Another document collected from my great Aunt Nora about Holiday rituals, is what happens from Ash Wednesday to Saturday before Easter. Every Friday is observed by not eating any meat (beef, pork, chicken) only eggs and seafood can be consumed on also Good Friday and Virgin Saturday (day before Easter) are considered especially sacred. On Easter there is usually a feast with all the meats including those foods that were giving up for Lent. During Lent, a favorite food like chocolate is given up as an act of sacrifice to give remembrance to Jesus’s 40 days fast in the desert before the crucifixion. Any pagan ritual like coloring eggs, going on an easter egg hunts, making Easter baskets for the kids is also followed along side the holiday/religious rituals as long as they do not conflict, like eating a chocolate bunny before Easter would be a bad thing if chocolate is what you gave up on lent but on Easter, perfectly ok.
Analysis: I was shocked how many of my USC fellow classmates actually gave up their favorite food for Lent. I find it amusing that no matter how religious my family member claim to be, they have no problem observing pagan ritual because they interpret it as American Holiday rituals not pagan. Although, everyone seemed confused why rabbits lays eggs in America? I tried to explain, but gave up quickly because food came out.
“My dad grew up in a very strict Roman Catholic family. His mom was from Italy, from a city near Rome, very strict. And so every good Friday from 12-3 (which is supposedly the time when Jesus was on the cross), she made my dad sit in his room and think about Jesus’ suffering. Until Jesus was ‘off the cross’ and he could come out of his room. But he spared me that. But apparently, she had done that—her mother had done that to her, her mother had done that to her, and so forth. Not praying, just thinking about Jesus’s suffering and sacrifice for three hours. It went way back.”
Good Friday is the day that, according to Christians, Jesus was crucified and thus made his sacrifice to save humanity. This ritual was presumably meant to focus devotion and think about what Jesus had done for mankind, to try and understand the value of his sacrifice. Rather than praying, which could easily just be beseeching at that age, this tradition could mean to honor the suffering and the actions of Jesus, hopefully inspiring piety and good behavior thanks to the contemplation of such immense suffering. It is significant that it was meant to occur at apparently the same time that Jesus was on the cross so many centuries ago; such a thing would make the exercise more meaningful (homeopathic magic), possibly inspiring the person who is thinking about the suffering to be as brave or as compassionate as Jesus.
My informant told me her grandparents come from the Azores a group of islands off the coast of Portugal. Ever year around Easter, on Good Friday, her grandfather cooks a dish called Bacalhoada. It is basically a dish formulated from potatoes, fish, hard-boiled eggs, olives, onions, and whatever else is available in the kitchen. This tradition comes from the Portuguese sailors. Since they sent a lot of time at sea they didn’t have access to fresh foods. They would catch a whole bunch of fish because they were never sure when get would get more food. So they dried and they would rehydrate them with milk later. For this dish they would have the fish and they would then throw-in any vegetables or food that they happened to find on the ship. Even during war-time they would take the time to make this dish every Good Friday. According to my informant the recipe varies from year to year. Part of the concept of the dish is to put in whatever you have available. My informant says that she enjoys the tradition because she doesn’t fell she has that many. She enjoys the tradition but not always the food that goes with it.
It is interesting that the informant places more emphasis on the history of the tradition than the food itself. It was probably because she didn’t know the recipe off the top of her head but the history of this dish still seems more important. Especially since the recipe seems to change yearly because that’s how the dish was originally made. That might be why the informant follows the tradition even though she’s not all that keen on the actual food. The history behind this dish gives it importance so not practicing it might seem disingenuous.
This is a food made only during lent and is eaten on every Friday during this time, including Good Friday. It was a part of seven dishes made. Veronica does not know what the other dishes were, but believes they must have not been so good since they are no longer made. This specific dish was made because it does not have meat, which Catholics are not allowed to eat on Fridays of lent.
The recipe: (serves six people)
4 bolillos(like French bread) in pieces
1 piloncillo(unrefined brown sugar cone)
1 slice of cinnamon
1 laurel leaf
A piece of onion
Colored pills (chochitos de colores)
Fry the bolillos in the oil and put them aside so that they do not become hard. In a liter of water add the piloncillo, cinnamon, clove, pepper, laurel leaf, and the 3 tomatillos. Let this come to a boil then turn it off. In a separate pot, add the butter and the bolillos along with the walnuts, peanuts, colored pills, coco, and cheese. Then add only the water from the previous mixture. Let the mix heat on a low fire until everything has been incorporated well and the cheese has melted a bit.
Veronica makes this every lent, and enjoys eating it. She learned the recipe from her mother, who learned it from hers. I have tried this and did not like it, partly because I do not like soggy bread and because the ingredients all have a very defining taste. The recipe itself seems unclear and hard to follow, reason that leads me to believe that it can only be learned if it is taught to you by someone.