Sunday, December 2, 2012

St. Theophan Academy: Presentation Tea

From the blog St Theophan Academy, a post (two actually) on a tea for girls connected to the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple.

Invitations usually consist of blue cardstock, a black line icon of the presentation, and all pertinent details tucked inside, tied with a pretty blue ribbon of course. All the little girls ages 2-12 are invited to attend. As a teenager, I decided that some day I would run one of those cute little tea rooms, so I would frequent antique stores looking for pretty and inexpensive tea cups.

The result, I now have a collection of over 40 tea cups, most of which saw very little use for many years. Now, I love to see all of the cups I spent 15 years hunting for, lined up in various shapes and sizes, and finally getting used! Yes, occasionally one gets broken, but it is worth the risk to see the joy in a 3 year olds eyes when she gets to drink from a fancy cup like the big girls. If you cannot scrounge enough tea cups from parish members to work, be on the lookout for a deal. Often you can find a set of tea cups in flea market shops for very little expense. As for tea, over the years we have used a variety of things. The first few years we served lemonade, then apple juice, and this year I made a sweet chai tea, with apple juice for those who did not care for the tea. Plates - I guess I have to confess I have an unnatural love of dishes. I have tried this year to begin to reduce the number of dishes I own, but my blue and white plates are used on a daily basis, so they are a keeper. I have over 40 of them, collected from antique stores as well as received as gifts. This year, my little dimples' godmother also donated a set of lovely floral dishes, so we used them mixed in with the blue and white plates.

Flowers were sweet and simple, a generous friend from church created beautiful arrangements of roses from discards at the floral shop for which she works. Tea cups and pots were used to hold just a few sweet blooms. Later, the girls carried the flowers into the temple and placed them in front of various icons.

The food is the area that we have learned the most from trial and error. The first year we had someone make wonderful vegan fudge, but what a disaster with all of the white dresses! I have tried to keep the menu simple, and have several moms help out. This year we had dainty little vegan lemon cupcakes, jelly sandwiches cut into the shape of angels and crosses, and fruit salad. The key is to avoid anything that stains, pineapple, melons, apple, watermelon and grapes are good choices, and we use apple jelly on the sandwiches. Since we encourage the girls to wear their finest, and especially white dresses if they have them, stains do have to be considered.

Another tradition that we started was the ornament gift. Each year, as soon as the Christmas ornaments are in stock at Hobby Lobby (which seems to be in July these days!), I start hunting for a sweet little ornament to give the girls. The ornaments are tagged with their name and the date of the tea, as a keepsake to remember the day. This year, we had so many girls, I had a hard time finding enough of any one ornament, so the choice was not my favorite. Last year we used the little silver frame ornaments and put a small icon of the presentation in it.

Now, timing of the party is something that fluctuates. The first few years, it was held immediately following the Liturgy for the Presentation, on the morning of the 21st (many of the girls of school age got to skip school to attend :). The girls processed with candles and the icon during the liturgy, then afterwards Father served them tea. The past two years, the feast has fallen on a weekend, so we have held the tea on Saturday before Vespers. After the tea, they all get their candles and process into the church at the beginning of Vespers. Then, during vespers Father has them all join in a second procession around the church, with the icon of the Presentation leading the procession. Yes, they carry lit candles, and yes, it seems that every year someone's hair gets singed. I am working on a solution for that, perhaps letting them carry votive candles might help? On the other hand, isn't burned hair a rite of passage for any Orthodox girl? The other possibility we are discussing is to allow the smaller girls to carry an icon of the Theotokos in the procession, and only have the older girls carry candles. It has become such a beautiful tradition in our parish, and a very special event our girls looks forward to each year.


  1. This is beautiful. Thanks for posting!

  2. At St. Nicholas, in McKinney, we had one burned child too many, so we switched to electric candles for the little ones. They loved them! We also handed out wristlets for the little ones, with jingle bells on them for during the procession. Again...LOVE!

  3. God grant that one day we have enough children to do something like this. (: