USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘blessing’
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Polish Easter Basket Blessing

Nationality: Polish

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Polish

Age: 28

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 15, 2017 (Skype)

 

Christopher is a 28 year old man, born and raised in Warsaw, Poland and who emigrated with his family to the United States when he was 8 years old.  He is a College Graduate with a degree in Political Science. He is currently employed as a doorman in an apartment building in Queens, New York.

 

Interviewer: Good Afternoon. Does today being Holy Saturday bring back any memories of how you celebrated Easter in Poland?

 

Informant: So on Holy Saturday we would wake up very early and we would make um an Easter Basket with the family. Usually the youngest in the family will make the basket and in the basket you would put in a boiled egg, a piece of bread so ah a piece of Kielbasa little items like that. And that Saturday Morning, you and the family would head to Church and the Easter Basket would be blessed by a Priest. You would not be allowed to eat meat until that Easter Basket is blessed. Once the basket is blessed the whole family can enjoy meat on that Saturday. And that is the Polish Tradition of Easter on Holly Saturday.

 

Interviewer: Do you have any special remembrances when you celebrated in Poland as a young child then when you immigrated to the United States?

 

Informant: Oh my best memory is just how people would dress up and take the holiday very seriously. It was a very big, big holiday in Poland growing up.

 

Interviewer: Were there any changes when you got to the United States and the way the Polish Community celebrated Easter as opposed to in Poland?

 

Informant: Well in Poland they would held a big mass and this would take two hours to do. Everyone would get together with the Easter Eggs and baskets and getting blessed.  Over here in America I noticed it is a quick five minute process. You enter the church, you see the priest, then you are right out the door.

 

Interviewer: Now, as you live in America and people are less devoted to faith then in Poland, does the holiday take on another significance beyond religious?

 

Informant: For me personally this is ah about family, it keeps the family together. This tradition keeps the family together. It is about tradition.  Without tradition we start to lose family. As I said, we all get together for dinner, we see each so it is just a great way to catch up with family you haven’t seen in a quite a while.

 

Thoughts about the piece:  

Polish immigrants that want to continue or revive this tradition of “swieconka” in the US, can find a list of church services and traditional basket ingredients on sites like this: http://www.cleveland.com/cooking/index.ssf/2014/04/easter_basket_blessings_of_foo.html Symbolism of basket ingredients is explained here; http://luzdelmes.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-traditional-polish-easter-basket.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

general

Sweeping blessings out the door

“I remember growing up my mom would tell me that when you are sweeping the floor in your house, uhm you are not supposed to sweep you know the dirt, directly out the door, you are supposed to sweep it into a pile and pick it up with a damp paper towel or some cloth or something and put it in the trash because If you sweep out the door it will sweep out the blessings from your home. My mom learned it from elders in the village she is from.”
For many families it is very important to make sure that their homes are safe and sound and always blessed therefore there are all these traditions in which they have sort of rituals to make sure that no bad omens enter the house and only blessings enter. The homes are seen as this safety harbor that protects the children and overall the families therefore taking extra steps in order to make sure its safe becomes a very common part of folklore.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Foodways
Proverbs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

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.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Protection

Ritual/Tradition – Greek

Blessing of a Home: Before entering a home a person will throw money in the doorway to bless the family.

This type of ritual/tradition is practiced amongst the Greek culture. Nichelle learned this belief from her Greek mother and grandmother who have taught her the traditions and rituals of the Greek culture. This tradition is practiced amongst the Greek families and can be used to bless other homes that are not of Greek origin. If a family is not of Greek origin the tradition may be slightly changed where the person being invited to the house warming will not throw money into the house but will put money in an envelope as a gift to the family. This tradition occurs when family and friends are invited over for a dinner party to celebrate living in a new home. One member or more of the family will take money and throw it in the doorway of the home before stepping inside the home. Nichelle was not sure of what the money symbolized, she was only aware of this practice being a tradition amongst Greek families.

I agree with Nichelle’s interpretation of a Greek house-warming tradition. This certain tradition has taken on many different forms in other cultures as well. For instance, for many African American house warming parties; it is part of tradition to bring an entrée or beverage of some sort in order to celebrate a family’s new home. Money is also another gift that is given in envelopes or cards as a way of congratulating families for stepping into another stage of adulthood. Although money is not thrown instantly at the door, we can see in other cultures that the same tradition is kept, but through different forms and practices. I also could imagine that money could be a symbol of good luck for the family to lead a long and prosperous life in their new home. This practice could also be a way of showing the family that they have friends and family that are there as systems of support whenever they may need financial assistance. For example, the money may go to helping to pay for new furniture and kitchen items for their new home.

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