Wednesday, May 21, 2014

15 Charming house warming traditions.

1. The term “house warming,” originates from the actual act of warming the home.  Going back centuries, long before central heat, neighbors and friends would celebrate a new home by bringing firewood over as a gift.  They’d try to fill up every fireplace and light them, heating the new home as a literal and symbolic gesture of warmth.

2. But the lighting of fires and warming of the house also had another practical use, as it was widely believed that it expelled any evil spirits that might be residing in the home.  It was commonly believed that homes that sat vacant were considered occupied by “spirits” over time that needed to be exorcised before it was safe for children to live there.

3. In aristocratic England in the 1800’s, King Edward III mandated that housewarming parties were to be restricted to ‘certain ranks,’ or wealthy people.  For those who qualified they were elaborate affairs, sometimes with 10,000 guests attending a house warming party!

4. A traditional housewarming gift consists of bread, salt, and wine, still popular at some churches in Northwest Florida.  Bread is so the house will never know hunger, salt so life will always have flavor, and wine so joy and prosperity may be enjoyed forever.  

5. In French, the housewarming party is called a pendaison de crémaillère, or "hanging of the chimney hook,” a term that dates back to medieval times.

6. When the house was done being built, the new owners invited everyone who helped with construction to dinner as thanks.  The food was made in a large pot hung over the fire.  They regulated the temperature by adjusting the chimney hook up or down.  So the tradition became that the hook was the last thing added to the house for good luck, and a celebration of those who helped.  

7. The tradition of potluck and universal meals from friends and neighbors stems from this tradition of a large pot of food hanging from the chimney hook.

8. In ancient Germany, oak trees were considered the “trees of heaven,” and so Ancient Norseman deemed acorns the symbol of protection.  They placed acorns on windowsills to ward off evil spirits and bless the house with safety, a tradition that’s translated into acorn-themed housewarming presents. 

9. Offering pineapple as a housewarming gift goes back to the time of Christopher Columbus, when he came upon the Caribbean island of Gaudalupe.  The island was rich with pineapples so Columbus and his crew started taking some with them on return trips to Europe, so they became a symbol of hospitality, safe return, and a welcome gift.  

10. In some countries, bluebirds are given as a gift as they’re believed to bless the new home with happiness and good luck.  Still to this day, people sometimes give bluebird-themed gifts, like china or wall hangings, as gifts.

11. Germans celebrate a house warming with characteristic practicality, bringing gift certificates as presents and also a homemade dish for the first meal, and of course something to wash it down with.

12. In Thailand, Buddhist monks come perform rituals at the house alongside family and friends for good luck and blessings.

13. In India, the house warming ceremony is called “Gruha Pravesh,” or “Gruha Pravesham,” which translates to “Entering New House.”  In some predominantly Hindu areas, a sacred cow is the first to enter the new home.

14. “Burden baskets,” are a tradition that originated with the Apache Indians.  They placed these baskets at the front door to capture the worries and stress of daily life, or to symbolically leave their burdens at the door.  Baskets that were woven together also symbolized community, family, and wholeness.  

15. In Scotland, a frog is seen as an omen of good luck and fertility, so a frog (or wooden or ceramic likeness) is often given as a housewarming gift.

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