Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions [2 Vols] 1610694112, 9781610694117

An indispensable resource for exploring food and faith, this two-volume set offers information on food-related religious

2,800 269 5MB

English Pages 714 Year 2017

Report DMCA / Copyright


Polecaj historie

Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions [2 Vols]
 1610694112,  9781610694117

Table of contents :
......Page 1
About the pagination of this eBook......Page 2
Title page......Page 5
Halftitle page......Page 3
Copyright page......Page 6
Contents......Page 7
List of Entries......Page 9
Guide to Related Topics......Page 13
List of Documents......Page 17
Preface......Page 19
Introduction......Page 23
A......Page 27
B......Page 81
C......Page 115
D......Page 167
E......Page 183
F......Page 207
G......Page 255
H......Page 273
I......Page 313
J......Page 329
K......Page 345
Title page......Page 363
Halftitle page......Page 361
Copyright page......Page 364
Contents......Page 365
List of Entries......Page 367
Guide to Related Topics......Page 371
List of Documents......Page 375
L......Page 377
M......Page 387
N......Page 427
P......Page 453
Q......Page 467
R......Page 473
S......Page 511
T......Page 577
V......Page 589
W......Page 599
Y......Page 607
Z......Page 609
Primary Documents......Page 619
Recommended Resources......Page 669
About the Author......Page 673
Index......Page 675

Citation preview

About the pagination of this eBook This eBook contains a multi-volume set. To navigate the front matter of this eBook by page number, you will need to use the volume number and the page number, separated by a hyphen. For example, to go to page v of volume 1, type “1-v” in the Go box at the bottom of the screen and click "Go." To go to page v of volume 2, type “2-v”… and so forth.

Food, Feasts, and Faith

Food, Feasts, and Faith An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions Volume 1: A–K

Paul Fieldhouse

Copyright © 2017 by ABC-CLIO, LLC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Fieldhouse, Paul, author. Title: Food, feasts, and faith : an encyclopedia of food culture in world   religions / Paul Fieldhouse. Description: Santa Barbara, California : ABC-CLIO, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO,   LLC, [2017] | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016036524 (print) | LCCN 2016055319 (ebook) |   ISBN 9781610694117 (set : acid-free paper) | ISBN 9781440846144   (volume 1 : acid-free paper) | ISBN 9781440846151 (volume 2 : acid-free   paper) | ISBN 9781610694124 (Ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Food—Religous aspects | Food habits—Encyclopedias. Classification: LCC BL65.F65 F54 2017 (print) | LCC BL65.F65 (ebook) |   DDC 204/.46—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-1-61069-411-7 (set) 978-1-4408-4614-4 (vol. 1) 978-1-4408-4615-1 (vol. 2) EISBN: 978-1-61069-412-4 21 20 19 18 17  1 2 3 4 5 This book is also available as an eBook. ABC-CLIO An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC ABC-CLIO, LLC 130 Cremona Drive, P.O. Box 1911 Santa Barbara, California 93116-1911 This book is printed on acid-free paper Manufactured in the United States of America


List of Entries


Guide to Related Topics


List of Documents


Preface xvii Introduction xxi Entries 1 Primary Documents


Recommended Resources


About the Author


Index 633


List of Entries

Charity Christian Diet Plans Christianity Christian Western Festival Calendar Christmas Christmas Drinks Church Suppers Coffee Cold Food Festival (Hanshi) Coming-of-Age Rituals Commensality Compassion Confucianism Cookbooks, Religious Coptic Feasts and Fasts Dates Day of the Dead Death Rituals and Ceremonies Diwali Durga Puja Easter Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar Eastern Orthodox Church Eggs Eid al-Adha Eid al-Fitr Epiphany Eucharist Fasting as a Religious Discipline Fasting in Buddhism Fasting in Christianity Fasting in Hinduism Fasting in Islam

Abraham Advent African Indigenous Religions Agape Feast Ahimsa Airline Food Alcohol All Saints’ Day All Souls’ Day Amish Ancient Mediterranean Religions Animal Slaughter Animism Annunciation, Feast of the Anorexia, Holy Asceticism Ashura Australian Aboriginal Religion Ayurveda Aztec Religion and Ritual Baha’i Faith Baha’i Faith and Alcohol Baha’i Festival Calendar Baptism Rituals Bar and Bat Mitzvah Bible, Foods in the Birth Rituals and Ceremonies Bread Breast-Feeding Buddhism Buddhist Festival Calendar Candomble Cannibalism Caste System vii


| List of Entries Fasting in Jainism Fasting in Judaism Fasting in the Baha’i Faith Feasting in Buddhism Feasting in Christianity Feasting in Hinduism Feasting in Islam Feasting in Judaism Festivals First Fruits Fish Fridays Fish in Christian Symbolism Food and Religious Identity Food as Religious Metaphor Food Certification, Islam Food Certification, Jewish Food Preparation Rituals, Religious Fruitarianism Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand (1889–1948) Ganesh Chaturthi Gender and Food Graham, Sylvester (1794–1851) Gurpurbs Guru Granth Sahib Guru Nanak Gutor Hadith Halal Food Halal Marketplace Halloween Hanukkah Haram Food Healing with Food Hindu Festival Calendar Hinduism Hola Mohalla Holi Hospital Food Hospitality Humanitarian Food Relief Hungry Ghosts Hutterites Iftar Interfaith Festival Calendar

International Society for Krishna Consciousness Islam Islamic Festival Calendar Jainism Jehovah’s Witnesses Jesus Jewish Festival Calendar Jhatka Judaism Kashrut Kava Kellogg, John Harvey (1852–1943) Kitab-i-Aqdas Kosher Marketplace Krishna Kwanzaa Langar Last Supper Laws of Manu Lent Losar Macrobiotics Maha Shivaratri Makar Sankranti Mardi Gras Marriage and Wedding Rituals Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist Marriage Ceremonies, Christian Marriage Ceremonies, Hindu Marriage Ceremonies, Jewish Marriage Ceremonies, Muslim Mawlid al-Nabi Mennonites Mindful Eating Miracles Moravians Mormons Moses Muhammad Mushbooh Nation of Islam Navaratri New Religious Movements New Year

Nine Emperor Gods Festival Nineteen-Day Feast North American Indigenous Religions Nowruz Nutritional Status, Religion and Paganism Passover Pig Avoidance Potlatch Prasad Protestantism Purim Qingming Festival Quakers Qur’an, Food in the Ramadan Rastafari Rice Rites of Passage Rites of Passage, Buddhist Rites of Passage, Christian Rites of Passage, Hindu Rites of Passage, Islam Rites of Passage, Jewish Rites of Passage, Shinto Rites of Passage, Sikh Rites of Passage, Zoroastrianism Roman Catholicism Rosh Hashanah Sabbath Sacraments Sacred Cow Sacred Time Sacrifice Salt, Religious Symbolism of Santeria

List of Entries

Santhara School Food Seder Meal Seventh-day Adventists Shakers Shavuot Shi’a Islam Shinto Siddartha Gautama (Buddha) Sikh Festival Calendar Sikhism Social Justice and Food Songkran Soup Kitchens and Food Banks Stewardship St. Lucia Day Feast St. Patrick’s Day Sufi Islam Sukkot Sumptuary Laws Taboos and Prohibitions Taoism Tea Ceremony Thanksgiving Vaisakhi Vegetarianism Vesak (Wesak) Vodun Water Wine Yom Kippur Zakat Zoroaster (Zarathustra) Zoroastrian Festival Calendar Zoroastrianism

| ix

Guide to Related Topics


Coffee Cookbooks, Religious Dates Eggs Fish in Christian Symbolism Food Certification, Islam Food Certification, Judaism Halal Food Halal Marketplace Haram Food Healing with Food Hospital Food Iftar Kava Kosher Marketplace Macrobiotics Mushbooh Nutritional Status, Religion and Prasad Rice Salt, Religious Symbolism of School Food Soup Kitchens and Food Banks Sumptuary Laws Water Wine

Cannibalism Caste System Fish Fridays Hospitality Potlatch Taboos and Prohibitions Tea Ceremony Feasts and Feast Days Agape Feast All Saints’ Day All Souls’ Day Annunciation, Feast of the Coptic Feasts and Fasts Epiphany Last Supper Nineteen-Day Feast Sabbath Seder Meal St. Lucia Day Feast St. Patrick’s Day Thanksgiving Food and Drink Airline Food Alcohol Ayurveda Bread Breast-Feeding Christmas Drinks Church Suppers

Individuals Abraham Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand (1889–1948) Graham, Sylvester (1794–1851) Guru Nanak xi


| Guide to Related Topics Jesus Kellogg, John Harvey (1852–1943) Krishna Moses Muhammad Siddartha Gautama (Buddha) Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Shakers Shi’a Islam Shinto Sikhism Sufi Islam Taoism Vodun

Religion or Belief

Religious Festivals and Seasons

African Indigenous Religions Amish Ancient Mediterranean Religions Animism Australian Aboriginal Religion Aztec Religion and Ritual Baha’i Faith Buddhism Candomble Christianity Confucianism Eastern Orthodox Church Hinduism Hutterites International Society for Krishna Con­­sciousness Islam Jainism Jehovah’s Witnesses Judaism Mennonites Miracles Moravians Mormons Nation of Islam New Religious Movements North American Indigenous Religions Paganism Protestantism Quakers Rastafari Roman Catholicism Santeria Seventh-day Adventists

Advent Ashura Baha’i Festival Calendar Buddhist Festival Calendar Christian Western Festival Calendar Christmas Cold Food Festival (Hanshi) Day of the Dead Diwali Durga Puja Easter Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar Eid al-Adha Eid al-Fitr Festivals Ganesh Chaturthi Gurpurbs Gutor Halloween Hanukkah Hindu Festival Calendar Hola Mohalla Holi Hungry Ghosts Interfaith Festival Calendar Islamic Festival Calendar Jewish Festival Calendar Kwanzaa Lent Losar Maha Shivaratri Makar Sankranti Mardi Gras Mawlid al-Nabi

Navaratri New Year Nine Emperor Gods Festival Nowruz Passover Purim Qingming Festival Ramadan Rosh Hashanah Sacred Time Shavuot Sikh Festival Calendar Songkran Sukkot Vaisakhi Vesak (Wesak) Yom Kippur Zoroastrian Festival Calendar Religious Practices Ahimsa Animal Slaughter Anorexia, Holy Asceticism Baha’i Faith and Alcohol Charity Christian Diet Plans Commensality Compassion Fasting as a Religious Discipline Fasting in Buddhism Fasting in Christianity Fasting in Hinduism Fasting in Islam Fasting in Jainism Fasting in Judaism Fasting in the Baha’i Faith Feasting in Buddhism Feasting in Christianity Feasting in Hinduism Feasting in Islam Feasting in Judaism First Fruits Food and Religious Identity

Guide to Related Topics

Fruitarianism Gender and Food Humanitarian Food Relief Jhatka Kashru Langar Mindful Eating Pig Avoidance Sacred Cow Sacrifice Santhara Social Justice and Food Stewardship Vegetarianism Zakat Rituals Baptism Rituals Bar and Bat Mitzvah Birth Rituals and Ceremonies Coming-of-Age Rituals Death Rituals and Ceremonies Eucharist Food Preparation Rituals, Religious Marriage and Wedding Rituals Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist Marriage Ceremonies, Christian Marriage Ceremonies, Hindu Marriage Ceremonies, Jewish Marriage Ceremonies, Muslim Rites of Passage Rites of Passage, Buddhist Rites of Passage, Christian Rites of Passage, Hindu Rites of Passage, Islam Rites of Passage, Jewish Rites of Passage, Shinto Rites of Passage, Sikh Rites of Passage, Zoroastrianism Sacraments Texts and Scriptures Bible, Foods in the

| xiii


| Guide to Related Topics Food as Religious Metaphor Guru Granth Sahib Hadith

Kitab-i-Aqdas Laws of Manu Qur’an, Food in the

List of Documents

  1. The Taittiriya Upanishad on Food (ca. 600 BCE)   2. The Analects: Confucius on Food (ca. 500 BCE)   3. The Sushruta Samhita: A Special Regimen during the Period of Gestation (ca. 500 BCE)   4. Jewish Food Laws from Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible (ca. 1400–400 BCE)   5. The Mahabharata on Killing Animals and Eating Meat (ca. 300 BCE–300 CE)   6. The Akaranga Sutra: Instructions to Monks and Nuns When Begging for Food (ca. 300 BCE)   7. Porphyry on Abstinence from Animal Food (ca. 270 CE)   8. Confucian Book of Rites (Li Ki) on Food and Food Habits (ca. 200 BCE)   9. The Manusmriti (200 BCE–200 CE) 10. The Vinaya Patika on Buddhist Requirements for Eating (ca. 100 BCE) 11. Biblical Origins of the Eucharist from the Book of Matthew (80–90 CE) 12. The Rule of St. Benedict on Food and Drink (530 CE) 13. The Holy Qur’an on Guidance for Food (610–632 CE) 14. Thomas Aquinas on Fasting: From the Summa Theologica (1265–1273) 15. Sumptuary Laws (1336) 16. An Aztec Emperor’s Feast, by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1519) 17. Huldrych Zwingli on Freedom of Food Choice for Christians (1522) 18. The First Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts (1621) 19. Centennial Buckeye Cook Book (1876) 20. The Schenactady Patent (1883) 21. Food for the Million (1884) 22. Sabbath Food from Science in the Kitchen (1893) 23. Yoruba Death Rituals of West Africa (1894) 24. A Converted Fruitarian (1900) 25. Healing by “Material Means”: Food in the Baha’i Faith (1908) 26. Food Restrictions among the Kakadu Tribe of Australia (1914) 27. The Natural Diet of Man, on a Vegetarian and Whole-Grain Diet (1923)



Purpose The study of food has long been part of scientific disciplines such as nutrition and dietetics. It has also attracted the interest of scholars and commentators in the social sciences and humanities. In recent years interest in the intersection of food and culture has burgeoned, and in the last decade or so there have been many books written on the general sociology, anthropology, and history of food. There are also specialist accounts of religious food topics as well as books and encyclopedias of religion that include some reference to food. Finally, journal articles on specific aspects of food and religion can be found in a wide array of scholarly publications. However, there has been no general treatment that provides a single source for gaining a broad introduction to the place of food in the world’s religions. The aim of Food, Feasts, and Faith: An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions is to make information on food and drink in multiple world religions more accessible by bringing it together in a single work. These volumes also include less wellknown rituals and religions that are often not covered in texts on the major world religions. This encyclopedia is directed primarily at high-school students and undergraduates studying history, religion and culture, and humanities as well as food, nutrition, and dietetics. It will also be of interest to general readers and to those looking for a starting point for more in-depth research or understanding of food and religion and, more broadly, food and culture. The overall purpose of this work is to provide students with an accessible reference book that includes factual information, introduces concepts of food as being more than just nutrients, and adds to an understanding both of religious traditions and the importance of food in people’s lives. This in turn may help readers to become more aware of the diversity of human cultural beliefs and practices in a changing world. As a reference work, this encyclopedia will be of value to students taking classes in multiple topics, including food and nutrition, social studies, world issues, religion, history, and geography. Written in an accessible style that avoids academic jargon, this work can be used as first point of entry for studying the beliefs and customs of a particular faith or sect, specific topics such as Jewish holidays and Ramadan, general topics such as festivals and vegetarianism, and food and drink items such as eggs, bread, and wine. xvii


| Preface Food, Feasts, and Faith is broad in scope, spanning a vast time period from the ancient religions of Zorastrianism and Hinduism to new religious movements such as Seventh-day Adventism, the Nation of Islam, and the Baha’i faith. Entries cover countries and regions from around the world, highlighting people and places of particular religious significance and illustrating how geography mediates food availability and has influenced religious food doctrine and practice. Topics include the following: • • • • • • •

major world religions and smaller religious groups and sects; concepts and practices such as fasting, taboos, sacrifice, health and healing, and vegetarianism; events such as feasts and festivals and rites of passage such as birth, marriage, and death; organizations and associations; important documents such as scriptures and other holy writings; religious and secular figures; and symbolic food items such as eggs, bread, and wine.

Organization A general introduction provides the reader with an overview of the subject area of food, faiths, and feasts and outlines the many ways in which food and religion intersect, including observations on the origins and nature of religious dietary law and its cultural functions. At the front along with an alphabetical list of the entries is a “Guide to Related Topics,” listing all related entries under broad topic headings: Customs, Feasts and Feast Days, Food and Drink, Individuals, Religion or Belief, Religious Festivals and Seasons, Religious Practices, Rituals, and Texts and Scriptures. In an A–Z arrangement there are 226 main entries of 250–2,500 words. A comprehensive index provides a more in-depth tool to find specific topics. While the topics are wide-ranging, most of the entries provide where applicable historical context, demographic information, normative beliefs, customs and laws, and comparative examples of current practices. Each entry is cross-referenced to other entries in the work that provide related or comparative content. Further Readings sections are also included after the main entries. These may include references used in the entry, statistical sources, books, magazines, Internet pages, and audiovisual resources. The entries were prepared by a single author, a respected nutritionist who has made a special study of food and culture and has previously authored popular textbooks and articles on food culture and customs. Such a broad collection of information about food in religion and religion in food has never been brought together before. However, it is impossible for one work to cover every feast, every belief, and every religious practice related to food. It is also the case that there is a tremendous variation in the way in which religious food guidance is interpreted and put into practice within different cultures and, of


| xix

course, among specific foods consumed. It is also true that some faith practitioners may observe food laws strictly while others modify, minimize, or disregard them. The endless variation in expression of religious food habits gives the reader wide scope to explore further and is fertile ground for class discussions. In addition to the main entries, this work includes 86 sidebars of interesting, curious, and entertaining facts. For each of the major religions there is a 2017 calendar of the most important festivals and holy days. A section of excerpts from 27 documents is included after the main entries. Many of these documents are primary sources such as scriptures and personal journals; a few are secondary sources that are less readily accessible and provide useful historical illustrations and perspectives. Each document has a short introduction explaining its context and significance. The document section is followed by a list of recommended resources. Acknowledgments Preparing a work of this length and breadth is a daunting undertaking. It would not be possible without the support and encouragement of the skilled publishing professionals at ABC-CLIO. I would like in particular to acknowledge Anne Thompson, development editor, for her invaluable help and unending patience. While I have included major reference sources in the “Further Reading” sections of entries, I would also like to acknowledge the many, often anonymous, contributors to articles and stories on innumerable websites that I scoured in my search for festival descriptions and examples of modern practices.


Eating is an everyday act necessary for growth, proper body functioning, and life itself. Without food the human body cannot survive for more than a few weeks and without water for only a few days. Yet from a religion standpoint, food is also a culturally and spiritually powerful substance that shapes human relationships and understanding of the world and is at the heart of human interactions with the divine. Millions of people throughout the world claim a religious identity that shapes the way they think about and act in the world. Estimates of the number of religions in the world vary widely, depending on what is defined as a religion. Commonly a list of 10 to 12 world religions, defined as those that have a significant presence in multiple countries or regions of the world, includes Baha’ism, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism. There are many others with significant numbers of followers, but they may be restricted to particular countries or regions or do not have a formal administrative structure. There are also many indigenous religions that often produce new syncretic forms as they blend with the religions of foreign colonialists or settlers. Many of the major religions have hundreds if not thousands of divisions, branches, or sects that adhere to variations in dogma or practice; and new religious forms are constantly evolving. Millions more people, while not affiliating with a formal religion, express a sense of spirituality that connects them to the world or to the cosmos. The definition of what is or isn’t a religion is far from agreed upon. Ninian Smart (1927–2001) proposed that there are seven fundamental dimensions to religions. The first is doctrinal; religions have a set of distinct doctrines or beliefs about the nature of divinity and the relationship of humans to the divine. The second is mythological, which encompasses the stories, myths, and legends that explain the origin and nature of the divine and are told to pass religious knowledge down the generations. The third dimension is an ethical one in which are prescribed rules or guidance for how one should behave or conduct oneself in daily life. The fourth dimension is ritual, which is the practical reenactment of religious myths and events. The fifth dimension is an experiential one. This speaks to the personal feelings of love, belonging, or awe that faith inspires in believers. The sixth dimension is the social organization that gives structure to the religion through its administrative hierarchy and arrangements, its places of worship, and its faith communities. The seventh dimension is a material one that includes the buildings, xxi


| Introduction books, objects, and artifacts that are integral to practicing the faith. In different religions each of these dimensions may assume a greater or lesser relative importance so that, for example, orthodoxy (correct belief) or orthopraxy (correct practice) may be given more prominence. Food may play a role in each of the seven dimensions. The food choices that we make reflect a multitude of social, economic, political, and cultural influences as well as ethical codes and personal preferences. Religion is one such influence, and the food practices of religious believers around the world are shaped by the teachings of their chosen faith. The role of food in religion can be studied from several perspectives. Food is at once a material, social, and sacred substance. For nutritionists, dietitians, and epidemiologists, the scientific analysis of dietary patterns and nutritional intakes of religious groups is of interest in seeking to explain variations in health status. For example, prevalence of some cancers is lower among Seven-day Adventists than among the general population. For anthropologists, sociologists, and other social scientists, food habits are a window into the world of societal structures and relationships. For scholars in the humanities and religious studies, food can be viewed as an ethical entity such that eating is one way in which the faithful can lead a moral life according to their religious precepts. Nature and Origin of Dietary Laws/Lore Religious food practices often require the use of specific foods in specific situations, especially during special celebrations such as feasts and fasts, where particular foods often have important symbolic values. Conversely, there are many examples of foods that are not allowed for consumption even though they are freely available, and religious codes often exclude whole categories of foods from consumption. What must not be eaten may be determined by characteristics of individuals such as age, gender, or social or physiological status or by external constraints, such as time of day or time of year. Prescriptive rules of what must be eaten, when, and how are the counterpart of prohibitions. Religious declarations about diet may take the form of dietary laws or rules that must be obeyed, as is the case with the pork prohibition seen in both Judaism and Islam, or of guidance that points the believer in a certain direction but without absolutely requiring adherence. An example of this is the Baha’i exhortation to vegetarianism. These laws or guidance originate in sacred texts or scriptures that are often regarded as being authoritative; that is, they are for believers the ultimate source of the “truth.” However, sacred texts are frequently interpreted and added to over time by religious leaders and priestly classes who translate the words and meanings of holy writ so that ordinary people can understand. Inevitably differences in interpretation arise, which partly explains why food practices may vary within a single religion. Food choice is also circumscribed by geography, economics, and other cultural norms. The result is a spectrum of behavior with regard to any given religious dietary edict, from completely adhering to completely ignoring. Even with a single religion, both beliefs (orthodoxy) and practice (orthopraxy)


| xxiii

may vary among faith communities in different countries or regions or even at a family or individual level. And the situation is never static. Religious reform and revisionist movements may result in changes to dietary edicts, while individuals are subject to the larger forces of cultural, social, and economic change and must adapt to new customs and circumstances. This is seen among immigrants to a new land who are challenged to acculturate to a new set of customs, norms, and expectations as well as to changes in the food environment, whereby traditional foods become unavailable or novel food products create extra challenges. An example of the latter situation would be an orthodox Shi’a Muslim from the Arab world faced with learning to avoid haram ingredients in the hundreds of thousands of processed products in an American supermarket. Continued compliance with traditional rules also depends on social contexts. Believers who are strict when with members of their own religious group may be willing to be more lax when alone or with a different social group. Thus, it is simplistic to assert that “Jews eat this” or “Hindus do not eat that,” and we must always remember that while there are indeed religious food rules in the abstract, they are only a starting point for thinking about food and religion. When it comes to food at religious celebrations, the same is true. In this work many religious festivals are described. There are some foods that are crucially symbolic of particular festivals or religious rituals and are always eaten, no matter what the ethnic origin or cultural background of the believer. In many instances it is culture that is decisive. At Easter or Christmas, for instance, there are distinctive food traditions in many countries, with dishes that are traditionally prepared and eaten during the holy (holiday) seasons. However, these are far from being universal Christian food traditions. Conversely, many dishes eaten at a particular religious occasion may also appear on the table at other times of year. Their use as celebration dishes is related as much to their elaborateness and cultural value as to any specific religious meaning. Functions of Food in Religion Just as we can identify multiple dimensions of religion, we can also find multiple ways in which food performs a religious function. By unquestioningly following a set of religiously proscribed dietary laws without need for explanation or rationale, believers publicly demonstrate their faith and their acceptance of religious authority. Knowing that coreligionists around the world are observing the same food rules and rituals, often at the same time in the case of calendar feasts, strengthens one’s identity as a member of a faith community. For example, during the Islamic fast of Ramadan, Muslims around the world start their day with a predawn meal of suhoor and break the day’s fast with the postsunset snack of iftar. The act of eating and drinking together is a symbol of fellowship and mutual obligation that strengthens bonds within a faith community. The Nineteen-Day Feast brings Baha’i community members together for worship, business, and social interaction. At the same time that food creates a boundary of inclusion, it also demarcates a boundary of separation from those who do not share the same food rules or practices and do


| Introduction not belong to the group. The Muhammadan prohibition against pork may have been a way of reminding Muslims that they were different from their Christian neighbors. In the eighth century CE Pope Gregory III forbade Christians and Christian converts to eat horses in order to set them apart from the horse-eating Vandals of Northern Europe. Other examples of the establishment of food laws and practices to differentiate faith members from nonbelievers or other-believers will be found in entries throughout this work. Not only do religiously sanctioned food rules serve as a badge of identity, but they may also prohibit or restrict social interaction. Thus, early Christians were forbidden to eat the food of or eat with Jews, while the caste system of Hinduism has a lot to say about who may share what type of food with whom, according to social class. Food is an almost universal way to communicate with the divine. Offering food or meals to the god(s) in the form of literal or symbolic sacrifice is a way for people to please the gods or ask for their help in guaranteeing a good harvest, bringing good health, or granting a favor. Offerings are also given as thanks for blessings received, for the harvest safely gathered in, or to propitiate gods, who may have been neglected or offended. The management of personal food intake through religious fasting is a means to exhibit self-denial and demonstrate that one is not bound to earthly pleasures. Ascetism is a feature of several religious traditions that is more often practiced by religious devotees and those who have entered religious orders, such as monks and nuns. Usually lay members have fewer restrictions. The beginning and end of fasting periods also demarcate sacred time. For Christians the six weeks of Lent are sacred time, and so food and fasting rules are different. Jewish Pesach or Passover is preceded by a clearing out of leavened food products from the house, while the end of the Islamic fast of Ramadan is marked with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, the festival of breaking the fast. Religious practices may serve, incidentally or purposefully, to encourage ecological sustainability through conservation and judicious use of scarce resources. Some cultural anthropologists argue that the Hindu prohibition on eating cows was a practical measure to ensure that farmers did not kill their means of livelihood during times of hardship or that the Jewish ban on pigs was enforced because of their unsuitability for the ecological conditions that prevailed in ancient Israel. Through an exploration of food, feasts, and faith we are offered a window on the rich diversity of human culture.

