Cultivating tradition and ancestral connection through bread making

Cultivating tradition and ancestral connection through bread making

On our way to seeking ancestral connection we tend to bypass a great many things that range from culturally irrelevant to harmful and frightening. All of us can and should do the work of reaching back and grabbing seeds of traditions and information we can grow to be beautiful, responsible, and relevant parts of our current lives. Many folks choose not to search their past for traditions because their ancestors harmed others, stood on the wrong side of history, and so much worse. The traditions of our ancestors made us- the good, the bad, and most importantly the remembered. Ownership of the harm our bloodlines are responsible for is vital, and can help us understand where our people are from, where they were displaced from, and what earth based traditions were ours before they dissolved with modern living. Ancestral connection is vital, and should be cultivated like a new Spring sprout.

Some of the old traditions call out to us like a whisper but we rush towards them without doing the work and cause harm in the process. Burning plants settles us, grounds us, clears our homes. Every ancestral tradition has this practice, but before reaching for white sage or palo santo, slow down and find out what plants your ancestors used in their environment to achieve a similar effect. Was it Mugwort? Lavender? Rosemary? Look at diving into your cultural traditions with a sense of wander and patience. Try incorporating those plants in ritual, bathing, and cooking.

Spring is the ideal time to clear out the old, shed what is no longer useful and re-awaken with the Earth. If you celebrate Easter, Passover, Ostara, the Spring Equinox then renewal is already on your mind.   

I have no personal connection to Easter. I did not grow up with a religion or a faith, yet my memory of a day-long bread making marathon the day before Easter is as clear and significant as anything, The spell my family cast was dedication and sacred worship. Bread was survival, pleasure, joy, and remembering. All worship.

 Worship in the handmade: the handwritten recipes with loose suggestions of ingredients for each generation’s baker to decipher and intuitively follow.

Worship in the lusciousness of kneading sticky sweet dough from morning til night.

Worship in the preparation and blessing of the bread: the long hours spent waiting for the blissful first bite of the warm bread coming out of the oven.

Worship in the joy of a treat everyone got at breakfast, starting the day off with butter, milk, eggs, honey. An extravagant sweet offering of delight.

Whatever your people celebrated, and whatever the threads of traditions linger from your ancestral lineage, Spring is the perfect opportunity to pull lightly to see what unfurls. Many places have a rich and diverse tradition of baking sweat breads for significant holidays. What better way to welcome renewal, rebirth, the blooming of the Earth, and our own growth then a sweet and luscious treat? Bread, rich in its own history of symbolism and significance is just one way to connect directly to your ancestors. To have your hands recreate the same motions of generations past. To use the same ingredients, to wait in the same intervals as your grandmother might have is a gift.

 

Look up your ancestral bread recipes! In the meantime, here is mine with some recipes from the internet (my family’s recipe is a 10 hour marathon).

Паска //Paska //პასკა

Kulich recipe

Paska recipe

Dyeing eggs

 

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