Today Christianity celebrates Epiphany, or the revelation of Jesus Christ to humanity. Since living in Switzerland I tough that the catholic feast of the Three Kings was something else entirely than the orthodox one I was used to, Boboteaza = Baptism. It took me a while to understand that western and eastern Christians actually celebrate the same idea, the revelation of God incarnated as Jesus Christ and his manifestation to the world.
Here comes a Christmas tradition from a special canton of Switzerland, Appenzell Inner-Rhodes, the smallest Swiss federal state by population number and the last one to award women the right to vote in cantonal elections (only in 1991). Appenzell Inner-Rhodes is most known for the practice of Landsgemeinde, open voting by the raising of hands in the public town square, one of the oldest forms of direct democracy. This canton is also known for its unique folk costumes, naive paintings and agrarian traditions. Its relative isolation, it is located away from the main communication routes, was a contributing factor in the preservation of the specificity of traditional practices at various times of the year. One of these unique practices is the Chlausezüüg.
Tomorrow, the 13th of December, people in Scandinavia and in other parts of the world (Italy, Croatia) celebrate Saint Lucia. I particularly like the Swedish tradition observed on this day and I decided to honor it with an illustrated interpretation and by baking the delicious Swedish Lussekatt, a sweet saffron bun served on this occasion.
Winter is my favorite season and it is also the time of the year where I feel the most creative. Maybe we are programmed like that through millennia of evolution. Not long ago, women would spend the long winter days doing all sorts of handicrafts (weaving, sewing or knitting). Now we have Netflix and social media and we have replaced needle and thread with modern gadgets. Continue reading
I don’t know why I felt compulsed to illustrate this recipe. I grew up having mucenici [mûtʃeniːʃɪ], every year for the 9th of March and still bake them here in Switzerland. So it’s nothing special, unless maybe you’re not used to the idea of food offering because that’s what they are, an ancient relic of a pre-christian celebration of time renewal and the beginning of a new year for a pastoral population that kept a tight grip on its magical patterns of thought.
When I was a child, my grandmother and my mother would bake each year on this day our New Year’s fortune pie. Only recently in my ethnological pursuits I found out this was customary for the entire region where I was born, as part of the time renewal ritual practices. People would bake a sweet bread where they would hide a silver coin and whoever found it would be lucky the year to come. In time this sweet bread was replaced by a sweet cheese pie.
Here is another Lithuanian festive dish, the Honey Cake.
One of the things I am grateful for this year is visiting Lithuania. We did it on a whim after I read Marija Gimbutas’s biography, she is a renowned Lithuanian archaeologist who loved her origins so much that I wanted to go there and see for myself what she was talking about.
We made our traditional Santa’s cookies today, which FriBoy leaves on Christmas Eve by the fireplace for Santa and his reindeer to eat, together with a hot cup of black Earl Gray tea because this Santa doesn’t like milk.
Cooking has been one of my favorite activities with FriBoy since he was a baby. I’d carry him in the baby sling while I cooked and when he was old enough he became more involved in our kitchen activities, usually making a mess.