Archive for ‘Culture / Folklore’

November 1, 2011

#Tradition & #Holidays – All Hallows Eve, All Saint’s Day, All Souls’ Day

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

The celebration of All Saints Day (also known as All Hallows Day), for known and unknown saints, on November 1st was introduced into the Church Liturgy by Pope John XI in the year 835, while the church holiday, All Souls’ Day on November 2nd began more than 150 years later in 998, when the  Benedictine Monks began to say the mass and prayers in the intention for all the deceased.

In Polish tradition (Polskiej tradycji), especially the folk tradition, both these holidays, but All Saints’ Day in particular, are devoted to praying for the souls of the dead. In a sense this is a continuation of the ceremonies for the dead performed by their descendants (uh, us).

On All Saints’ Day all Polish cemeteries (cmentarze) are visited by many people who come to pray over the graves of their loved ones. Candles are lit on every grave  and flowers are put on them too. The custom requires us  to burn candles in colorful glass with lids specially made to help keep the candle lit for hours,  and to lay flowers interwoven with evergreen boughs. This is also done for old, unattended and forgotten graves, visited by no one.

There is also a custom of providing food on these days. So many cemeteries have little picnics in them. These days are not so sad or solemn as much as they are celebrations of those who preceded us and without whom, we would not be here today. The food is from a belief that a loved one could appear as a beggar, so food may be left behind or donated.

There is also a belief that the night between All Saints Day (November 1st) and All Souls Day (November 2nd) is when departed spirits are closest to our human vale.  Perhaps you know the night before All Saints Day – it is called All Hallows Eve, which we (in the USA) call by the contraction: Halloween.

Blessings for your holidays and May God Bless our ancestors too !

My Prayers are also that Blessed Pope John Paul II become a known saint.

–Stanczyk

October 17, 2011

#Books, #Maps, #Documents – Home is Where the Hearth Is

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk,  is feeling very home-centric these days and many familial events (genealogy progresses). As the weather now turns to autumn, thoughts of baking and fine cooking come to mind — who does not revel in the warm, fragrant baked goods of the season.

Polish Bakery Food is good for the soul … and so is food for thought, good for the soul too. Stanczyk combs through the dusty catacombs of the Internet seeking. Seeking what … I do not know. But here are a few pictures to warm your thoughts. I have mentioned before that this jester is a bibliophile. So when I found a website  (http://arcaion.cba.pl/) about Documents, Books & Lettersin a digital form, I was fascinated. It is written in Polish and other languages, but you can select ‘English’ at the top left and much of the text (including Tag Cloud) convert to English.I like this site enough that I am considering adding it to the blogroll. What do you think my faithful readers?I think I approve of this erudite author’s penchant for interesting and wide-ranging topics. I found that s/he chose. I was interested in the Ming Virtual Manuscript Room (University of Birmingham, England) and the collections of documents they have from the Middle East.If you go back to December 13th, 2010 you will find an article on “Ex Libris / Bookplates“. The link (URL) to that blog’s website, which was chock full of interesting articles — sadly none new since 2009. I loved it so much, I am considering “ripping the web pages from the defunct website??” to my hard drive so I do not lose that author’s research which was so rich and robust.Somewhere amongst the original website I was speaking of, is another link to a website of ancient French maps (rather ancient maps collected by National Library of France). I was intrigued (is there such a thing as cartophile — for map lovers) by a map purported to be from the 15th century that captured the Ptolemaic View of the World Map.

There was another fine article on the oldest documents in the Suwalki State Archive.

I will definitely have to check in on this blog and either add it to my blog roll here or at least add it to my iGoogle page for genealogy so I can keep tabs on the new articles of interest.

Oh, the artwork on the left side of today’s article — they are from You Tube videos on Poland or Yiddish Theater in Poland. But I felt they capture my mood for this autumnal Monday.

Enjoy with your morning coffee (how about some Sumatra) !

