Tag Archive | Traditions

Sinhalese New Year by Devika Fernando

From Christina: When Devika commented on a post I wrote about “spring cleaning”, she mentioned the traditions surrounding the Sinhalese New Year, known as aluth avurudda in Sinhalese. I was intrigued, and I quickly invited Devika to share a few thoughts. 


Sinhalese New Year

by  Devika Fernando

In Sri Lanka, we don’t experience the four seasons of spring, summer, autumn and winter. There is the never-ending cycle of dry seasons and rainy seasons which influences flora, fauna and agriculture. So, instead of the spring cleaning the West goes through every year, we have an annual cleaning session when the Buddhist and Hindu New Year dawns. The old year ends on April 13th and the new year begins on April 14th. These dates are chosen because of their astrological meaning. Apparently, the sun moves from the house of Pisces to the house of Aries. To Sri Lankans, astrology is all but holy. That is one of the reasons why each year, there are different auspicious times. One year, the New Year might dawn in the evening, the next year in the morning or around noon. There are also auspicious times for special rituals.

  • There’s a time on the last day of the old year where any preparation and work must be finished. For a span of roughly 10 hours, you’re supposed to do no work (including housework) and to spend time with your family, with religious practices or just relaxing.
  •  There’s a time after the new year has begun where you turn on your oven for the first time. As some Sri Lankans still use a wood-and-fire stove and almost all others use gas for cooking, it is customary to create a small fire and place a pot of milk on it. The milk should boil over at roughly the given time, which brings a bountiful year.
  •  There’s a time when you can have your first meal after the 10-hour period.
  • Usually 2 to 4 days after the New Year, there’s a day and time to start work again.

In combination with these times, there are auspicious colours to wear on each of the occasions, and there is a direction (for example south, or north-east) to look at when you perform a task like cooking the first meal or going to office for the first time.

Sinhalese New Year

Subha aluth avuruddak wewa

 Wishing you a happy New Year

* * * *

During the days prior to the Sinhalese New Year, we perform our version of ‘spring cleaning’. The whole house is swept and dusted and washed and rearranged. Whoever can afford it, gets the building colour washed and the furniture repaired and polished. From the curtains to every item in the cupboards, everything is taken out and cleaned, and old and broken things are discarded.

Not only the houses have to be at their shiniest and newest, but the people, too. It is customary to gift family members and friends clothes, as well as buy yourself new ones. If the grown-up children live in the parent’s house—which happens more often than not—they buy new household items or some decoration.
Another reason for the date the New Year falls on is the end of the harvesting season for paddy (rice) and other major agricultural crops. So, in the villages, there are many rites and rituals around donating the first rice and how to cook it.

Of course, the New Year wouldn’t be a celebration if special food weren’t involved. There are several traditional sweets—many made from rice flour, palm syrup (treacle) and mung bean flour—that the whole family comes together to make. On the dawning of the new day, you eat these along with milk rice and a spicy onion-and-chili paste.

Sri Lanka
Games—climbing a wooden pole smeared with grease, having a pillow fight while balancing on a beam, trying to hit a hanging clay pot with your eyes closed, play drums—are an essential part of the New Year celebrations. Religion also plays an important role. On the first day of the new year, you go to the temple and offer flowers as well as prayers. The head of the family blesses everyone else.

Basically, it’s all about strengthening family bonds, taking a breather from the hectic everyday troubles, readying yourself and your house for the next 12 months to come – and having a good time.

* * * *

About Devika

devikaAlmost as soon as Devika Fernando could write, she imagined stories and poems. After finishing her education in Germany and returning to her roots in Sri Lanka, she got a chance to turn her passion into her profession. Having lived in Germany and in Sri Lanka with her husband has made her experience the best (and the worst) of two totally different worlds – something that influences her writing. Besides being a romance novel author, she works as a German web content writer and as a translator. When she’s not writing, she’s reading or thinking about writing. Her debut romance novel, When I See Your Face, is now available at Amazon. 



Thanksgiving — Better than Christmas by Stacy Moran

Christmas tops the list of “favorite holidays” for many people, but not for romance writer Stacy Moran. Today, she shares a few thoughts — and a special recipe — for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving — Better than Christmas

Thanksgiving. I love it more than Christmas, and here’s why.

Thanksgiving is getting absorbed by the Christmas festivities and shopping before it ever has a chance to be truly enjoyed.

With the Christmas season coming earlier and earlier every year, Thanksgiving is becoming known more as “the day before Black Friday” than an actual holiday. Christmas is swelling to monstrous proportions, swallowing Thanksgiving. Retailers are even staying open on Thanksgiving in order to beat competition’s sales.

