Traditions, traditions..."Rules" that will be observed for generations to come
One of those silly things that we are doing is observing closely the days when our Saints are celebrating. In the old days they believed there is a story behind every Saint and each one of them is bringing us something different. Lots of Saints are connected with farming, weather or crops. Just now, in the middle of May, all of us hoped for at least 4 very rainy days – when our Ice Saints are celebrating (Pancrazius, Servacius and Bonifacius). Their name days are celebrated each year between May 12 – 14th. Usually that time of year our mild spring weather suddenly changes into clouds and rain, followed by a significant drop of temperatures. The last day of crazy weather is May 15th, name day for Saint Sophie, representing wisdom and knowledge, which in our land has gotten a nickname of wet or rainy Sophie. This days are usually predictors of our summer weather – if they are cold and rainy, summers will be very hot and dry. If it is the other way around – summer will be rainy and miserable. No wonder we all want that rain to come down as strong as possible. We even say that Saint Sophie blesses the soil with all the rain. Farmers and gardeners usually wait up until May 15th before they start planting anything, so the cold would not destroy the produce. In the past they put fires up in vineyards to preserve the vines against the frost. Housewives usually put flower pots on the window shelfs and balconies after her name day. Believe me, my mom is very excited when May 15th passes.
Since in Slovenia a lot of us share the same house with our parents, family ties are extremely strong. Many people ask where do we usually end up living – in the house of the husband or wife? Traditionally it is always easier for a woman to move into your parents home – it is easier to fight with your mom regarding the education of your kids than with a mother in law. When we live in the same house, lots of compromises need to be taken. If you are smart enough, you build a separate entrance – according to the old saying “mom or mother in law should always change their shoes before coming for a visit”. So guess what – in our house we built it right away and truly there is more peace for both included parties. Although we noticed that our kids and my parents get along really well – maybe because they have a common enemy?
When we talk about our life we live according to an old saying “do not live beyond your means”, this one is extremely handy especially in these days. “An apple a day sends the doctor away” in Slovenia translates also to “a schnapps a day sends germs away”. Even though we know apples are healthy, we all believe also in the healing powers of schnapps – this is a strong alcoholic beverage of above 40% alcohol and can be made with grapes, pears or plums. Once you get sick, instead of taking pills right away, schnapps can be used: when you get a fever – try to take a hot shower and drink a glass of schnapps and sweat it out; with feminine cramps – a little shot of schnapps soothes the pain; any toothache can be cured with schnapps – just rub it on the affected area and it will help; yo find a thick in your skin – rub schnapps on it and the little creature will immediately crawl out of your skin; you fall and get a scratch – disinfect it with schnapps; bad hair day – rub schnapps on it; you don’t have a toothpaste – easy, just have a shot of it in the morning…. and on it goes. No wonder schnapps is one of the things you will always find in everybody’s fridge. We use it also when we have house guests – if a host doesn’t treat you to a shot of it, it means you are not really welcome. And whenever we go on hikes – we always bring it along in small bottles that we like to keep close to our heart – a Slovenian kind of bypass. So beware. And just a hint: when you are offered to drink it, it is always bottoms up. It hurts only once that way.
Observing cycles for us is important especially in nature. As you learned from previous posts, Slovenians love nature and we like to go into it and enjoy its fruits. From healing flowers and herbs, to spruce needles, to mushrooms, chestnuts and blueberries, every season brings something good to us. Respecting nature is important. Without respect there will be nothing left for the future generations. And all of us have some kind of knowledge on what nature brings to our health as well. An old saying goes “that for every illness a flower grows” and that is very true so we would all rather seek health in nature than in modern medicine. Probably right now there are rare houses that don’t have a jar of something being dipped inside for the winter months.