USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘benediction’
Folk Beliefs
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Italian Toast

“This wine is good and clear.
Good health to everyone.
Hope they bring to the cemetery the ones
who wanted to do away with it.”

This saying has been passed down through the paternal side of my family, who are all of Italian heritage.  My father’s grandparents were immigrants in the early twentieth century and were the last to speak Italian fluently in my father’s genealogy.  Some of my older relatives still remember this saying, however, and have said it on occasion though it is obsolete.  My father begins it when toasting to his family, but never gets past the first sentence.  As it involves Prohibition (1920-1933), its terminus post quem is 1920.  As recent immigrants, my great grandparents had left a country where good wine was plentiful and many people drank it daily, and were now faced with an across-the-board ban on every kind of alcoholic beverage.  According to my informant, the Italian men who immigrated near this time would continue to make wine that their families would drink, keeping it hidden in their cellars while brewing.  When the wine was finished and illegally drunk, a toast such as this would be offered.  This particular saying was either created or picked up by one of my father’s grandparents, and as my family has increasingly forgotten Italian (I know essentially none), the saying has remained, whether or not my relatives are aware that it is an anachronism.  Though it is obsolete, it reminds us of our common heritage and of my great-grandparents (now deceased) and their families.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Protection
Proverbs

An Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

Above is an old Irish blessing that my mother remembers her family often paraphrasing at birthdays and other family gatherings. Also, cards with this saying were very popular.

Though not used a blessing at weddings, my mother said that sometimes someone said this blessing at reception as part of a toast. My mother’s father’s side was very Irish, and my mother’s grandmother was the first generation of Americans in her family that emigrated to the United States from Ireland at the turn of the century.

The part of the blessing that my mother remembers is, “may the road rise up to meet you.” The way she reads the blessing, it is a way to wish the best for a person, or a couple, on any celebrated occasion that marks a milestone like a birthday or an accomplishment like graduation or a ceremony like a wedding.

Although the entire blessing is listed above, (my mother had to look it up because she couldn’t remember it exactly), only parts of the blessing was used when spoken at family functions. My mother the part of the blessing most often said was, “May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.”   If the entire blessing was read, it was usually just at weddings.

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