A Abraham Abraham (b. ca. 2000 BCE) is considered to be the father figure of the three revealed monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Jews regard Abraham as the father of the Jewish people; Muslims identify him as Ibrahim, one of the first Muslims and the father of the prophets; and Christian gospels trace the descent of the prophet Jesus to Abraham. Some Christians accept only a spiritual ancestry but see Abraham as a model of faith. The story of Abraham is found in both the Bible and the Qur’an. Abraham was born Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, the capital of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq). In the polytheistic world of the time his father was an idol maker, but Abram confronted him with a conviction that there was only one god, and stories tell of how he destroyed all but one of the idols his father had made. After his father’s death Abraham received divine instruction to leave his home and go to Canaan, where he would found a great nation. According to the Old Testament, Abraham entered into a covenant with God, a close agreement by which the Israelites were to be God’s chosen people; God promised Abraham that his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan. “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’” (Genesis 12:1–3). One day Abraham received a visit from three strangers and accordingly provided hospitality to the visitors, as was the Arab custom. The book of Genesis recounts that while Sarah, his wife, made cakes from fine flour, Abraham provided a calf along with curds and milk to feed his guests. The divine visitors told Abraham that despite the couple’s advanced age, Sarah would bear him a son. This son, Isaac, was to father Jacob (who was later named Israel), and Jacob’s 12 sons became the founders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. At the time of Isaac’s birth Abraham already has a son named Ishmael (Isma’il), born to his maidservant Hagar. At Sarah’s behest, Hagar and Ishmael were banished into the wilderness with only bread and water to sustain them. God interceded to save them and promised that Ishmael too would found a great nation; traditionally these are believed to be the 12 Arab tribes. This line of descent from Abraham through Ishmael to Muhammad is what is traced back by Muslims. 1

2 | Advent

Abraham’s faith was severely tested by God, who commanded him to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering, a practice that was not uncommon in the polytheistic world. Abraham demonstrated his obedience to God by preparing to sacrifice his son, but God intervened and allowed him to substitute a ram as a sacrifice. Muslims hold that Ishmael, not Isaac, was the near sacrifice. After the death of Sarah, Abraham remarried; his new wife, Keturah, bore him six more sons. Abraham is said to have died at aged 175. The importance of Abraham is reflected in modern-day faith practices. Each of the five daily obligatory Muslim prayers includes sending blessings on the prophet Ibrahim. The annual Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha involves the sacrifice of a sheep in remembrance of Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God’s mercy in allowing him to substitute a ram. Abraham is mentioned during the Christian Mass. The Jewish practice of circumcision stems from God’s command to Abraham to circumcise himself and his male descendants as a symbol of the divine covenant between God and his chosen people. Abraham Salons are a contemporary movement in the United States, described as interfaith gatherings of the descendants of Abraham. They attempt to use the common heritage of Abraham as a focus for promoting interfaith spiritual understanding. See Also: Islam; Jesus; Judaism; Moses; Muhammad

Further Reading Fisher, M. P. 1999. Living Religions. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. MacDonald, N. 2008. What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Advent Advent is the four- to six-week period before Christmas when Christians prepare for the coming of Christ; it is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “arrival” or “coming.” In the Western Christian church Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30 and marks the beginning of the liturgical year. In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches it starts on November 15 (or November 28 in the Julian calendar), 40 days before Christmas. In both cases it finishes on Christmas Eve. Advent is the time when Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus (the first Advent) and the anticipated second coming of Christ (the second Advent). During the Advent season there are a number of religious events and celebrations in different parts of the world. Advent was originally a period of penitence and sacrifice that included strict fasting. The custom of fasting gradually fell into disuse in the Western churches, though contemporary Christians may still choose to give up meat or other luxuries.


| 3

In the Eastern Orthodox calendar Advent is one of the four fasts of the liturgical year. It is also known as the Nativity Fast or Little Lent and is less restrictive than the great Lent fast before Easter. Meat and dairy products are avoided, but wine and oil are permitted. Fish, except shellfish, is not permitted except on certain days, though custom and practice vary from place to place. Advent is associated with candles and calendars. In churches and homes, wreaths and Advent candles are common. A candle is lit on the first Advent Sunday and is burned down to a mark; each day it is relit and burned to the next mark until by Christmas day it is fully burned. Alternatively, four candles are used; each Sunday one is lit, and on Christmas Eve a fifth central “Christ candle” is also lit. In Christian Eastern Orthodox churches, six candles may be used because Advent is longer. Among Western Christian denominations, different groups of colors of candles are used. For Catholics and many Anglicans and Episcopalians, three candles are purple, and one is pink or rose colored, symbolizing joy, for the third Sunday in Advent. The Christ Candle for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is white. Other Protestant denominations may use blue, purple, white, or red. Lighting the candle at family mealtimes provides an opportunity for families to share in prayers and devotional readings. The first printed Advent calendars were used to help children count down the days to Christmas and appeared in the early 20th century. They have become popular artifacts with Christians and non-Christians alike. The decorative three-dimensional calendars have religious or seasonal themes and feature numbered cardboard doors that are opened on the appropriate day and behind which are small molded chocolates or trinkets. Across Germany and increasingly in North American cities, Advent sees the opening of Christkindlmarkts, festive markets selling seasonal foods and traditional crafts.

Dresden Stollen Festival Stollen is a German marzipan fruitcake popular during the Advent season since the mid-15th century. It was originally a simple baked pastry of flour, yeast, water and a little oil, as butter was not permitted during Advent. In 1491 Pope Innocent VIII wrote a missive known as the “Butter Letter” granting permission for bakers to use butter in return for the payment of a fee or fine that helped support the building of churches. In 1730 the Saxon king Augustus the Strong hosted a huge festival with 24,000 guests at which a gigantic stollen was served. The 1.8-ton (4,000-pound) stollen was baked in a specially built oven and pulled to the court by eight horses. Today the Dresden Stollen Festival is held annually on the Saturday before the second Sunday of Advent. Bakers belonging to the Dresden Stollen Association work together for several days in advance of the festival to prepare a giant stollen, which is exhibited in the city square and then paraded through the old city before being sold at the Christmas market. Profits from the stollen sales go to charity.

4 | African Indigenous Religions

Although it may be a time of sacrifice and reflection for many Christians, Advent is also a joyful time when people take the opportunity to bake cookies and cakes to ready for the Christmas celebrations ahead. There are several food treats that have become associated with the season. In Germany pfeffernusse (peppernut) cookies are popular, especially on December 6, St. Nicholas Day. Diples is a Greek dessert made by folding and frying thin sheets of dough, which are then dipped in honey or syrup; the folds represent the swaddling clothes that the infant Jesus was wrapped in. See Also: Christianity; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Christmas; Fasting in Christianity; St. Lucia Day Feast

Further Reading “Dresdner Christstollen.” n.d. Schutzverband Dresdner Stollen e.V., http://www.dresdner Hill, C. 2003. Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

African Indigenous Religions Africa is the second largest of Earth’s continents with a huge diversity of habitat, from rain forest to deserts and grasslands to mountains, and equally a tremendous diversity of culture and religious practices. The Sahara desert is a natural barrier between largely Muslim countries to the north and the rest of Africa, where indigenous religions remain strong. The political state of Africa today, with its 54 independent countries, is largely a legacy of colonial times, when the European powers drew lines on the map without heed to ethnic, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. Many African countries only became independent in the last half century or so. Across the continent there are over 3,000 distinct ethnic groups and over 2,000 languages spoken. While all the major world religions are represented, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of groups that follow tribal animist religions, which are in some countries the official state religion. Traditional religions are characterized by spirit worship, ancestor veneration, and a reverence for nature. There are no boundaries between the sacred and the profane, and so religion is not artificially separated from everyday life. People can communicate with spirits, who can bring them good or ill fortune, in various ways, including sacrifice, divination, and the use of mediums. Animal sacrifice is believed to please the gods and offer divine protection and beneficence. Indigenous religions have no single central figure of authority (such as the Catholic pope) and no scriptures. Some are polytheistic, while others are monotheistic. There is no Pan-African dietary norm. While in urban centers food habits may have become increasingly homogenized as a result of the forces of globalization

African Indigenous Religions

| 5

and access to supermarkets carrying products from around the world, in rural areas food choice is still closely linked to local availability. Origins and Historical Development Archaeological and genetic evidence points to Africa as being the origin of humankind. Africa was home to the earliest hominids over 5 million years ago, and the fossil record documents evolutionary development leading to the modern human species, Homo sapiens, in East Africa around 200,000 years ago. According to the generally accepted “out of Africa” hypothesis, about 60,000 years ago humans migrated from their African birthplace and began the long, slow road to establishing a human presence around the world. Animism, which is belief in supernatural spirits, was the religion of the early populations, as it was among prehistoric and early agriculturalist populations everywhere. Traditional belief systems share essentially similar worldviews across the continent, varying in the particularity of their practice from place to place. During the centuries of European exploration and colonization of Africa, Western religions, particularly Christianity, were introduced by missionaries who strove to convert the indigenous population and suppress their traditional religions. From the 15th to the mid-19th centuries, millions of Africans were forcibly removed from their homeland and sold into slavery in European colonies around the world. They took their traditional beliefs with them, and these often survived and took on new forms in the foreign land. Religions such as Candomble, Santeria, and Vodun are examples of African animist traditions being blended with European Christian beliefs. Today Christianity is the largest religion in Africa followed by Islam, which is dominant in North Africa and in Nigeria. Animist religions or syncretist versions thereof thrive throughout Central and Southern Africa. Some of the largest Baha’i populations are found in Africa, and Hinduism also has a strong presence. Demographics Of the 1.2 billion population of Africa, approximately 10 percent follow a traditional animist religion. Many more combine this with another faith practice, making it extremely difficult to estimate true numbers. African Indigenous Tribes (Selected) Central Africa East Africa North Africa Southern Africa West Africa

Bantu, Dinka, Maasai, Nuer Somali, Amhara, Kikuya Berber, Tuareg Zulu, San Bushmen, Xhosa Yoruba, Fon, Fulani, Ibo

Traditional religions are followed by a third of people in the Central African Republic, but animist beliefs also heavily influence the Christian majority. Badimo,

6 | African Indigenous Religions

the traditional religion in Botswana, is practiced by 6 percent of the population. Since 1996 Vodun has been the official religion of Benin. A figure of 1.6 million Vodun practitioners, or 17.3 percent of the population, is reported in the 2002 census, whereas various news reports suggest that 40–70 percent of the 6.3 million population practice Vodun. Ghana (1 million) and Togo (2.5 million) are also centers of Vodun practice (“The World Factbook: Africa; Benin” 2016). Beliefs and Teachings There is a common belief in a supreme creator god who rules over everything and goes by different names in different parts of Africa. Each tribe has a creation myth. Sometimes the creator is worshipped directly and sometimes through intermediaries or spirits. All animists believe in supernatural spirits who intervene in the affairs of humans, for good or bad, and who must be kept happy through the correct performance of rituals. The landscape is populated by gods and spirits who dwell in sacred places such as mountains, caves, or even specific rocks or trees. Animist religion is tied to place and therefore varies in details and ways of expression among different groups. The names of the spirits are different, the way in which communication with the spirits takes place is different, and the expectations that people have of the spirits is different. The Yoruba god is Oludmare. His intermediaries are spirits known as orishas, each of whom is associated with a different activity, such as hunting or harvesting. The Zulu god is Unkulunkulu; a female spirit named Inkosazana, the goddess of agriculture, makes the maize grow and is worshipped in the spring season. Tribal rulers claim descent from the gods that gives them a divine right to the power. Ancestral spirits are another common thread of indigenous African religions. They are usually considered to be benign and play an important role as intermediaries in helping the living communicate with and seek wisdom and advice from the spirit world. Customs and Social Practices Indigenous African religions were and are practical rather than abstract in nature. They are concerned with the here and now and provide their followers with practical rules or guidelines on how to conduct themselves in everyday life. Following the same rules contributes to creating a shared identity and a commitment to the community. The rules frequently include food taboos. Many restrictions apply to pregnant and nursing women and to children. In the West African countries of Ghana and Nigeria village children couldn’t eat eggs, as it was believed that doing so would make them grow up to become thieves. Respect for human dignity and especially elders, family and community life, and hospitality to guests are universally valued, while lying, cheating, and stealing are universally condemned. Life is lived in public, and someone who transgresses does injury not only to themselves but also to the whole community.

African Indigenous Religions

| 7

A Fon woman in Benin makes a libation offering at an ancestral shrine. Libations are an important means of maintaining harmonious relationships in the cosmos. (Black Star/Alamy Stock Photo)

Ritual and Ceremony Often tied to the seasonal cycle, ceremonies and rituals are occasions to honor gods and spirits and seek their protection or beneficence. Their purpose is to maintain a good relationship between people and the spirit world. The most common elements of such rituals are sacrifice, the pouring of libations, and the offering of favorite foods. Sacrifice entails giving up something of value in return for the blessing, aid, or protection of the gods. Blood sacrifices of animals or birds may be offered regularly or only on special occasions. The Dinkas of South Sudan sacrifice cattle, their most precious possession, at important times of the year, such as the beginning of the rainy season or harvest time. Each Yoruba deity was associated with a specific animal that was offered in sacrificial rites. Osun, the river goddess, receives goats and fowl, while Ogun, the god of iron, receives dogs. A libation is a drink that is poured onto the ground for ritual purposes. Milk, water, wine, beer, and spirits are the most common, though blood is sometimes used. The earth is the source of life-giving food, so pouring a drink on the ground is an act of thanks for this sustenance. Help may be sought from specific spirits, in which case they are named as the libation is poured. Offering food to the spirits is a common animist practice, and what is offered will vary from place to place according to local availability and custom. Usually

8 | African Indigenous Religions

food for the spirits is of superior quality as a way of showing respect. The food is not wasted; once fed to the spirits, it is available to share among the people. To avoid the displeasure of unfriendly spirits that inhabited the local woods and rivers, Bugandan villagers would from time to time leave food offerings to appease them. At family shrines, coffee beans were part of regular offerings to preserve the goodwill of ancestral spirits. Sacrifices of chickens and goats might accompany ceremonies to seek blessings for new endeavors such as building a new dwelling. The hunter-gatherer Bachwa pygmies of the Democratic Republic of the Congo made offerings of meat, fruit, and honey to their god in the belief that failure to do so would result in the pygmies becoming sick and unable to catch any more animals. Rites of passage are marked and celebrated in diverse ways. Three days after the birth of a child, the Akambas celebrate by sacrificing a goat as part of a naming ceremony for the new life. At contemporary Bugandan weddings, roasted coffee beans and drinks are exchanged to seal the new kin relationship, and a feast is held. Death customs among many African tribes are intended to help the deceased make the journey to the land of the ancestors, to live in peace and not return to haunt or harm the living. To provide comfort in the journey food offerings are made, and the deceased’s eating utensils may be buried alongside the body. In some communities a ritual animal sacrifice is made to the ancestors; the spilling of blood is believed to

Yoruba Naming Ceremony At Nigerian Yoruba naming ceremonies the infant is presented with foods that symbolize wishes for the future. The foods may be rubbed on the infant’s lips or tasted instead by the mother. Food


Pepper Its many-seeded fruit represents a wish for fertility and lots of children. To add flavor to life. Salt Kola nut The nut is chewed and then spat out, symbolizing ejection of evil from life. Bitter kola Its long-lasting properties represent a wish for long life. Palm oil Smooths the course of life. Symbolizes a sweet and happy life. Honey Dried fish The fish is master of its natural environment in all conditions, fair or foul; it represents a wish that the child will be resilient in the face of adversity. Water Since water is essential to life, it has no enemies. It symbolizes a life free from thirst and from enemies. Source: “Yoruba Naming Ceremony,” HornBlend, -naming-ceremony-isomo-loruko/.

Agape Feast

| 9

prevent further misfortunes. The hide of the slaughtered animal may be used to cover the coffin or the body itself. See Also: Animism; Australian Aboriginal Religion; Candomble; North American Indigenous Religions; Santeria; Vodun

Further Reading Olupona, J. K. 2014. African Religions: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Opoku, K. A., T. Davis, and A. Shahada. n.d. “Religion in Africa and the Diaspora.” African Belief, Osseo-Asare, F. 2005. Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa. Westport, CT: Greenwood. “The World Factbook: Africa; Benin.” 2016. Central Intelligence Agency, https://www.cia .gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bn.html.

Agape Feast An agape feast, also known as a love feast, is a religious meal shared as a symbol of love and fellowship among Christians. It gets its name from the Greek word agapae, meaning “selfless love,” and embodies the central commandment of Jesus, the Christian prophet, to love God and love one’s neighbor. Among early Christians the daily agape feast was open to all and consisted of a communal meal followed by celebration of the Eucharist, at which consecrated bread and wine were consumed to commemorate Christ’s Last Supper. During the second and third centuries the church began separating the agape feast from the Eucharist, and eventually the communal love feast fell into disuse. In the 18th and 19th centuries, some Christian sects including the Moravian, Methodist, and Brethren Churches revived the love feast. The Brethren in Christ Church, founded by German settlers in rural Pennsylvania, held love feasts each spring and fall. The two-day event was a major undertaking that required months of planning, the provision of food, and accommodation for hundreds of guests. The feast involved preaching and the giving of personal testimonies as well as the sharing of a communal meal, followed by celebration of the Eucharist. Love feast menus typically included hearty local fare such as bread, meat, cheese, homemade soups, fruit, potatoes, beets, coffee, and desserts. Prior to the meal, participants washed each other’s feet as a sign of humility in imitation of the biblical account of Christ washing his disciples feet at the Last Supper (John 13:1–11). The love feast tradition is still observed by the Church of the Brethren, the United Methodist Church, and the Moravian Church. Brethren practice incorporates the three components of foot washing, a communal meal, and the Eucharist, while in the Moravian Church sweet buns with tea, coffee, or lemonade are served to congregations as part of the service. The United Methodist Book of Worship


| Ahimsa provides guidance for a love feast celebration as an occasional service: simple food such as bread, crackers, or sweet rolls and water or tea and coffee are quietly served while prayers and scripture readings proceed. The spirit of love feasts can also be seen in the modern church supper that continues to celebrate Christian fellowship through sharing food. Charitable organizations such as the Agape Table in Winnipeg, Canada, honor the tradition in a nonreligious context by offering food and fellowship, especially to the homeless and marginalized of society. See Also: Christianity; Church Suppers; Eucharist; Feasting in Christianity; Last Supper; Moravians

Further Reading “Agape Table.” n.d. Agape Table, Lee, H. O. 2011. “Commensality and Love Feast: The Agape Meal in the Late Nineteenthand Early Twentieth-Century Brethren in Christ Church.” In Food and Faith in Christian Culture, edited by K. Albala and T. Eden, 147–170. New York: Columbia University Press. Stutzman, P. F. 2011. Recovering the Love Feast. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock. UMPH Methodist Publication. 1992. United Methodist Book of Worship. Nashville: Official Products of the UMPH.

Ahimsa Central to Jain religious doctrine is the concept of noninjury, or ahimsa. The word “ahimsa” is derived from the Sanskrit word himsa, which means “harm.” Ahimsa is therefore nonharm. In the Jain symbol, the hand with a wheel on the palm represents nonviolence; the word “ahimsa” is written in the center. Ahimsa was a core principle of early Jainism and was promoted during the Jain revival in the sixth century BCE partly as a reaction to what was seen as laxity in the practices of Hinduism and Buddhism. The concept of ahimsa is articulated in the Akaranga Sutra, a Jain scripture written in the fifth or fourth century BCE that outlines rules for Jain monks: “all breathing, existing, living, sentient creatures should not be slain, nor treated with violence, nor abused, nor tormented, nor driven away. This is the pure, unchangeable, eternal law, which the clever ones, who understand the world, have declared” (Jacobi 1884). Mahavira, the great Jain teacher, said that “[t]here is no quality of soul more subtle than nonviolence and no virtue of spirit greater than reverence for life.” Putting ahimsa into practice thus means avoiding harm to all living beings, a requirement that leads to extraordinary preventive practices by Jain monks. Jains believe that air, earth, and water are teeming with thousands of minuscule life forms. To avoid inadvertently inhaling airborne organisms, Jain monks and nuns wear masks over their mouths and noses, strain their drinking water through fine muslin, and carry a brush to sweep the earth


| 11

before sitting or lying down so as to not crush insects. Often Jains will not go out at night, as they may tread on insects they cannot see in the dark. Honey is not eaten, as Jains believe that this does violence to the bees. Jains believe in karma— that is, the idea that the consequences of one’s actions have an impact on what happens later in one’s life or in future reincarnations. To hurt a living creature creates bad karma; the higher the life form of the creature harmed, the greater the negative karma accumulated. It is virtually impossible for anyone to refrain from all acts of injury and harm. While Jain monks take the “great vows” of reverence for all life, it is recognized that this is not a standard everyone can adhere to. Laypeople take the “lesser vows.” This still means strict vegetarianism that goes well beyond not eating meat to include minimizing harm even to plants by harvesting only that which will not kill the plant. Root vegetables, including onions and garlic, are thus avoided, as are mushrooms on which small creatures may be living. Jain dietary principles are echoed in modern fruitarian dietary philosophies. Although diet is perhaps the aspect of life most affected by belief in ahimsa, there are other implications too. Jains will not wear products, such as cloth or leather, made from animals. Jains do not commonly pursue certain occupations such as the military, forestry, agriculture, or trade involving animal products where there is opportunity for harm. For Jains the practice of ahimsa also means engaging in positive virtues such as promoting tolerance, giving to charity, and demonstrating compassion. To spare animals from ill treatment and suffering, Jains may purchase livestock at markets and then raise them in freedom and security. Jains operate animal shelters throughout India and also some bird hospitals.

