Orange Blossom- Family Superstition

Informant: My next story is relatively recent. So, my grandfather, he had an older brother who is much, significantly older than him. Like, old enough that his nephews were in some cases older than him. And what happened was that the land when their father died, the land was divided in two between the two brothers. My grandfather and his older brother. But multiple families were living on this land. Because my grandfather’s older brother had two sons, so now the people who were living on this land, my grandfather, his older brother and his families and my grandfather had just gotten there. So he only had a wife, he didn’t have any kinds. While half the family had 3 families on it, and one half had just a couple. And what had happened was so on the land that we had. We had a lot of orange trees and the thing that Moroccans really love is orange trees and Moroccans like the extract from orange blossoms. That’s something they did a lot of, was sell these orange blossoms that are used to get an extract that is used for cooking, for perfume, or plenty of things. So when the harvest happened and they got all their orange blossoms, the family on the other side of the land, because we have 4 or 5 families, we should divide them evenly. It’s not fair. When Technically my grandfather had the right to claim half of the harvest because he had half the land. But they were like no, because you are just a young guy with a wife. And his mother realized that there could be a lot of family drama and she did not want that to happen. So she told my grandfather, “look, just let them have it. That’s what’s going to happen. People are going to cheat you all the time.” And she created this rule that no Biaz should ever extract orange blossoms on their own. Like you should always get it from outside. So even though we harvest and have orange blossoms, the rule was not to use it for our own, so just to sell it and go buy it if we needed it. To avoid family drama. And its true, it did avoid the family drama and things were fine and his wife who respected that tradition, that rule. Because a lot of Moroccan wives like to do it, they like to create the extract themselves, like this is mine. And she was like I respect that, I won’t do that. She respected it, but then his second wife, who is my grandmother did not. And she started doing it in secret and she wanted to have her own orange blossom. She was like “No, this is stupid that some lady some time said we should do this.” So when that happened, let me think, where was I… She started doing it in secret. And then there was this, some sort of celebration, I think it was someone’s wedding. She was doing it in secret and she did it one night when my grandfather was off at work. she did it all, she got it all prepared and then the next day, when everyone was having the festivities, my dad, who was the youngest of 12, was 2 or 3 at the time and so he was just wandering around into the kitchen. And there was a large kettle of boiling water on the stove and somehow, somehow, it fell on him. And burned a good portion of his leg. And it was pretty severe burns. And he still has scars form it. And my grandmother flipped out and she assumed that it had something to do with her. She just blamed herself, and felt terrible about it. And she thought okay this must be related, and she never again extracted orange blossoms in secrete. Not only that, but when she got older and all of her sons got married, she made sure to tell every single one of their lives not to do orange blossoms. So to this day, no Biaz does any orange blossom extracts, even though we still have orange trees and orange blossoms.

Me: So what is the orange blossom extract?

Informant: Its like orange blossom, so its like a flower. On orange trees you have fruit, so we have oranges. They create an extract and create an extract out of it. And it’s a liquid and they love it for a bunch of things. They use it for food, cooking, and it smells really good. And they use it for perfume.

Me: When did you hear this story?

Informant: I was in twelfth grade.

Me: Why were you told? Why did it come up?

Informant: We just can’t make that even though we have it. Even the people that live there now, they are distant relatives, they still can’t.

Me: Is your dad scared of orange blossoms now because they burned him?

Informant: (laughs) My dad kind of thinks its amusing. But, but, there are some of his sisters in law who are scared.

Me: Do they want to extract orange blossoms? Why do people want to do that in Morocco?

Informant: Because it is fun, it is something that is your own. And you can have it around the house. And its not always the same, depending on how you prepare it. Its kind of like a dish. Like how certain families eat certain things. Like, “my mom makes it this way and its really nice” so its just kind of their own flavor, you know what I mean.

Me: Did some of their wives, they used to not make it and now they cant?

Informant: Some of them yes.

: Why do you tell that story? Or any of these stories that you have told me

Informant: Well, so my dad is the youngest of 12, but he is the one that tells the stories the most. And they say that he is always telling stories, and most of the stories that he tells me, my cousins don’t know because their fathers don’t tell them. Or they just don’t talk about it. And I think that it is, it is just aw ay for me, after having moved away, to kind of get back. And they say that there is always, that even back, the Biazes, there has always been a son who kind of becomes the storyteller. That’s the one who passes it along. So I guess this time it is my dad. So he took it upon himself.

Me: So now it’s on you, because you have no brothers right?

Informant: So now it’s on me, yes. All the stories. I do like listening to the stories.

This collection was very rich in that I not only got a story, but a story that developed into a strong family superstition. This item is a narrative and a superstition. No one in the Biaz family extracts orange blossoms to this day, because of this story. My informants grandmother made sure to tell every one of her daughter in-laws that they can never extract orange blossoms, and this is actually followed in their family. From this collection, I also learned a lot about Moroccan culture, and the importance of orange blossom extraction. The preparation of the orange extracts is also another form of folklore. My informant told me how Moroccan women love to do this because they can make it their own creation and use it for different things. However, in this family, this traditional practice is banned. The point my informant makes about the passing down of the stories is also important. My informant’s very distant family (see other entries) were very small, so he confirms that the accuracy of the stories by saying they were all passed down “father to son, father to son.” My informant’s father was the youngest son, and my informant notes that he is the one that knows all of the stories and tells them. My informant, being the only son in his family, will be the next active bearer. My informant shares these stories because they are funny and interesting, but also are important to him personally because they involve his ancestors.