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Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Very Pleasant Christmas!

We've had Christmas for two weeks now. The first was the weekend of the 16-18 when David and Dezi came home and we gathered the Rollins clan in to our house. Next was Christmas itself when we gathered at Sheila and Mike's both on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day to see the results of Santa Claus. Those pictures are posted on Rachel's page. We had a late lunch, and I got up from there and drove to Quanah to see my parents and on the 26th to have a Christmas gathering with them and my three sisters. Finally, yesterday I went to Brady and had a delightful visit with some of my fellow writers.

While I got some fine presents, the one that will always stand out is one from my parents. At 89 and 90, they have for several years been giving us some of the keepsakes around the house. Mother made photograph albums for us, and she's given us papers and things she's saved for us through the years. This time, though, was even more special than the others, for she opened the cedar chest we've gone through with awe all our lives. We've always known among the three of us that we would not disagree about the division of property when that time became necessary, and we surely proved it on Monday. I feel like I got the best of the best. I earnestly hope each of my sisters feels the same. Let me show you what I mean.

My part of the treasure was two wedding cloths. These were the property of a woman Daddy met in India about 1943 or 1944. She had reached the point it was necessary for her to sell her family heirlooms to feed and clothe her family, and Daddy bought the wedding cloths she believed to have been in her family at least 100 to 150 years. One is the bride's; the other is the groom's. From my research on the Internet I believe the darker colored one is the bride's. I've found indications that the couple sit on a wedding cloth for the ceremony which includes seven strings woven together (maybe taken from the wedding cloth) and rubbing sugar over the heads of the couple.

Another place says this:
The sofreh-ye aqd, a fine hand-sewn wedding cloth glittering with gold and silver threads, is spread out before the mirror. Food and objects traditionally associated with marriage are arranged on the sofreh, including:

A tray of atel-o-batel (multi-colored herbs and spices to guard against witchcraft and to drive the evil spirits away). This tray consists of seven elements in seven colors: poppy seeds (to break spells and witchcraft), wild rice, angelica, salt and green leaves (to remove the evil eye), nigella seed, gunpowder and frankincense (kondor, to burn the evil spirits).
An assortment of sweets and pastries prepared in the bride's home but paid for by the groom-among them are noghl, sugar-coated almonds; nabat, sugar crystals; baqlava, a sweet, flaky pastry; tut, mulberry-almond paste; nan-e berenji, rice cookies; nan-e nokhodchi, chick-pea cookies; nan-e badami, almond cookies; and sohan asali, honey almonds.
A large flat sangak bread with a blessing (mobarak-bad) written in calligraphy with saffron or cinnamon, nigella seeds or gold.
A platter of feta cheese, fresh herbs and bread to be shared with the guests immediately after the ceremony, to bring the new couple happiness and prosperity; a basket of eggs and a basket of almonds and walnuts in the shell to symbolize fertility; a bowl of honey to make the future sweet.
Two large loaves of sugar, kallehqand, to be used in the ceremony; fresh flowers, such as roses, tuberose, gardenia, jasmine and baby's breath, in abundance, to express the hope that beauty will adorn the couple's life together.
An open flask of rose water to perfume and purify the air.
A needle and seven strands of seven colored threads to sew up the mother-in-law's mouth-only figuratively, of course.
A small brazier burning wild rue, the fumes of which are said to drive away evil spirits.
An open Koran or divan of Hafez.

I'm anxious to know more about these. I'd appreciate any information anybody has. Here are pictures of the cloths. The first shows the two cloths, the lighter one folded in half, the darker in fourths. The second shows a detail of the lighter one, the third of the darker one, and the fourth a close-up of the lighter one. Click on the pictures to see them in 5 megapixels.

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