“Picnic” Fundraiser

DBE Illinois raised funds while having great fun attending the play “Picnic” at the Theatre of Western Springs April 23rd. Although the night was a bit chilly, the atmosphere inside was very warm indeed. Raffles of picnic baskets, a Kindle and various British-themed items sold many tickets, and snack sales helped raise additional funds. See below for pictures of our gala theater night…

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Theater Night 2014 – “Picnic” April 23rd

Had enough of the snow and cold? Join us at our annual theater fundraiser, “Picnic” for a hot night! You may have seen the sizzling film adaptation, starring William Holden and Kim Novak. Imagine the live version!


Picnic by William Inge – “Passion and propriety collide in William Inge’s Picnic, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama. It’s the last day of summer as shirtless, shiftless drifter Hal Carter swaggers into a sleepy Kansas burg, stumbles into the backyard and the lives of Flo Owens and her two daughters and ignites libidos all over the place. By the time everybody’s ready to return to work, Hal has made off with the heart of the prettiest girl in town. Like a breeze across a late-summer plain, Picnic is a stirring reminder that in life and love, the only thing scarier than being held is being held back.” (from theatrewesternsprings.com)

Tickets for this sensational live performance cost only $20 each, and proceeds benefit DBE IL/Cantata (British Home). Contact a DBE IL member (or contact us at DBEBarrington@yahoo.com) to purchase tickets in advance, or purchase tickets at the door. For additional information about the theater or the play, click here. Western Springs Theatre is located at 4384 Hampton Ave in Western Springs, IL.



Today we enjoyed our annual meeting and a delicious lunch at Irish Times. All IL Chapters were represented, so it was a great chance to meet members and learn about DBE activities throughout Illinois. The new State Board was installed, but not before recognizing the extraordinary service of the current board. To celebrate St. David’s Day, we all wore bright yellow daffodils (a nice contrast to the ugly snowstorm that was on its way).

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St. David’s Day – March 1

Wales flag

St. David, the patron saint of Wales, is honored every March 1st. Celebrate by wearing a daffodil or leek, and definitely enjoy some of the delicious Welsh dishes. BBC Good Food offers a great assortment of recipes for St. David’s Day, including: Traditional Welsh Cakes (Pice ar y maen), Bara brith (a traditional tea cake), Rarebit Toasts, Welsh Goat Cheese and Leek Tarts, and many more.

Visit National Museum Wales for the history of St. David and the related customs. They also have a page detailing Welsh national dress, so you can dress the part.

Click here to see the official St. David’s Day Parade website for photos of the parade that winds through Cardiff.

Stories from Christmas Past

During our festive holiday meeting this month, we exchanged Christmas memories (along with great food and grab bag gifts). Two stories arose that had to be shared.

The Father Christmas Trap by Barbara

“When I was little, my older brother would tie a string on his big toe and the door knob on Christmas Eve, so he would wake up when Father Christmas came. He didn’t realize that the door opened inward, and therefore the string would go slack.”

Father Christmas is Watching! by Mary

“My older brother, Billy, was in charge one Christmas Eve, as my parents had to go to a funeral. My father would dress as Father Christmas and put our gifts in our stocking, which would be at the bottom of the bed. So, Billy had to take his place. My two younger brothers were still awake and we couldn’t stop giggling at him. So, he started hitting us, saying ‘You shouldn’t be awake when Father Christmas comes.’ He was so angry, but we couldn’t stop laughing.”

Happy Holidays!

Christmas Dinner in a Tin?

Don’t want to spend hours cooking the traditional Christmas dinner this year? Read Mike Krumboltz’s article (posted on Yahoo Games) for details on the meal that begins with scrambled eggs and bacon, ends with Christmas pudding, and is conveniently encased in one tin…

via Disgusting Christmas “Tinner” offers a time-saving alternative for gamers | Games Blog – Yahoo Games.   By Mike Krumboltz December 5, 2013 5:12 PM Plugged In

Christmas in a can (Credit: GAME)

Christmas in a can (Credit: GAME)

We’re Crackers for Christmas! British Holiday Traditions

Christmas Crackers, Pantos and Mince Pies, oh my!

Christmas CrackersPantomime PosterMince Pie

Thanks to Betty, of the DBE in Louisiana, quintessential holiday customs are illuminated:

Turkey – Introduced in the 16th Century and immortalized in the final pages of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, turkey is the traditional star of the Christmas dinner in the U.K. Click here to learn more about the bird’s history and click here for Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Turkey and Stuffing on BBC Food.

Mince Pies – These delicious little morsels started life centuries ago as “Christmas Pyes”, and included a mix of meats, fruit and sugar. Crusaders returned to England with spices which were added to, and eventually replaced, the meat mixture. Mince pies were once illegal, have clubs devoted to them, and are believed to grant both good and bad luck. Click here for DBE LA’s step-by-step recipe or here for Rose Prince’s “fail-safe” recipe. Or, if you prefer to buy, click here for the Pie Club’s top ratings. Remember to never: stir the mincemeat mixture in counter-clockwise direction; refuse a mince pie; or cut it with a knife (all unlucky).  Tradition calls for consuming a pie on each of the twelve days of Christmas (for luck) and making a wish when eating the first one. For more lore, click here.

Mistletoe – The magic plant that remains verdant while its host tree is dormant was once believed to be curative (it is actually poisonous) and was hung over a baby’s cradle to protect against fairies. Mistletoe-related kissing came about because the plant was thought to cure broken hearts and quell quarrels. DBE LA provides simple directions to grow your own mistletoe here.

Christmas Crackers – Invented in 1847 by Tom Smith, the Christmas cracker is a holiday essential. A festively wrapped cardboard tube with a strip that snaps when pulled, the cracker is filled with a paper hat, a prize and the requisite bad joke. DBE LA advises the proper pulling technique is to start by crossing your arms and pulling a whole circle of crackers around the table. Hold your cracker in your right hand, and pull your neighbor’s cracker with your free left hand. Read more about the history of the cracker at AbsolutelyCrackers.com (where you can also order crackers  for all occasions) or click here to send a FREE virtual cracker via e-mail. Feeling crafty? Channel4.com provides step-by-step instructions to make your own crackers.

Pantomime – A Christmas tradition since the late 1800s, the beloved pantomime (panto) remains true to its origins. The story inevitably follows the classic template, where boy wins girl (aided by a helpful animal) and good triumphs over evil. Ensuring a good time for all, the productions also add hefty doses of silly character names, slapstick, double entendres, exciting chase scenes, and often, a celebrity dame. Audience participation plays a vibrant role, with patrons yelling warnings to the hero (“He’s behind you!) or disagreeing with the villain (“Oh no you’re not!). Click here to learn more about pantos, including some great images.

Father Christmas – From his humble beginnings as a nondescript Christmas entity in a 15th Century carol, Father Christmas has come a long way. In the 17th Century, Father Christmas (or Old Christmas or Sir Christmas) emerged, as a large man with ginger beard and green cloak, who visited houses to feast with families. By 1880, he developed into the gift-bearing, jolly old man in the symbolic red robe. Originally children sent letters to Father Christmas via the fireplace. On Christmas Eve, children leave a mince pie and drink (milk, sherry, tea, etc.) for Father Christmas and a carrot for the reindeer. A stocking or pillowcase is hung at the end of the child’s bed (or sometimes above the fireplace), in hopes that it will be filled with gifts. To track the sleigh’s progress, children can visit NORAD’s official tracker site at NORADSantaTracker.org . If you need a dose of old-school Father Christmas, be sure to read the classic ode to St. Nick, which can be viewed in its entirety here.

Have yourself a merry British Christmas!