Home Rituals from Around the World

By Amelia Bowles
Shoes outside of doorway to home

The things we do in our homes are often unique to our families or cultures. Many of these customs or rituals are meaningful and connect individuals to larger groups. These rituals can be spiritual, cleansing, familial, signs of respect for one another and more. For people across the globe, these traditions are just a part of what makes them who they are. And collectively, our homes and home rituals help to make up the diverse and unique network of shared traditions and individuality that makes this planet so special.

Porch Ceilings Painted Blue

When visiting southern states, you might notice porch ceilings painted a light blue color. People commonly refer to this color as “haint” blue. This originated in South Carolina and Georgia and comes from the Gullah peoples that lived in the area. “Haint” was the group’s word for spirts or ghosts. The color represented sky or water, which would repel ghosts from homes. Today, there is another practical use, which is attempting to keep wasps from nesting in the area, according to Southern Living.

The Indigenous Ritual of Smudging

Smudging item

Native culture uses smudging as a special practice to cleanse the spirit. The process involves burning certain plants and spreading the smoke throughout the room or home. Tribal Trade Co. states that people use sweet grass “to attract good spirits, energies, and influences.” Cedar is used for meditation and as a blessing for new homes. People use sage to “drive out evil spirits, negative thoughts, and feelings, and to keep negative entities away from areas where ceremonials take place.” According to Mayo Clinic, who uses smudging with Native American patients, “the smudging ceremony is about the power of connection to home and ancestors.”

Removing Your Shoes When Your Enter Someone’s Home

In many Asian countries and some European countries, as well as Canada and certain states such as Hawaii and Alaska, it is customary to remove your shoes when visiting someone’s home as well as in your own home. Many countries see shoes indoors as a hygiene issue. This is because people consider the outside world to be much dirtier than the inside of one’s home. Often times people in these cultures put on a pair of slippers or house shoes after leaving outdoor shoes outside the home as a home ritual.

Mezuzahs in Jewish Homes

Person hanging a Mezuzah

According to Reform Judaism, a mezuzah is a small scroll containing Jewish religious text placed in a small rectangular container. The container is usually made up of clay, wood or other materials and hung in doorways. They should be hung in every doorway of the home, excluding those leading to bathrooms or small closets. The mezuzah is a home ritual that reminds those that live and enter the home that it is a place of spirituality. It also reminds them that they are accompanied by their faith wherever they go. It allows their homes to become a place of worship instead of it being confined to religious buildings.

The Art of Feng Shui

Feng shui dates back to the Zhou dynasty (1046-256 BCE) in China and orients spaces and objects to be in harmony with “qi.” This is the vital life force, according to Britannica. It incorporates the theory of five fundamental elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal to balance the elements and bring good luck and prosperity, according to National Geographic.

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