It could hardly be a greater occasion—the move into a new house! Marking the moment in some unique way must be some sort of universal compulsion. It certainly stretches far beyond our shores (and back in time thousands of years).
Some new home owners mark the occasion by throwing a housewarming party—a tradition rooted in the days when every able-bodied villager would have been a ready volunteer in the dwelling’s construction. The proud new householder would be expected to host a celebratory feast in appreciation to their neighbors.
Today’s typical new homeowners are vastly more likely to be new arrivals to the neighborhood, so the warming of a new house is likely to be a considerably less crowded affair. Even now, though, after spotting moving van activity, some of the neighbors may stop by to introduce themselves. They’re likely to echo the past, bearing a housewarming gift as a welcoming gesture.
Today, that’s often a tin of cookies or a home-baked pie—but for a few of the more tradition-minded, it might be one of the ancient ones from a far-flung corner of the globe. If you are planning on moving into a new home anytime soon, don’t be surprised if you’re on the receiving end of one of these time-honored housewarming gifts:
Bread and salt. From Russia, when the first items brought into the home are a loaf of bread (banishing hunger) and salt (bringing wealth and hospitality), an abundant future is guaranteed.
Holy thread. In Thailand, tying a piece of thread around the wrists of family members assures good luck.
Burning sage. Native Americans cleared out negative energy by lighting dried sage and directing the smoke throughout the house. To be most effective, turn off all the electronics (if the cable isn’t hooked up yet, that should be easy!)
Boiled milk and rice. From India, this is the easy one: boil milk and rice in a pot until it overflows to guarantee purity and long life. (The harder version: bring a cow inside).
Around the globe, there are literally dozens of other luck-attracting gifts—but of those, the most widespread one is probably the simplest:
A candle. Light it on the first night to ward off evil spirits or (with green candles) to court prosperity. Universally, you should allow it to burn all the way down. This (or lighting the fireplace on the first night) is likely the literal origin of the warming in housewarming.
The move into a new house always marks the beginning of many new life adventures—and also the culmination of a successful real estate undertaking. I’m here to help you accomplish that from start to finish!