Housewarming Traditions in France and Around the World

Joann wrote me…

I was wondering if the French have any traditions or special rituals for when someone buys new home.

I have found in the US a “new home blessing” with items that you would give to symbolize the blessing. Do the French have anything similar or something along those lines.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Jo-Ann

I asked Monique of Mama Lisa’s World en français about French housewarming traditions. Here’s what she said…

We usually invite friends for a party and we call that “pendre la crémaillère” , literally “to hang the trammel”. In the Middle Ages, the trammel was the last thing fixed in the house, so when it was hung, people could cook a meal to thank whoever had helped with the building of the house. Guests usually bring a present for the house, either individually, or else they chip in.

A trammel was an iron hook or rack with hooks, built into the chimney, and used for hanging kettles and cooking pots over the fire.

Picture of a Trammel

Please feel free to share information about housewarming customs or sayings where you live (in the comments below).

-Lisa

UPDATE: Come see a later post with some proverbs about having a house or about home.

This article was posted on Monday, July 10th, 2006 at 5:30 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, English, France, French, Housewarming Traditions, Languages, Mama Lisa, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Housewarming Traditions in France and Around the World”

  1. Ray Says:

    Back in 1999, my wife at the time, who was Korean, and I bought a new-construction single family home. The night before we moved, her parents slept at the new house (even though there was no furniture in the house). They brought with them an electric rice cooker and some food. We dropped them off at the new house and went back to the old house. I don’t know exactly what her parents did at the new house that night, but supposedly they performed some ritual to bless the house or to rid the house of any evil spirits.

  2. JoAnne Says:

    My mother-in-law presented us with a broom, a container of salt, and a loaf of bread when we bought our first home. It’s been years now and I don’t remember the meaning behind these. Can you help?

  3. Lisa Says:

    We found out that it’s a European tradition (possibly from Austria) to give housewarming gifts as follows:

    Bread – to never go hungry
    Salt – so life is always flavorful
    A broom – to sweep your troubles away.

    This is according to The Box House.

    I’d be curious to learn where your mother-in-law is from.

    -Mama Lisa

  4. Lisa Says:

    There was an old Scottish belief that salt was an aphrodisiac. Chamber pots filled with salt were given as wedding gifts in the 19th century in north-east Scotland.

    [Source: “Chamber-Pots Filled with Salt as Marriage Gifts” by David Rorie
    Folklore, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Jun., 1934), pp. 162-163.]

  5. Lisa Says:

    Here are some other housewarming gift ideas I’ve found:

    Bag of sugar: for sweetness in life
    Live bamboo plant: good luck

  6. fer Says:

    bonjour
    il existe une tradition d’offrir lorsque que l’on rentre pour la première fois chez quelqu’un : une boite garnie de riz ou sel je ne sais plus un morceau de pain et une pièce, je cherche le vrais signification et surtout les ingrédients utiles et aussi l’origine
    merci

    English Translation:

    hello
    there is a tradition of giving that we give when going to someone’s house for the first time: a box filled with rice or salt, I do not know a piece of bread, and a bit, I’m checking the true meaning, above all useful ingredients and also the origin.
    thank you

    Merci fer! Je suis impatient de lire plus. -Mama Lisa

    PS I hope I translated the French correctly!

  7. Jane Says:

    “Une pièce” is a coin, usually small denomination.

    Cheers

  8. Murielle Randell Says:

    Une de mes amies bretonne me dit qu’il y a coutume d’enterrer une bouteille et de la ressortir à la naissance/baptême /une occasion spéciale. J’entends par la une bouteille vide dans laquelle on aura mi une lettre dans la bouteille comme pour mettre à la mer j’imagine. Cette amie habite maintenant l’Australie. Je n’avais jamais entendu dire. Cela doit être en Bretagne que l’on fait ça??
    Vous connaissez, Mama-Lisa?

    TRANSLATION:

    One of my friends from Brittany told me that there’s a custom to bury a bottle and to dig it out at a birth / baptism / or special occasion. I understand it’s an empty bottle in which one puts a letter as if to put it out to sea I imagine. This friend now lives in Australia. I’ve never heard of it. It must be in Brittany that one does that?? Do you know about it, Mama Lisa?

  9. Monique Says:

    I never heard of it either but after a quick search, I found out that it was a West (Vendée, Brittany)- tradition for bachelor’s parties. They mention burying bottles with actual wine and other things that they open for the first baby’s birth or for their first anniversary. I couldn’t find it mentioned about housewarming.

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