Background: The informant is one of my good friends. They have been born and raised in America, but one of their parents is an immigrant from Palestine, while another has roots in Iraq.
ME: So do you mind telling me about what your family does when you move into a new house.
DS: So yeah, during the construction of, or when we just move into an existing house, my mom’s side of the family always has this tradition of putting a bible and a cross within the walls of the house. Usually that Bible or Cross is blessed by a priest on my mom’s side, and she is Greek Orthodox, or it is blessed once it is in the wall. In all of the houses that we have ever lived in we have had both the cross and the Bible in the walls. In the one that we are currently in, we have it right by the front door.
ME: That’s really interesting, do you know where your mom learned this from, or why she started doing it?
DS: She got it from her home village of Ramallah, which is in Palestine, right outside of Jerusalem.
ME: Do you know if this is something commonly done in Ramallah or Palestine, or is it just something that your mom’s family does?
DS: So I know that my mom’s whole family does it, and I know my grandparent’s house has it. I assume that it is a tradition because the village that my grandma and grandpa came from was very small and closely knit, and we basically know everyone who has come over from there, that like live near us and around us. I’m pretty sure that they do it too, but I definitely know that my mom’s family does it for sure.
ME: Do you know what purpose it is supposed to serve? Is it to protect the family and house or is more to keep away bad stuff? Or is it more general, kinda like good luck?
DS: I think it is mostly good luck, but I think a big part of it, my mom is always going on about, you know, having Jesus watch us and making sure that we are okay. So I think that it is another way to keep the house as a holy place. So like we always kinda have the eyes of the Lord looking at us and keeping us safe. Its kind of a safety thing, but its less about keeping bad things out, and more oriented towards keeping the eyes of the Lord on us and making sure that we are okay.
This interview took place at my house.
I think that this tradition is really interesting because after doing a little bit of research I could not find any other examples of people doing this. I always assumed that it was commonplace, because I grew up with a lot of Palestinians, and I remember seeing a Bible in the framing of the walls during the construction of the informant’s current home. So, this might be a tradition that is truly unique, and it is entirely possible that Christians from Ramallah, or those who have emigrated from there, are the originators of this tradition. I also think that this is a way for them to make their home in Michigan seem culturally similar to the home that their mother grew up in, in Ramallah.