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traditions and rituals
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swan



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 450
Location: a Dutchie in HongKong

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 8:12 am    Post subject: traditions and rituals Reply with quote

This morning I was thinking about food traditions and rituals around birth and death. May be a stranger topic in this happy forum, but for me it's kind of actual, because a few days ago my dad died (88 years old, all the clich├ęs count: he had a good life, did not suffer too much,but still...I am SO sad...).
And 10 days earlier a babygirl was born into the family (little Eva)....

I'll tell you later about our Dutch 'things', but would like to hear about yours....
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melinda



Joined: 01 Oct 2004
Posts: 256
Location: Richmond, VA, usa

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Swan, I am so sorry.....it's so hard to lose a parent no matter at what age you or they are.....I lost my Mom a couple of years back and I think I miss her more now than I did right afterwards......Here in the south we always bring food....i guess various casseroles.....there are even some books just about "funeral food" ...it's always nice for neighbors to bring food.....i prefer things that can be frozen as there's usually an overflow
....take care of yourself
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes. food must always be there when the heart is overflowing for whatever reason. It's not the same, of course, but when we had the big earthquake a good number of years ago, the first thing I did after checking that we were all together and still had all our fingers and toes was put on a big pot of vegetable soup. ...and I think this was still in the VERY early hours of the morning. I don't think I even thought about it -- I just did it as though by remote while I took in alll the destruction around us. And as I did, I counted myself lucky that we had a gas stovetop and I was able to do that. When the morning got light and people were beginning to gather in the street, some of our neighbors who had electric stovetops and still couldn't even make coffee seemed even a little more edgy because of it.

When I was still working at as a preschool teacher at a church there were lots of funerals going on around us on a fairly regular basis. Certain caterers (this was an "A list Beverly Hills church) did a very nice business in funerals alone.

Anyway, maybe food reminds us that life goes on and that there ARE some universals like needing to celebrate and to comfort & be comforted and also when we're witness to the most profound moments in life, no matter how powerless we feel, there are still things we can do to reaffirm our connections to one another and to the future.

I'm sorry for your loss, swan, and glad for your joy. I hope a hug travels through time and space and I wish a bowl of warm vegetable soup did too.
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Barbara



Joined: 13 Nov 2004
Posts: 899
Location: Gold Coast Australia

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sorry for your loss Swan. I send cyberhugs also.

The Maori people of NZ always gather together on their Marae when a loved one dies. They feast, sing and talk for several days.

Recently, a close friend of mine who knew she was dying, asked that when the time came we stay with her body for a little while and drink champagne. We did and it was a very special time. When my mother in law died not long after we did the same thing. It seemed to help every one come to terms with the death.
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MileHigh



Joined: 09 May 2005
Posts: 14
Location: Broomfield, CO USA

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 4:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My condolences, also, swan. In the town where I grew up (small town in Nebraska, USA) food is always brought to the house by neighbors and after the funeral everyone who attended the funeral is invited to the church after the burial for a meal provided by the church - I've always thought that bringing food was a midwestern custom but perhaps it is more universal than I thought. Anyway it is a very nice custom and really helpful to the family - although I do also like the sound of the champagne.
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madameshawshank



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Penrith (where jacarandas remind me of change), New South Wales, Australia

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 11:07 am    Post subject: a certain planting Reply with quote

Dearest Swan ~ there is a particularly gorgeous scarlet-coloured geranium in our garden. When a death occurs in our family/friend circle I break a piece and plant it. So now there are gorgeous waves of colour here there and everywhere.

Tomorrow, in the sunshine, I will plant a piece in honour of your father.

And under the exquisite moon of tonight I will drink to him and his family..with a glass of lovely rose.

With all my being I feel he knows the deepest part of your soul now.

With a cyberhug...

again, this thread is for me an precious example of the ongoing tapestry of chocolate and zucchini..
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Lady Amalthea



Joined: 18 Dec 2004
Posts: 136
Location: New York City

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 11:38 am    Post subject: Re: a certain planting Reply with quote

Swan, I too am so sorry for your loss. My youngest cousin was born only months after my grandmother died and it was so hard to put aside the pain and welcome him into our lives. Still, it is nice to have that reminder of happiness and life.

In Judaism, we also bring food. After the funeral, we sit shiva, where family and friends come to the family's house and share stories. Whenever anyone arrives at the house, they bring food with them, often baskets of fruit but sometimes baked goods and even casseroles. One of the hardest things to remember when in mourning is that you have to keep going and eat. Having friends and family take care of that always seems to help.

