Blessing the Rice

Background information: My mom is a second-generation Filipino-American, meaning she was born here in the US. Her parents immigrated from the Philippines when they were both relatively young, and my mom’s family grew up with a lot of relatives in San Francisco, CA. 

Mom: I don’t know if this is something you and the boys have noticed all the time, but I try to use the rice spoon to bless the rice before we eat every time. I draw a cross on rice with the spoon. I think this is just something all Filipino families do.

Me: Where did you learn to do this from? 

Mom: I learned it from my mom, so your grandma, and it just became like a practice to bless the rice before eating. Probably like…I still do it because of the connection to grandma, so there’s nostalgia there, and of course the gesture of like actual blessing. It’s like a comforting thing. I don’t always remember to do it, but I try to do it more now and I tell your brothers to do it when we eat too. 

My family did not raise me to be very religious, but my mom does always remind me to pray and have faith in a higher power, and to stay connected to my loved ones who have passed away. For my mom, I think that her relationship to religion, and religious practices like this, are mostly connected to her upbringing and relationship to her own parents. This small custom that has become an everyday practice for my mom shows how folklore and traditions that are passed down through constant performance in childhood can have such strong emotional roots for the person practicing them many years later.