Jain Bird Hospital The centuries-old Red Jain Temple stands opposite the Red Fort in the India capital city of Delhi. In 1956 a charitable bird hospital was founded as part of the temple building complex. It has separate wards for different species of birds, different illnesses, and postsurgery recovery.There is even an intensive care unit for seriously injured birds as well as research facilities for studying bird disease.With a capacity of 10,000 birds, the hospital receives around 65 new patients every day suffering from malnutrition or diseases or injured in accidents. About 30,000 sick and wounded birds are treated every year, and each Saturday those that successfully recover are set free. They are never returned to the care of owners where they would be confined. Dead birds are cremated on the banks of the nearby Jamuna River. While the most common patients are pigeons, parrots, and budgerigars, there are also birds of prey that are, of course, kept in separate quarters. A mural in the hospital depicts the legend of a king who, in order to save his most beloved pigeon from an eagle, cut off his own hand and leg to offer in exchange. The eagle turned out to be a god who was impressed with the king’s devotion and restored him to wholeness. In 2010 the Indian postal service issued a stamp depicting the hospital with a pigeon and a sparrow in the foreground.


| Airline Food Importantly, ahimsa goes beyond physical actions; the concept of noninjury also extends to words and thoughts. To wish harm to anyone, including an enemy, or to desire retribution is himsa. Similarly, to ask or encourage others to do harm is himsa. The ethical foundations of ahimsa are found in early Hindu scriptures, and the idea evolved over the centuries. The instruction not to injure anything is found in the Rig Veda by 500 BCE. While early scriptures describe the practice of animal sacrifice, the concept of ahimsa is gradually extended to include nonhumans. In the Hindu epic the Mahabharata, ahimsa is portrayed as the highest of moral virtues. However, there were debates over how, when, and to whom the concept applied. For example, exceptions were allowed for ritual animal sacrifice and for hunters. In modern times similar debates consider whether the principle of ahimsa allows for the concept of a just war. Motivation is a major factor in determining whether an action is himsa or ahimsa. For example, an act of violence such as defending one’s family or country from an aggressor that is taken without thought of personal gain and that is not done with the intent of causing unnecessary harm to the enemy is considered ahimsa. The Jain religion enforces ahimsa much more rigorously than in Hinduism, not allowing exceptions for animal sacrifice or for hunters, though it concurs with Hinduism in allowing legitimate use of force for defense of self (except in the case of monks) or the community and in the maintenance of armies. Buddhists share the moral principle of ahimsa. Abstaining from taking life is one of the five core precepts of Buddhism. While Mahayana Buddhists are strict vegetarians, others are allowed to eat meat so long as it was not specifically killed for them. Theravada Buddhism emphasizes intent as the key ethical issue. The concept of ahimsa in particular had a great influence on Mahatma Gandhi (1869–1948), who in the first half of the 20th century employed it as a powerful practical tool for social and political change in bringing about Indian independence. The European humanitarian Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) was also strongly influenced by the Jain concept of ahimsa. See Also: Animal Slaughter; Buddhism; Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand; Hinduism; Jainism; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Ahimsa: Non-Violence. 2002. Directed by M. Tobias. Direct Cinema Limited, DVD. Dundas, Paul. 2002. The Jains. 2nd ed. London: Wiley. Jacobi, H. 1884. Jaina Sutras Part 1, edited by F. M. Muller. Oxford: Clarendon. Walters, K. S., and L. Portmess. 2001. Religion Vegetarianism: From Hesiod to the Dalai Lama. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Airline Food The first airline meal, a lunchbox sandwich, was served on a London to Paris flight in 1919. By the 1930s pioneering passenger airlines, competing with ships and

Airline Food

| 13

trains, began providing food and drink to passengers as part of their hospitality service. Despite the many challenges, such as space and weight limitations and the absence of dining tables, some airlines managed to provide restaurant-prepared meals that had been kept warm. Flight kitchens were built in major airports so that airlines could exercise more quality control, and in 1936 United Airlines installed the first onboard kitchen. Improvements in postwar plane technology included tray tables and onboard electrical galley equipment, and meals were often served on china plates with silverware. The introduction of precooked frozen meals made in-flight meal service much more efficient. Airline food service varies by airline, route, and passenger class and covers the full spectrum from bring-your-own food to snacks, everyday meals, and elaborate gourmet dinners. At altitude sense of taste is blunted, so many airlines feature salty and spicy dishes. In recent years a number of airlines have recruited celebrity chefs to help them improve their meal offerings. Serving food is a form of hospitality but also serves to mark the passage of time on long flights and from a practical point of view helps keep passengers in their seats. Even at 30,000 feet above the ground, meals must meet the religious and health requirements of passengers from around the world. Recognizing that many passengers have special food needs, such as therapeutic diets and allergen sensitivities as well as religious requirements, many airlines allow for the preordering of special meals. Through booking agents and airline websites, passengers are offered the opportunity to select a meal that meets their dietary and religious needs. Common offerings include vegetarian and nonvegetarian Hindu and Muslim choices, kosher meals, and sometimes Jain vegetarian meals. In many instances a carefully designed meal may be suitable for several different religious groups. Most airlines contract their food services to specialist companies, some of which service multiple world airlines. To help reassure people in their choices, airlines may describe their special meals in detail, as in this Jain vegetarian option offered by Emirates airlines: This meal is for members of the Jain community who are pure vegetarians. It is prepared with a selection of Indian condiments. It contains one or more of these ingredients: fresh fruit and stem vegetables that grow above the ground. It does NOT contain: animal products and by-products, and any root vegetables such as onions, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, etc. On any flight the regular meal choices available to passengers reflect airlines’ perception of what food and meals are typical and acceptable for the majority of their passengers. This is based on normative cultural patterns of eating. For airlines based in countries where there is a normative dominant religion, the cuisine offered to all passengers will automatically meet religious requirements. Thus, on airlines based in Muslim countries such as Iran Air, Malaysia Airlines, Emirates, Saudia, and Gulf Air, all food offered is certified halal, and pork and alcohol are not offered. Flights by any airline into or out of Iran and Saudia Arabia are not permitted to serve pork or alcohol. Air India offers Hindu and Muslim choices, while El Al, the Israeli airline, offers strict kosher (glatt kosher) meat, fish, and vegetarian options. Kitchens where these meals are prepared are supervised by rabbis and have kashrut certification. For airlines serving global routes, this is not plausible.


| Airline Food

IATA Meal Codes The International Air Transport Association (IATA) identifies codes for various aspects of airline operations that are meant to be used universally so as to minimize confusion. Meal codes are one example. While some are identified as meeting specific religious dietary requirements, others are culturally oriented but may also be suitable choices for religious purposes. Religious meal choices are highlighted in the list below. AVML—Asian Vegetarian Meal BBML—Baby Meal CAKE—Birthday Cake BLML—Bland Meal CHML—Children Meal CLML—Celebration Cake Meal DBML—Diabetic Meal FPML—Fruit Platter Meal GFML—Gluten Intolerant Meal HFML—High Fibre Meal HNML—Hindu Nonvegetarian Meal OBML—Japanese Obento Meal JPML—Japanese Meal JNML—Junior Meal KSML—Kosher Meal KSMLS—Kosher Meal (Snack) LCML—Low Calorie Meal LFML—Low Fat Meal NBML—No Beef Meal NFML—No Fish Meal NLML—No Lactose Meal LPML—Low Protein Meal PRML—Low Purine Meal LSML—Low Salt Meal MOML—Muslim Meal ORML—Oriental Meal PFML—Peanut Free Meal RFML—Refugee Meal SFML—Seafood Meal SPML—Special Meal, Specify Food VJML—Vegetarian Jain Meal VLML—Vegetarian Lacto-ovo Meal VOML—Vegetarian Oriental Meal RVML—Vegetarian Raw Meal VVML—Vegetarian Vegan Meal


| 15

Passengers must have confidence that the meals offered genuinely meet the standards of religious acceptability. If they do not, passengers may choose not to eat on the plane or to take their own food. Airlines rely on in-house or contract food-services companies to meet standards, both for the ingredients of meals and the method of preparation and storage. Airline food services are also heavily regulated to meet food safety standards. Through tray audits, feedback from cabin crew, and surveys and focus groups with passengers, airlines strive to provide a food service that will meet passenger needs. See Also: Food Certification, Islam; Food Certification, Jewish; Halal Food; Hospital Food; Kashrut; School Food

Further Reading “Airline Meal Codes.” n.d. Airline Meals, Airline Meals. Deutsch, J. 2007. “Airline Food.” In The Business of Food, edited by G. Allen and K. Albala, 22–25. Westport, CT: Greenwood. “Dietary Requirements.” n.d. Emirages, /essential_information/dietary_requirements.aspx. Fieldhouse, P. 1995. Food and Nutrition: Customs and Culture. 2nd ed. Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Thornes.

Alcohol The word “alcohol” comes from the Arabic al kuhul, which refers to kohl, the fine metallic powder used to darken eyelids. Alcohol originally meant powdered cosmetic and wasn’t used to mean intoxicating liquor until the 18th century. Chemically, alcohol is any organic compound that contains a hydroxyl group. It includes substances that are used for purposes such as solvents and disinfectants. The type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages is ethanol, produced during the fermentation of yeast. Alcoholic beverages have been made for millennia, with documented examples of beer making dating from 3500 BCE in Mesopotamia, although the practice is probably much older. The ancient Egyptians also brewed beer and produced wine. In China there is documented evidence of alcohol making from around 1300 BCE, though again it is probably a much older practice. In these three civilizations, beer and wine were used in ancestor worship and other rituals. There are contrasting attitudes toward alcohol among the world’s religions. One perspective is that alcohol clouds judgment, lessens self-control, and is inimical to bodily health. It is therefore to be avoided at all times. This is the case in Jainism, Islam, the Baha’i faith, Rastafarianism, Seventh-day Adventism, and Mormonism. A promise to abstain from the use, manufacture, or sale of alcoholic beverages is part of the baptismal vow taken by Seventh-day Adventists. Baha’is should not drink or serve alcohol and should if possible avoid employment that brings them into contact


| Alcohol with alcohol. The 19th-century Presbyterian preacher Sylvester Graham included alcohol avoidance in his prescription for a wholesome body and soul and for the leading of a righteous life. Alcohol is forbidden to Sikhs who have been initiated into the khalsa. For Muslims, alcohol is a halal, or forbidden, substance. This can pose a challenge in the modern food supply, where alcohol is an ingredient in food products such as vanilla extract. Contrary to majority Muslim practice, Sufi interpretations of the Qur’anic verses concerning alcohol mean that wine is not prohibited. The physical intoxication caused by drinking wine is used as a metaphor for the spiritual intoxication of letting go of one’s personal identity and achieving unity with God. In addition to ascribing negative effects of alcohol on the minds and bodies of individual believers, some faiths draw attention to its destructive influence on the wider society, citing violence, family breakdown, and drunk driving leading to injury and death as examples. The Baha’i faith is strong on this, and it is a view reflected in the position of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, which concludes that “for the sake of others, do not drink.” Other religions counsel moderation regarding alcohol consumption. Zoroastrianism permits the use of alcohol, as does Judaism and Christianity.

Monastic Beer The oldest brewery in the world is at the Weihenstephan Benedictine monastery in Bavaria, Germany. Beer was brewed there as early as the eighth century CE, and an official license to brew and sell beer was granted in 1040 CE. The Rule of St. Benedict said that monks should not accept charity but instead should live by the fruits of their own labors. Brewing and selling beer became an important source of income for the monks. Beer was a substitute for wine, forbidden during Lent, and there was even a special beer brewed for Lent by the Paulaner monks, who were not allowed to consume solid foods during Lent; first brewed between 1730 and 1770, it was a strong doppelbock called Salvator, or “Holy Father Beer,” and was styled as a liquid bread that wouldn’t break the fast. The Trappists, a strict monastic order that led a return to Benedictine austerity in the late 17th century, became renowned for beer brewing, which continues to this day.The International Trappist Association is a nonprofit association of 20 monasteries of the Cistercian Order of Strict Observance, commonly known as Trappists and Trappistines (female Trappists). They produce food and drink products that provide income for supporting themselves and the monastery buildings and grounds. Eleven Trappist beers carry the “Authentic Trappist Product” label, which covers the following guarantees: • • • •

The beer is brewed within the walls of a Trappist monastery, either by the monks themselves or under their supervision. The brewery is run by business practices proper to a monastic way of life. The brewery is a not-for-profit venture. Anything surplus to the needs of living expenses and maintenance is donated to charity. The beers are subject to quality monitoring.

Six of the breweries are in Belgium, two are in the Netherlands, and one each exists in Austria, Italy, and the United States (at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts).


| 17

Notwithstanding this, among Christians many Baptists are teetotalers and oppose the use of alcohol, or at least drunkenness. Methodists are strongly encouraged but not required to be abstainers. Jehovah’s Witnesses take a similar view, as do Quakers and some Mennonites. Buddhism does not prohibit alcohol but recommends moderation. Hinduism takes a similar view. In the Hindu threefold division of food, alcohol is a tamasic substance, one that is associated with ignorance, staleness, and loss of self-control. Some Hindu sects, such as the Hare Krishnas, do reject the use of alcohol. Some religions use alcohol as part of religious rituals. For Christians, wine is an integral part of the ritual of the Eucharist, in which wine represents or (for Roman Catholics and orthodox denominations) actually becomes the blood of Christ. Wine is part of the Jewish blessing (kiddush) said at Sabbath services and at festive occasions. At the Jewish Passover meal, four glasses of wine are drunk at specific points during the reading of the Haggadah, the story of the ancient Israelites’ escape from bondage in Egypt. In many indigenous religious traditions, alcohol was offered to the gods in the form of a libation, poured onto the earth. In Bolivia, in either casual or ritual settings, the first drop of alcohol is tipped or sprinkled on the ground as an offering to Pachamama, the earth mother. Sake, a fermented rice wine, is used in Shinto purification rituals; bottles of sake are left on altars as offerings to the kami spirits. Shinto priests are often hired to carry out a

Bottles of sake donated by worshipers are displayed at a Shinto shrine. The sake is used for rituals and ceremonies conducted by the Shinto priests. Sake manufacturers also commonly donate barrels of sake. (Jens Tobiska/


| All Saints’ Day ceremony known as jijinsai before the construction of a new building commences. Sake is poured on the ground in a libation prior to construction to pacify the gods of the earth. As part of rituals at the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, alcohol is offered to please the adult spirits. Bottles of alcohol also form part of Vodun temple offerings. Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with relaxation, sociability, and some health benefits. Excessive alcohol consumption poses a health danger to individual drinkers and has negative effects in the broader society, where it is associated with disruptive relationships, violence, and death—for example, through drunk driving. Several studies have indicated a negative association between religiosity and alcohol use. They suggest that those who are more religious are likely to drink less frequently and have fewer alcohol-related problems. See Also: Baha’i Faith and Alcohol; Day of the Dead; Eucharist; Passover; Shinto; Vodun; Wine

Further Reading Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. 2013. Alcohol and the Ministry. Mississauga, Ontario: Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Porche, M. V., L. R. Fortuna, A. Wachholtz, and R. T. Stone. 2015. “Distal and Proximal Religiosity as Protective Factors for Adolescent and Emerging Adult Alcohol Use.” Religions 6: 365–384. “Trappist Beers.” n.d. The International Trappist Association, /pages/trappist-beers. Universal House of Justice. 1982. Guidelines on the Serving of Alcohol Drinks by Bahá’ís and Bahá’í Institutions. Haifa: Universal House of Justice.

All Saints’ Day Throughout the Christian church year hundreds of saints days are celebrated in different parts of the world. Some, such as Saint Patrick, are well known, others less so; however, on November 1 the day is dedicated to all saints, known and unknown. The veneration of saints is predominantly a Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian practice, but some Protestant churches including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and the United Church of Canada also observe All Saints’ Day. The day was originally known as All Martyrs’ Day or All Hallows’ Day. In the early Christian church martyrs were commemorated on the anniversary of their death. As the number of martyrs grew, a single day was set aside for venerating all. The day may have originally been in May but was fixed for November 1 by Pope Gregory III in the mid-eighth century. A hundred years later in 837 CE, Pope Gregory IV made All Saints’ Day a holy day of obligation. While the Western church observes All Saints’ Day on November 1, the Eastern Orthodox Church

All Saints’ Day

| 19

celebrates it on the Sunday after Pentecost. It is a national public holiday in some Catholic countries but not in the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. All Souls’ Day follows All Saints’ Day, and together they are known as Hallowtide. The eve of All Saints’ Day is known as Halloween. All Saints’ Day is a solemnity in the Catholic Church. It is an occasion to honor all the saints who don’t have their own saints’ day and is an opportunity to make up for any negligence in saints’ day observations during the year. In Eastern Orthodox services special prayers are offered to the saints, accompanied by hymns and scriptural readings. In Protestant traditions, all Christians are saints; the day is therefore dedicated to remembering the whole church and particularly deceased members of the local congregation. It is common in Hispanic and many Catholic European countries (especially France) for people to take flowers to cemeteries and light candles or lanterns at the graveside of deceased relatives, sometimes traveling long distances to do so. There may be a procession and a service led by a priest, and some people keep all-night vigils. This is also the case in parts of the United States, notably Louisiana, where there are large Catholic, Cajun, and Creole populations. In Warsaw, a chewy pinkand-white homemade candy called Pan´ska Skórka (lord’s crusts, or skin) is sold at the entrance to cemeteries on All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. This hundred-yearold tradition is specific to Warsaw and is unknown in other parts of Poland. In 2008 the Ministry of Agriculture gave it the status of a traditional Polish regional product. All Saints cakes made of braided strands of sweet dough are a favorite treat throughout Central Europe. In Germany they are called Heiligenstriezel and are given as a gift to a godchild to symbolize closeness and attachment. Poland has strucel swiateczne, and Hungary has mindszenti kalácska. However, it is in Spain that traditional sweets and confectionaries are truly a hallmark of All Saints’ Day. There are several countrywide popular treats and regional specialities that are usually available in bakeries after mid-October. The most popular All Saints sweets, consumed throughout Spain, are huesos de santo and bunuelos. Around 400,000 kilograms are sold in Madrid alone. Huesos de santos, literally translated as “saints’ bones,” have been made since at least the 17th century. They are made from a marzipan dough fashioned into hollow tubes and filled with sweetened egg yolk. Modern variations include sweet squash or sweet potato fillings or flavors such as chocolate, lemon, and strawberry. Bunuelos are a less sweet and less costly alternative to huesos de santos and can easily be made at home. Dough balls made from flour, butter, and eggs and frequently filled with cream or honey, they puff up when they are deep-fried in oil. Regional specialities include Catalan Almond Sweets (paneletts) that are made from finely ground almonds mixed with a sugar syrup, lemon peel, and mashed potato. They are rolled into balls and rolled in or dusted with pine nuts, cocoa powder, or coconut flakes before baking. An Andalusian speciality is pestinos, made with flour, sugar, and olive oil and flavored with lemon or sherry. The dough is folded before frying. Gachas de leche are dumplings made from flour, milk, and honey and flavored with lemon, cinnamon, or anise. They are served covered with milk. In the province of Extremadura, dulce


| All Saints’ Day

Huesos de santo, or saints bones, are marzipan rolls stuffed with sweetened egg yolk. Large quantities of these colorful confectionaries are consumed throughout Spain on All Saints’ Day. (Juan Moyano/

de membrillo (a sweet firm quince jelly) is commonly eaten with toasted chestnuts or other nuts. All Saints’ Day is observed throughout Latin America as part of Day of the Dead celebrations. Fiambre is a Guatemalan cold meat, egg, and vegetable salad made only for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. It may have up to 50 ingredients, and families spend long hours together chopping vegetables and preparing their own family recipe. Fiambre originated with the practice of families taking deceased relatives’ favorite foods to the cemetery on All Saints’ Day. Over time, the many separate items were shared and then mixed to create a single dish. Each family has its traditional recipe passed down through the generations, and it is customary to share the fiambres with other cemetery visitors. See Also: All Souls’ Day; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Day of the Dead; Feasting in Christianity; Halloween; Roman Catholicism

Further Reading “Catholic Activity: Feasts of All Saints and All Souls.” n.d. Catholic Culture, http://www Hutton, R. 1996. Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. New York: Oxford Paperbacks.

All Souls’ Day

| 21

Livingstone, E. A., ed. 1997. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. “Saintly Sweets: Traditional Spanish Confections of All Saints Day.” n.d. Food from Spain,,9459,35868_6908150 _6917901_4530349_0,00.html.

