As a child, I learned all about my religion from my grandmother, in her small and remote Romanian village. She told me many Bible stories from our Christian Orthodox tradition, often disguised as bedtime fairytales, but it was not doctrine that I learned from her, as much as ritual. She taught me the prayers to say at night so I don’t have nightmares, the candles to light in church for luck, the list of dead and living to give the priest for blessings, the making and delivering of food as offerings in memory of the recently deceased.
So many of the spiritual rituals I learned from my grandmother involved food. She taught me when and how to fast, as well as how to prepare the ritual Christmas and Easter feasts: kneading and baking the traditional sweet bread filled with cocoa and walnuts or sweet cheese, cooking the celebratory pork or lamb-based dishes.
In my family, my grandmother was the keeper of rituals, many of them Christian, and many carried from a “primitive”, pagan, pre-Christian time. After growing up, as I distanced myself from my rigid Christian roots, I began to look with more appreciation back at these older traditions, some almost extinct, that had been passed down to me. Continue reading “Women Keepers of Ritual and the Caloian by Lori Tiron-Pandit”