Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington RoadPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139
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Celebrate the New Year

Chicken Teriyaki & Chow Mein

Order form can be found here or on the Forms page

Deadline to order: Tuesday, December 7

A Dharma Message by Rev. Matthew Hamasaki

December 2021

It’s difficult to believe that it’s the end of 2021 as it seems like the past two years have just flown by. It’s almost as if we’re standing on the platform of a train station and an express train has just shot past in a blink of an eye and when the train is gone, we’re two years older. While that may be a bit saddening, it is nice to know that it means Christmas is around the corner. And with it, we have our traditions of decorating, shopping, and eating Christmas foods! One food that I thought was a tradition but I, myself, have never tried is Christmas goose. I had always heard the term in different sorts of media, fiction, movies, songs, et cetera; however, I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to try it myself.

After looking into it, having goose in the winter was a tradition that goes back to the ancient Greeks. They were domesticated because of their size, as well as their temperament (if you ever see geese out and about, leave them alone, they can be quite territorial). They are so territorial that there is a Roman legend that a flock of geese saved the city from attack by alerting the Roman guards of the enemy troops attempting to sneak in. What is fact, though, is that geese are the plumpest around wintertime and so they were the perfect poultry for winter festivals, such a feast day known as Michaelmas, celebrating the harvest and the changing of seasons. So where did this tradition go?

Some say the beloved “A Christmas Carol” is to blame. Near the end of “A Christmas Carol” (sorry, and they are all delighted and stuffed after almost finishing it; however, the next day Scrooge, follow spoilers), the Cratchit family has a roast goose for dinner as was tradition in the United Kingdom during the time. The family greatly admires the meal, following his dramatic change from miser to charitable person, buys them a turkey. At that point in time, turkey was an exotic bird in the UK as it was native to the New Land and having it was a sign of wealth and much more expensive than the more available goose. Thus, as an extravagant present indicative of his Christmas spirit, Scrooge purchases the fanciest bird possible to give to the Cratchit’s.

While this book changed the public’s view on what Christmas meant, it also changed their attitudes toward certain poultry. Specifically, that goose was associated with poor people and turkey was associated with the wealthy. And so, turkey became much more fashionable to have at the dinner table during Christmas. In America, turkey was already abundant, so it naturally became the bird of choice during the holiday season and continued to this day. This, on top of a 1940s turkey breeding boom and the rise of refrigerators after WWII, solidified turkey’s position as the top bird.

There might not be a better example of how our minds are influenced by the labels we attach to things for almost arbitrary reasons. The fact that a tradition thousands of years old could be altered because of a fictional family shows the power of the distinctions we decide to attribute. When we see something and then make a judgment based on whether we agree or like it or not, it may seem like a little thing, but it could alter our lives, up to changing the very world we live in. As such, we must be vigilant in our awareness of the labels and judgments we attribute to the things and people around us. Do we like it because it’s rare? Because someone else who we like likes it? What makes something valuable or not? There are the questions we must pose to ourselves to recognize whether our craving or dislike for something is warranted or a figment of our imagination. By breaking down these assumptions, we can reach the truth of what is most valuable to us in life. Personally, I think one of the most undeniably valuable things is being able to be together for Christmas (however you can do it) and sharing a meal, whether it’s turkey, goose, or your own holiday tradition!

In Gassho,

Rev. Matt

The Placer Buddhist Church is located at 3192 Boyington Road in Penryn California, County of Placer. It is located at the scenic base of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just off Interstate 80. It is approximately half way between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada.

The Church was founded in 1902 in the small foothills town of Penryn. The original church was near the center of town approximately 3 miles from its current location. The church moved to its current location in approximately 1963. The church is well known in the community for the annual food bazaar which is always held on the 4th weekend of September. The annual food bazaar started in 1964, just after the church moved to the new location.

The church supports many organizations such as the Placer Buddhist Women’s Association (PBWA), Young Buddhist Association (YBA), Sierra Bonsai Club, Dharma School, and Placer Ume Taiko Groups. The church also holds various classes during the week including calligraphy, flower arranging, Tai Chi, Obon dancing and exercise classes. See the church calendar for class times.