The Original Housewarming Gift Was?
If you’ve been invited to a housewarming party recently, you’re likely pretty familiar with the gift-giving routine. You typically bring something to be enjoyed during the party (like wine, food, or flowers), a decorative gift for the owner to furnish their home with, or, depending on the region you’re from, a traditional gift. In many countries, a small glass bluebird themed item is considered a good luck blessing and, in the American South especially, pineapple themed things are traditional.
What you probably never showed up to a housewarming party with, however, is a big armload of firewood. Yet, as the name directly implies, the party is intended to warm a house. In the past, people didn’t have central heating, but instead heated their homes with wood-burning fireplaces and furnaces. For the party, each guest would show up with an armload of firewood, help start and tend fires in all the fireplaces of the house, and leave a gift of firewood to keep the home warm in their absence.
Not only did this serve a practical purpose as it warmed the home and prepared it for continual occupation, but a superstitious one too. A strong superstition persisted that empty homes were magnets for spirits. The warmth of the housewarming party drove them away to render the home spiritually cleansed and safe for the new owners.
Photo by Michaeelain/Wikimedia.