All Souls’ Day All Souls’ Day is a Christian holy day that follows immediately Halloween and All Saints’ Day. All Souls’ Day is observed by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches and by some Anglican and Protestant denominations. A special day to honor all souls was first introduced at the French monastery of Cluny in 993 CE. It quickly spread throughout the Christian world, although in medieval Europe celebrations were often combined with All Saints’ Day. All Souls’ Day is observed in different ways by different churches and in different parts of the world. The Western church observes All Souls’ Day on November 2. In the Catholic Church it is officially called the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed and is a holy day of obligation. For Anglicans it is an optional observance, and while it is not sanctioned as a religious observance by Protestant churches it persists as a popular custom. In the Eastern Orthodox Church instead of one day in November there are several soul Saturdays celebrated throughout the year, particularly around Lent. In Mexico and some other countries it is part of Day of the Dead. It is a public holiday in a number of Latin American countries but not in the United States. All Souls’ Day is a time to remember all the departed, not just relatives and ancestors, and to offer prayers on their behalf. It is linked to the Catholic concept of Purgatory (a place where souls await final purification before admission to Heaven), and prayers and rituals are designed to help these souls move on. Protestants do not believe in Purgatory, hence the differences in practice. While customs vary in detail, in most places where All Souls’ Day is celebrated it involves three elements: prayers for deceased souls, visits to gravesides, and special foods. In Italy the day begins early, with church bells summoning people to a Mass for the dead. People dress in black and visit churchyards and cemeteries to decorate graves with flowers and lanterns or candles. In many parts of Europe and Latin America food is prepared and left for the souls, either in the home or at the graveside. A Roman custom is the announcement of engagements on this day. The man sends his fiancée an engagement ring in a white box packed in an oval container and surrounded by fave dei morti. These “beans of the dead” are actually small beanshaped almond cakes that are usually white, pink, or chocolate colored. Fave dei morti are popular throughout Italy for anyone to eat on this day. All Souls’ Day in Sicily is celebrated with gusto. Children who have prayed for the souls of deceased relatives during the year anticipate being rewarded on November 2 with gifts of sweets and toys from beyond the grave. They leave shoes to be filled with gifts or have to hunt through the house for hidden gifts. Sicilian shops are filled with dolls


| Amish made of candy and sometimes dressed in elaborate costumes representing fairy-tale and historical characters. Another specialty of the Palermo region is frutta martorana. These are marzipan sweets that are shaped and colored to look like fruit. Soul Cakes An old British custom at Hallowtide was the giving of soul cakes to the poor. These were usually small round flat cakes with raisins and spices, marked on top with a cross. In return for cakes the recipient would offer prayers for the donor’s dead relatives. It was believed that prayers would help the souls move on from Purgatory to Heaven. By the 19th century, with the official religious purpose long obsolete, it was mainly children who would go souling. They visited houses, where they were given soul cakes, apples, and perhaps money. This is one of many variations of a traditional song that was sung: A soul, a soul, a soul cake. Please good missus a soul cake. An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry, Any good thing to make us merry. Up with your kettles and down with your pans Give us an answer and we’ll be gone Little Jack, Jack sat on his gate Crying for butter to butter his cake One for St. Peter, two for St. Paul, Three for the man who made us all. Bye-Gones: Relating to Wales & the Border Country, 1889–1890 (Oswestry and Wrexham, UK: Woodall, Minshall, n.d.), 253. See Also: All Saints’ Day; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Day of the Dead; Halloween

Further Reading “Catholic Activity: Feasts of All Saints and All Souls.” n.d. Catholic Culture, http://www Hutton, R. 1996. Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. New York: Oxford Paperbacks. Parasecoli, F. 2004. Food Culture in Italy. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Amish The Amish are a communal living Christian protestant sect best known for their simple lifestyles, distinctive appearance, and use of horse and buggy instead of motorized transport. Descended from European German and Swiss roots, they are sometimes erroneously known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Amish communities are


| 23

found only in the United States and in one Canadian province. The Amish emerged as a result of religious disagreements among protestant Anabaptist groups in Europe toward the end of the 17th century. Jakob Ammann (1656–1730) led a conservative group who became known as Amish, or Amish Mennonites. Amish settlers came to America from German-speaking Switzerland in the early 1700s to escape persecution for their views on separating church and government. They settled in Pennsylvania, hence the name “Pennsylvania Dutch” (“Dutch” being a misunderstanding of the word Deutsch, meaning “German”). Another wave of Amish immigrants arrived from Europe in the 19th century, bringing more liberal ideas and practices, and eventually the church split into several subgroups varying in their degree of conservatism. The largest, who follow the original teachings of Jakob Ammann, are known as the Old Order Amish. Demographics Estimates of the Amish population are complicated by the fact that younger people are not considered Amish until they have been rebaptized in their teens or early 20s. The 2012 population count for the 456 U.S. and Canadian settlements was 251,000 (Caldwell); for 2014, the Young Center gives a figure of 290,100. While many other minority religious groups have dispersed or disappeared over time, the Amish population is actually growing at a faster rate than the general U.S. population and has more than doubled in the past 15 years. This is due to the large size of Amish families and the fact that relatively few choose to leave the community. Between 2008 and 2013 no fewer that 59 new settlements were founded to meet the need for productive farmland to support the growing population. In 2014 there were 465 Amish communities located in 30 U.S. states, mostly in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, that together represent two-thirds of the total U.S. Amish population. There are also 15 Amish settlements in the province of Ontario in Canada. Beliefs and Teachings Amish share most Christian beliefs but place more importance on faith in practice than on doctrine. They seek to live their lives according to Jesus’s teaching and are guided in everyday life by principles of humility, simplicity, obedience, and hard work. Acting on the biblical instruction “be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2), Amish live in community, keeping themselves separate from the outside world. The Amish are Anabaptists; they reject infant baptism in favor of voluntary baptism at the time when a person reaches adolescence and can make a conscious decision whether or not to remain in the faith. Customs and Social Practices The Amish are committed to simple living and do not use (or strictly limit) modern technology including televisions, phones, and computers, which are felt to be disruptive to a sense of community. Homes generally do not have electricity, but farm


| Amish buildings do, so that food safety regulations can be met. Rules on what is permitted differ between communities. Amish people are instantly recognizable in their attire of black shirt and pants, suspenders, and wide-brimmed straw hats for men and plain long-sleeved dresses, aprons, and bonnets or caps for women. Amish do not own cars, using horse-drawn buggies for transport. Outsiders cannot marry into the community, but Amish do marry into other Amish communities. It is important to have a large family. There are strict rules of conduct in a community, and anyone breaking them may be shunned. The Amish are pacifists and therefore conscientious objectors. They do not participate in state social security or schooling. Many Amish communities have a one-room schoolhouse where children are taught up to grade eight, at which time they are deemed to be schooled sufficiently and ready for work. Amish do interact with the outside world as necessary, such as buying items they do not themselves produce. They also sell their own products, including food, to others—either from a community store or at country markets. While farming is the main occupation, more and more Amish are involved in businesses such as furniture making, leatherwork, and quilting. Increasingly Amish find jobs outside of the community, such as in business or construction. Ritual and Ceremony Baptism is an important ritual in Amish communities. Young adults, usually between the ages of 18 and 22, commit themselves through baptism to lifelong dedication to the faith. If they choose not to be baptized they are free to leave the community. Church services are held every other Sunday, hosted in someone’s home on a rotating basis. The service includes prayers, Bible readings, and a sermon; hymns are sung in German and without any musical accompaniment. A Communion service is held twice a year in the spring and autumn. It lasts for several hours and in addition to the religious ceremony includes a shared meal. Weddings usually take place in the fall and are held at the home of the bride. The wedding service is a simple affair, and there is no exchange of rings. After the wedding ceremony there is a large feast, which usually requires several sittings to feed everyone. Birthdays are celebrated with cards, gifts, and a birthday cake. Christian holidays including Christmas and Easter are observed. Food Practices There are no dietary prohibitions that restrict what Amish may eat. Alcohol may be consumed in moderate quantities. Amish food might be described as plain and hearty, with plenty of meat and dairy products. Many dishes derive from old German or Swiss recipes. Some examples include pork chops with sauerkraut and potatoes, chicken potpie, cabbage casserole, meatballs and gravy, and bologna. Scrapple is a meatloaf made of pork scraps, offal, and corn mush that is thinly sliced and pan-fried. It is made particularly at hog-slaughtering time and served as a breakfast dish. Chowchow is a pickled vegetable relish side dish. Amish friendship bread is made from a sourdough starter that historically relied on airborne

Ancient Mediterranean Religions

| 25

yeast for fermentation. A portion of the starter is passed on from friend to friend, each of whom feeds and grows the starter before in turn passing a portion on. Fruit pies and tarts are popular desserts. Shoofly pie (made with molasses) and schnitz pie (made from dried apples) are specialties in the Lancaster County area of Pennsylvania. Fastnacht, or Amish doughnuts, are a specialty prepared on Shrove Tuesday, before Lent begins. Mashed potato is mixed in the batter so the doughnuts are kept moist. They are served with black coffee to dip in. After the Sunday church service a lunch is served, usually in sittings with older adults eating first and with men and women at separate tables. Typical menu items include homemade bread with butter and cheeses, pretzels, cold cuts, pickles, apple pie, and tea and coffee. A favorite spread is made from peanut butter mixed with corn syrup and marshmallow creme. Communal meals also feature at weddings and family reunions. Women are responsible for tending large gardens and for cooking. Men never cook. Garden produce is preserved by canning and by freezing if the community allows the use of electricity. Livestock including chickens and pigs are kept, and dairy operations provide milk and cheese. While much of their food is homeproduced, Amish do buy from stores as needed; they also eat at restaurants, though some view this as a wasteful practice. See Also: Christianity; Mennonites; Protestantism; Quakers

Further Reading The Amish: Back Roads to Heaven. 2007. Directed by B. Buller. Holmes County, OH: Buller Films LLC. “Amish Studies.” n.d. Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College, Caldwell, E. 2012. “Estimate: A New Amish Community Is Founded Every Three and a Half Weeks in US.” Research News, July 30, /amishpop.htm. Coblentz, E., and K. Williams. 2002. The Amish Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from an Old Order Amish Family. Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed. Hurst, C. E., and D. L. McConnell. 2010. An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. “What Do Amish Eat?” n.d. Amish America,

Ancient Mediterranean Religions The ancient Mediterranean world encompassed Western Asia, North Africa, and Southern Europe. Over the course of four millennia many civilizations arose, beginning with Mesopotamia and Egypt and including those of Phoenicia, Carthage, Iberia, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and Anatolia. Numerous religions flourished


| Ancient Mediterranean Religions throughout the region, each with their specific features but in which animal sacrifice was a common theme. Egypt The time line of ancient Egypt dates from around 3500 BCE, when the Nile Valley was first settled, to 31 BCE, when Egypt became part of the Roman Empire. Bread baked from wheat or barley was a staple food in ancient Egypt. There was fertile soil in the river valleys, and a variety of pulses, vegetables, and fruits were grown. Pigs, sheep, and goats were domesticated, and small birds, fish, and dairy products were also consumed. Beer was the principal beverage, with wine reserved for the wealthy. The ancient Egyptians were polytheists (except for during the Amarna period of King Akenhaten, who was a monotheist) and built large temples to honor the gods, the most important of who were Ra, Isis, Osirus, Horus, Seth, and Anubis. Egyptians believed in a cosmic balance, ma’at, that was personified in a goddess, and it was the duty of humans to help uphold this balance through festivals and ritual celebrations, including daily food offerings at temples. Festivals were dedicated to particular gods or goddesses or were established by pharaohs to celebrate their own achievements or military victories. Details of feasts were often inscribed on the walls of temples. Inventories found in the temple of Rameses III at Medinat

Egyptian tomb painting of food items including poultry, vegetables, fruit, and wine, ca. 1490– 1460 BCE. Mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, Egypt. (Neil Harrison /

Ancient Mediterranean Religions

| 27

Meat Mummies Food was an important item in Egyptian burial rites and was interred in tombs to provide sustenance for the deceased in the afterlife. Among the items found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen, discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, were 48 white-painted boxes containing meat from ducks, geese, pigeon, and oxen. The joints of meat or whole birds had been desiccated using natron (a salt harvested from dry lake beds), treated with resin, and wrapped in linen in a process that resembled mummification of human bodies. Ceramic jars contained honey residue, oil, and wine, while more than 100 woven baskets held the remnants of nuts, fruits, and cereal seeds as well as baked loaves.

Habu list quantities of loaves, cakes, meat, fowl, and beer needed for various events. One of the most important festivals was Wepet Renpet, which means “opening of the year,” that was held at the time of the annual Nile flood. A feast was held that all could attend. In the period of the New Kingdom, the Opet festival was an important Theban ceremony at which the god Amun Re was reborn and the rights and powers of the king were reaffirmed. The image of the god was bathed and dressed in fine clothes and jewelry and then carried in procession on a ceremonial boat. Free bread and beer were distributed to the general populace. Greece The ancient Greeks developed a dietary etiquette that promoted moderation in eating as being conducive to both health and civilized behavior. Greek physicians developed what is called the humoral theory of medicine, in which health was achieved by keeping the humors of the body (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile) in balance by eating foods that were stronger or weaker in particular humors. The staple foods were barley bread, wine, and olive oil. Vegetables were consumed, especially beans (though Pythagorus forbade his followers to eat beans). There was little meat in the diet, but fish was popular, and a fish sauce called garum was used as a seasoning. Wine mixed with water was drunk at aristocratic male-only gatherings called symposiums, where artistic pursuits such as music and poetry were featured. In public religion the ancient Greeks worshipped the gods of Olympus, presided over by Zeus. There were also religious cults such as that of Dionysus, god of the grape harvest and wine. On ceremonial occasions animal sacrifices were offered; the offal would be burnt as an offering to the gods, while the flesh would be eaten by the worshippers. Animal sacrifices were made to try to gain the support of the gods before undertaking important or hazardous endeavors. Festivals varied from region to region and were dedicated to specific gods. Often they incorporated games. The Olympic Games, dedicated to Zeus, originated in about 776 BCE; athletes from different city-states would compete. At festivals, first fruits would be


| Ancient Mediterranean Religions offered to the appropriate god: corn to Demeter, goddess of agriculture, and her daughter, Persephone, at the festival of Thesmophoria; grapes to Dionysus, god of wine; olives to Athene, goddess of wisdom; and the first bread of the new wheat to Apollo at Thargelia. At Thesmophoria, which was a women’s festival, piglets were sacrificed as a symbol of fertility. Prizes at the games held for the festival of Panathenaia were olive oil from Athene’s sacred olive trees. Rome According to legend, Rome was founded in 753 BCE by Romulus and Remus who, as young children, had been reared by wolves. It became the capital of a vast empire that governed the whole of the Mediterranean for almost four centuries. Food and feasting were central features of Roman life. Several dietary manuals were written, including one by the imperial physician, Galen, that provided guidance on diet based on the Greek humoral theory. Wheat was the preferred staple, and the inhabitants of Rome received a free bread ration called the annona during times of war or famine. Olive oil, wine, and fish sauce (garum) were used in large amounts, and dates, grapes, and honey were used to provide sweet flavorings. Cheese and eggs were eaten but not butter, which was used instead for medicinal purposes. Milk was drunk only in the cooler climates of the northern parts of the empire. Meat and fish were scarce especially in the diets of rural peasants, who relied on what they could grow and gather from the wild. Meat was served at banquets, but it had to be sacrificed and first offered to the gods. The ancient Romans believed in many gods and adopted new gods from the civilizations they conquered. The gods were worshipped in temples dedicated to their name that were administered by priests. Sacrifices of animals, usually cattle, pigs, or sheep, or offerings of other foods were part of public ceremonies to give thanks to or to appease the gods or to petition them for favors. Once the gods had symbolically consumed the exta (entrails), priests and public officials shared the meat in a banquet. Animals sacrificed to the gods of the underworld were entirely burned and were not eaten. A hecatomb was an offering of 100 cattle to important gods and goddesses such as Apollo and Zeus, Hera and Athena. It took place only at special religious ceremonies. Romans also had home altars where they would offer food to the household gods (lares) in return for protection. The Roman calendar had many festival days, some linked to the agricultural cycle and others related to political events. Popular festivals included games and theater performances. In February each year a nine-day festival called Parentalia honored dead ancestors; offerings of bread and wine were made at family tombs. In May the festival of Lemuria was aimed at placating dead spirits and preventing them from coming back to haunt the living. Beans were ritually scattered to placate the spirits. As part of funeral rites, those who could afford to do so sacrificed a sow to Ceres, the goddess who bridged the worlds of the living and the dead. Ceres, the deceased, and the living family all shared in this last meal.

Animal Slaughter

| 29

See Also: Death Rituals and Ceremonies; Festivals; First Fruits; Food and Religious Identity; Sacrifice

Further Reading Abdennour, S. 2007. Egyptian Customs and Festivals. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. Freeman, C. 2014. Egypt, Greece and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Helstosky, C. 2009. Food Culture in the Mediterranean. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Animal Slaughter Animals are sacrificed and offered to the gods as part of rituals and celebrations in many of the world’s religions, from ancient to modern. There are complex rules governing what animals should be offered on specific occasions, who should do the offering, and what happens to the animal afterward. Some religions also have requirements for how animals should be killed in order to be acceptable for consumption. Slaughter methods around the world are variously governed by tradition, religion, or legislation. Animals are routinely slaughtered in the industrial food system to supply meat for the market of consumers at wholesalers, retail grocers, and restaurants. Slaughter also takes place on farms and smallholdings for personal consumption or for supplying the local market. Nonritual traditional animal slaughter is practiced widely in rural areas of Africa and the developing world. Usually the animal is held down by several men and the head is pulled back to expose the throat, which is then slit by a series of deep cuts so that blood can drain. The whole head is then severed. In many countries animal slaughter is a highly regulated activity designed to ensure that meat sold to the public is safe and free of disease, workers are trained and qualified, and animals are treated in accordance with legal standards. The method of slaughter designated humane, and the most commonly used in North American slaughterhouses is called stunning. The animal is rendered unconscious, and a bolt is shot into its head at high velocity. Stunning of small animals may also be done through electricity or chemical means (usually carbon dioxide). The animal is then hung, and its throat is cut to drain away the blood. The main difference between humane and religious slaughter is that in the latter case animals are still conscious when they are killed. Judaism Animals that die of natural causes or are killed by other animals may not be eaten.


| Animal Slaughter Jews must also avoid blood, because according to biblical verses the life of the flesh is in the blood. “Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people” (Leviticus 7:26). The slaughter process is called schlechita and must be performed by a certified butcher, known as a shochet, who is versed in Jewish law. The animal’s trachea and esophagus are cut and the carotid arteries sliced with a single cut of a very sharp knife, called a chalaf, so that the blood is completely drained. Only the forequarters of ruminants are used, as the relatively large blood vessels can be easily removed. The viscera of the slaughtered animal is examined by a specialist called a bodeck for blemishes and imperfections and if found acceptable is given a seal of approval. Animals that are diseased or eggs with bloodspots are trayf and are forbidden. The meat is then broiled or soaked and salted to ensure that all traces of blood are removed. This must be completed within 72 hours and before the meat is frozen. If longer storage periods are required, such as to allow for transport, the carcass can be rewashed after 72 hours. Islam Food that is permitted for consumption to Muslims is called halal. While certain foods, notably pork, can never be halal, other meats are acceptable so long as they have been killed in an appropriate way. The Islamic slaughter process is called dhabihah. To be halal, meat must come from animals ritually slaughtered by slitting the throat and allowing the blood to drain, a procedure that is calculated to spare the animal unnecessary suffering. The trachea, carotid arteries, and jugular veins are severed with one cut. The words “Bismillah: Allahu Akbar” (I begin with God’s name: God is great) are pronounced over the animal as its throat is slit. There are similarities with Jewish kosher animal slaughter procedures, and according to the Qur’an “The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you, as your food is lawful for them” (Qur’an 5:5). Sunnis generally allow the consumption of meat slaughtered by “People of the Book” (Jews and Christians), while Shi’as do so only if out of absolute necessity. Halal-certified slaughterhouses must ensure that there is a trained Muslim slaughter man and that animals are correctly handled through the whole process, from restraining to stunning to slaughter. Halal wholesalers and retailers should be certain that animals were treated humanely at all stages prior to slaughter. Strictly speaking, halal slaughter requires that animals are still conscious when the throat is cut; however, for many Muslims electrical or hammer stunning is acceptable, as the animal is still alive. Sikhism Jhatka, which comes from the Sanskrit word jhatiti meaning “at once,” is a method of slaughter in which a single rapid jerk or blow to the head is believed to produce the least amount of suffering for the animal. The animal is held or tied between two poles, and its head is cut off with a single stroke of a heavy blade. Unlike in Islam, there is no religious ritual that accompanies the killing. Halal and kosher meats are


| 31

deemed unacceptable. The modern Western slaughterhouse procedure that utilizes a bolt gun to deliver a single penetrative blow to the head is equivalent to jhatka. Slaughtering of animals as sacrificial offerings is also found in the syncretic religions of Candomble, where chickens and goats are the usual choice, and in Santeria, where ritual slaughter requires that the animal’s throat be slit with a single cut severing the carotid artery. The blood of the sacrifice is offered to the gods, while the meat is cooked and shared by congregants. Ceremonies for the Vodun Fete du Voudun in Benin begin with the ritual slaughter of a goat to honor ancestor spirits at the Temple of the Pythons. Despite the claims of different religious and industry groups, animal slaughter is a focus of concern for animal welfare advocates who oppose inhumane treatment of livestock and regard some slaughter methods as being unnecessarily cruel. Hindus revere the cow, and in many Indian states the killing of cows is prohibited. There are thousands of goshalas (cow homes) across India, run by charitable organizations that rescue elderly cows and aim to prevent illegal slaughter of the animals. See Also: Candomble; Compassion; Food Certification, Islam; Food Certification, Jewish; Halal Food; Jhatka; Kashrut; Sacred Cow; Sacrifice; Santeria; Vodun

Further Reading Fischer, Johan. 2011. The Halal Frontier: Muslim Consumers in a Globalized Market. Contemporary Anthropology of Religion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. “Jhatka—The Sikh Method of Slaughter vs Halal /Kosher.” 2013. YouTube, https://www RSPCA Farm Animals Department. 2015. Slaughter without Pre-Stunning (for Religious Purposes). Horsham, West Sussex, UK: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. “Slaughtering Practices and Techniques.” n.d. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,

Animism Animism is based on the idea that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in animals, plants, and trees; landscape features such as mountains, caves, and rivers; celestial bodies such as the sun and stars; and natural phenomena such as thunderstorms and rain. The North American Ojibwas describe this belief in their assertion that the world is full of people, only some of whom are human. Animists believe that the material world and the world of spirits are strongly interconnected and see themselves as part of the environment, not apart from it. In early human societies and among contemporary groups who live close to nature, survival depended on an intimate knowledge of the land, its inhabitants, and its resources. Animism was a way of attempting to make sense of and live in harmony with the natural world. Animists believed that every animal had a soul or spirit and that


| Animism therefore they had to be treated with proper respect. Rituals grew up around hunting that were aimed at ensuring that food supplies were sustained. Thanking an animal for giving up its life was necessary so that others of its kind would do so in the future. Animism is derived from the Latin word anima, meaning “life, breath, or soul.” Edward Tyler (1832–1917), often called the father of anthropology, is credited with introducing the term “animism,” which he used to mean simply a belief in souls or spirits. He applied the term to all religious systems and argued that animism remained part of contemporary religion. Animism as a belief system predates organized religions. It has been thought of as both a type of religious belief or worldview and a religion in its own right, though it has no sacred writings and no common doctrine or claim on a universal truth. Instead, it is local in focus and varies in expression from place to place according to the history, geography, and culture of different human groups. The spirits of animist groups in Australia are not the same as those in Africa or America. Animism is not an abstract or moral belief system but instead is about communicating with spiritual beings for the purpose of achieving practical outcomes, such as ensuring success at fishing or avoiding misfortune in the hunt. When there is a problem such as drought or poor hunting, it is because the spirit is offended; measures must then be taken to appease it. This was the role of the shaman, who was able to communicate with the world of spirits. Animist beliefs may coexist alongside folk religions and even mainstream religions but is mostly found in societies that are not hierarchical or that have doctrinaire views. Today, animist beliefs are found predominantly among indigenous tribal communities in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The Japanese religion of Shinto is strongly animist, featuring spirits called kami. Many American Indians, while professing Christian beliefs, retain traditional attitudes toward the natural world. Some believe that people are helped through life by a spirit guide that often takes the form of an animal. Tribal ceremonies are held to honor these totem animals so their abilities will be shared with the tribe. For example, the raven is a healer, and the beaver is a good builder. Some New Age and neopagan groups also hold animist beliefs in keeping with their concern about the environment and how humans interact with the living world. Vodun and Candomble are two examples of animist traditions blending with mainstream religion, in this case Christianity. Vodun was the religion of the Fon and Ewe peoples of the former country of Dahomey in West Africa. Ceremonies involved animal sacrifice and offerings of food to the spirits. As a result of the slave trade in the 17th century, Vodun was introduced to the Caribbean and to the American South, where it blended with local Christian traditions. Practitioners of Candomble also blend traditional African animist beliefs with Catholicism. Portuguese colonists in Brazil attempted to impose Catholicism on the black slaves they bought from Africa. While the slaves appeared outwardly to embrace Catholicism despite attempts to suppress Candomble, they retained their animist beliefs, producing a unique blend of African and European traditions. At the heart of Candomble are spirits called orixas, to whom food offerings are made to secure their help and blessings and to increase life force.


| 33

Sweet Potato Spirit The Maoris have a kinship with sweet potatoes (kumara), which were bought to New Zealand by their Polynesian ancestors. Other imported crops did not do well in the cooler climate, so sweet potato became very important. It was associated with the spirit Rongo. Part of the kumara planting grounds was set aside for the spirits, and each family provided some tubers for this purpose. The spirit plot was planted prior to planting the main crop and was accompanied by the reciting of karakia (invocations) to obtain the goodwill of Rongo. Sometimes a sacrificial offering, such as a bird, was made. The priest placed a tapu (religious restriction) on the crop until it was ready to harvest so that no one would be tempted to steal it or take it too early. Carved wooden sticks or stones with images of Rongo were placed nearby to protect the life force of the growing plant. Digging up the kumara involved a ritual called the pure. The tapu was lifted, and then the first tubers were dug from the spirit plot, following which a feast was held. Later the potato replaced the sweet potato. The ceremony is no longer observed.