– Stanczyk

Russian Peddlers
Bagel Seller
September 4, 2011

College Football Is Back !!!

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Tuff Wolverine

Tuff Wolverine

Well a little diversion from my more erudite pursuits…

Somehow Stanczyk feels a case of Football Interruptus. What a crazy week!  Baylor knocks off TCU — good for the Bears. Utah St vs Auburn provided late hysterics to make for an interesting game. UM and ND interrupted by Climate Change. A Win for Big Blue and the Blues for the Irish. But next week the College World arrives in Ann Arbor. What ? “College Game Day” comes to Ann Arbor for the Throwback Jersey Game – “UNDER THE LIGHTS” of:   MICHIGAN vs NOTRE DAME .

LSU is able to set aside the distractions and in the biggest game of the week, stuffs Oregon in Arlington, TX in a first week Top-5 match-up where the lower rated team wins! Gotta love that Les Miles (LSU Coach).  Georgia and UCLA fizzle — pity Stanczyk likes Richt & Neuheisel . Minnesota played well against USC. All-in-all, I think the Pac-12 looked bad. The Big10 (uh 12) looked pretty good (IND excepted) — Welcome Big RED (Nebraska in the BIG10 AWESOME).

July 23, 2011

House Numbers – Numerus Domus – Redux

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

In case you missed my first posting with the questions, you can catch-up by following this link . Debbie G (moderator of the Yahoo Group, Polish Geniuses) sent me some answers — first a reminder of the questions I am researching …

Research Questions

  1. Was the column labeled ‘Numerus Domus‘ in the Latin Box format of church records required by the Codex Napoleon?
  2. When did house numbers get assigned?
  3. How were numbers assigned?  Did they number starting from the church (I have had that said to me.)? Did they give the lowest numbers to the “most important” members of the parish? Were houses assigned numbers in the order they were built without regard to their sequential location to another house or did they start at 1 and proceed down the street numbering each house, such that consecutive house numbers are next door neighbors?
  4. Were house numbers unique to a single village or to the parish they all belonged?
  5. Why did they stop collecting house numbers in the church records?
  6. Did house numbers get renumbered (if so then when)? I am thinking like, in Detroit around 1920 when many/most homes were renumbered.
  7. If the houses were not renumbered, then is it possible to visit the same house (assuming it still stands) and know it was that house where so-and-so lived?

Answers …

#2 … I have seen house numbers on records as old as late-1600s  [Stanczyk: so this way pre-dates Napoleon and as such also answers #1; In Biechow, prior to Latin Box format, circa 1797 no record of a house # exists].

#3 House numbers were assigned starting with the church and moving outwards OR starting with the first house that was built and numbering each house built after that in sequence. This means you would/will find house # 245 across the street from house #1, and next door to house #59 on one side and house #75 on the other. This type of house numbering system makes it impossible to locate a particular house. Homes and buildings in cities are numbered sequentially however. [Stanczyk: Pity. This precludes me from analyzing next door neighbors by using the house numbers.]

#4 House numbers are unique to the individual village.
#5 “They” did not stop collecting house numbers in the church records. This continues today. [Stanczyk: I meant in the church records. But I think Debbie means yes. Just not in Biechow it seems.]
#6 The only time houses/property were renumbered is  if the house burned down. Then the house rebuilt on that same property was numbered sequentially after the last house built. Example: if the number of the last house built in a village was #364, and house # 34 burned down, then when that house is rebuilt it is numbered 365. [Stanczyk: Perhaps, knowing that larger numbers are newer homes will yields some insight.]
#7 In villages where the houses were numbered as they were built, it is almost impossible to locate a particular house unless it is a very small village. If any or all of the village burned down at any time, the process becomes even more impossible (if that can be).  [Stanczyk:  Debbie went on to crush my hopes of locating a family homestead by various reasons on why the house #’s  may be different or non-existent].

Thank You Debbie G. for sharing your expertise!

