Canada's Condominium Magazine

Housewarming Traditions

Moving can be chaotic and stressful. Packing, planning, moving, unpacking, setting up a whole new place and getting organized all over again… it can be a bit much. Not every aspect of a move is quite as stressful, however. The best part of moving is the housewarming party. If you are in the midst of a move, you may be interested to learn about various housewarming traditions from around the world… from parties to gifts to superstitions. Read on to discover how people handle moves in other cultures and locations.


Bread and Salt

Bread and salt are long-standing symbols of hospitality, and many believe that they should be the first two items brought into a new home. According to superstition, a gift of bread ensures that the inhabitants will never go hungry, while salt provides a life full of flavor. Salt also represents wealth, as it was once used as a form of currency. It is a Jewish tradition believed to have originated in Russia, though that has not been verified. However, it has been adopted in various countries around the world. Astronauts have even taken bread and salt aboard Mir and the International Space Station to ceremoniously honour their new home in space.

In the past, people left bread and salt behind when leaving a home as a gift for the new owners. These days, that is no longer the case, and therefore many people who still hold the tradition bring their own bread and salt into their new homes. Some even took the tradition a step or two further, sprinkling the salt at the entrance as well as in other rooms of the home.


Lighting Candles on Your First Night in Your New Home

The name “housewarming” dates back to the origins of this tradition. As a symbol of strength and purity, many Europeans involved fire in their traditions. One such tradition is the act of lighting candles on your first night in a home, which is believed to cast out darkness, effectively warding off evil spirits. Of course, this tradition dates back to a pre-Edison era when modern conveniences like electricity were non-existent. However, that does not mean we cannot keep the tradition alive by lighting our own candles. Alternately, your housewarming could consist of lighting your fireplace and curling up in front of it. Not only is it a great way to break in a new home, but it can provide a much-needed relaxing atmosphere after a long day of moving and unpacking.



Hang a Chimney Hook

French housewarming parties are referred to as pendaison de crémaillère,” or “hanging of the chimney hook.” It is a tradition that dates back to the 1600s. In medieval times, houses were built by everyone in the village. Completion of a house was marked by a dinner held for those who participated. The dinner was prepared in a large pot, which hung on a chimney hook. The hook was typically the last item to be installed in a new home. This is likely the origin of throwing housewarming parties and feeding guests who show up to celebrate the new home.


Feng Shui

A feng shui tradition intended to rid a home of bad energy and harmonize the environment includes ringing a Tibetan space-clearing bell, opening windows, turning on fans, and letting in sunlight. Feng shui is widely used as a way to rid one’s home and life of negative chi and bringing light and harmony into the home.


Tie a Holy Thread

Buddhist housewarming rituals typically include traditions and acts thought to bring good luck and bless the home and its inhabitants. In Thai culture, an odd number of monks are invited to the home for a Khuan Ban Mai ceremony, where gifts are presented and food is served. Another part of the ceremony includes tying Sai Seen around the wrists of the family members and around the home’s Buddha statue. The ceremony, particularly the tying of the thread, is thought to bring good luck into the lives of those who dwell within the home.


Put Out a Pineapple

The tradition of hanging a pineapple outside the home dates back several centuries and began with Native Americans. Explorers who encountered this tradition noticed a trend in higher levels of hospitality amongst those who did so. Those with pineapples outside their homes were especially welcoming to the explorers and other strangers. The tradition was carried on and adapted by Colonial homeowners who placed pineapple-shaped decorations outside their homes and in common areas. The pineapple was once a symbol of extravagance, as it was sold for the equivalent of $8,000 today. The fruit is much more commonplace now, however, and it remains a symbol of hospitality to this day.


Burn Sage

This is an age-old tradition that involves burning dried sage in an effort to cleanse your home and drive out negative energy. Special emphasis was given to the corners of each room to ensure that evil spirits would not enter. It is believed that the tradition originated with the Native Americans. In many traditions, the practice involves lighting the sage, gently blowing out the flame, placing it in a fireproof bowl or container, and let it smoke on its own.


Boil Milk and Rice

As part of Vasthu Sastra Indian tradition, new homes are generally blessed by boiling milk and rice until the mixture overflows the pot. This practice is symbolic and represents a desire or blessing for prosperity and long life.


More Indian Ceremonies

According to Indian culture, moving into new homes is a big deal, one that is considered only second in importance to a wedding. Therefore, moving into a new home, whether that home is bought or rented, is highly celebrated with various activities and rituals. One such ritual includes bringing a cow inside the home and placing a garland around its neck. Cows are considered sacred and therefore are important symbols in Indian culture.



Paint Your Porch “Haint” Blue

“Haint” is another word for haunt in the African Gullah tradition. According to legend, haint spirits are unable to travel through or over water. The blue paint is symbolic of water and therefore used to keep these spirits at bay. Spirits were not the only vicious creatures against which the paint was used. Many homes also mixed the paint with lime, which helped to keep mosquitoes away.


Out with the Old, In with the New

Many other superstitions revolve around moving as well. Among these is the tradition of leaving old supplies behind. Among these is the broom. According to superstition, it is bad luck to take an old broom into a new home. It is also advised that the homeowner (or renter) carry the broom the first time he or she sees the home. The idea behind this superstition is that the old broom is symbolic of the dirt from the past and the new broom signifies a fresh start.



Auberge on the Park-Tridel


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