Two common ways of maintaining good relations with the spirit world are sacrifice and ancestor worship. The Katus of rural Vietnam and Laos keep domestic livestock as sacrificial food for the spirits. Sacrifice is an integral part of Katu life, accompanying rites of passage such as birth and death, events in the seasonal agricultural calendar, and the start of new community endeavors. The animal is first offered to the spirits, who eat the nonmaterial essence of the food; the flesh is then shared and eaten by community members in a public feast. If the spirits are not looked after, they become angry and hungry; hungry spirits eat peoples’ souls and bring misfortune, illness, and death. South Koreans worship ancestors on their death date anniversary as well as at New Year’s and some seasonal holidays. Wine and plates of food are placed on tables in front of an ancestral memorial tablet or pictures of the ancestors. The foods are carefully arranged in rows of different kinds, with some to the west and some to the east of the ancestor icon. An elaborate ritual follows in which the spirits are called down and are offered food items by male family members in order of age. The offerings are accompanied by ritual bowing. The food is then shared by the family and sometimes with friends and neighbors. On major holidays, including Korean New Year, ancestor rites take place at the graveside. Although its form has changed over time, ancestor worship rituals remain important. There is continuing scholarly debate over the meaning and use of the term “animism.” The new animism perspective views animism as being less about spirit worship and more about how to act respectfully to others, whether they be people, animals, or other entities. See Also: African Indigenous Religions; Australian Aboriginal Religion; Candomble; North American Indigenous Religions; Shinto; Vodun


| Annunciation, Feast of the Further Reading Arhem, K., and G. Sprenger. 2016. Animism in Southeast Asia. New York: Routledge. “Cultivation of the Kumara—the Mara Tautane.” n.d. Victoria University of Wellington, Harvey, G., ed. 2013. The Handbook of Contemporary Animism. London: Routledge. Kaser, L. 2014. Animism: A Cognitive Approach. Nurnberg: VTR Publications.

Annunciation, Feast of the The Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also known as the Annunciation of the Lord, or Lady Day, marks the day that according to Christian scriptures the angel Gabriel told the Virgin Mary that she would give birth to Jesus, son of God (Luke 1:26–38). It is also described in the Qur’an (3:45). The Annunciation is widely commemorated in art, and many churches worldwide are named Annunciation. The date of the Annunciation, March 25, coincides with the spring equinox and for many centuries until the calendar change of 1752 signified the New Year in Europe. For Roman Catholics the Annunciation is a solemnity, which is the highest ranking of Church celebrations; if Annunciation day falls during Lent or on a Sunday, then penance obligations are lifted so that the occasion may be celebrated with a special meal. In the Eastern Orthodox Church it is among 12 great feasts of the religious calendar. Historically, the Annunciation was a civil holiday throughout Europe with celebratory processions, fairs, theater, and feasts. In England, Lady Day was one of four Quarter Days on which legal obligations such as debts and rents had to be settled. In some parts of medieval Europe Annunciation bread would be fed to animals to ensure their fertility or buried in the fields to keep crops safe from Swedish Annunciation waffles, served with jam and disease and bad weather. A picwhipped cream, are popular treats on Vårfrudagen, ture of the Annunciation placed in or Lady Day. (Tommy Alvén/

Annunciation, Feast of the

| 35

The Tichborne Dole Life was hard for the peasant class in 12th-century England. The people of the Hampshire village of Tichborne were perhaps a little better off than most, as they enjoyed the beneficence of Lady Mabella, the pious and charitable wife of the harsh and miserly landowner, Sir Roger Tichborne. When Lady Mabella was on her deathbed she begged her husband to set aside enough land to provide food for the villagers in the form of a dole of flour on each Annunciation day. Sir Roger agreed to set aside as much land as his wife could walk round until a flaming torch she carried was burned out. On hands and knees the dying woman encircled 23 acres before the flame died; the land is still known as the Crawls. Lady Mabella pronounced a curse that if ever the dole was stopped, the Tichborne family would bear seven sons followed by seven daughters, after which the Tichborne name would die out. The dole was cancelled in 1796 because of disruptions by tramps and neighboring villagers. The baronet at that time had seven sons; his eldest son had seven daughters just as Lady Mabella’s curse had promised. Moreover, Tichborne house was damaged by fire. Consequently, in 1836 the dole was resumed. It continues to this day, and visitors can watch the ritual in which around two tons of flour (now provided by the local flour mill) are distributed to the villagers, who bring pillowcases and carrier bags to collect it.

a barrel of grain was another way of beseeching the Virgin Mary to protect the new crops. In the village of Tichborne in England, a tradition established during the reign of Henry II in the 12th century endures. Every Annunciation day in a Roman Catholic ritual, a large box of flour is blessed by the local priest and sprinkled with holy water. Adult villagers are entitled to one gallon of flour, while children receive half a gallon. Originally 1,400 loaves were baked and distributed, and when the bread ran out a small amount of money was given. A Christian tradition maintains that the date of the Annunciation and the crucifixion are the same so that Jesus’s life is interpreted as an endless circle. On the Feast of the Annunciation symbolically ring-shaped foods are prepared, such as cakes baked in bundt or tube pans. Angel food cake baked in a ring does double symbolic duty by also invoking reference to the angel Gabriel. In Sweden March 25 is Vaffelsdagen (Waffle Day), which is a corruption of Vårfrudagen, the Swedish term for Lady Day. In many homes fresh crisp waffles are served with lingonberries or cloudberries and whipped cream or with lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon. See Also: Bread; Charity; Christianity; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Feasting in Christianity; Jesus

Further Reading Hill, C. 2003. Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.


| Anorexia, Holy “Old English Customs Record C: 1950–59.” n.d. British Pathe, Video, http://www.british (A short film clip showing the distribution of the Tichborne dole in the 1950s.) Weiser, F. X. 2003. The Holyday Book. Charlotte, NC: Neumann. Wybrew, H. 2000. Orthodox Feasts of Jesus Christ & the Virgin Mary: Liturgical Texts with Commentary. New York: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press.

Anorexia, Holy Anorexia nervosa is a serious eating disorder that is mostly, but not exclusively, experienced by young women (about 40 percent are aged 15–19 years) and is characterized by extreme fasting leading to physiological, social, and psychological problems. About 0.9 percent of American women and 0.3 percent of American men suffer from anorexia in their lifetime. It is of concern because of the serious consequences, including risk of dying (Hudson et al. 2007). The causes of anorexia nervosa are very complex and involve social and psychological factors. The modern cult of thinness, promoted and reinforced in popular culture, is often blamed as a contributing factor to anorexia nervosa. People suffering from anorexia nervosa have a distorted body image and a morbid fear of gaining weight that can lead to self-starvation in a quest for thinness. What might be considered anorexic behavior has been described among women in the medieval church in Europe and has been called anorexia mirabilis. Religious women in the Middle Ages were subject to a patriarchal church structure and strict monastic discipline and had little opportunity for self-expression. Food was one of the few things under female control, and some devout women manipulated their eating behavior to achieve their religious goals. Instead of pursuing a desire for thinness, as in modern-day anorexia nervosa, they used extreme fasting as a means of sacrifice and identification with the suffering of Christ. The most famous of these fasting holy women were Clare of Assisi (1194–1253) and Catherine of Siena (1347–1380). Catherine Benincasa was born into a very large middle-class family in the Italian city of Siena. As a young girl she claimed to have seen a vision of Christ. As an adolescent she rebelled against convention and used fasting as a way to pressure her family to not force her to marry her deceased sister’s husband. Eventually the family relented and allowed Catherine to become a Dominican tertiary (a lay member of a religious order). Catherine developed habits of extreme asceticism and was reported to eat nothing but the Eucharist for long periods of time. Such practices attracted attention to female religiosity, not always welcome to the male church hierarchy, for instead of following the church’s fasting laws, Catherine and others like her were breaking them. Her confessor ordered her to eat for fear of her life, but Catherine claimed that she was unable to eat or drink; inevitably her health deteriorated until she died at the age of 33. Chiara Offreduccio (Clare of Assisi) was an Italian noblewoman who admired Saint Francis of Assisi. She rejected her wealth and privileged upbringing and founded an austere female


| 37

religious order known as the Poor Clares, who lived a cloistered life of poverty and humility. Clare herself reportedly fasted totally every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and ate little on other days. When she fell ill, Saint Francis ordered her to eat bread each day. Clare recovered and subsequently revised her views on extreme austerity, directing that the Poor Clares should follow Lenten dietary restrictions throughout the year except on Christmas Day, which would have provided an adequate if monotonous diet. She also allowed exceptions for the young and the sick. See Also: Asceticism; Christianity; Fasting in Christianity; Lent; Sacrifice

Further Reading Bell, R. M. 1985. Holy Anorexia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Brumberg, J. J. 1988. Fasting Girls: The Emergence of Anorexia Nervosa as a Modern Disease. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Bynum, C. W. 1987. Holy Feast and Holy Fast: The Religious Significance of Food to Medieval Women. Berkeley: University of California Press. Hudson, J. I., E. Hiripi, H. G. Pope, and R. C. Kessler. 2007. “The Prevalence and Correlates of Eating Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” Biological Psychiatry 61(3): 348–358. Walsh, M., ed. 1991. Butler’s Lives of the Saints. San Francisco: Harper.

Asceticism Asceticism is a philosophical and religious stance and a bodily practice that values simple living and self-denial by reducing material comforts to a minimum compatible with life. Ascetism is derived from the Greek word askesis, meaning “exercise” or “training.” It was originally applied to athletes but came to be used in the sense of training the mind. One who practices the discipline of asceticism is called an ascetic. Asceticism is associated with religious praxis as a means to reduce or remove distractions of bodily needs in order to focus more clearly on spiritual goals and attain a state of ritual purity. Asceticism at one time or another has featured in most of the world’s religions, though attitudes and practices have changed over time. Commonly, it is the priestly class that is more likely to follow ascetic practices, while lay members adhere to more moderate ways of life. Ascetics may isolate themselves from society, living as solitary hermits or in religious monastic communities, or they may adopt simple lifestyles while remaining in mainstream society. Philosophical Perspectives Food, as well as being necessary to survival, is a source of hedonistic pleasure. Humans expend much time and energy on creating meals that are pleasing to the senses, not only to the palate but also to the eyes and nose. Some philosophers


| Asceticism argue that the pleasure obtained from food is exaggerated and that the enjoyment of food is not a necessary component of a worthwhile life, while others celebrate the joy of eating. These are represented by the competing paradigms of “eat to live” and “live to eat.” The ancient Greek philosopher Plato thought that the pleasures of food were not worth having and that suppression of bodily desires was necessary to the pursuit of knowledge. Aristotle taught sophrosyne, or moderation in all things, including food, arguing that humans were part of the physical world and had to live in it. Judaism The ancient Jewish prophets and Desert Fathers lived lives of extreme austerity. The Nazarites were individuals who took austerity vows of ritual purity and dietary abstinence as dictated in the Hebrew Bible. “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins’” (Numbers 6:1–4). Contemporary Jews reject the notion of asceticism. Christianity Asceticism has been part of Christianity since its inception, being expressed at different times and in different ways throughout its 2,000-year history. An ascetic Christian tradition developed that equated overindulgence in food, particularly animal food, with corruption of the body, leading to sinful behavior. This led to monasticism, and the famous Rule of St. Benedict (480–547 CE) that prescribed food restraint and etiquette for monastic orders in an effort to combat the sin of gluttony still guides Christian religious communities today. Throughout the 17th to 19th centuries food continued to be associated with both health and moral danger, and dietary denial was encouraged. The Wesleyan Methodist code of ascetic behavior required that one eat simply and eat less. Ascetic practices are found among Christian monastic communities today, and many Christian commentators advocate fasting and meditation as a way for individuals to unplug from the frenzy of the modern world. The Amish provide an example of contemporary Christian asceticism at a community level. They are committed to simple living and do not use (or strictly limit) modern technology, including televisions, phones, and computers, which are felt to be disruptive to a sense of community. Buddhism The founder of Buddhism, Prince Siddartha Gautama, began his journey in search of spiritual enlightenment as an ascetic but soon renounced austerity as being


| 39

Thirteen Dhutangas The dhutangas are austerities recommended to monks by Buddha. They are practiced by members of the Thai Forest Tradition branch of Theravada Buddhism, who strictly adhere to the monastic discipline and original teachings of Buddha. Five of the dhutangas are related to food:   1. Wearing patched-up robes.   2. Wearing only three robes.   3. Going for alms (renouncing food from any other source other than that collected in a begging bowl).   4. Not omitting any house while going for alms (accepting food from each household without choosing or discriminating).   5. Eating at one sitting (eating only in one spot and once one has moved not eating again until the next day).   6. Eating only from the alms bowl (using only one bowl for all food).   7. Refusing all further food (accepting no further food after having refused once).   8. Living in the forest.   9. Living under a tree. 10. Living in the open air. 11. Living in a cemetery. 12. Being satisfied with whatever dwelling. 13. Sleeping in the sitting position (and never lying down).

equally distracting to this goal. Instead he advocated a “middle way” that ensured that life’s necessities were met but avoided attachment to material things. Theravada Buddhist monks follow this middle way. For food they rely on alms given by local villagers and are required to accept whatever is given, including meat. Mahayana Buddhists are more strictly vegetarian and control what they eat through preparation of food in central kitchens in monasteries. Hinduism Early texts called the Vedas describe how ascetic practices such as fasting, yoga, breath control, and physical hardship generated spiritual heat, or tapas, that bestowed supernatural powers or even divine status on the wandering sages who practiced them. These techniques are still practiced as a way of generating the creative energy of tapas. Renunciation was also an early theme in Hindu philosophy. Hindu life is divided into four stages; the fourth stage, Sannyasa, is that of renunciation. Those who commit to this path give away their possessions, separate from family and society, and engage in ascetic practices such as begging for food or eating only what nature provides. Ascetism and renunciation are ways to detach from the world and prepare for moksha—the escape from the cycle of birth and rebirth. Sadhus are holy men (usually) who have chosen the path of renunciation.


| Asceticism They are often lone wanderers, though some live in monastic-like communities. They have minimal possessions that include a begging bowl for food and a pot for carrying water, and they depend on charity for survival. Only a small percentage of Hindus become ascetics or renouncers. Jainism Jains practice strict asceticism in accordance with the example of the founding prophet Mahavira, who pursued an ascetic life, enduring hunger, pain, derision, and torment in his quest for spiritual enlightenment. His followers called him a jina, meaning a conqueror or winner over passions, and became known as Jains. The Akaranga Sutra (Book of Good Conduct) sets out the requirements for an ascetic life. Monastic life is very demanding, with much physical discomfort such as sleeping on the bare ground or floor, enduring extreme weather conditions without complaint, and fasting. Contemporary Digambara monks wear no clothes and possess only a broom made of fallen peacock feathers and a drinking gourd. They rely on the voluntary proffering of alms and eat only one meal a day. Svetambara monks, dressed in simple white clothes, will beg for alms. Both groups follow a strict vegan diet. While extreme ascetic practices are expected of monks and nuns, most Jains are not ascetics, though some may give up normal life for short periods to become ascetics. Baha’i Faith Baha’i teachings require adherents to look after their physical bodies so they can properly perform the spiritual service required of them. This emphasis on self-care necessitates a rejection of both ascetic and hedonistic practices. While asceticism represents disengagement with everyday life, which is contrary to the Baha’i commitment to community involvement and service, hedonism shows an undue concern with selfish desires. “Living in seclusion or practising asceticism is not acceptable in the presence of God” (Bahá’u’lláh 1988, 71). Consequently, in regard to food, neither gluttony nor ascetic denial of food is an acceptable form of eating conduct. Moderation is praised, but while meals are best kept to a single course, this should be of as good a quality as can be afforded. Islam Asceticism has not been part of the Islamic tradition except among some Sufi sects. The fundamental source of dietary law in Islam is the written word of the Qur’an. Because Muslims are exhorted to eat the good things that Allah has provided for them, dietary restrictions are relatively few. Although fasting is permitted and even required in some circumstances, asceticism is discouraged. See Also: Amish; Baha’i Faith; Buddhism; Christianity; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Hinduism; Jainism; Judaism; Santhara; Sufi Islam


| 41

Further Reading Bahá’u’lláh. 1988. Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Wilmette, IL: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust. Benedict of Nursia. 2011. The Rule of Saint Benedict. Translated and edited by B. L. Venarde. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Coveney, J. 2000. Food, Morals and Meaning. London: Routledge. Hurst, C. E., and D. L. McConnell. 2010. An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Ashura Ashura, from the Arabic word for “ten,” is the oldest of Islamic festivals. It was established by the prophet Muhammad in imitation of the Jewish fast day called Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and was an important obligatory fast. Subsequently Muhammad was to make Ramadan the major fast of Islam, and Ashura became a voluntary rather than required fast day. It also developed in meaning and expression over time, assuming political dimensions for Shi’as when in around the 11th century CE it was made an official occasion for mourning the death of Husayn, grandson of the prophet Muhammad. Ashura is celebrated on the 10th day of Muhurram, the first month of the Islamic year. Sunnis are recommended to fast also on the day before Ashura, while Shi’a Muslims prepare for Ashura during the 9 preceding days. Originally the date of Ashura coincided with the Jewish Yom Kippur, which was held on the 10th day after the Jewish New Year, but it was later moved to the 10th day of the new Islamic calendar. Like the Jewish Day of Atonement, Ashura is a time for expiation of sins. Even when Muhammad made Ramadan the main Muslim fast, he maintained that there were great rewards in fasting on Ashura, for it took away all the sins of the past year. Good deeds on Ashura, such as feeding the hungry or being generous, reap extra spiritual blessings. All Muslims observe Ashura, but it has a very different significance for Sunnis and Shi’as. For Sunnis it is a joyous occasion, a day of fasting and prayer and a time to gratefully remember Allah’s saving of Moses and the Israelites from their Egyptian enemies. In contrast, for Shi’a Muslims Ashura is a solemn day of mourning in remembrance of the martyrdom of Husayn, the prophet Muhammad’s grandson, at the Battle of Karbala in 680 CE. After eight days without water Husayn, along with his companions, was slaughtered by the army of the ruling caliph. Consequently, the nature of the celebration is very different between the two sects. Sunni observances of Ashura center on voluntary fasting and prayer. Until the early 1980s in North Africa it was a carnival-like celebration. Children begged for sweets and poured water over those who refused them; in some places this tradition continues into modern times. A North African Ashura treat consists of slices of veal rolled in green herbs and deep-fried. Special cakes are made in the shape of fish or other animals. In Morocco, women make a special sweet called krishlat


| Ashura from nuts and raisins. In Malaysia celebrants remember Ashura as a day when Muhammad, having nothing special to eat, gathered all the ingredients at hand and cooked them in a single pot. As in the story of stone soup, villagers all contribute food items to a communal pot of meat and vegetables. Palm sugar and coconut cream are added along with spices to make a thick porridge that is shared with community members. For Shi’a Muslims, the nine days leading up to Ashura are occupied with the telling and retelling of the story of Husayn. Professional storytellers may visit homes to recite the story and are rewarded with sweets and simple food and drink. The city of Karbala in Iraq is the focus for Ashura celebrations, and thousands of people make a pilgrimage there to visit the grave of Husayn. In Karbala and in other cities across the region, huge crowds gather to participate in ritual mourning for the martyred Husayn. With waving banners, processions move through the streets accompanied by the sounds of drums and loud wailing. Participants dressed in black, beat their chests while some whip or cut themselves with chains, knives, or swords. Onlookers may smear their own faces with dirt and ashes. Halqum, a sort of energy bar made from sugar, cornstarch, nuts, and butter, is an Ashura food specialty offered to the penitents by helpers. Distinctive theatrical performances tell the story of Husayn and other historical Shi’a figures as the performers stroll around the streets. In some cities special theaters have been built to house these performances, and traders sell snacks and water to sustain the audience through the long shows. Stalls are set up in the streets, providing free food and water to the poor. Ashura processions are also held in some U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, and Houston. A university campus initiative called “Water on Ashura” distributes free bottles of water in symbolic remembrance of the thirst suffered by Husayn at Karbala and as a way of promoting kindness and goodwill. Ashura pudding is a dessert of grain, fruits, and nuts prepared by Sufi Muslims in Turkey and other Balkan countries during the month of Muhurram or specifically for the day of Ashura itself. At the tekke, or Sufi religious center, large quantities are prepared in a huge cooking pot. Mevlevi Sufi dervishes perform hymns or

Noah’s Pudding Noah was an important prophet in both the Christian and Muslim traditions. The Bible and the Qur’an each recount the story of how God told the prophet Noah to build an ark to carry his family and two of each animal on Earth to save them from a deluge that would engulf the world. As the great flood receded, Noah’s ark reached dry land at Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey. Noah collected all the dwindling supply of foodstuffs left on the ark and cooked them together to make one last meal. The dish that Noah made is called Ashura, or Noah’s Pudding, and some Muslims in modern-day Turkey follow the custom of preparing this dish and sharing it with friends and neighbors. There are numerous variations on the recipe for what is sometimes called the oldest dessert in the world that usually include wheat, dried fruit, nuts, and legumes.

Australian Aboriginal Religion

| 43

Sacred Ashura pudding made with wheat grain, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds. The dessert, also known as Noah’s Pudding, has symbolic significance for Sufi Muslims. (Ozmedia/

chants as they stir the pudding in a particular symbolic motion that imbues the food with a divine essence. The pudding is distributed to community members, who are thereby both materially and spiritually nourished. See Also: Islamic Festival Calendar; Ramadan; Sufi Islam; Yom Kippur

Further Reading Heine, P. 2004. Food Culture in the Near East, Middle East and North Africa. Westport, CT: Greenwood. “Noah’s Pudding.” n.d. University of Massachusetts Rumi Club, /gso/rumi/ashura.pdf. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Seidel, K. n.d. “Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook and Art Gallery.” Superluminal, http://

Australian Aboriginal Religion Australia, the world’s largest island, is a continent of diverse landscapes, cultures, and religious practices. Archaeological evidence shows that it has been inhabited


| Australian Aboriginal Religion by humans for at least 60,000 years. The indigenous peoples of Australia are called Aborigines. (The word “aboriginal” describes the indigenous natives of any country.) Their cultural practices vary across the continent. At the time of European contact there were 500 Aboriginal nations, each with its own traditions. Aborigine religion is based on belief in a creation period during which people and the world around them came into being through the action of a creator god or gods. The gods are present in this world in the form of animals, plants, and landscape features, but the religion is not animist in that Aborigines do not believe that the world is populated with spirits. There is no one deity, but there are many ancestral beings who are revered by different tribes. Origins and Historical Development Australia has been home to human populations for 60,000 years. The term “aborigine” is derived from the Latin ab origine, meaning “from the beginning.” The first Aborigines were seminomadic hunter-gatherers who moved over large territories, following a seasonal food supply and subsisting on whatever their local environment provided. This included hundreds of species of plants, land animals, birds, insects, and, in coastal areas, fish and shellfish. Considerable time and energy was devoted to securing sufficient food for survival. They developed stone tool technology to make spears and axes and continued to use stone into modern times, having not passed through a bronze or iron age. Nations were divided into small clans of perhaps 30 to 40 people. From time to time there would be large ceremonial clan gatherings. By the time of European settlement there were 750,000 indigenous people living in 500 separate tribal nations and speaking 300 languages. The temperate coast of Southeast Australia was the most densely populated. From the early 17th century, ships from various European powers visited Australian waters, but they had no significant or lasting influence on the indigenous inhabitants. Fishing fleets from Indonesia struck up trade relations with northern coastal communities. In 1770 James Cook claimed East Australia for the English king, naming it “New South Wales.” In 1788 the first English colony was established as a penal colony at Botany Bay. Two treaties were signed with indigenous peoples for the acquisition of land by the British Crown; subsequently, the governor of New South Wales declared that prior to colonization, the land belonged to no one and that no treaties were required. By 1850, 90 percent of Aborigines in Southeast Australia had died from disease, colonial violence related to land rights, or the oppressive conditions of enforced labor. Others were relocated to government settlement areas and were exhorted to adopt European lifestyles and norms. Missionary activity converted many Aborigines to Christianity, and by midcentury there were Christian churches throughout much of Australia. However, aboriginal culture in the remote desert interior of the continent remained virtually unchanged until the 20th century. In 1984 a group of nine Aborigines who had been living a traditional existence in the Gibson Desert and had no knowledge that Europeans had settled in Australia made a chance contact with clan members from whom they had been separated for 20 years.