More Answers …

I have verified that Biechow does not have house #’s  in the church records prior to  1797 — probably as a result of Austrian partition regulations. In MF# 936660,  I found when Fr. Dominicus Cyranski arrives he starts using what I believe are house #’s (i.e. Sub. No 27). These 1797 Church records are in Latin Paragraph format. The house numbers also appear in MF # 936665 (the Latin Box format) beginning in 1797.

Again let me remind the readers that Biechow (and Pacanow, Swiniary, etc.) are rural so they will do things differently than larger towns or cities. Oddly, I went through MF # 936662 and for the years 1836-1848 there were no  house numbers. But in 1849, the records (which were in Polish paragraph / Napoleonic form), the house numbers make a come back. So I have house numbers in 1849-1852 inclusive. In 1853, they stop again. Now there was an explanation, it appears to be by priest sentiment. In 1848, Father (Fr.) Jozef Stanky [the priest who writes likes a chicken] takes over.  In 1849 he adds house numbers back. In 1852 Fr. Michal Krolikowski shares duties with Fr. Stanky. In 1853 Fr. Michal Krolikowski [priest with the angel like handwriting] decides to stop recording house numbers. So it appears to be specific to the whims of the parish priest.

Also when I was posting about Old Tomasz Leszczynski‘s first wife Julianna  Kordos‘ brith record,  I put an image of her Latin Box church record from 1833 (Swiniary parish) and I noticed it had house #’s (hers was house #40). So the variation can be by priest within a parish or variable by different/adjoining parishes. I think that explains why Debbie G. see one thing and I see another. I am guessing that it differs by partition too (Austrian vs. Russian vs. Prussian). I think it is the differences and freak happenstances that make genealogical research so interesting (and/or frustrating).

I do accept the fact that house numbers exist in a village, irrespective of whether they exist in the church records for that village. Stanczyk is NOT thick skulled!

July 16, 2011

House Numbers – Numerus Domus – Domu Jego Pod Numerem

by C. Michael Eliasz-Solomon

Stanczyk has been looking at house numbers like he is a postal worker delivering mail. These numbers have led my rather numerate mind to a new musing …

I have noticed that the Catholic Church (let me be precise/narrow, but perhaps it has wider usage) in the Russian-Poland areas, during the years 1797-1825 recorded house numbers (aka Numerus Domus -or- Domu iego pod numerem) in their records. So I am trying to tease some further knowledge from my data by analyzing these house numbers, but I have questions that need research. So here is my laundry list of questions that I will investigate and perhaps by crowd-sourcing / internet collaborating I hope that I can also receive some answers via comments or emails.

Research Questions

  1. Was the column labeled ‘Numerus Domus‘ in the Latin Box format of church records required by the Codex Napoleon?
  2. When did house numbers get assigned?
  3. How were numbers assigned?  Did they number starting from the church (I have had that said to me.)? Did they give the lowest numbers to the “most important” members of the parish? Were houses assigned numbers in the order they were built without regard to their sequential location to another house or did they start at 1 and proceed down the street numbering each house, such that consecutive house numbers are next door neighbors?
  4. Were house numbers unique to a single village or to the parish they all belonged?
  5. Why did they stop collecting house numbers in the church records?
  6. Did house numbers get renumbered (if so then when)? I am thinking like, in Detroit around 1920 when many/most homes were renumbered.
  7. If the houses were not renumbered, then is it possible to visit the same house (assuming it still stands) and know it was that house where so-and-so lived?

Folklore About Houses or their Doors

There was a tradition in Southern Poland whereby at Christmas time, the people would inscribe the lintel above the door, with the names or initials of the three wise men from the Bible:

Gaspar(Kasper), Melchior, and Balthazar (were the wise men’s names by tradition — their names do not appear in the Bible).

Does anyone know this Christmas tradition or why Poles did such a thing ?

Does anyone know any other door or address traditions from Poland ?

Stanczyk

From Polish paragraph form during 1797-1825 years

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