August 21st, 2007

Foodie’s housewarming rituals


(Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs – Beautifully painted folk art to decorate your home. These are symbols to bring good luck to your home. Each colour & shapes used have it’s meaning. For example, hearts mean love, birds for luck & happiness. Tulips for faith, & stars also for good luck. Blue colour conveys protection, white purity, green abundance & red strong emotion.)



The other day, my dear blog reader/ customer told me of her Indian custom –

“when one moves into a new house – one heats a pan of milk and allows it to boil over, thus ensuring the house will always have abundance.”


I’ve no attachment to any particular religion but, I love the notion of making a point out of celebrating Life’s important moments. And now that this ritual has been mentioned to me, I’m thinking of doing it once I settle down.


Quite often you hear the phrase: ‘you are what you eat’, which, I’m sure many of you will agree, is very true indeed. The food you eat has bearing on what your state of mind & health is. –
In a similar sense, I think ‘you are how & where you live’ also, as your habitat reveals the facets of your true being. And so, it is in that respect, that I feel with certainty that starting life in the new house with a food related ritual befits my character!


Upon researching a bit more about the ‘boiling-over milk’ ritual, I found out that:


“It is said to be better if the milk falls out to the east of the house. If you know which side of the house is east, then you can direct the froth of the milk towards that side. You have to let only a little milk fall out.”

& that:

you serve that milk to your housewarming guests, either as is, sweetened with a bit of sugar, or you can cook with it to make a proper meal. I’m thinking, maybe I’ll make mine a hot chocolate


Upon this research, I noticed there’s many ways of housewarming/ blessing using food. For example, in Russia, there’s the tradition of sweeping the new home with rock salt, which is believed to release negative energy.


In fact SALT is used symbolically in many cultures it seems. For example, in Feng Shui, to prevent & avoid diseases to come into your house & your life, few grains of salt is sprinkled in rooms, especially in corners & at all openings such as windows, doors & fireplace openings. And then there is the ‘bread & salt’ to be given as housewarming gift signifying that the new family would always have the necessities of life. (tradition comes from an old Russian folk custom).


Bread & Salt crops up again as a housewarming gift idea – this time from Germanic origin:
Bread so you’ll never go hungry
Salt so you’ll have good luck
Wine so you’ll never be thirsty

Something interesting to remember when choosing a housewarming gift, I think.


Other noteworthy traditional gifts that one can give are:

– a broom to sweep away the evil

– sugar or honey representing sweetness in their lives

– coin to bring good fortune to them

– plants signifying prosperous life

– candles for light in their lives

– wood for harmony & peace in the house


In my home country Japan, there is the beautiful custom of giving out soba (buckwheat noodle) still in it’s packet to the neighbours on both sides, & to the house in front of you (and if you’re moving in to a block of flats, it’s apparently advisable to give soba to the directly above & below you too!).


Why soba? Well, its a playful meaning, as ‘soba’ sounds just like another Japanese word which means “next to/ close to”. Hence, you’re signalling that you’d like to start amicable relationship with them.


Naturally, I knew of this custom, but, in my case, when time comes, I’m not sure I’d give out soba noodles… – it’ll feel too strange for them, I’m sure! Possibly too intrusive?? So maybe a quick knock on the door or a card through the door??


  1. Hello. Very interesting. I love that I can always learn something new from reading your blog…! keep it up.

    Comment by Louise - September 2, 2007 5:04 pm

  2. that’s lovely! thank you!!!!!

    Comment by tamami - September 2, 2007 5:06 pm

  3. hello,

    First of all… i love your website and your unselfishness of sharing recipes. Also, to know that you have kids yet have time to bake all those wonderful stuffs just made me looking at my situation.. :-P I’m retired from my work as Graphic Designer & now attending to the whims of 22 months old boy.

    I would like to add extra to your “house warming rituals”… Being an Asian of mix parentage, I have fair share of curious and sometimes odd rituals.

    First of all…very important before moving in to new home,shops, office,etc… Feng Shui study is a must to tap in the best fortunes,etc. and the steps taken to attain all that…

    Some families will have monks or priests to bless their homes with prayers and invite friends & relatives for ‘open house’ with lots of food & drinks. This also brings gifts from visitors.

    BUT… very important NOT to bring as gift to some Asian especially Chinese household is a … CLOCK …. Never, ever do that. IT means ‘death’ ticking away to the family. IT’s a taboo and ill wishing!

    It’s no harm if they themselves bought it to put up in their homes (we need clocks right) but never give it as presents… eeekkkk!

    In my family, we did that some of that …and…. to purify the home from bad influences/spirits that lurks when the property was empty is to mix certain certain raw rice with salt. This mixture is to be thrown around the areas like rooms, staircase,etc from the top of your home downwards towards the door,terrace, etc. Quite messy though but the idea was such bad/evil dwellers would run helter skelter when the mixture hits them (pain/burns like fire). After that it’s swept off… Some people will left it overnight. It’s after that ritual(s) furnishings will be move in,etc.

    After, all done. The new owners will move in and a red banner either plain / embroidered will be put up across the top of the entrance of main door to signify new home,new owners and red is to bring good luck and prosperities to the new owner. This red banner will be kept at place for few months or so.

    And special day is chosen to move in as well…that ends up with loud bang of fire crackers to chase away bad chi…LOL… before the family moves in (after deco is done, of course).

    Well, hope you enjoy reading it…

    Best wishes & Regard

    Comment by pixen - February 5, 2008 11:05 pm

  4. Hello Pixen!
    Thank you for your kind words (hey, snap! I used to be a graphic designer too!) & thank you for letting me know more about housewarming rituals. – I never knew about never give a ‘clock’ as a house-warming present! Very interesting! And fen-shui, maybe I ought to buy a book about it.
    – Anyway, thanks for reading my blog, & I hope to hear from you again!

    Comment by tamami - February 6, 2008 9:30 pm

  5. Hello, Tamami, from Buenos Aires, Argentina! Congratulations on your blog and your market stall! I wish I’d visit London and try your products. I have just made the vanilla extract but not tried it yet and I am planning to do some of your cakes (lemon or flourless) in the near future. If you would like to have some recipe from this part of the world, with pleasure I will share it with you. Regards, Marisa

    Comment by Marisa - May 12, 2010 6:22 pm

  6. Marisa, how sweet of you!! Your message made me all warm inside with happiness! I’ll keep your offer of recipes in mind if I come
    across any argentine desserts! Which comes a question: what would you say is famous national sweets/ desserts in your country? xx

    Comment by tamami - May 12, 2010 8:23 pm


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