an image of the lamb. In Poland and other countries, too, there is a special cake called the Easter baba (Baba Wielkanocna).

In Greece, the traditional Easter bread is baked with a red-dyed egg on top, covered with two strips of dough in the form of a cross.

In Italy, the Easter bread is braided with eggs, symbolizing new life.

HOT CROSS BUNS

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns! Traditionally, this delicious sweet bun was served on Good Friday prior to Easter. Good Friday marks the end of Lent and is the day that Jesus died on the cross. The sweet bun is marked with a cross to help the bread rise and as a visible sign that the bread was “blessed.”

EASTER LILY

The magnificent Easter lily, with its sheer white petals, symbolizes life, purity, innocence, joy, and peace. The beautiful white flowers of the lily were connected with these traits well before Jesus Christ. Many ancient allegories connect the flower with motherhood. One fable tells us that the lily sprang from the milk of Hera, the mythological Queen of Heaven. This may explain why the lily is so closely associated with Mary in Roman Catholic tradition.

In early paintings, the Angel Gabriel is seen handing a bouquet of white lilies to the Virgin Mary. In other paintings, the saints are bringing vessels full of lilies to Mary and the baby Jesus. It is said that beautiful white lilies sprang up in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus wept in the last hours before he was betrayed by Judas. The lilies sprang up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow.

The lilies from Christ’s time were not the Easter lily that we know today (Lilium longiflorum), which is native to the southern islands of Japan and now cultivated in areas such as California and Oregon. The lilies in Jesus’ area were wild lilies of the valleys and fields. Still, our Easter lily serves as a reminder of the lilies mentioned frequently throughout the Bible. Easter lilies grace homes and churches each spring as a symbol of new life.

There are many other purely religious symbols that are related to the Lenten season: marking the forehead with ashes on Ash Wednesday, waving palms on Palm Sunday, and the symbolism of the crucifix (cross) on which Jesus died.

We wish you all a very Happy Easter!

–The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for April 20: MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANERS

 

MAKE YOUR OWN CLEANERS

By Christine Halvorson and Kenneth M. Sheldon

Make your own cleaning products. Homemade cleaners are simple and a great way to save money.

WARNING: Never mix cleaning products containing bleach and ammonia, as dangerous fumes will result.

OVEN CLEANER

2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
2 teaspoons borax
¼ cup ammonia
1–½ cups warm water

Mix the ingredients together, apply to oven spills, and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Scrub with an abrasive nylon-backed sponge and rinse well.

EASY SCRUB

¾ cup baking soda
¼ cup borax
dishwashing liquid

Combine the baking soda and borax. Mix in enough dishwashing liquid to make a smooth paste. If you prefer a pleasant smell, add ¼ teaspoon lemon juice to the paste.

JEWELRY CLEANER

¼ cup ammonia
¼ cup dishwashing liquid
¾ cup water

Mix all the ingredients well, then soak your jewelry in the solution for a few minutes. Clean around the stones and designs with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Buff dry. (Caution: Don’t use this with gold-plated jewelry; with soft stones such as pearls, opals, or jade; or with costume jewelry, because it could ruin the plastics or loosen the glue.)

HEAVY-DUTY DISINFECTANT CLEANER

¼ cup powdered laundry detergent
1 tablespoon borax
¾ cup hot water
¼ cup pine oil, or pine-based cleaner

Slowly stir the detergent and borax into the water to dissolve. Add the pine oil (available at hardware stores and supermarkets) and mix well. For bathroom cleaning, use the mixture full strength. In the kitchen, dilute it with water.

WOOD FLOOR POLISH

½ cup vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil

Mix the ingredients well, rub on the floor, and buff with a clean, dry cloth.

RUG CLEANER

¼ teaspoon dishwashing liquid
1 cup lukewarm water

Combine the ingredients. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution over a large area, or use the solution to spot-clean nongreasy stains. (Don’t use laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent in place of dishwashing liquid, as they may contain additives that can affect the rug’s color.)

TOILET CLEANER

1 cup borax
¼ cup vinegar or lemon juice

Combine the ingredients to make a paste. Apply it to the inside of the toilet bowl, let sit for 1 to 2 hours, and scrub.

MILDEW REMOVER

1 tablespoon powdered laundry detergent
1 quart chlorine bleach
2 quarts water

Combine all the ingredients in a pail. Wearing rubber gloves, wash off the mildew.

