Friday, July 8, 2011

Wheat Traditions

                                                       July 7, 2011

A few traditions related to bread and wheat:

The French hung a sheaf of wheat on the kitchen ceiling until the next harvest. Sometimes they braided the sheaf into a cross, and offered it at the church on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin into heaven.

In Central Europe, the first wheat sheaf of the harvest was used in a wedding bouquet, and the last sheaf was attached to the barn door to protect the wheat spirit.

Around the Mediterranean, wheat shaped into horns of plenty or triangles – representing fertility and to protect against adversity – was hung in houses after the harvest. The grains from the sheaves were mixed in with the seed sowed the next spring.

Lammas Day, August 1, signaled the beginning of the wheat harvest. The word means “Loaf Mass” in Old English; on that day the first ripe grain was taken to the church to be blessed at a special Mass. In Scotland, men and women made trial marriages on Lammas Day; after a year they could end the marriage with no strings attached.

In Iran, eating noodles on New Years Day symbolizes unraveling the difficulties of the year to come. On the third day after friends or family have gone on a trip, eating noodles at home will send them luck.

In old Slavic traditions, people threw Dvoroi, a yard spirit, a slice of bread to keep him from playing tricks. On the harvest holiday, Zaziuki, August 7, people thanked Volos and Mokosh for the harvest, then carried the first sheaf of wheat into the house and threshed it.

In Uzbekistan if a family member travels or joins the army he takes a bite out of a fresh bread. Then the family hangs it on a hook and leaves it untouched until his safe return, when he celebrates by sharing the bread with friends.

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