The Day of the Dead
by Lorraine Grochowska-Kiefer
As the sunny warm days of September and October turn into November,
the trees are more stark and the landscape becomes bare against the dramatic
November sky. The eve of All Saint's Day begins the preparation for the
"day of the dead" or the day when many Poles visit the cemetery to pay
respect to their dead family members. In the old days, loaves of bread
were baked to give to the beggars so that they would pray for the dead.
Today, families attend Mass, visit the graves, and take flowers, but many
still light candles at the grave site. Some cemeteries are all aglow as
the sun sets that day.
This time of year often finds very colorful skies, especially as the chill
of the late afternon sunset hour approaches. I love to forage around the
garden, finding the last of the vegetables, herbs, and flowers on warm
November afternoons. By then the grass has dried out and there are fewer
spider webs. Usually the few beets, parsley, stray beans (if there has
not been a heavy frost) can be put in the soup pot. A handful of lentils,
barley, split peas, carrots, potatoes, and onions all make this autumn
soup a warming treat on chilly days.
Now also is the time to be sure housplants are all in and on a sunny window
sill. When I visited Poland, I found that myrtle and scented geraniums
were often found on many sills. These plants both respond well to a sunny
window, with a cool evening temperature.
Upon inquiring, I found out that the leaves of the scented geranium
are often put in hot steamy water and inhaled for cold and sinus problems.
Of course we know that myrtle is used in wedding wreaths and bouguets.
My friends Dolores and Ed Misiewicz are using small myrtle plants as favors
at their daughter's wedding. I am happy that she is following an old Polish
custom by giving out this Polish wedding herb. I love both plants and
enjoy these fragrant beauties on my own window sills.
As the days darken and the frost takes more of the garden, our thoughts
turn to making warm soups and breads, and starting to think about holiday
preparations and other indoor projects.
Here is a Honey Cake recipe I got in Poland from the late Pan Szmid's
niece. Cream 1 cup sugar with 4 egg yolks (save whites and beat till stiff).
Add 1 cup honey and 1 cup cream and beat well. Stir in 3 cups of flour,
2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 tsp each of cinnamon and cloves. Fold in
beaten egg whites. Bake in a greased and floured bundt or tube pan at
350 degrees for about 45 to 55 minutes (test, as each oven may be different).
written by Lorraine Grochowsa Kiefer
contact the author by e-mail
Lorraine is the host of Triple Oaks Nursery & Herb Garden. Visit her website and shop
Check more articles devoted to day of the dead and
available in Polish Culture Site: All
Saints' Day in Poland, November 1st & Polish
Folk Traditions - All Souls' Day.Zaduszki & Dziady
Check food recipes
and Polish traditions
and habits in Polish Culture.
Polish Cook Books and Recipes Store
for a wide selection of cookbooks with recipes for Polish food.
The SITE MAP contains all articles classified according to topic.