FLOOR WAX REMOVER

1 cup laundry detergent
¾ cup ammonia
1 gallon warm water

Mix all the ingredients together and apply to a small area of the floor. Let the solution sit long enough for it to loosen the old wax, at least 5 to 10 minutes. Mop up the old wax (or scrape it up, if there’s a lot of it, using a squeegee and a dustpan). Rinse thoroughly with 1 cup vinegar in 1 gallon water and let dry before applying a new finish.

FURNITURE POLISH

1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon boiled linseed oil
1 tablespoon turpentine

Combine the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until blended. Dampen a cloth with cold water and wring it out until it’s as dry as you can get it. Saturate the cloth with the mixture and apply sparingly to a small area at a time. Let dry for about 30 minutes, then polish with a soft cloth. Note that this mixture gets gummy as it sits, so make just enough for one day’s work.

GLASS CLEANER

2 tablespoons ammonia
½ cup alcohol
¼ teaspoon dishwashing liquid
a few drops blue food coloring
water

Combine the ammonia, alcohol, dishwashing liquid, and food coloring, then add enough water to make 1 quart. If you prefer a nonammoniated cleaner, substitute 3 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice for the ammonia.

CARPET FRESHENER

1 cup crushed dried herbs (such as rosemary, southernwood, or lavender)
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda

Combine all the ingredients in a large jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to blend. Sprinkle some of the mixture on your carpet, let it sit for an hour or so, and then vacuum it up. It will give the room a pleasant smell and neutralize carpet odors.

SCRUBBING HAND GENERAL-PURPOSE CLEANER

1 teaspoon borax
½ teaspoon washing soda
2 teaspoons vinegar
¼ teaspoon dishwashing liquid
2 cups hot water

Combine all the ingredients. If you don’t have washing soda (generally found in the laundry section of supermarkets), use 1 teaspoon baking soda instead. For a more pleasant smell, use lemon juice instead of vinegar. Be sure to label the bottle accordingly.

SOURCE:

The 1999 Old Farmer’s Almanac Home Library Series

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for April 20: SPRING-CLEANING NATURALLY: 6 INGREDIENTS

 

SPRING-CLEANING NATURALLY: 6 INGREDIENTS

When it comes to spring-cleaning or any kind of housecleaning, I use an array of six admirably versatile natural cleaning products: vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, salt, borax, wood ash.

I started using these products many years ago, mostly because so many commercial cleaning products gave me headaches and irritated my eyes and nasal passages. The headaches stopped, the natural products worked well, and they’ve saved a lot of money over the years.

Also, let me admit that I count myself among the “good-enough” group of rural dwellers. I live with a wood stove (smoke, ash, wood chips, sawdust), solar greenhouse (dirt, dust), and garden (time!) which makes maintaining high cleaning standards challenging.

Astonishing versatility

I continue to love the fact that this half-dozen of natural products singly or in combination will clean my toilet, tub, teeth, upholstery, carpets and windows, super-clean our grubbiest laundry, deodorize our pets and our car’s interior while they also soothe sunburns and insect stings, relieve an itch, gargle away many sore throats, and wash and condition my hair.

And please note: four of the six are pantry staples and safe enough to eat.

Below, I remind you of just a few of the ways I use these products for tough cleaning and deodorizing tasks.

Vinegar
I use white vinegar in a spray bottle to sanitize kitchen and bathroom surfaces, prevent or remove hard-water scale from the coffee pot, tub and toilet, as a window cleaner, and to remove labels from products or stickers from walls. It will unplug most drains by pouring half a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of white or cider vinegar. (Don’t use a commercial drain product first, as you could create toxic fumes.)

I’ve learned those tough, longstanding, tough limescale stains in sinks and toilets that no amount of scouring will clean will eventually give way after repeated, long soakings with white vinegar.

Oh, and a couple of tablespoons of ordinary olive oil in a cup of vinegar works well to dust and polish wood furniture.

Baking Soda 
Especially in combination with salt, baking soda works well for scouring sinks and tubs, brushing your teeth, wiping down and deodorizing the refrigerator, removing smells and stains from carpets and upholstery (rub in, leave for an hour, shake or vacuum out).

