4th Symposium of Greek Gastronomy Known, forgotten & lost grains Karanou of Chania, 29-30.7.2017
Hidden in the dough sheets: A custom of symbolic redistribution in Thrace, Greece Work in progress
Irene Sotiropoulou [email protected]
The context of the paper Grassroots Economics – Bacılar with Dr Ferda Dönmez Atbaşı (Ankara University) Economic knowledge that exists not in academia but in: social movements everyday practices local communities cultures of marginalised groups
The custom Where?
When? Who? Name?
Thrace/Trakya [Western Thrace, performed also by people originating in Eastern Thrace] First day of the year or New Year’s Eve The lady of the house. If on New Year Day, she skips church & prepares the pie “H πίττα με τα σημάδια” “The pie with the signs” Φυλλωτή Βασιλόπιτα
“H πίττα με τα σημάδια” “The pie with the signs” With handmade doughsheets (like most pies in the area) Usually 3+3 sheets, olive oil in between Cheese on the 3rd sheet or no filling “Signs” are located on the 4th or 3rd sheet & are baked with the pie The pie needs to be round
The “signs” - “τα σημάδια” What do they represent? The wealth of the household: House, car, tractor, domestic animals, cultivated or noncultivated fields, or the “letters”/education of the family. How are they represented? coins, seeds, beans, lentils, leaves, pieces of tree branches, pieces of paper or kitchen foil, raisins etc Are material signs corresponding to the signified wealth? Yes! [as much as possible]
The distribution The lady of the house cuts the pie into pieces. The pieces are distributed to: - Virgin Mary/Panagia, Jesus Christ, St. Vassileios, - Members of the household: parents & grandparents (women might precede men), children & grandchildren (even if they are not present) - Other relatives that are present - Other non-kin people present at the festive table - The stranger/foreigner/xenos/ξένος= the first person who visits the house after the sharing If there are more pieces than the people present a 2nd round of distribution
The effects of distribution Each person is responsible for the prosperity & safety of the wealth item(s) or animal she/he is assigned with the sign for one year. After a year: If the item or animal is well or in better condition, the person who won the sign is considered to have brought luck. If not, the person is thought to bring bad luck. Next year a new distribution takes place and each person is assigned with a new share of wealth.
Peculiarities of distribution Any person can get any share or “sign” f.ex. the stranger/xenos can be assigned the house of the family or the most precious wealth item
[depending on the community, only household members participate] No property rights are changing but you are supposed to take care of the wealth item or the animal you were assigned with (care & work brings luck) The best assignments are those to Virgin Mary or to the lady of the house. Very good luck for everyone if Virgin Mary or the lady of the house are assigned the house.
Sharing wealth Household members, family members, everyone else who is present at the distribution, whether kin or not, & the stranger/xenos have shares to the household wealth. No limitations based on gender, age, education, class position, kinship or even previous acquaintance [in some communities, kinship is a condition for participating to the distribution]
Wealth as rotating responsibility Rotation of shares – each year a person is assigned different wealth items (or animals) with different value Shares are a responsibility= you need to be active for your share, otherwise you will be thought of to bring bad luck to your wealth share The next year another person will need to catch up with the work needed or reverse “bad luck”
The symbolic & the practical Women’s role in the custom - rite Lady of the house makes & shares the pie Virgin Mary gets first share. She, along with the lady of the house, are considered the best assignees for the house of the family Religiosity changes priorities: Preparing the pie (“to make sure that the oven is full everyday of the new year”) is more important task than going to church. Female metaphysical person takes precedence over male metaphysical persons
Education through custom Ritual that educates everyone to another relationship to humans, animals & things. If the stranger/xenos is assigned with share of your wealth, you need to respect them as protector of your prosperity. Women, children, elderly, non-kin people can participate equally in wealth distribution No possession but responsibility = wealth assignment as care for what will be passed onto another person next year Equalisation of values
The pie with the signs in capitalist patriachy The legal system usually does not recognise responsibility for wealth without private property. Property: almost absolute right without time limitations Private property favoritises certain social groups (male, middle class, white, of certain age) disadvantage for women, minors, elderly, poor, foreigners, non-kin Pressure for nuclear families & concentration of wealth Property rights: NOT subverted. Patriarchal capitalist rules for ultimate resolution of conflicts for access to wealth still prevail. Informal arrangements only if patriarchy-favoured household members agree