12.23.2008

Velija

Our dear friends Jason and Michelle have included us in their traditional holiday ceremonial dinner for the last few years. The 9 course meal starts at sundown on Solstice. This Slovakian tradition was a beloved part of Michelle's childhood, and she has brought the tradition into our circle of friends. I went searching the internet for a more definitive definition to give you of this tradition and quickly realized the way we are celebrating varies dramatically from the "traditional" Velija celebration. The closest thing I discovered was this pertinent sentence: "As is true with all countries, customs and traditions vary from region to region and family to family." The way we do it is this:
The day begins with each family making a part of the feast. Alex and I make the bread and help Jason, Michelle, and Anne roll the bebikies (baa-bike-ies: a boiled dough that is served with oil, salt and pepper)Here Jason is rolling the dough. The next photo is of them cooking.


The breads Alex made: whole wheat walnut, olive, honey french, and foccicia.

The meal is served in courses. Any food or crumbs that are dropped on the table are to be pushed to the center for our ancestors. You are served in groupings, sharing a bowl or plate with about 4 or 5 other people. Now this is a germ-a-phobes nightmare, but the first two courses of the meal counter attack this problem.

To begin: A hearty toast of grattitude and coming blessings.
Course #1: A shot of good whiskey. (apple juice for the kids)
Course #2: Cloves of raw garlic and chunks of bread.
Course #3: Smoked Salmon (traditionally pickled herring).
Courses#4&5: Sauerkraut soup with a scoop of mashed potatoes in it.
Course #6: Babikies
Course #7: Split Pea soup
Course #8: Sauteed Shitake Mushrooms.
Course #9: Stewed Prunes.

As you can see, this is not your typical holiday feast. As weird as it all sounds, it is delicious. I love eating in courses, I find that I pay more attention to what I am eating. It is refreshing to experience sharing a bowl of soup, or breaking bread with your friend so intimatly. I love the few older family traditions I have, and it has been fun to create our own traditions as a family as well.




3 comments:

Liz said...

Oh WoW! How cool.... looks like a wonderful evening!I looovvvee the shot of all the delicious breads. Yum-yum!

Adam said...

That sounds pretty outstanding. And delicious.

Perhaps all meals should start at sundown with a shot of whiskey or apple juice?

bottomland said...

What fun! I love adding new traditions to our repertoire! We started one this morning with Christmas morning all to ourselves in our cozy new house, and it was so peaceful. Wishing you love and a Merry Christmas!