Saturday, July 19, 2008

Housewarming Tradition

We went to a housewarming in our neighborhood tonight. Two generations have owned the house above us in the twenty-some years we've been here. The "grandparents" lived and raised a family in a little cottage on the original 5-acre homestead. The "parents" later inherited the place, eventually adding on to the house, but splitting off some of the acreage. A couple of years ago, their son moved back home after a divorce, bringing with him his children, "the grandchildren", the fourth generation in that house.

The son is a contractor - they divided the lot once again, and he started building a house above his parents house. Long story short - he met someone and they got married only a couple of months ago. And he finished building his new home. Tonight, they invited friends and neighbors to an open house to celebrate/meet his new bride/housewarming.

As a housewarming gift, I baked a loaf of my One-Hour French Bread, added the recipe card, plus a jar of sea salt and a bottle of honey. Since this is practically a forgotten tradition, I then wrote a card explaining the significance of such a gift:

"The bread and salt tradition come from an old Russian folk custom. Back in the day, when the emperor and empress would pay a village a visit, merchants and gentry would present their esteemed guests with a loaf of bread piled with salt - a sign of hospitality. Peasants were honored using a similar ceremony upon introducing a new spouse to the village, with the gift of bread and salt signifying that the new couple would always have the necessities of life. When given at housewarmings, therefore, bread and salt represent the wish that the recipients' pantry will always be full. Honey (or sugar), on the other hand, symbolizes the hope that their life together be sweet." (~quoted repeatedly all over the internet)

I wasn't sure if they drank alcohol, so didn't include a bottle of wine, but the German version of this tradition replaces the honey with wine: "Bread so you'll never go hungry, wine so you'll never be thirsty, salt to ensure your good luck."


Cathy said...

Hello Sadge
I haven't visited you for a while - are those fires still burning?

Anyway I thought I'd tell you how much I liked your housewarming ideas. Traditions shouldn't be left ot die - its good that you were able to let soemone else know about this one.

Take care

Carla said...

Sadge -
This reminds me of the scene from "It's a Wonderful Life" when the Martini's move into their new home & George & Mary bring present them with these gifts: "Bread, that this house may never know hunger, Salt, that life may always have flavor, And wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever!"
(One of my favorite movies, too)

It's me said...

I second what Carla said!

And what a great spot. Found you at A posse ad esse. Glad I did. Thanks for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

Sadge, you are so full of wonderful ideas. I love to read your blog!

I have new neighbors and need to try this out.

Malto Grazie!

Abbie Smith said...

True, the passage of time made the giving of housewarming gifts a tradition to all of us. But in our current times, if isn't just about bread and salt anymore, the sky is our limit when giving gifts. Just like my friend whom moved in a new house (Thanks to the mortgage broker) in Edmonton after living many years in an apartment, we gave her various things that is proven essential for living in a huge home, like dinner set, tables, chairs, carpets, and more. Then, after a few years, when I finally able to get some home loans (Alberta) to get myself a new place to live, they all did the same to me, in which until now, I am very thankful at.

Annodear said...

I knew this was here.... took me a little time to find it but it was worth it!

We're going to a housewarming party this weekend for my BIL and his new ~ as of a year ago ~ wife.

I will be delighted to present them with bread, salt, honey, and the accompanying note.