Housewarming Tips & Traditions from Around the World
Are you dreading your impending move? We get it, you’ve got a seemingly endless list of tasks ahead of you: packing up, hiring a moving company, setting up cable – we don’t need to remind you. But since time immemorial, the act of moving into a new home has been much more than a cause of headaches. It’s often been a social occasion steeped in ritual and tradition. In that celebratory spirit, here are our favorite housewarming customs from around the world:
Tip #1: Clear the air & entryways in your new home first
Looking to house-warm the traditional Chinese way? Prepare to make many preparations – some long before the gathering itself. The move should ideally be scheduled on an auspicious or lucky date (according to a Chinese almanac) and start before noon. Before bringing any belongings into the home, prop open all windows and doors to clean the qi (“energy”) in the house. You may or may not be superstitious, but it’s a good idea to check for drafty areas and clear entryways before moving and arranging your furniture.
Tip #2: Decorate your home with positive words & imagery
In many cultures, a home isn’t suitable for move-in until it’s been properly blessed. Some Irish households hang plaques and poems on the walls, for example. The Thai keun ban mai ritual requires nine monks to chant prayers and mark all doors with white paste to ward off evil spirits. While many of these traditions are religious in nature, they’re not only concerned with spiritual matters. Whether you’re moving down the block or across the Atlantic, relocating can be the first of many major life changes to come. Priming your new abode with positive messages helps get you started on the right foot.
Tip #3: Invite the people who helped you move in
In France, expect to be invited to your new neighbors’ pendaison de crémaillère, literally “hanging of the chimney hook.” The term crémaillère refers to an iron rack that was used to hang kettles and cooking pots over the chimney fire. When this term was coined in the Middle Ages, the chimney hook was typically the finishing touch on a newly fixed home. Once installed, the host would have a thank-you party and invite everyone who helped with the house. Follow this neighborly principle: if they were present during set-up, they should be there to celebrate the finished product!
Tip #4: Break bread (with salt)!
Offering bread and salt as part of a welcoming ceremony is quite common across Europe. This is especially true for Slavic countries, where the food pairing is synonymous with hospitality. A popular story thought to recount the tradition’s origin comes from Russia. Officials were passing through a village when a local couple, named Boris and Yelena, presented them with a well-received gift of bread and a pinch of salt. The practice of khleb-sol (“bread-salt”) became widespread to the point that it eventually gave rise to the word khlebosolny (“hospitality”). An important staple food, bread symbolizes prosperity, while salt is often associated with longevity and friendship. Sounds like the perfect way to greet your new neighbors to us!
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