Australian Aboriginal Religion

| 45

Some Aborigines today live in small isolated groups, attempting to maintain traditional ways of life but using modern technology such as vehicles and rifles to aid hunting. Many more live in larger aboriginal settlements, where most of their food is store-bought, while others are urban dwelling. A 1999 court ruling invalidated the colonial concept of terra nullis (land uninhabited by humans), opening the way to aboriginal ancestral land claims. Demographics The 2011 Australian census estimated the aboriginal population at 669,900, or 3 percent of Australians. (This includes Torres Strait Islanders, who are another indigenous people, distinct from the Aborigines.) About one-third live in major cities. The majority live in towns and settlements, with the largest number in the state of New South Wales. The largest population as a percentage is in the Northern Territories, where Aborigines are 30 percent of the population. In the 2006 census nearly threequarters of indigenous respondents indicated that they were Christians, of whom about one-third were Catholic and one-third Anglican. Around 1 percent (7,300) said they were affiliated with an Australian aboriginal traditional religion, though in very remote areas the figure was 6 percent. (“Very remote” is a classification developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics based on the distance to the nearest town or service center.) Beliefs and Teachings Australian Aborigines believe in a creation period when humans and the natural world came into existence; this period is called the Dreamtime and was the beginning of knowledge. Aborigines interpret dreams as being real memories of the creation period and accept as fact that during the Dreamtime powerful figures arose and brought into being the world and its people and creatures. There are innumerable stories and legends associated with the Dreamtime; these are embodied in song, dance, and art and are reenacted and passed on orally down the generations. Often they teach moral lessons. Each nation has its own deities and beliefs. The deities, who are direct ancestors of people living today, are called ancestral beings. It was they who gave people knowledge of how to survive and laws of how to live in community. There are hundreds of ancestral beings who surround the living and connect them to their culture and their past. They control the natural world, and so people must perform ceremonies and rituals to ensure that they act for the good. The original animal, plant, or other object from the creation period is called a totemic being or totemic ancestor. Every person has at least one totemic being, usually associated with the place and circumstances of their birth. Aborigines believe in reincarnation and the interchangeability of humans, animals, and plants in the reincarnation cycle.


| Australian Aboriginal Religion Customs and Social Practices Family and kinship relationships are very important and carry social obligations, such as exchanging gifts and sharing food. As it is an obligation, no thanks are required for food shared, which may seem rude to non-Aborigines. Corroborees were large annual gatherings at which different groups met to perform dances and songs and were an opportunity for trade and for arranging marriages. In modern times, a national Sorry Day is celebrated annually to remember the mistreatment of indigenous Australians. Aboriginal food may be showcased at street festivities. Ritual and Ceremony Increase ceremonies were performed annually by adults at the sacred site of their totem being so as to ensure that the totem animal, plant, or other natural resource remained in abundant supply. Some aboriginal groups still hold ceremonies to an ancestral being called the Serpent Rainbow, who ensures abundance and fertility, by sending rain so that food supplies will be maintained. Initiation ceremonies are very important. At gatherings that may last for weeks, there are feasts, dancing, and storytelling, some of which are shared with all present, while others are for initiates only. Funeral ceremonies are important occasions. In the Northern Territories, mourners may paint themselves white and perform songs and dances to ensure that the deceased spirit returns safely to its birthplace to be reincarnated. A feast is held to share food and drink. Traditionally the dead body is placed on a wooden platform, covered with leaves, and left to rot. The bones are collected and painted with red ochre and then wrapped in bark and placed in a cave or hollow tree trunk. Food Practices Most Aborigines were hunter-gatherers. Prior to colonization, they ate almost anything edible they could get from their environment. Traditional wild food from the land is called bush tucker, or bush food. Kangaroo, wallaby, emu, and possum were the most common meats, available year-round. Lizards, snakes, turtles, birds, wild turkey, and anteaters were also popular, one delicacy being the yellow fat of the large goanna lizard. In coastal areas fish, eels, and shellfish were part of the diet. Insects were eaten in abundance, including certain kinds of ants, beetles, bees, moths, and grubs. The plump white witchetty grub, found in the deserts of Central Australia, was a highly nutritious staple. Plants included yams, bush banana, bush coconut, wild oranges, passion fruit, and bush plums. Honey from bees and plant nectar and gum were used as sweeteners. Bush bread was made by mixing ground seeds of millet or wattle with water to make dough, which was baked in hot ashes. European stockmen used wheat flour to make a soda bread called damper that could be baked in hot campfire ashes. Damper was adopted by Aborigines and replaced bush bread. The only domesticated animal was the dingo. Laws given at the time of the dreaming included some related to food and eating. The specifics varied from group to group but generally covered foods that

Australian Aboriginal Religion

| 47

Witchetty grubs were important nutritious food sources for Australian Aborigines. Other indigenous bush tucker depicted here includes bush banana, bush raisin, honey ants, and hakea flower. (National Geographic Creative/Alamy Stock Photo)

Witchetty Grubs Witchetty grubs are wood-eating larvae, most commonly of the Cossid moth. They feed on the roots of river red gum trees, black wattle trees, and acacia bushes, two feet underground, and have to be dug up. They are a staple food in traditional aborigine diets and the most important insect food of the desert. They are rich in energy, protein, and fat as well as being a good source of thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin C, and essential minerals, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, and potassium.Women and children foraged for grubs, which were located by finding a pile of sawdust around the trees. A long hooked wire was use to snare the grubs. The grubs were eaten raw or roasted in hot ashes to crisp the skin, the flesh turning from white to golden, like roast chicken skin.The raw grub tastes nutty, while the cooked version resembles fried egg. A paste made from witchetty grubs was used to treat wounds and burns and to soothe the sore gums of teething children.

could or could not be eaten, who could gather or hunt food and who could prepare it, and rules surrounding eating etiquette. Usually women gathered and prepared plant foods, while men hunted and prepared kangaroo, emu, and other flesh foods; however, the roles were not strict, as getting food was a priority. In some groups cooking was exclusively a female task and in others exclusively a male task. Sometimes people could not eat food prepared by the opposite sex. Totem animals


| Ayurveda and plants were considered sacred and were not eaten except on special ceremonial occasions. Other foods were considered taboo and denied to certain categories of people, such as pregnant women and prepubescent girls and boys. See Also: African Indigenous Religions; Animism; Candomble; North American Indigenous Religions; Santeria; Vodun; Primary Document: Food Restrictions among the Kakadu Tribe of Australia (1914)

Further Reading Behrendt, L. 2012. Indigenous Australia for Dummies. Milton, Queensland: Wiley Publishing Australia. Cowan, J. 2002. Aborigine Dreaming: An Introduction to the Wisdom and Magic of the Aboriginal Traditions. London: Thorsons. “Estimates of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander Australians, June 2011.” 2013. Australian Bureau of Statistics, August 30, .nsf/0/9E334CF07B4EEC17CA2570A5000BFE00?Opendocument. Mahony, A. 2013. “The Day the Pintupi Nine Entered the Modern World.” BBC, December 23,

Ayurveda There are many systems of dietary classifications that aim to maintain health through balance. Several such systems arose independently in the ancient world, one of the oldest being in India. Three Indian medical texts—Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita, and Astanga Hridaya—written in the first millenium BCE described a holistic healing system, called Ayurveda, that is still practiced today by millions of people in India and Southeast Asia. The term “ayurveda” comes from the Sanskrit words ayur (life or longevity) and veda (knowledge). It is a holistic approach based on the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit and the idea that the individual body is a microcosm of the universe. Diet is only one part of the eight branches of Ayurvedic medicine. The underlying principle of Ayurvedic practice is the achievement of balance within the body, leading to good health. Disruption of this balance is the cause of illness. The Ayurvedic system incorporates multiple characteristics that interact to determine the effects of particular foods on particular body types in particular circumstances. Dimensions include 6 tastes, 5 elements, 20 material qualities, and 3 mental qualities. The type, quantity, and combination of each of these dynamic characteristics has positive or negative effects on both physical and mental well-being. The basis of the system is the panch mahabhut, or five elements, of which the human body is composed. These are fire (agni), water (ap), air (vayu), earth (prithvi), and space (akasha). Each is related to one of the five senses. The elements combine to create three life forces, called doshas, each of which governs a particular bodily function such as breathing or digestion. The three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha,


| 49

and each is present in different proportions in different people, giving rise to individual constitutions. All substances, whether food, people, or other, have properties or qualities known as guna. There are 10 dichotomous pairs of gunas: hot/cold, heavy/light, liquid/viscous, oily/dry, soft/hard, cloudy/clear, rough/slimy, stable/ mobile, subtle/gross, and sharp/dull. The six tastes are sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent. All six tastes are present in every food but to different degrees according to the elements that predominate. Different tastes are more or less suited to each dosha and are in turn affected by the balance of qualities. The body’s life force (prana) is maintained by eating the right food, which means matching the characteristics of foods to the characteristics and needs of the individual body. For example, eating spicy foods that heat the body will increase pitta, while an excess of pitta is countered with cold moist foods. Numerous websites describe the humoral properties of foods; for example, guidelines from the Ayurvedic Institute provide exhaustive lists of foods favorable and prejudicial to each dosha. Another Ayurvedic concept with implications for diet is that of the three gunas, or mental qualities. Tamas, rajas, and sattva are associated with substance (darkness), energy (activity), and intellect (purity), respectively. The Hindu scripture the Bhagavad Gita classifies food into these three types. Sattvic foods are the purest and best type of nourishment for the body and mind. Milk, honey, fruits, ghee, butter, oils, nuts, pulses, and grains fall into this category. Rajasic foods are hot both in temperature and taste; they may be excessively bitter, sour, or salty, and as such they overstimulate the body and disturb mental focus. Tamasic foods are those that are stale and have lost their flavor or are half-cooked and heavy to digest. Meat, eggs, alcohol, and fermented foods are tamasic. They are said to provoke negative emotions such as greed and anger and to dispose the body to physical disease. Many people in India and Southeast Asia use Ayruvedic medicine, alone or combined with Western-style medicine. Since 1970 Ayurveda has been a recognized part of the Indian national health care system; in 1976 the National Institute of Ayurveda was established as a training and research center. In the United States, Ayurvedic medicine is not regulated. Programs are offered in around 30 schools, though there is no standard training or certification. The National Ayurvedic Medical Association was established in 1998 in an effort to address educational and professional standards as well as regulation and licensing issues. The efficacy of Ayurveda techniques is debated and has not been scientifically proven. Nevertheless, Ayurvedic principles lie behind popular alternative diet therapies that promote selective food combining as a key to good diet and among so-called yoga diets. See Also: Fasting in Hinduism; Hinduism; Mindful Eating

Further Reading “Food Guidelines for Basic Constitutional Types.” n.d. Ayurvedic Institute, https://www Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Festivals: Origins, Sentiments & Rituals. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith.


| Aztec Religion and Ritual National Ayurvedic Medical Association. Tirtha, Swami Sadishiva. 2007. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention and Longevity. New York: Ayurveda Holistic Center Press. Van Loon, G., ed. 2002. Charak Samhita: Handbook on Ayurveda, Vol. 1. Available at

Aztec Religion and Ritual The Aztecs were a Mesoamerican civilization that flourished between the 14th and 16th centuries CE in central Mexico. The Aztec capital, Tenochlitan, was built on an island in Lake Texcoco, the site of modern-day Mexico City. Aztec society was highly organized, with sophisticated cities, agricultural technology, and legal and religious codes. At the peak of its development the Aztec Empire extended from central Mexico to Guatemala and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. Aztec religion was polytheistic, having many gods and goddesses, some of whom were adopted from other Mesoamerican cultures. The main god was Huitzilopocchtli, the sun god who, along with the other gods, was offered regular human sacrifices to ensure that nature was kept in balance. The emperor and his high priests controlled religious affairs aided by ranks of priests and priestesses. The Aztecs developed a system of intense crop cultivation using irrigation. The staple food crops were maize, beans, and squash. Small animals were hunted, including rabbits, coyotes, armadillos, snakes, and wild turkey, and there was fish to be had from the lakes. Spanish conquest in 1521 effectively destroyed the Aztec Empire. Origins and Historical Development The Aztecs, also known as the Mexicas or Tenochcas, were a nomadic people from northern Mexico who arrived in the central Mexican area at the beginning of the 13th century. They established a city capital, Tenochtitlan, on the edge of Lake Mexcoco in 1325 and through a mixture of trade, alliances, and warfare gained control over an extensive region of city-states stretching coat to coast from central Mexico to Guatemala. The emperor Moctezuma I (1398–1469) laid the foundations of an empire that by the 16th century, under the aggressive leadership of Moctezuma II (1466–1620), ruled over 5 million people. Over 500 city-states paid tributes of food, cloth, and other goods. Tenochlitan itself, with its temples, palaces, and plazas, had a population of around 200,000 and was one of the largest cities in the world. Aztec society was hierarchical, with noble and priestly classes at the top and serfs and slaves at the bottom; in the middle were the commoners, who made up 90 percent of the population. The Spanish commander Hernán Cortés landed in Mexico in 1519. The Aztecs thought that Cortés was the god Quetzalcoatl (whose return had been prophesized), and he was welcomed as an honored guest. Instead Cortés took Moctezuma hostage and killed thousands of his nobles, the emperor himself dying in the struggle.

Aztec Religion and Ritual

| 51

Although the Aztecs were temporarily able to drive the Spaniards from the city, they were finally defeated in 1521 largely as a result of smallpox carried by the Spanish invaders, which ravaged the indigenous population. Cortés had the city razed and built Mexico City on its ruins, bringing about the beginning of the end of the Aztec Empire. Over the next half century the religion of the indigenous people was suppressed, temples were destroyed, and human sacrifice was outlawed. Forced conversion to Roman Catholicism led to the widespread adoption of Christianity, though often it was blended with indigenous traditions, while the traditional gods continued to be worshipped in secret. According to tradition, in 1531 a newly Christianized peasant had a vision of the Virgin Mary. Our Lady of Guadalupe, as she was called, became the patron saint of Mexico. Notwithstanding the Spanish conquest, indigenous ways of life endured especially among rural peasants. The modern-day descendants of the Aztecs are called Nahuas. There are an estimated 1.5 million speakers of the Nahuatl language, mostly on farms and in rural communities across Mexico. Some have completely lost or forsaken their Aztec heritage, while others continue to adhere to ancestral beliefs. Most take from both traditions. Some of the ancient deities, particularly those associated with the maize-growing cycle, continue to be worshipped, though their identities have been blended over time with other Aztec gods or with Christian figures. In August a festival is held in Mexico City to pay homage to Cuauhtemoc, the last of the Aztec emperors. Conchero dancers in elaborate costumes perform while the story of Cuauhtemoc is told. They carry Christian symbols to represent the blending of Aztec and Spanish cultures. Demographics Indigenous peoples make up 10 percent of the population of modern-day Mexico. In the 2010 census, 15.7 million people three years of age and over reported that they considered themselves to be indigenous, while 6.9 million reported speaking an indigenous language. The largest indigenous language group is the Aztec Nahuatl, spoken by 23 percent of indigenous people mostly in the states of Pueblo, Veracruz, and Hidalgo. Beliefs and Teachings The Aztec religion was polytheistic, with a pantheon of hundreds of gods and goddesses. It was devoted to gaining the favor of the gods especially to ensure good agricultural outcomes. The main gods were Tlaloc, the rain god; Huitzilopocchtli, the sun god; Quetzalcoatl, the god of learning; and Tezcatlipoca, one of the creator gods. They had shrines at the top of the largest pyramid in Tenochtitlan, where they were worshipped. Aztec creation myths tell that Earth was created five times. The first creation occurred when Tezcatlipoca changed himself into the sun. He was knocked out of the sky by a jealous rival and turned himself into a jaguar and devoured Earth. In turn three more gods became the sun but were destroyed by Tezcatlipoca. Finally,


| Aztec Religion and Ritual

Aztec brazier ca. 14th–16th century, depicting the young corn goddess, Xilonen (Chicomecoatl), holding ears of maize. The corn goddess was one of the most important Aztec deities. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

to ensure that the sun kept moving across the sky, all the gods sacrificed themselves. Because of this divine sacrifice, Aztecs believed that the gods needed a constant supply of human sacrifices in return for harnessing the natural forces necessary to sustain human life. In the Aztec conception of the cosmos there were 13 layers in Heaven and nine in the underworld, with Earth between. The four compass directions were associated with different gods. After death, sacrificial victims and soldiers killed in combat went to the eastern paradise. The western paradise was for women who died in childbirth, the southern paradise was for those who died of leprosy or other sickness, and the northern paradise was for everyone else. The dead were buried in a squatting position along with objects they would need to negotiate the layers of the underworld. Customs and Social Practices The Aztecs kept written and pictorial records called codices that documented historical and ritual matters and recorded tributes. These provide much information about Aztec life and customs. Spanish colonialists and missionaries also made

Aztec Religion and Ritual

| 53

detailed observations about Aztec society and provided eyewitness accounts of everyday life, at least in the cities. Aztecs cities were dominated by large pyramidal structures that functioned as temples. They had flat tops where the priests carried out sacrifices and where ritual dancers performed. A plaza in front of the pyramid provided an area for worshippers to observe the ceremonies and take part in feasts. The Aztecs used two calendars. One was a 365-day agricultural calendar, while the other was a 260-day ritual calendar (tonopohualli) made up of 13 numbers and 20 signs; every day was ruled by a god. The solar calendar was called the xiuhpohualli, meaning “counting of the years.” It was divided into 18 months each of 20 days plus 5 days that were considered unlucky days. Each of the months had a religious festival dedicated to one or more gods and usually connected with an agricultural theme. Ritual and Ceremony Aztec rituals revolved around keeping the gods happy and receiving their aid and blessings. Thanks to the self-sacrifice of the creator gods, the sun crossed the sky each day; to keep it moving, the sun god required a continual series of blood sacrifices to aid him. Humans sacrificed in this way were believed to rise to fight alongside the sun god. Those chosen for sacrifice could be from the Aztec community, or they might be war captives. A cycle of monthly ceremonies involved processions of sacrificial victims, offerings of food, dance, and drama performances leading up to the final sacrifices atop the temples to request the aid of the gods. The human sacrifice would be dressed as the god to whom he or she was being offered. Usually the victim’s heart would be removed and the body cast down the pyramid. Sometimes the sacrifices took place at sites outside the city, such as at particular mountains or lakes. For Aztecs it was an honor to be chosen as a human sacrifice. For the period between being selected and the sacrifice itself (which could be up to one year), the chosen warrior would be treated with the respect and deference due to god and be accorded all privileges. The gods of rain and maize were particularly important. Rain was vital for the agricultural cycle, from planting to growing to harvesting. There were several rain festivals throughout the year to petition Tlaloc to bring rain or to thank him for having done so. Maize was offered to the corn god, Txlotl, to ensure that future corn harvests would be good. At the spring celebration called Huey Tozoztli, young women dressed as Chicomecoatll brought ears of maize and other foods to her in celebration of the new corn. They created images of the goddess from amaranth dough. A monthlong Aztec festival to the goddess Mictecakihuatl (Lady of the Dead) is thought to be the origin of the modern-day Mexican festival Day of the Dead. It fell in August, the ninth month of the Aztec calendar, and honored the dead. Following a common cultural practice, the Spanish conquistadors Christianized the indigenous festival and moved it to November 1 to coincide with All Souls’ Day. The god Mictlantecutli appears in Aztec artifacts as a skull-like figure, which


| Aztec Religion and Ritual is a forerunner of the calaveras (painted skulls) that are ubiquitous at modern Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations. The greatest festival was Xiuhmolpilli, the New Fire Ceremony, which was held every 52 years when the two Aztec calendars aligned. Aztecs had a recurring concern that the world would end after 52 years. In preparation, all fires were extinguished, and the people went to a hill outside Tenochlitan to await a sign from the heavens. When the Pleiades constellation passed the zenith, this signaled that the crisis was past and that another 52-year cycle had begun; torch bearers visited homes throughout the valley to relight fires. Food Practices The Aztecs developed a system of intense crop cultivation, using irrigation canals in their cities and building raised fields over swampy ground. The main food crops were maize, beans, and squash as well as potatoes, tomatoes, avocadoes, chilis, cashews, and peanuts. The staple maize was soaked in lime water and ground into flour and used to make tortillas, tacos, and tamales. It was also the basis of a thick stew called pozole and a fermented drink. The agave cactus was the source of an alcoholic drink called pulque. Consumption of pulque was controlled, as it was thought that drunkenness risked too close a contact with the gods. Limes and tropical fruit such as pineapple and papaya were also eaten. Ground seeds of the amaranth plant were made into dough that was used to fashion effigies of the gods that were eaten on ritual occasions. Small animals were hunted, including rabbits, coyotes, armadillos, snakes, and wild turkey, and there were fish and shrimp to be had from the lakes and oceans. Algae from Lake Texcoco was used to make a sort of bread. Wild birds were eaten, while turkeys and ducks were domesticated and provided both eggs and meat, with dog being another meat source. Chocolate comes from the Aztec word chocolatl. Drinking chocolate, made from cocoa beans and cornmeal and spiced with chili peppers, was drunk cold. Spanish colonists took cocoa beans back to Spain, where a hot sweetened version of the drink evolved. See Also: Australian Aboriginal Religion; Cannibalism; North American Indigenous Religions; Sacrifice; Primary Document: An Aztec Emperor’s Feast, by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1519)

Further Reading “Aztecs.” n.d. Mexicolore, Owlcation. n.d. “Ancient Aztec Festivals, Celebrations and Holidays.” Owlcation, https:// Sandstrom, A. n.d. “What Happened to the Aztec Gods after the Conquest.” Mexicolore, -conquest-1. Smith, M. E. 2006. “Aztec Culture: An Overview.” Arizona State University, http://www Townsend, R. F. 2010. The Aztecs. London: Thames and Hudson.

