22 February, 2008

Traditional Housewarming Gifts: Bread, Salt, Broom

We had our first guest at The Box House this week. My godmother, Herma, stopped by for pizza and a tour, and she brought with her a loaf of bread, a container of salt, and a hand-held mini duster (to represent a broom). Herma is from Austria, and like many Europeans, she grew up with the tradition of bringing housewarming gifts that represented certain good wishes for the new homeowners. The bread is so we never go hungry, the salt is so life is always flavorful, and the broom is to sweep our troubles away. Actually, this duster came in quite handy, as the floor contractors, despite all the bags on their sanders, left dust everywhere. (Which reminds me, I never posted final pictures of the newly finished floors. I'll get to that soon.)

There's a variation of this in the movie It's a Wonderful Life, when George and Mary Bailey give the Martini family three gifts when they move into their new home:

  • Bread - that this house may never know hunger.
  • Salt - that life may always have flavor.
  • Wine - that joy and prosperity may reign forever.

Here are a few other traditional gifts I've heard about or received in the past:

  • Candle: So you'll always have light to banish the dark times
  • Coins: For luck (When I bought my Jeep Wrangler, a coworker threw a handful of coins on the floor by the driver's seat. A few years later, when the car was completely totaled by a drunk driver--who pushed me into oncoming traffic and two other cars after he clobbered me--I survived. I like to think it's because of the luck Cheryl tossed my way)
  • Honey or Sugar: To remember life's sweetness
When Mom's other house does sell, we'll leave behind the broom for the new residents. It's bad luck to bring it with us, and good luck for them.

And now for something completely unrelated:

Viva Obama!


Jan Marie said...

I love that she took a traditional idea and made it modern by bringing not a broom but a hand duster.

I can't wait for someone to move so I can give them a candle now that I know the meaning behind it.

Marilyn said...

I love this tradition (and the movie). When we moved in December, several people tried to do this but kept forgetting one item; one remembered the salt but forgot the bread, another brought the bread but not the broom. Everyone who does it means well, and it's the most charming thing!

Jean Martha said...

I want to do the FSTAG houseblogs tag thing but I am not sure how to do it. This is a GREAT post!!

I never knew about the broom thing. When I bought my house the previous owners left like 4 brooms behind, maybe that is why. Hmmm.

Jean Martha said...

Oh and...

Everyone brought me booze, booze and more booze when I bought my house. I was a nervous wreck. LOL

Joanne said...

People can bring me booze anytime. I think we're going to have an open house 'cuz our liquor cabinet is getting low.

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