Lemon Juice 

Half a cup in a gallon of water helps brighten white clothes without bleach (especially if you hang the clothes in the sunshine.) Sprayed or rubbed on straight, lemon juice removes stains from countertops and rust stains from clothing. Clean toilets with a paste of baking soda and lemon juice; squirt lemon juice for fresh smell.

Half a cut lemon left on a shelf will deodorize the fridge. Sprayed or rubbed on with a cloth, straight lemon juice (or straight vinegar) will remove mold and mildew from many surfaces.

Salt
One part table salt mixed with four parts each of borax and baking soda makes a good scouring powder for tubs, sinks and toilets. Adding a little vinegar to a teaspoon of salt makes a good scrub for removing coffee or tea stains from mugs and cups. (And don’t forget the health benefits of salt.)

Borax

Borax helps clean the tub, remove tough stains in laundry. I add it to baking soda and salt to make a general purpose scouring powder.

Wood ash 
In a paste with a little water, cleans glass! Sprinkled on and scrubbed into pavement, bricks, and stone, it will help remove oil stains.

Actually, when you come up against challenging cleaning or deodorizing tasks, try one or more in combination and you’ll probably find something that will do the trick. That’s what I do, and it almost always works.

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for April 20th: WHITE VINEGAR: POWERFUL BUT USE WITH CAUTION

 

WHITE VINEGAR: POWERFUL BUT USE WITH CAUTION

USE VINEGAR CORRECTLY TO AVOID HARMFUL SIDE EFFECTS

It’s hard to think of a natural substance that serves such a wide array of everyday purposes as vinegar. While it might seem as if you can use vinegar on everything, it’s also acidic, which means that it can cause damage to your health and home if you use it improperly. Here are things that you should NOT use vinegar for.

THE MANY USES OF VINEGAR

We’re huge fans of vinegar. It’s natural and non-toxic. It’s cheap to buy. It’s versatile.

People use vinegar (Note: not always safely or effectively) to clean windows (sinks, appliances, glassware, coffee-makers, dental retainers, etc.), remove stains, kill weeds, condition their hair, remove smelly-dog odors from fabrics, “age” wood, remove sticky labels, disinfect cutting boards and other surfaces, ease the pain of insect stings and sunburns, prevent fabric dyes from running, fluff up and stiffen egg whites, make cottage cheese from milk, soften fabrics, dry up pimples, lose weight, disinfect wounds, sanitizing fresh fruits and vegetables, and to prevent or treat diverse ills.

Not to mention its use in pickling, and its appeal as a flavoring ingredient in salad dressings, marinades, and cooked dishes, and as an ingredient in refreshing summer drinks or winter tonics (e.g., shrubs, switchel, fire cider).

Whew!

WHAT IS VINEGAR?

Vinegar, whose name derives from the French vin aigre, meaning sour wine, is produced naturally through a two-stage process that starts when yeasts digest the sugars in fruits, grains (and sometimes vegetables) into wines, beers, or grain alcohols. Acetic acid bacteria, ubiquitous in the environment, further ferment the alcohol to vinegar.

Commercially available vinegars have been mixed with water or other liquids to contain between four and eight percent acetic acid—the Food and Drug Administration has a four-percent-minimum standard. The label must indicate the percentage of acetic acid.

So-called “horticultural” or “industrial” vinegars” typically contain between 20 percent and 30 percent acetic acid.

Most supermarkets and specialty food stores offer a wide array of vinegars, often named from the material first fermented into alcohol, but sometimes containing herbs, spices, fruits or other flavoring agents.

But all vinegars, by definition, contain some percentage of acetic acid, which is responsible for at least some of its effects. And some of these effects can cause damage to you, your pets, or the materials you’re working with. So heed the caveats.

WHEN TO USE VINEGAR—WHEN NOT TO USE VINEGAR

Is Vinegar Safe to Eat and Drink?

Yes and no. First, we are only talking about white vinegar with 5% acetic acid, nothing more.

  • If it doesn’t irritate your digestive system, enjoy your 5% vinegars in pickles, tasty dressings and marinades, drizzled over cooked vegetables, and well-diluted in beverages.
  • But don’t start swigging undiluted vinegar! It’s still acetic acid. Especially undiluted, vinegar may harm mouth and digestive-system tissues, A tablespoon is enough for salad dressing or to flavor a quart of drinking water.
  • Children have suffered serious burns from drinking vinegar, and from vinegar compresses used to lower fevers or soothe sunburns.
  • Speaking of child safety: If you have children or child visitors, lock up household vinegars (including those stored under the sink with cleaning compounds).