B Baha’i Faith The Baha’i faith, one of the youngest of the independent world religions, originated in what is now Iran in 1863. It is also one of the fastest-growing and most widespread of religions, with over 7 million followers worldwide. Founded by the prophet Bahá’u’lláh (Ba-howl-a), the faith is built on principles of unity and justice and the interdependence of spiritual and social development. The faith is monotheistic; that is, Baha’is believe in one god. They accept that all religions contain essential truths but believe in progressive revelation, which is the idea that God has and will continue to send a series of divine messengers, or “manifestations of God,” to humankind. These manifestations, or prophets (Zoroaster, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad), each brought the same core message along with new teachings suited to the time and place of his particular revelation and the readiness of humanity to hear. As the latest of these manifestations, Bahá’u’lláh came to prepare the way for a new world order of peace and prosperity. Accordingly, Baha’i teachings focus on the unity of humankind and make strong links between spiritual and social teachings that include elimination of prejudice, equality of the sexes, universal education, and elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth. The Baha’i World Centre in the Acre/Haifa area of Israel is the spiritual and administrative hub of the Baha’i faith. The Baha’i faith has no clergy; instead, lay councils elected at local, national, and international levels administer its affairs. A five-pointed star is the official symbol of Baha’i faith, though a nine-pointed star is commonly used, as nine is associated with perfection and is the value of the word baha (glory) in the numerology system connected with the Arabic alphabet. The role of food in the Baha’i faith differs from that of other older religious traditions. There are no food rules, no prohibitions of specific food products (with exception of alcohol), no requirements for food rituals, and no rules on who can eat with whom and when. Instead, food is woven more subtly into the fabric of Baha’i life. Food is involved in health and healing, in hospitality and celebration, and in fasting and spiritual development. Food is also a factor in issues of social justice, economic development, equity, and education. Origins and Historical Development The Baha’i faith emerged in mid-19th-century Islamic Persia, where religious disputes concerning the rightful succession to the prophet Muhammad had long been 55


| Baha’i Faith a cause of unrest. In 1844 a Shi’a Muslim merchant named Sayyid ‘Ali Muhammad (1819–1850) began teaching new religious ideas. Taking the title “Bab” (which means “gate”), he announced his mission to prepare the way for a divine messenger whom he called “The Promise of All Ages.” While he attracted thousands of followers, the Bab was seen as a heretic by Shi’a clergy and a threat to government authority. He was executed by firing squad in 1850, and his followers were severely persecuted. One of the surviving Babi leaders was Mirza Husayn Ali (1817– 1892), who earlier had taken the name Bahá’u’lláh (Glory of God). In 1866 while living in exile in Turkey, he announced that he was the messenger of God promised by the Bab. His claims were accepted by the majority of Babis, who henceforth became known as Baha’is, or followers of Bahá’u’lláh. Orthodox Muslims who viewed Muhammad as being the last of God’s messengers considered the Baha’i faith a heresy. Like the Babi’s before them, Baha’is were heavily persecuted in their homeland, a situation that continues to this day. Bahá’u’lláh wrote the Kitabi-Aqdas (Most Holy Book), which lays out the fundamental laws and ethical principles of the Baha’i faith. He also wrote letters to world leaders urging them to abandon warfare and to establish international political and social systems that would lead to world peace and harmony. After his death in 1892 his eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844–1921), spread the faith far beyond its birthplace through extensive travels in Europe and North America. Much of the Baha’i guidance on diet and healing is contained in his talks given during these travels. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957), was the first and only Baha’i guardian. Having studied in Britain, he was able to translate Persian and Arabic writings into English, thus making Baha’i ideas accessible to a wider audience. Shoghi Effendi died without nominating a successor; in 1963 a new governing body, the Universal House of Justice (UHJ), was elected by Baha’i leaders. The UHJ coordinated missionary plans to expand the religion, leading to a rapid growth of the faith in terms of both numbers and ethnic and social diversity. Demographics By 2001 the Baha’i international community had 182 national spiritual assemblies and 11,740 local spiritual assemblies in 190 independent countries and 46 dependent territories or overseas departments. More than 2,100 ethnic groups were represented, and Baha’i literature had been translated into over 800 languages (Baha’i World Centre Department of Statistics 2001). Current estimates of the Baha’i world community range from 5 million to 7 million. The Baha’i community has experienced rapid growth in the last half century, and its demographic profile has changed profoundly. In the 1950s over 90 percent of the total world Baha’i population were Iranian, but that group now makes up less than 1 percent. According to the World Christian Database (Johnson and Zurlo 2007), the majority of Baha’is live in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Numerically, the largest Baha’i country populations are in India (1.89 million), followed by North America (512,864) and Kenya (422,782), while of the 10 countries where over 2 percent of the population are Baha’i, 6 are in Polynesia or Micronesia. The first public mention of the Baha’i

Baha’i Faith

| 57

faith in North America was at the 1893 Parliament of Religions in Chicago, and in 1927 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and Canada was incorporated in Evanston, Illinois. According to self-reported membership data in 2010, there are 1,130 local spiritual assemblies in the United States. The largest U.S. Baha’i populations by number are in California, South Carolina, and Texas (“2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study,” 2010). Beliefs and Teachings Central to Baha’i beliefs is the concept of unity. Baha’is believe that there is only one god, who has been known by different names in different religions, but that all religions are built on the same foundations and have the same essential message. They believe that all people are equal and are part of a single global community. To help bring about this unity, Baha’is try to put the principles of their faith into practice in their everyday lives. For them, actions are more important than words. Baha’is are forbidden to participate in partisan politics and are unable to hold political office. However, because spiritual and social development is seen to be strongly linked, it is important for Baha’is to actively participate in their communities. Individually and collectively Baha’is are active in nonpartisan political activities and social movements, especially in the areas of peace, social justice, and community development. Such activities are seen as faith in action. In 1983, the World Centre of the Office of Social and Economic Development was established to support and promote learning about development in areas such as literacy, education, medicine, and agriculture. Customs and Social Practices Baha’i religious customs are similar in many respects to the Islamic practice from which they developed and include prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage. The purpose of

Principles of the Baha’i Faith • • • • • • • • • •

The oneness of humankind. Common foundation of all religions. Equality of men and women. Elimination of all prejudice. Universal compulsory education. Universal peace upheld by a world government. Independent, unconstrained, investigation of truth. The essential harmony of science and religion. A spiritual solution to economic problems. A universal auxiliary language.


| Baha’i Faith prayer is to cultivate humility and devotion. Mostly prayer is private, with collective worship occurring mainly at Nineteen-Day Feasts and on holy days. Fasting is a spiritual duty. Baha’is believe that controlling bodily needs allows them to focus on spiritual matters and to get closer to God. Fasting also strengthens bonds within the global Baha’i community, knowing that coreligionists around the world are doing the same. The main fasting season lasts 19 days, beginning on the first day of the last month of the Baha’i year, which is March 2–20 on the Western calendar. The sick, the elderly, and the young are exempt from the fast, as are menstruating, pregnant, and nursing women as well as travelers and those engaged in heavy manual work. Hajj (pilgrimage) is obligatory for all men (it is discretionary for women) who are able to make the journey. The Baha’i pilgrimage consists of a nine-day visit to the shrines of Bahá’u’lláh and the Bab. Ritual and Ceremony Ritual is not a big part of Baha’i community life; in fact, there are specific instructions in the Kitab-i-Aqdas not to allow ritual to develop. There are no set public communal rituals. Rites of passage are limited to naming ceremonies for babies and marriage and funeral rites, when ceremonies tend to follow local cultural norms rather than a specifically Baha’i model. Food Laws and Practices Dietary codes and prohibitions are largely absent in the Baha’i sacred writings. There is no symbolic value attached to particular foods, nor are there foods that are associated with specific rituals or celebrations. Generally speaking, Baha’is follow local dietary customs. Rather than rules, there is an emphasis on guidance and on the responsibility of individual believers to live a virtuous life. One exception is an absolute prohibition on consumption of alcohol. There are also very detailed guidelines on social and commercial interactions where alcohol is involved. Baha’is are taught that the body is the temple of the human spirit, and they therefore have a responsibility for looking after their physical health so they can better serve God and society. Moderation in diet is encouraged, while extremes of either asceticism or overconsumption are frowned upon. The ideal is a balanced natural diet that is adapted to local climate and to the type of work in which the body is engaged. Although animal food is not forbidden, meat eating is considered to be only a temporary necessity of the current age that will give way in the future to vegetarianism. Vegetarianism is portrayed as being a compassionate practice, for the killing of animals is thought to blunt the human spirit. A meatless diet is also viewed as being natural in that it uses simple foods that grow from the ground. Finally, vegetarianism is regarded as a socially just practice in that no one should eat lavishly while others starve. Food is not only seen to be the chief way of maintaining health but is also the preferred means for treatment of disease. The concept of health prevalent in 19th-century Persia was based on the ancient Greek idea that four humors (blood, phlegm, choler, and black bile) govern the body. Diseases were thought to arise

Baha’i Faith and Alcohol

| 59

from imbalances in these humors, which could be corrected by eating the proper foods. Baha’i writings foresaw a time when improved medical knowledge and understanding would enable all illness to be treated by food. Meanwhile, Baha’is are enjoined to take full advantage of the best that modern medicine has to offer and to seek the services of competent physicians when they are ill. The sharing of food is an important feature of Baha’i social events. Food sharing also occurs through charitable activity and social action. However, where local community development projects supported by Baha’is involve food, these usually take the form of agricultural development rather than charitable food distribution. Food rules are often used as boundary markers in religions and as a way for believers to assert their faith identities. The virtual absence of prescriptive dietary laws in Baha’i teachings exemplifies the Baha’i concept of the unity of humankind by removing one boundary between races, cultures, and religions. See Also: Baha’i Faith and Alcohol; Baha’i Festival Calendar; Food and Religious Identity; Humanitarian Food Relief; Kitab-i-Aqdas; Nineteen-Day Feast; Primary Document: Healing by “Material Means”: Food in the Baha’i Faith (1908)

Further Reading ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1981. Some Answered Questions. 3rd ed. Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust. Baha’i World Centre Department of Statistics. 2001. _statistics_2001. Johnson, T. M., and G. A. Zurlo, eds. 2007. World Christian Database. Leiden: Brill. Khorsandyon, C. 2009. “Exercising Moderation: The Baha’i Teachings.” World Religions in Education, Momen, M. 1997. A Short Introduction to the Baha’i Faith. Oxford: One World. Tibbey, D. 2009. “‘Let My Food, O My Lord, Be Thy Beauty, and My Drink the Light of Thy Presence, and My Hope Thy Pleasure . . .’ [the Baha’i Faith on Food].” World Religions in Education, “2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study.” 2010. Association of Religion Data Archives,

Baha’i Faith and Alcohol Strict prohibition of alcohol is one of the few Baha’i laws concerning food and drink. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Baha’i holy book, there is a clear prohibition of the consumption of alcoholic drinks. “It is inadmissible that man, who hath been endowed with reason, should consume that which stealeth it away. Nay, rather it behooveth him to comport himself in a manner worthy of the human station, and not in accordance with the misdeeds of every heedless and wavering soul” (Bahá’u’lláh 1993, 119). There are many other references in Baha’i writings that prohibit the use of wine and other intoxicating drinks and that describe their


| Baha’i Faith and Alcohol negative effects on the individual and on society. The habit of drinking is described as a great misery and a great evil, and believers are directed to not consume alcohol under any circumstances, including using alcohol in cooking. The only exception allowed is if a doctor as part of the treatment of illness prescribes alcohol. Maintaining the health of the body and mind is very important to Baha’is, and alcohol can damage both. Inebriation or addiction is said to alter one’s judgment and hinders the pursuit of personal spiritual and moral development as well as making it difficult to carry out community obligations. There are also health and social consequences of alcohol abuse such as chronic diseases, family violence, and injury and death due to drinking and driving. Baha’i religious authorities have suggested that if the general public followed the Baha’i example and avoided alcohol, the result might well be a decrease in social problems and conflicts. Alcohol use is also seen to be a waste of global resources that could be diverted to more constructive uses. In societies where drinking of alcohol is customary, abstaining may be challenging and may create awkward situations. The Universal House of Justice (the highest Baha’i governing body) acknowledges that new believers may need time to adjust to nondrinking lifestyles. It encourages an educational approach to ensure that the law is obeyed but backs this up with warnings and the threat of suspension of administrative rights, including holding of office and voting, from any who persist in openly disregarding the law. In guidelines prepared by the Universal House of Justice on the serving of alcoholic drinks to non-Baha’is by individual Baha’is and Baha’i institutions, both the rules and the social implications of strict avoidance of alcohol are laid out in detail, summarized as follows: No Baha’i institution should serve alcohol to non-Baha’is under any circumstances. No Baha’i should serve alcohol at any function given by him, such as a wedding reception or a party. When entertaining guests, an individual Baha’i, acting as an official representative of the Baha’i community, should not serve alcohol if in his own home but may do so at his discretion in a restaurant. When an individual Baha’i is privately entertaining non-Baha’i guests in his own home or in a restaurant, it is preferable not to serve alcohol; however, if this would contravene the guests’ social expectations of hospitality, then it may be done. Alcohol must not be served in a restaurant or other business that is wholly owned by Baha’is. If a Baha’i is employed in a job that involves the serving of alcohol, he is not obliged to change that employment but is encouraged to do so if possible, especially if the job requires a great deal of involvement with the serving of alcohol. See Also: Alcohol; Baha’i Faith; Hospitality; Wine

Further Reading Bahá’u’lláh. 1993. The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, IL: Baha’í Publishing Trust.

Baha’i Festival Calendar

| 61

Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, comp. 1984. “Extracts from the Writings Concerning Health, Healing, and Nutrition.” Baha’i Library, http://bahai Universal House of Justice. 1982. Guidelines on the Serving of Alcohol Drinks by Baha’is and Baha’i Institutions. Haifa: Universal House of Justice.

Baha’i Festival Calendar The Baha’i calendar consists of 19 months of 19 days each. A solar year is used, with New Year at the spring equinox on March 21. Each month, day of the month, and day of the week is named after an attribute of God. Friday is the Baha’i day of rest. The calendar contains 10 holy days that mark anniversaries of the births, declarations, and deaths of the Bab and Bahá’u’lláh. New Year, which falls on the spring equinox, is also celebrated, as is World Religion Day and Race Unity Day. There are no prescribed rituals or ceremonies for these days, but devotional meetings may be held, and there should be no work or school. The days of declaration and Nowruz are celebratory occasions. There are 4 intercalary days (5 in a leap year) preceding the month of the 19-day fast, which are known as Days of Ha and during which there are social gatherings and gift giving. These days are added to adjust the Baha’i calendar to the solar year.

Baha’i Calendar of Celebrations and Holy Days (2017) Western Calendar January (Third Sunday)

Event World Religion Day

February 25– February 28 March 1–19

Intercalary Days (Days of Ha) Nineteen-Day Fast

March 20


April 20

Festival of Ridvan, first day*

Description Established in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States to foster interfaith understanding. Spiritual preparation for the Nineteen-Day Fast, marked by hospitality, charity, and gift giving. Time of prayer and meditation. Baha’is between 15 and 70 years of age do not eat or drink between sunrise and sunset. Baha’i New Year’s Day, derived from the ancient Persian New Year festival. Coincides with the spring equinox and is associated with new life. Start of the 12-day festival celebrating the declaration of Bahá’u’lláh as God’s messenger for the age. The most important Baha’i festival, also known as the Most Great Festival and the King of Festivals. (continued)


| Baptism Rituals (continued) Western Calendar April 28

Event Ninth day of Ridvan*

May 1

Twelfth day of Ridvan* Declaration of the Bab*

May 22

May 28

Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh*

June (Second Sunday)

Race Unity Day

July 9 October 21

Martyrdom of the Bab* Birth of the Bab*

October 22

Birth of Bahá’u’lláh*

November 25

Day of the Covenant Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

November 27

Description Commemorates the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh’s family at the Ridvan garden. Commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s departure from the Ridvan garden. Commemorates the revelation in 1844 of the Bab’s mission to prepare the way for a new messenger of God. Marks the anniversary of the death of Bahá’u’lláh in 1892 at Akka in what is now northern Israel. Inaugurated in 1957 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the U.S. Race Unity Day to promote racial harmony and understanding. Marks the anniversary of the execution of the Bab in 1850 in Tabriz, Persia (now Iran). Celebrates the birth of the herald of the founder of the Baha’i faith. Celebrates the birth in 1817 in Tehran, Persia (now Iran), of the founder of the Baha’i faith. Celebrates Bahá’u’lláh appointment of his eldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the center of the covenant. Marks the anniversary of the death of ‘Abdu’lBahá son of Bahá’u’lláh, in 1921 in Haifa in what is now northern Israel.

*Holy days on which work is suspended.

See Also: Baha’i Faith; Fasting in the Baha’i Faith; Nineteen-Day Feast

Further Reading The Baha’i Calendar and Holy Days.

Baptism Rituals Baptism is a Christian religious ritual that signals the admission of an individual to the body of the church. Often it is performed during infancy, but some religious sects favor adult baptism (or believers’ baptism), and there are differing theological views among Christian denominations on the meaning of and requirements for proper baptism. Baptism involves the sprinkling or pouring of water on the forehead or full immersion in water. The early Christian church practiced full immersion, requiring candidates to be fully naked.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah

| 63

Baptism is one of the sacraments of the Christian church. In most Christian traditions, infants are welcomed into the church community by being baptized at a church or chapel. Sometimes people are not baptized until they are adults, and the Baptist Church does not permit infant baptism at all. Baptism comes from the Greek word baptizein, meaning “to dip.” In one common version of the baptism ceremony the infant, dressed in a white Christening gown (which may be passed down from generation to generation), is held over a font, and water that has been blessed by a minister or priest is sprinkled or poured over the infant’s head while the priest makes the sign of the cross and announces that the child is baptized in the name of “the father, the son, and the holy spirit” (some sects do not require this). The child is christened with a name chosen by the parents. By being baptized the infant is purified, cleansed of original sin (ancestral sin), and reborn into the Christian faith. During an Eastern Orthodox baptism the infant is immersed three times, symbolizing the baptism, death, and resurrection of Christ. Following this, the infant is anointed with oil to symbolically prevent the devil from grasping it, and a lock of hair is snipped as a first donation to the church. Baptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Church of Christ members practice full immersion baptism but only for older children and adults who make a conscious commitment to the faith. Quakers reject the need for baptism or other Christian sacraments. Following the ceremony, there is commonly a reception at which food and drink hospitality is offered to family and friends; guests bring gifts in some cases, traditionally of silver. This may be a formal sit-down meal or a simple buffet held in the parents’ home, a community hall, a restaurant, or a hotel. Foods served depend on local culture and custom. White baptism cakes in the shape of a cross or cupcakes decorated with crosses made of icing may be featured. Wine or champagne may be drunk to toast the occasion. At Greek baptisms godparents may offer guests koufeta, or Jordan almonds, which are sweets tied up in net bags; traditionally they are pink for girls and blue for boys. See Also: Birth Rituals and Ceremonies; Death Rituals and Ceremonies; Marriage and Wedding Rituals; Rites of Passage, Christian; Rites of Passage, Hindu; Rites of Passage, Islam; Rites of Passage, Jewish; Rites of Passage, Shinto; Rites of Passage, Sikh

Further Reading Heyden, T. 2013. “10 Ways Christening Has Changed.” BBC, October 23, Holm, J., and J. Bowker, eds. 1994. Rites of Passage. London: Pinter Publishers. Mason, L. 2002. Food and the Rites of Passage. Devon, UK: Prospect Books.

Bar and Bat Mitzvah Bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies (for boys and girls, respectively) are Jewish comingof-age rituals in which the young person is received into the religious community and


| Bar and Bat Mitzvah becomes subject to religious directives. A mitzvah is a religious commandment, and bar and bat are Aramaic words for son and daughter, respectively. The ceremony takes place when the child reaches puberty and is usually set at 12 years for girls and 13 years for boys. It is actually the young persons who, upon reaching this age, become bar or bat mitzvah; they automatically become full members of the church, with the same rights and responsibilities as adults, and an actual ceremony is not obligatory. The rite of bar mitzvah was not mentioned in the Talmud but was established by rabbis in the 16th century as an occasion to be treated as of equal spiritual importance to that of a marriage. Traditionally women were not allowed to participate in Jewish religious ceremonies. Bat mitzvah was introduced in the late 19th century, with the first such ceremony in America being held in 1922. It is less common among Orthodox Jews than among Reform or Conservative Jews. Bar and bat mitzvahs remained modest affairs until the second half of the 20th century, when growing prosperity fueled more and more elaborate celebrations. Bar and bat mitzvahs are usually held at the synagogue on a Sabbath. A male celebrant is required to say a blessing over the weekly Torah reading or perform the full reading. He may also lead prayers and chants. The procedure is the same for females except that in orthodox practice girls do not actively participate in bat mitzvah. Boys and girls may study for up to a year to prepare. They may also be required to complete a lesson set by the rabbi to test their mastery of the Talmud. The bar mitzvah has gained in significance over time, for whereas it used to be the start of a religious life, it may for many secular Jews be the only religious ritual they experience. Following the ceremony at a synagogue, members of the congregation join the family in kiddush, which is a traditional Sabbath prayer recited over wine or grape juice. Simple foods such as bread, crackers, or cookies may be served. A relatively recent practice is for the celebrant’s family to host a party perhaps at a community center, hotel, or restaurant. Sometimes there are collective mitzvahs involving several families. Gifts are given to the celebrant. As at any social celebration, food is important. While small intimate gatherings in a family home are one option, many opt for a catered buffet or lavish banquet. Buffets offer a variety of choices for all ages, while for larger gatherings it is not uncommon to offer separate menus for the

Bar Mitzvah Excess Extravagant celebrations soon became the target of sumptuary laws designed to limit private conspicuous consumption. At bar mitzvah celebrations in late 18th-century Prague, regulations prohibited performing musicians. Only close relatives could attend, and there were restrictions on what foods and drinks could be served. Either chicken or goose could be served, and beef could be served but not veal. Carp was the only fish allowed, and wine was prohibited. Concerns over bar mitvah excess continue into the modern day, with some expensive lavish celebrations even incorporating Las Vegas–style performances.

Bible, Foods in the

| 65

younger children and the adults. The foods served to the former are typical party fare, while adults feast on more traditional dishes such as lox, gefilte fish, and pickled herring. Theme parties are also increasingly popular. While kosher cuisine is encouraged as being in keeping with the religious occasion, families may choose to follow their traditional food customs. See Also: Coming-of-Age Rituals; Judaism; Marriage Ceremonies, Jewish; Rites of Passage, Jewish

Further Reading Diner, Burghardt, L. 2004. Bar and Bat Mitzvah Book. New York: Citadel-Kensington, Greenspoon, L. J., R. Simkins, and G. Shapiro, eds. 2005. Food and Judaism. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press. Hasia, R., and MyiLibrary. 1999. Jews in America. Religion in American Life. New York: Oxford University Press. Horowitz, E. 2010. “Sumptuary Legislation.” The YIVO Encylcopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, JTA Staff. 2013. “Bar Mitzvah Video Sparks Debate over Culture of Excess.” Times of Israel, August 21, -culture-of-excess/.

Bible, Foods in the The Bible is the holy scripture of the Christian faith. It is made up of many books written by different authors at different times and is divided into the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament predates the birth of Christ and is also called the Hebrew Bible, while the New Testament was written after the death of Christ. Food features extensively in the Bible in different contexts: as an individual foodstuff, as part of a meal, as a set of dietary rules, as a description of a place, as a sacrifice, as metaphor, and in parables. Scholars and Christians have studied food in the Bible from all of these perspectives in order to understand ancient diets and what people ate, to understand the meaning and purposes of dietary laws, to show how food contributes to building and maintaining a religious community, to decode the religious and social messages that food conveys, or to provide guidance for contemporary diets. Individual Foods Mentioned in the Bible The individual foods mentioned in the Bible make a long list, though some are only mentioned once or twice. An Old Testament verse lists the seven species of the land of Israel as wheat, barley, figs, vines, pomegranate, olives, and honey (Deuteronomy 8:8). Bread, wine, and oil were the staples of the ancient Israelite


| Bible, Foods in the

Bible Cake The idea of Bible Cake, sometimes called the Old Testament Cake or Scripture Cake, may have originated over 200 years ago in the British Isles. Baking a Bible Cake was popular in parts of early 20th-century America as a way to teach young girls both how to bake and to learn biblical verses. The ingredient names would not be given in the recipe so that the young cook had to know—or read—her Bible. In the 21st century it is still popular as an activity for Sunday School classes or adult groups, usually at Christian churches. Here is a recipe for one version of Bible Cake; the ingredients are numbered to make the recipe easier to follow. Ingredients   1. ¾ cup Judges 5:25   2. 1½ cup Jeremiah 6:20   3. 5 Isaiah 10:14 (separated)   4. 3 cups sifted Leviticus 24:5   5. 3 teaspoons 2 Kings 2:20   6. 3 teaspoons Amos 4:5   7. 1 teaspoon Exodus 30:23   8. ¼ teaspoon each 2 Chronicles 9:9   9. ½ cup Judges 4:19 10. ¾ chopped Genesis 43:11 11. ¾ cup finely chopped Jeremiah 24:5 12. ¾ cup 2 Samuel 16:1 13. Whole Genesis 43:11 for garnish Directions In a large mixing bowl cream 1 and 2 until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks of 3, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Sift together 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. Beat into creamed mixture alternating with 9 until 4 is just blended in. Beat whites of 3 until stiff then fold into batter. Fold in chopped 10, 11, and 12. Turn into 10-inch greased pan. Bake at 325°F (160°C) for about an hour and 10 minutes until it is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After 15 minutes, turn cake out from pan onto wire rack to cool completely.

diet and, not surprisingly, are mentioned frequently in the Bible. Barley was the most commonly used grain to make bread and was a staple, though wheat became more common, and barley was relegated to a food for animals and the poor. Figs were common and were eaten fresh or pressed into cakes and dried. Grapes were abundant and were mostly used for grape juice or wine, though some were dried for raisins. Pomegranates were also eaten fresh or as a juice or dried. The frequency with which wine is mentioned suggests that it was a common drink both as a part of ordinary meals and of feats. Wine was of central importance in Christian rituals, notably the Eucharist. Olives were one of the most important fruits of the

Bible, Foods in the

| 67

region; oil obtained by crushing the olives was used extensively in cooking but also as a fuel for lamps and in offerings and ceremonial anointment. Honey mostly meant thick syrups made from figs, grapes, and dates, though there are a few biblical references to bee honey. Meat would not have been a part of the everyday diet for the majority of people; animals were valuable assets. Cattle were used for traction, while goats and sheep provided milk, butter, and cheese. The pig was the particular focus of Old Testament taboos and was largely avoided by Christians. Meat would have been more common in the diets of the elite and in sacrifices. Fish is not mentioned frequently as a food despite the fact that several of Jesus’s disciples were fishermen and that it is known that there was a thriving trade in fish. Vegetables are hardly mentioned in the Bible, though Proverbs 15:17 reminds Christians that “a meal of vegetables where there is friendship is better than a fatted ox and hatred.” Biblical Meals There are many accounts of meals in the Bible. Usually these are in the context of fellowship, covenants, or feasts. The Gospel According to John provides many accounts of communal meals. Sharing meals was a way of both creating a shared identity and reaching out to and attracting new converts. Covenant meals involved the making or renewing of an oath or pledge between people or people and their god. When God gave his divine laws to Moses on Mount Sinai, Moses offered a sacrifice to seal the covenant in blood, after which he and Aaron and the elders of Israel shared a meal (Exodus 24:11). The Passover meal commemorates God’s grace in sparing the firstborn children of the Israelites (Exodus 12:8). The Last Supper was both a fellowship and a covenant meal. Wedding feasts are mentioned on several occasions, including the famous wedding at Cana when Jesus is said to have turned the water into wine (John

The Marriage at Cana, by the artist known as the Master of the Catholic Kings, ca. 1495–1497. Jesus is shown, his hand raised, having just turned the water in the clay jars into wine. (National Gallery of Art)


| Bible, Foods in the 2:1–12). King Balshazzar gave a feast for 1,000 of his nobles (Daniel 5:1), while Samson’s wedding feast stretched into a seven-day party (Judges 14:12). Dietary Rules The Old Testament describes in detail the dietary laws that applied to the Jewish people. They essentially deal with purity and pollution (Leviticus 11). In the New Testament these dietary laws are rescinded; Jesus declares that all food is pure and fit to eat for Christians (Mark 7:18–19). The overthrowing of the dietary laws was a way of dismantling boundaries between people so that everyone could share food together in fellowship. Sacrifice Biblical references to sacrifice are of two main types. One is the offering of food to God; the other is fasting. Sacrifices could be burnt offerings, when the whole animal would be burned, or fellowship or peace offerings, which would be shared by participants after they had been offered to God. Grain or drink normally accompanied any burnt or peace offering. Sacrificial offerings were also made as atonement for sins. One of the most famous sacrifices is in the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1–14). The prophet Abraham was commanded by God to make a sacrifice of his own son Isaac. Abraham obediently prepared to do so when, at the last minute, God told him to sacrifice a ram instead, saying “now I know that you fear God.” (In the Islamic tradition it is Abraham’s other son, Ishmael, who is the putative sacrifice.) Examples of fasting abound. The prophet Moses fasts for 40 days in

Locusts and Honey John the Baptist is best known for having baptized Jesus in the Jordan River. According to the gospels of the New Testament, he lived on a diet of locusts and wild honey: Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew 3:4) The insects, locusts, were a permitted food under the Old Testament food laws but would have been only sporadically available in the desert. It is more likely that “locust” actually referred to the bean of the carob tree, which was native to the area and is sometimes now known as St. John’s bread. Carob pods contain a sweet edible pulp surrounding a hard seed and have a chocolate taste.The seeds are very nutritious and can be crushed and pressed into cakes. “Honey” referred to thickened sweet syrup made from fruits such as dates, figs, or grapes rather than bee honey. Locust beans are used today in many West African traditional soups and sweetmeats, while locust bean gum is used in the food industry as a thickener.

