Moving into a new home calls for a great housewarming party! And if you’re looking for a creative way to celebrate, it may help to hear about some house celebration traditions from around the world—because there are plenty of them.
It turns out, people from all corners of the globe love marking the act of moving into new digs. Many of these housewarming rituals are purported to bring good luck to the home—and even if you aren’t the superstitious sort, they can serve as inspiration for a theme for your own fete. So check ’em out!
1. Light candles on your first night
Ever wonder why it’s called a housewarming? Fire is a classic symbol of strength and purity, which is why many European traditions involve lighting a candle or a fire on your first night in a home. Doing so is said to ward off evil spirits by casting away darkness. This was back before modern conveniences such as electricity made doing that much easier, but you have to admit, there’s something special about the glow of real flames to mark this special occasion.
2. Hang a chimney hook
In French-speaking countries, a housewarming party is called a pendaison de crémaillère, which means “hanging of the chimney hook.” It’s a medieval expression dating to the 1600s, when houses were built by everyone in the village. Upon completion of the house, everyone who participated was invited in for dinner, which was prepared in a large pot hung on a hook in the chimney. The hook could adjust the height of the pot, which controls the cooking temperature, and was usually the last item to be installed in a new home. Today, of course, this just means you should make sure to feed anyone who shows up at your housewarming party.
3. Bring bread and salt
Bread and salt represent two cherished symbols of hospitality, so much so that many believe they should be the first two items brought into a new home: A gift of bread is meant to ensure that the home’s inhabitants will never go hungry, and salt will provide a life full of flavor. This tradition may have originated in Russia, but has been adopted in many countries—and it’s even migrated into outer space! Astronauts have ceremoniously brought bread and salt on board both Mir and the International Space Station to celebrate their new “home” up in zero gravity.
4. Ring a bell
Want to rid your home of dying chi (aka bad energy)? According to feng shui, the Chinese philosophy of harmonizing your environment, ringing a bell will help clear a room of negative vibes. If you’re still feeling some bad juju, try opening windows, turning on fans, and letting in sunlight—all are part of the tradition as well.
5. Put out a pineapple
In 1493 during his second sea voyage, Christopher Columbus was said to be the first European to come face-to-face with a pineapple. And, according to the World Encyclopedia of Food, other imperial travelers found that natives who hung the fruit in front of their dwellings’ entrances seemed especially welcoming to strangers. The concept eventually travelled to Colonial homeowners, who began showcasing pineapple-shaped decorations in common areas. Once a symbol of extravagance—at one time, a single pineapple could be sold for the equivalent of $8,000 today—it now represents hospitality, and is considered a universal housewarming symbol.
6. Tie a holy thread
To welcome good luck, according to Thai tradition, invite an odd number of Buddhist monks to your home (an even number is thought to be unlucky) for a Khuan Ban Mai blessing ceremony. This basically means the monks will tie a sai seen (a holy thread or string) around your wrist, and the wrists of your family members, which is a way to usher good luck into your life.
7. Burn sage
Origin: Native America
Also clearing out negative energy, this tradition involves burning dried sage in every room you wish to cleanse. Specifically, directing the smoke into the four corners of the room is thought to add protection from evil spirits. And it smells nice, too.
8. Boil milk and rice
This one can get a little bit messy. In Indian culture, it’s common to bless a new home by boiling milk and rice until the mixture overflows the pot. Doing so is said to symbolize the prosperity of a long life. And if you reallydon’t mind a mess, another Indian housewarming tradition involves bringing a cow into the new home and placing a holy garland around its neck. While it might seem strange to treat your home like a barn, cows are considered sacred in this culture, so it makes sense.
9. Paint your porch ‘haint’ blue
Origin: Southern U.S.
“Haint” is another word for “haunt” in Gullah tradition, which began in Africa and spread to regions of South Carolina and Georgia. The legend says that haint spirits can’t travel through or over water, so painting part of your entryway blue is a deterrent. Southern homes are also commonly accented with blue around the doors, windows, and shutters. The paint also once had a practical purpose: Originally, it was mixed with lime, which helped keep mosquitoes away.