Tag-along (or parasite, if you will) traditions
January 2, 2010 1:14pm CST
I'm talking about habits that sticked themselves so bad to religious traditions or other important celebrations that people can't seem to conceive the true celebration from the parasite. An example. In my country (Romania) it has become a tradition for the people to slaughter their pigs right before Christmas. Those who don't breed pigs must buy some from the market and pig-based food is a must on Christmas. Pigs have nothing to do with Christmas, of course... Jesus never said:"It's my Birthday, the Lord send you his Son to you, let's eat some pigs!". It's not very difficult to explain why pigs and why on Christmas: pigs grow well in the temperate European climate, they give birth to many young and the meat you get from them is worth their breeding. Why on Christmas? Because that's the best time to slaughter them - during the winter, when they reach a big size, when the animal food stock is decreasing, and when no vegetables grow, so you must cook meat or vegetables that can be stored. That's why people attached pig slaughtering to Christmas, a holiday that must be properly celebrated. Do you have such parasitic traditions in your country? Things that have nothing to do with the actual event but fit well on that time of the year? I know that Americans use to cook turkey for Thanksgiving - how did that came to be? Or geese for Christmas in England (if I'm not mistaking)?
3 Jan 10
Hi Stvasile, I can think of a few but I've no idea how they came about although I could hazard a guess. Easter has two things. One is the red eggs, hard boiled and dyed red, which are used to eat but also as a game first, by knocking them together to see who's egg remains unbroken the longest. The second Easter one is that foul and gross soup which every Greek person loves by choice. Mayeristsa soup, consisting of lemon soup, vegetable and goats innards. Every year it is eaten at midnight on Easter Saturday. Maybe its to line the stomach ready for the next days feasting.
3 Jan 10
We have the red eggs too. From what I remember, it is said that one of the women visiting Jesus on the Cross was carrying a basket of eggs that she left at his feet for a while when mourning, and the eggs got red from the blood. The "Easter bunny" is gaining more and more grounds, but I think it has nothing to do with Easter, it's just a commercial invention helping shops sell more...
2 Jan 10
Hi there. Couldn't help but chuckle at this topic you started. Well, you're right in that pigs have nothing to do with Christmas at all. And I'm surprised to learn that pork figures high in the Romanian version of Christmas. Being Jewish, pork wasn't eaten in Jesus' culture. If they were to celebrate anything, they'd go for sheep meat. Pig meat is unclean to them ceremonially (and to Muslims) for that matter.
4 Jan 10
I'm sorry - something must have gotten lost in "translation" somewhere. Did you say you were Jewish, or did you think I said I'm Jewish? I meant Jesus was Jewish, and hence, His culture's aversion to pork. Yes, I'd say your assumption about lambs for celebrating Passover is correct, based on the Bible's description of that event. Along with unleavened bread, etc. However, it's best to ask a practicing Jew how they do it now. I'll see if I can get one of my friends here, who is Jewish, join in on the discussion, if she's interested.
2 Jan 10
I'm getting to that book... I'm a big fan of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, but only a few books of this series appeared in Romania. However, I downloaded the complete series of audio books and I'm listening to them in order of appearance. I know there's also a movie made after Hogfather, but I always seem to miss it when it's on for Christmas (obviously the holiday inspiring it). Do you know the movie? Is it any good?
2 Jan 10
the film is actually very good. it doesn't cover everything that the book does, just as films never do, but I have it on DVD and I do watch it fairly often. The Hogfather is one of my absolute favourite discworld books, it just makes me feel so cosy and festive. it brings home what the time of year is all about to me.
• United States
2 Jan 10
We have many food traditions in the US because we are such a mixed culture. I served a dish called Hoppin Johns for New Years day it's supposed to bring good luck. It's a rice and black eyed pea dish, it came from the Negro traditions. We even go so far as to have a Sunday dinner tradition of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy for an after church dinner. So food seems to be the biggest parasite when it come to traditions.
2 Jan 10
That's true, food is turned into a tradition itself, even if it's not connected in any way with the event celebrated. I'm guessing the turkey for Thanksgiving tradition has a perfectly reasonable explanation: wild (and later on domesticated) turkey were widely available back in the day, when US was just established as a nation, and as turkeys hatch in thew spring, they reach adult size by autumn, when Thanksgiving is celebrated. So, why not attach eating turkey when a turkey is big enough for a family to eat and when it's available that time of the year, right? Some dishes are, however, connected to the celebrated event. For example, the lambs slaughtered for the Easter dinner have a biblical mention. They have nothing to do with the Crucification, but they are related to the pre-Christian Jewish Easter. I'm talking about the Exodus, where Moses is told to announce the chosen people to slaughter lambs and paint the doors with their blood so that the plague won't touch their children. It so happens that the plague came when they were celebrating Easter, so the slaughtering of lambs on Easter became attached to the Easter even in its new signification, as the Resurrection of Christ. It is also very convenient, as Easter occurs in late spring, when the sheep give birth to their young, and it is much more convenient to slaughter male lambs young than invest in feeding them, as they don't give milk and can't bare. (I'm not talking about the large herds bred for wool or meat, I'm talking about what the common folk have in the back-yard pack of sheep).