A holiday that is in some ways controversial, but to me is the best time of year, is disappearing.

To me Thanksgiving is about…

  1. Family
  2. Amazing Food
  3. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  4. Gone with the Wind (my family tradition)
  5. A room filled with napping people
  6. The smell of turkey and pumpkin pies
  7. The start of colder weather
  8. Charlie Brown
  9. Memories of childhood
  10. Leftovers

This year take a moment and remember your childhood, watch the parade, play football in the yard, savor Grandma’s stuffing, and just appreciate the day.

To make the day a bit easier here is my “go-to” recipe for moist turkey.

Turkey Dinner


One Turkey, approx. 15 lbs.

Juice of a lemon

Salt and pepper

Melted butter

Tops and bottoms of a bunch of celery

2 carrots


Sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme


Step One

To start, if the turkey has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before cooking. Keep it in its plastic wrapping until you are ready to cook it. While in the refrigerator, and or while you are bringing it to room temp, have the bird resting in a pan, so that if the plastic covering leaks for any reason, you are confining the juices to the pan.

Handle a raw turkey with the same amount of caution as when you handle raw chicken – use a separate cutting board and utensils to avoid contaminating other foods. Wash your hands with soap before touching anything else in the kitchen. Use paper towels to clean up.

Remove the neck and giblets (heart, gizzard, liver). Use the heart and gizzard for making stock for the stuffing. The neck can be cooked alongside the turkey or saved for turkey soup. Or all of the giblets can be used for making giblet gravy.

Step Two

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Step Three

Wash out the turkey with water. Pull out any remaining feather stubs in the turkey skin. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Lather the inside of the cavity with the juice of half a lemon. Take a small handful of salt and rub all over the inside of the turkey.

Step Four

For flavor, put in inside the turkey, a bunch of parsley, a couple of carrots, and some tops and bottoms of celery. You may need to cap the body cavity with some aluminum foil so that the stuffing doesn’t easily fall out. Close up the turkey cavity with either string (not nylon string!) or metal skewers. Make sure that the turkey’s legs are tied together, held close to the body, and tie a string around the turkey body to hold the wings in close.

Step Five

Rub either melted butter all over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle salt generously all over the outside of the turkey (or have had it soaking in salt-water brine before starting this process). Sprinkle pepper over the turkey.

Step Six

Place turkey BREAST DOWN on the bottom of a rack over a sturdy roasting pan big enough to catch all the drippings. This is the main difference between the way mom makes turkey and everyone else. Cooking the turkey breast down means the skin over the breast will not get so brown. However, all of the juices from the cooking turkey will fall down into the breast while cooking. And the resulting bird will have the most succulent turkey breast imaginable.

Add several sprigs of fresh (if possible) thyme and rosemary to the outside of the turkey.

Step Seven

Chop up the turkey giblets (gizzard, heart). Put into a small saucepan, cover with water, add salt. Bring to simmer for an hour or so to help make stock for the stuffing.

Step Eight

Put the turkey in the oven. Check the cooking directions on the turkey packaging. Gourmet turkeys often don’t take as long to cook. With the turkeys mom gets, she recommends cooking time of about 15 minutes for every pound. For the 15 lb. turkey, start the cooking at 400 F for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 F for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 F for the next hour to hour and a half.

If you want the breast to be browned as well, you can turn the bird over so that the breast is on top, and put it in a 500°F oven or under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, just enough to brown the breast. Note that if you do this, you will have a higher risk of overcooking the turkey breast.

Start taking temperature readings with a meat thermometer, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, an hour before the turkey should be done. You want a resulting temperature of 175°F for the dark meat (thighs and legs) and 165°F for the white meat (breast). The temperature of the bird will continue to rise once you take it out of the oven, so take it out when the temperature reading for the thigh is 170°F, and for the breast 160°F. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, spear the breast with a knife. The turkey juices should be clear, not pink.

Step Nine 

Once you remove the turkey from the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Turn the turkey breast side up to carve it.


Once again remember the point of the day is to enjoy and be thankful for your  family, friends, and the amazing food prepared.

About Stacy Moran: 

Stacy  was born in West Virginia but now finds herself living in Texas. She has loved writing since she wrote her first book in the first grade, The Land Without Rules. Her mother will tell you it was a brilliant piece of literature.

An author of several genres, she prefers to combine the mainstream genres of paranormal and gothic romance with elements of erotic, mythology and fantasy.

Her most recent works include, Blood Myth (The Myth Series), Sekhmet’s Revenge, The Lotus, and a series of erotic shorts,  Temptation Tuesdays. You can find her books on Amazon.


Readers can find Stacy online at her official website, at her blog, and on Facebook. 

Official Site of Stacy A. Moran

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