So what is this calendar we keep talking about? We wanted to create a calendar that was useful and beautiful for children to have hanging in their rooms. We wanted a calendar for children like our own, who are Orthodox and culturally American. We wanted something with warm illustrations of children living life as Orthodox Christians, something that encouraged them to participate in their faith.
Abigail and Marian decided to split the work of illustrations, each painting 6 full color illustrations for the months, and sharing the black and white saints drawings (there are around 50!). We brainstormed as a team to decide on activities, memory exercises, and crafts for each month. Caroline wrote everything up, and worked her magic to make all of our ideas come to life! After consults with our priest, infinite texts and e-mails, meetings over coffee, and toddler disputes that we refereed, Love & Joy: An Orthodox Children's Calendar began to take more definite form.
The paintings for the months were inspired by either the season or a church feast occurring around then. For instance, January's painting is a scene from Abigail's daughter's baptism, inspired by Theophany. June's painting features two children's playing together, emphasizing the friendship of Saints Peter and Paul. August's scene is Marian's daughter reaching for the icon of the Theotokos over her crib, referencing the Dormition of the Theotokos that month. December shows Marian's other daughter putting Jesus in his manger on Christmas morning, while the icon of the Nativity of Christ reminds us of the glory that a child's manger scene is mimicking.
Caroline chose a color from each month's painting to become the watercolor background for the days. In an effort to make this calendar as practical for American Orthodox children, We chose to include American holidays, church feasts, and 3-5 saints for each month (with the drawing of that saint shown in their feast day). Fasting days are denoted by a circle of a slightly different shade than the background. Fish, wine, and oil days are marked with a small, white logo in the corner of each day. We wanted the calendar to include pertinent information, while remaining uncluttered and clean looking.
The crafts and recipes are some seasonal activities, and some church-related. For instance, in February we suggest making a string of paper hearts with names on them of people we want to pray for, and then hang the string in our icon corner-- a less candy-oriented take on Valentine's Day. For June, the recipe is Marian's husband's favorite apple pie that they always make him on Father's Day-- but we also add a prayer for children to be praying as they make the pie! In October, the recipe is for a child's version of Koliva, an invitation to discuss the Orthodox view of death in the face of Halloween. Caroline expressed it best in our Kickstarter video, when she shared our desire to use the cultural history of Orthodoxy and the beauty of the church cycle, and make it easier for busy parents to teach their children about these rich traditions.
The calendar is spiral bound so that it will hang flat on a wall, and the covers are thick and durable to support the extra weight of the 52 pages. We love the thought of families using these calendars throughout the year, inspiring new crafts, lessons, and traditions. Glory to God!