And don't feel bad about sharing this on the forum. As Madame said, "a precious example of the ongoing tapestry of chocolate and zucchini."
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Swan, my 88-year old father also died this year, in January. My 82-year old mother had died three months earlier, in October. When she died, her whole family got together at one of her favorite restaurants on the eastern shore of Maryland, and drank all the beer we could hold and ate all of the crab that we could stand. It's a comforting ritual for the family to eat somewhere that the departed parent loved. Sadly, my father did not like food. We missed the ritual for him. It might seem strange, but I miss my mom a lot more, because of all the food and other things of life that she enjoyed so much that we shared with her, and can keep enjoying after her passing, but never again with her.
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swan



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 450
Location: a Dutchie in HongKong

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wanted to say a few words of thanks but cannot seem to find the right words .Tomorrow is the funeral-which is why my brain doesn't work. madame, I'm so moved by your warm gesture...I'm sure it will become a strong and beautiful plant.I will share more, thoughts, dutch traditions, later.
Thank you all, for now.
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JustMe



Joined: 13 Apr 2005
Posts: 213
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Swan, I am sorry for your loss and I hope that your traditions do help you through these difficult times because that is what they are meant for.
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems the bringing of food to the home of the nearest to the deceased is pretty much universal! When my Dad died in 2000 friends and neighbours all gathered at Mom's place and many brought casseroles, some of which were damned tasty! The sharing of food and it's natural tendency to encourage conversation allows people to talk about the deceased without being too formal about it I think. No one has to stand up and give a testimonial, just a gentle wander among friends with a plate of food and a glass of whatever.

One interesting ritual I found (gross out factor involved so the squeamish among us be forewarned) when living on Grand Cayman a few of the families up at North Side would communally wash the body of the deceased then drink the bathwater... I warned you!
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swan



Joined: 23 Nov 2004
Posts: 450
Location: a Dutchie in HongKong

PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for your warm replies and reactions. Slowly the fog in my head is lifting (but it's a good thing the world goes on on its own and doesn't depend on me to do it!) and my concentration and interest in life in general is coming back. I even put things back in the fridge again after I used them, which is a good sign.

Here people don't really come and bring food, but we as a family did spend a good amount of meals together, one in my dad's favourite restaurant, one at home with things he really liked, and we spoke a lot about him and smiled about his usual behaviour and expressions. That really was a good thing to do.
What's typical for Holland is the 'cup of coffee and cake' right after the funaral, still in the funeral home. That gives everybody the opportunity to give their condolences (I really hate that word). And even though my dad said "no coffee" we still did have that as it's part of how we do things. After the funeral there was a sandwichlunch in his house for relatives and close friends.

Much nicer and more 'typical Dutch'is our tradition after a baby is born. That's when we eat "beschuit met muisjes".
WHAT? Biscuit with 'mouses', yes.

"muisjes" is a typical dutch sweet sprinkling you use on bread or biscuits. They are made from tiny aniseeds covered in sugar. The sugar is coloured, half white, and half pink (for a girl) or light blue, for a boy. So our tradition is to treat everybody who visits, and for example also at work, on 'beschuit met muisjes'(first you put butter on to make sure the muisjes stick!), for weeks!!
The muisjes are called 'little mouses' because of their shape, a tiny ball with that tail of aniseed sticking out.

here: http://www.wjd.nl/wjd/scripts/nws_show.php?id=271

is a picture of 'beschuit met muisjes', this time they were made in yellow (never seen them at the supermarket) to honour the new pope in 'pope colours'(yes, it's a site for young catholic people in the netherlands, which I'm not, but the picture is good!)
By the way, the mouses also come in a powder version, like powdered sugar with an aniseedy taste, and it's a common thing to have in your house to eat on an regular basis, like peanutbutter or jam.They are called 'crushed'or stamped on' or 'ground mouses...Smile
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2005 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm so glad you're feeling up to joining in things again. Isn't it nice to have a place to check into when it feeds your spirit and goes on on its own momentum when you're not up to it?! Welcome back!

Thanks for the pic of "mouses". I'll just have to imagine "ground mouses" and I'm still trying NOT to imagine people drinking communal bath water. Wink Leave it to David... Wink ::smooch::
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome back swan. The blur and fog is passing. I love the biscuit with "mouses" idea!! Beats the crap out of handing out cigars!

(well Rainey, I DID warn you Laughing )
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2005 4:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David wrote:
(well Rainey, I DID warn you Laughing )


You did, indeed. Very Happy Besides that, one could hardly hold you to account for the sincere adaptation a whole culture has made to dealing with the profundity of life and death. I'm sure it makes sense within the context of their culture. And we wanted to know and to grow.

I'm just saying, it would be you who knew it. Ya know what I mean? Twisted Evil Laughing and another ::smooch::
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