Is Vinegar Safe for Home Remedies?

  • Before using vinegar as a do-it-yourself remedy, read this fact sheet from the National Poison Control Center.
  • No matter how many testimonials you read or hear about the miracles of vinegar, don’t use it to self-medicate without consulting your doctor. Vinegar may interfere with prescription or over-the-counter medications or supplements you take. Treating yourself for a serious medical problem before consulting your doctor may delay appropriate medical treatment.
  • For the same reasons, unless suggested by your doctor, stay away from acetic acid/cider vinegar tablets, widely promoted for weight loss.
  • Swabbing a small wound, pimple, or insect sting with household vinegar may help sanitize the area and relieve the pain, swelling or itching. Don’t use vinegar as a compressDon’t saturate any large area of skin with vinegar, and don’t cover a vinegar-treated area with a bandage.
  • Don’t use undiluted vinegar or use vinegar preparations to freshen your breath or whiten your teeth. Its acid may erode tooth enamel and injure sensitive tissues.
  • Forget the commercial hair conditioner and rinse with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar but dilute the vinegar in a quart or so of warm water. (The vinegar will remove the residues of hair-care products and close the hair cuticles, protecting them from splitting and giving your hair a sleek, well-conditioned look.)

Is Vinegar Safe as a Garden Herbicide?

Here’s the basic information for using strong vinegar to kill weeds. If you do choose to use it, store and handle it with extreme care.

  • Because most people think of vinegar as a common and benign pantry staple, someone might mistake the industrial-strength vinegar for the household product. So store the vinegar under lock and key away from kitchen staples, and post a warning sign on the bottle if the label doesn’t already contain one.
  • The much stronger acid content of weed-killing vinegars can cause severe burns and permanent eye damage. Wear chemical-resistant gloves, eye protection, long sleeves and pants before you load the sprayer and head to the garden.
  • Don’t spray when it’s windy; spray drift may kill desirable plants nearby. Point the sprayer nozzle away from you. Experts say vinegar works best for small, annual broadleaf weeds and recommend using vinegar sprays on small areas only.

Where is Vinegar Safe to Use and NOT Use for Cleaning?

Important caveat: If you do choose to use vinegar as a cleaning agent, never mix it with bleach, ammonia, or hydrogen peroxide because any of these mixtures will create toxic gases.

  • Vinegar can play an important role in the household laundry. Choose white vinegar(grain based) for all laundry and stain-removal purposes; apple-cider vinegar and other flavored vinegars may stain your clothes, rugs, curtains, etc.
  • A cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle will dissolve the soap and detergent residues in clothes and in the machine, as well as brighten, deodorize, help soften, and remove many stains from clothes. It’s also safe for septic systems. Note: The user manuals of some new appliances (dishwashers and washing machines) may tell users to avoid vinegar, because it can pit the appliances’ synthetic rubber seals.
  • A mixture of half vinegar and half water in spray bottle is unparalleled for cleaning glass, appliances, ceramic bathroom fixtures, and running occasionally through your coffee pot to eliminate residues. But do NOT scrub stone, marble, or granite surfaces with vinegar solutions; it may be tempting but the acid wears down and etches the stone.
  • Don’t use vinegar on hardwood floors or wooden furniture, as it may damage the finish.
  • Experts also recommend against using vinegar to wipe down computer or smartphone screens, as it may damage their protective coatings.

Vinegar in Food Safety

  • Studies have shown that household vinegar is a pretty good antimicrobial wash for washing fruits and vegetables.
  • For sanitizing cutting boards and other food preparation surfaces, “heat ½ cup white distilled vinegar (5%) in a saucepan to 150⁰F or 66⁰C. Be sure and handle heated liquids carefully as they will be warm but not hot. Using a funnel pour the warm solution into a spray bottle. Immediately spray the cutting board, counter tops or other kitchen surfaces. Let solution remain on the surface for 1 minute and then wipe with a clean paper towel.”

 

ABOUT THIS BLOG

“Living Naturally” is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that’s good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it’s relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

Published on The Old Farmer’s Almanac