Bible, Foods in the

| 69

preparation for receiving the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). Jesus spends 40 days fasting in the desert before he begins his ministry (Matthew 2:1–4). The apostle Paul fasts for 3 days after his conversion to Christianity (Acts 9:9). David fasts in mourning for Saul (2 Samuel 1:12). Anna worships God at the temple with fasting and prayer (Luke 2:37). Metaphors Biblical references to food and drink are metaphorical as well as literal. They are used to describe Jesus, his ministry, and his followers and believers. Food is a metaphor for the word of God. Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life, saying that whoever believes in him will not hunger or thirst, for they will be fed with spiritual understanding. Famine is thus not a lack of food but a result of not hearing the word of God. Water is a common biblical metaphor for many different concepts, including divine blessing (Isaiah 58:11), divine anger (Hosea 5:10), justice (Hosea 5:10), and fear (Joshua 7:5). The vineyard is a metaphor for the Kingdom of God. Jesus is described as the true vine, and his disciples are the branches. Parables and Miracles Parables are teaching stories that convey a message about Christian values and behaviors and use familiar worldly situations to impart spiritual lessons. Several biblical parables involve food or food-related activities such as sowing seed or catching fish. The Gospel According to Mark relates the parable of the mustard seed. “And he said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade’” (Mark 4:30–32). Two banquet parables tell how those invited to a feast are not necessarily the ones who are chosen in the end. In the parable of the prodigal son, a feast is given in honor of a son who turned his back on his family home but returned in the end (Luke 15:29, 11–32). Food and drink also feature in accounts of miracles, such as loaves and fishes in the feeding of the 5,000 and water turned into wine at the wedding at Cana. See Also: Christianity; Commensality; Fasting in Christianity; Fish in Christian Symbolism; Judaism; Sacrifice

Further Reading Chiffolo, A. F., and R. W. Hesse Jr. 2006. Cooking with the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts, and Lore. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Cooper, J. 1993. Eat and Be Satisfied: A Social History of Jewish Food. Jerusalem: Jason Aronson. Kobel, E. 2011. Dining with John: Communal Meals and Identity Formation in the Fourth Gospel and Its Historical and Cultural Context. Leiden: Brill.


| Birth Rituals and Ceremonies MacDonald, N. 2008. What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. Morse, K. 1998. A Biblical Feast: Foods from the Holy Land. Berkeley: Ten Speed. Neel, Douglas E., and Joel A. Pugh. 2012. The Food and Feasts of Jesus: Inside the World of First-Century Fare, with Menus and Recipes. Religion in the Modern World. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Birth Rituals and Ceremonies Rites of passage are important times of transition from one state of social being to another; their observance is accompanied by ritual activities, and these frequently include food and eating. Most cultures have ritual ways of welcoming a new human life into the world. Such rituals or celebrations, whether religious or secular in nature, may occur at or shortly following the birth or in the ensuing months. Baptism is a religious rite that some faiths perform early in infancy, while others delay it into adult life. Common themes in the birth practices of various faith traditions are asking for divine blessings or protection for the new life and providing gifts of food or meals to a new family to help ease the new time-consuming responsibilities that they must assume. In Korea, the 100th day after a baby is born is celebrated with bowls of seaweed soup and colored rice cakes. The tradition arose at a time when infant mortality was very high, so reaching the age of 100 days was a cause for celebration. Sharing soup and rice with 100 people was seen as a good omen for the child’s future health and prosperity. Buddhism Theravada Buddhists usually hold a formal naming ceremony at a temple in which the child is given a dharma name (dharma is the universal doctrine or teaching of Buddha). Lay community elders, often ex-monks, usually perform the ceremony by blessing the infants and sprinkling them with water. In the Ladakh region of northern India, Mahayanan Buddhists hold a family gathering known as dun to celebrate a birth. Three weeks later dagang, a party with feasting, dancing, and gift giving, is given for friends and neighbors. In Tibet well-wishers visit the home of a newborn, bringing food such as buttered tea, meat, and clothes for the baby. Khata scarves are given to the parents and the baby. Often the guests are served pancakes. Christianity The joy of a new baby is celebrated informally, with cards and gifts for the infant and with prepared meals for the new family to help alleviate the unaccustomed workload. In Brazil those visiting a new mother in the hospital not only take a gift of flowers for the mother or clothes or toys for the infant but also receive a small gift from the mother.

Birth Rituals and Ceremonies

| 71

Hinduism Traditional Hindu life was marked by 16 rites of passage, or samskara, though not all are observed today. Following a birth, jatakarma is performed to keep the child safe from any defects and harmful influences. The rituals include feeding the infant honey and ghee from a golden spoon. Sometimes a gold coin is placed in the baby’s right ear while the father whispers the name of God. Sutak, a period of postnatal seclusion, may be observed as a way of removing the ritual impurity associated with childbirth. It can vary from 10 to 30 days but is not often more than 13 days. In namkaran, the naming ceremony held 10 or so days after birth, the child is given a name based on astrological zodiac signs. Niskraman is the child’s first outing from the home and takes place in the third or fourth month after birth. Its intent is to bring the child a long prosperous life. At the temple, the infant is seated on a mound of consecrated rice and other grains and is sprinkled with ashes or rice before being laid in front of the temple god, and sweets are given as an offering. Annaprashan is the first feeding of solid food, which is cooked rice with curd, ghee (clarified butter), and perhaps honey, given with a silver or golden spoon. A prayer is said seeking divine blessings, after which the baby’s mouth is washed with water. This should occur in an even month for boys and an odd month for girls. Islam The Qur’an does not provide any guidance or require any special actions in connection with the birth of a baby, but there are traditional practices based on the prophet Muhammad’s example. The first words a newborn child should hear are those of the adhan, the call to prayer that summons Muslims around the world to pray five times each day. The infant’s father or an imam recites the words first in the infant’s right ear and then in the left ear. The infant’s first taste should be of something sweet. Usually this is a small piece of date that the parent has softened by chewing. Honey or juice is also acceptable. Friends and relatives convey their congratulations and offer prayers; gifts of sweets or cash may be given, but this is not obligatory and should not be excessive. Visitors who come to see the new baby may also offer practical help and support, such as cooking meals for the family. Seven days after the birth comes a ritual known as aqiqah. The infant’s head is shaved, and the hair is weighed; the parents give an equivalent amount of silver or gold to charity. A prayer for the health of the child is said, and afterward there are festivities at which an offering or sacrifice is made and the cooked meat is distributed to family, friends, and the poor. Naming the baby is traditional on the seventh day, and parents are encouraged to choose a lovely and meaningful name, such as that of a prophet, and to avoid names suggesting sorrow or strife. Judaism In Ashkenazi tradition on the first Friday night after the birth of a boy, family and friends visit the parents’ home to welcome the new baby in a ceremony called


| Birth Rituals and Ceremonies shalom zachor (peace be upon the male). Party foods such as cookies, chips, and cake are served along with beer and soft drinks. Traditionally, chickpeas—a symbol of mourning—are consumed. One religious explanation for this is the belief that while in his mother’s womb the newborn is taught the complete Torah by an angel; this knowledge is forgotten at birth, and its loss is what is mourned at shalom zachor. One of the most important of Jewish rites, Brit Milah, or the Bris, occurs eight days after the birth of a son when he is circumcised in accordance with biblical command. The ceremony, which is usually performed by a trained mohel, is often followed by a celebratory meal. Reform and Conservative Jews may elect to have the circumcision performed at the hospital when the baby is born. Following circumcision, the baby’s Hebrew name is announced. Usually infants are named after relatives, living (in Sephardi tradition) or dead (in Askenazi tradition). The naming ceremony for a baby girl is held on the first Sabbath after her birth. The father reads a blessing, and the girl’s Hebrew name is announced to the congregation. Prayers are offered for the welfare of the mother. After a naming ceremony a festive meal or light refreshments are shared at the synagogue or home. Shintoism In traditional folk Shinto it was believed that a baby was born when it received a soul from the kami (spirit of birth). For the first 30 days, mother and infant would remain in seclusion to protect against impurity. On the 7th day a naming ceremony was held with only close relatives present, and then 32 (for girls) or 33 (for boys) days after birth the baby would be taken to a Shinto shrine to receive a blessing and protection of the local kami. In contemporary times, births most often happen at a hospital. After discharge the mother may return with the baby to her maternal home for a month, thus emulating the traditional separation from society. Newborns are usually dressed in white as a symbol of purity; at age 17 days colored attire is permitted. The naming ceremony is held after about one week. It is common for parents to take their infant to one of the larger national shrines for a blessing around the 30-day mark, as is traditional. Friends attend the ceremony and bring gifts for the baby. Sikhism The birth of a child is regarded as a gift from God and is met with much rejoicing. When the infant is a few weeks old he or she is taken to the temple for a naming ceremony. The infant is fed amrit, which is nectar made from water and sugar that has been ritually prepared by being stirred with a double-edged sword while hymns are chanted. Alternately the granthi (officiating Sikh) dips a sword into the amrit and uses it to anoint the baby’s head and tongue. The mother drinks the remaining amrit. The granthi opens the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, at a random page. The first letter of the first word on the left-hand page becomes the first letter of the infant’s name. The parents choose a name, and the granthi pronounces it to the congregation, who cheer to show their approval. The name “Kaur” (princess) is


| 73

added to all girls’ names, and “Singh” (lion) is added to boys’ names. At the conclusion of the service, sacred food called karah prasad, paid for by the parents, is shared among the congregation. There may additionally be a free langar meal for everyone, though this is not obligatory. Zoroastrianism The birth of a child is a time for celebration but also for caution, as childbirth is often see as a source of ritual impurity. In traditional practice a woman in childbirth drank a few drops of consecrated haoma juice, made from twigs of the haoma plant, pomegranate leaves, and water. Haoma juice, which contains a mild narcotic, was thought to improve health and strength and aid in the bearing of strong children. A drop of this juice was also placed on the baby’s tongue as a strengthening drink. A lamp was lit and kept burning for 3 days to keep evil spirits away from the infant. For the mother there was a confinement period of 40 days after giving birth, during which she did not leave the house and avoided contact with others. This seclusion was required to get rid of impurities she had contracted during childbirth, and after 40 days she would take a ritual bath that allowed her to rejoin the outside community. The custom of using haoma juice has long since died out, and today a sweet drink made of molasses or sugar may be given instead, while breast-feeding is encouraged. In modern urban settings it may be impractical for a woman to stay home for over six weeks, and this requirement is no longer commonly imposed. As a compromise meals may be taken separately from the rest of the family, while strict orthodox women may elect to undergo a short period of seclusion. See Also: Baptism Rituals; Christianity; Death Rituals and Ceremonies; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; Rites of Passage; Rites of Passage, Buddhist; Shinto; Sikhism; Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. Holm, J., and J. Bowker, eds. 1994. Rites of Passage. London: Pinter Publishers. Mason, L. 2002. Food and the Rites of Passage. Devon, UK: Prospect Books.

Bread There are thousands of types of bread in the global cuisine. Bread in one form or another has been a popular staple in numerous cultures over millennia and has come to be used as a synecdoche for food in general or as a metaphor for sustenance, as in the staff of life.


| Bread The term “bread” is derived from an old Germanic word meaning “small piece.” The use of the word “bread” dates from the early 13th century; previously the word hlaf (loaf) was used. Bread is essentially a combination of cereal flour and water, to which salt, sugar, yeast, and/or fat may be added, and then cooked on open fire or heater, fried in oil, or baked in an oven. Different grains may be used to make bread, the most common being wheat, barley, rye, corn, millet, teff, and oats. (Insect flour has also been used.) Bread can be flat or unleavened, or it can rise to produce a firm structure with air pockets. Leavened bread is produced through the fermentation of yeast that produces carbon dioxide, which is trapped in pockets that are formed as the dough is heated. Leavened bread requires the protein gluten that is found in wheat to produce the internal structure that traps air, and so nonwheat breads are heavy and dense. Wheat may be blended with other grains to provide the leavening capacity. History The earliest breads were thick porridges made from grain pastes and water. Baking or heating this mixture produced a solid food that could be easily carried around. Querns, or grinding stones for crushing grain, were first used in the Neolithic period (4500–2500 BCE). By 1500 BCE leavened breads made by fermenting wild yeast (sourdough) were being made in Egypt. The art of bread making was advanced by the ancient Greeks, who produced dozens of different bread types, while the Roman Empire saw the creation of the first baker’s guilds. Bread in medieval Europe was a status symbol as well as a staple food. While peasants and workers ate coarser, darker breads, the wealthy classes preferred more expensive refined white breads made by removing the wheat bran and finely sifting the flour. Leavened bread was baked in bake houses rather than in domestic settings, and the 20th century saw mass production of bread with industrial-scale equipment and processes. Wheat was introduced into North America in the late 1600s, and while it was unsuited to the climate of the New England states, it ultimately proved ideal for the prairie wheat belt. In 19th-century America, the Christian health reformer Sylvester Graham wrote a treatise on bread and bread making in which he extolled the value of homemade whole-grain bread. He sponsored the production of his own brand of graham bread and graham crackers. White bread continued to be associated with refinement and status, but in recent decades there has been a new appreciation of whole grains, spurred partly by health concerns (white bread is low in fiber and some nutrients) and partly by changing attitudes toward mass production and preference for local, artisanal products. Flatbreads are typical in the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent, North Africa, and the Middle East. Religion In early agricultural communities, grains were of central importance for sustaining the population. Success was dependent on knowledge of the changing seasons, the correct times to sow and harvest crops, and cooperation of the weather. Crop


| 75

growing therefore became a concern of religious rituals designed to persuade the gods to help ensure good growing conditions and to thank them for the fruits of the harvest. There were agricultural deities, such as Osiris in Egypt, Ceres in Rome, and Demeter in Greece. In ancient Egypt, wheat represented life, fertility, and resurrection. Grains of wheat were placed in graves as a sign that new life would be reborn. At the ancient Greek festival Thargelia, the first bread of the new wheat was offered to Apollo. At the Aztec spring celebration called Huey Tozoztli, young women dressed as the goddess Chicomecoatll bought ears of maize and other foods to her in celebration of the new corn. Christianity Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, means “house of bread.” Bread is a particularly potent metaphor in Christianity. In the Bible it is mentioned over 300 times, particularly in the first five books of the Old Testament. The Christian Lord’s Prayer beseeches God to “give us this day our daily bread,” and the Christian savior Jesus referred to himself as the bread of life, saying that whoever believed in him would not hunger or thirst, for they would be fed with spiritual understanding. The identification of bread with Jesus’s body remains at the heart of the Eucharist sacrament or mystery, at which bread is symbolically (or literally for Roman Catholics) transformed into the body of Christ. In the orthodox tradition, special altar bread called prosforo (bread of offering) is used at the Eucharist. A wooden prosforo seal is used to stamp “IC XC NIKA” (meaning “Jesus Christ conquers”) on the bread. Making ornate decorative breads is a popular custom at Easter. Christian symbols and initials may be inscribed on the loaves, such as hot cross buns, traditionally eaten on Good Friday and marked on top with a cross cut into the dough or made from raised pastry strips. At Traditional decorative artos bread in the Greek an Orthodox Christian Easter eve village of Proastio. Artos is prepared to celebrate service, the artos, a large loaf Orthodox Christian Easter and saints’ days. (Peter of leavened bread decorated with Eastland/Alamy Stock Photo)


| Bread Christian imagery, is blessed and sprinkled with holy water. It remains in the church for a week and each day is carried in procession around the building. On the Saturday after Easter, known as Bright Saturday, the bread is blessed and distributed among members of the congregation. Bread is associated with Christian rites of passage. Bread and salt commonly feature in wedding rituals in which wishes for health, prosperity, and fecundity are conveyed. Decorative breads are a feature at wedding tables in many European traditions, including Greek prosforo, Ukrainian korovai, and Bulgarian pitka. In the latter case, the rising of the yeast bread symbolizes the forthcoming new family unit. Special funeral breads are commonly served at a funeral or memorial meal or as a gift to mourners. Amish friendship bread is made from a sourdough starter that is passed on from friend to friend. Judaism When the ancient Israelites were told by God to flee from Egypt, they did not even have time to let their bread rise. This event is commemorated at Passover, when all leavening is banished from the home for seven days and only unleavened bread is eaten. Passover is part of the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread, one of three Jewish pilgrim feasts when males were to travel to the temple in Jerusalem to make an offering to God. In medieval Europe, Jews were widely persecuted by Christian authorities. One of the common legal sanctions was a prohibition on Jews baking bread because it was felt that bread, being part of the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist, should not be produced by non-Christians. There was a precedent in the fourth century CE when the Council of Laodicia ruled that Christians could not receive leavened bread from Jews or share bread with them. Challah is a sweet braided yeast bread that is baked for the Sabbath and for Jewish holidays. It represents the manna that God provided to the ancient Israelites while they were exiled in the desert. The name “challah” means “the priest’s share,” and traditionally a little bit of dough is pinched off and baked separately. It is then burned so it cannot be consumed. The bread gets its golden color from egg yolks and sometimes from a pinch of saffron. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, the bread is baked in a circular form representing the continuity of life. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah there is a custom called tashlikh wherein people go to a body of water to cast out their sins in the form of bread crumbs. Spiritual Power In several religious traditions, bread consecrated by clergy is imbued with spiritual power. In Sufi Islam, bread is regarded as sacred. By speaking the name of God during the bread-making process, the bread is filled with baraka (spiritual power), which is then shared by those who eat the bread. Dron is a type of round unleavened bread made from wheat flour and clarified butter that is used in Zoroastrian rituals. During the preparation of the bread, which must be done by a priest, the words humata, hukta, hvarshta (good thoughts, good words, good deeds) are pronounced three times while putting a mark on the bread, for a total of nine marks,


| 77

before the bread is cooked on a wood fire. This bread of life is a source of spiritual strength, and the dron ritual is an act both of blessing and thanksgiving. See Also: Aztec Religion and Ritual; Christianity; Easter; Eucharist; Graham, Sylvester; Judaism; Passover; Sufi Islam; Wine; Zoroaster (Zarathustra); Zoroastrianism

Further Reading Balinsky, M. 2009. The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. Jacob, H. E. 2014. Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History. Anniversary ed. New York: Skyhorse Publishing. MacDonald, N. 2008. Not Bread Alone: The Uses of Food in the Old Testament. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rubel, W. 2011. Bread: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books. Sack, D. 2001. Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Breast-Feeding Breast-feeding is the practice of feeding infants with human milk directly from the mother’s breast. It is the oldest and most widely practiced cross-cultural form of infant feeding and is promoted by modern health workers as the best way to ensure that infants receive adequate nutrition, protection against disease, and maternalinfant bonding. The composition of breast milk changes over time and provides the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development as well as a variety of nonnutritive substances including antimicrobial factors, growth factors, hormones, and digestive enzymes. Commercially produced artificial milks, commonly called infant formula, are used as a substitute for breast milk for a variety of social and medical reasons and as a matter of personal choice. The improper use of infant formula has been associated with poorer health outcomes and in the developing world with infant malnutrition and death. The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breast-fed (that is, with no supplemental foods) until the age of six months, with breast-feeding complemented by solid foods up to two years of age, and has issued a code of practice on the marketing of breast milk substitutes as a measure both to protect and promote breast-feeding and ensure proper use of breast milk substitutes when they are necessary. Successful breast-feeding requires social support and supportive environments. Some religions have explicit guidelines and recommendations. Hinduism Breast-feeding is supported in ancient Hindu sacred texts and medical treatises. The Vedas describe the breast as a pitcher full of nectar. The Sushruta Samhita, a


| Breast-Feeding medical work of the third century BCE, declares “May four oceans, full of milk, constantly abide in both your breasts, you blessed one, for the increase of the strength of the child!” A healthy diet for the mother is recommended, as is the importance of mother-baby contact for successful establishment of breast-feeding. Weaning is recommended at the time of teething or when the woman gets pregnant again. Wet-nursing was often chosen by the elite class, though the wet nurse had to be of good character. Wet nurses would also step in if a mother was seriously ill or in the event of maternal death. In modern practice breast-feeding is the normative choice among Hindus in the developing world but is less common in urban areas and among Hindus living in the West. In India it is common to discard the first thick yellow colostrum and feed the infant ghee or honey. The colostrum contains important nutrients, and a delay in initiating breast-feeding can interfere with the establishment of successful feeding. While most women in India do initiate breastfeeding and continue breast-feeding for up to two years, breast milk is soon supplemented with solid foods. Among Indian women living in the United States, both the practice of prelacteal feeding and the duration of breast-feeding are lower than in the homeland. Judaism In Judaism, the Talmud refers to the positive value of breast-feeding for a period of two years. This is based on a tradition that the first Jewish baby, Isaac, was weaned at 24 months. Jewish law permits breast-feeding up to the age of four years or up to five years for a sick child. Christianity There are several references in the Bible to nursing mothers offering the breast, but there is no Christian scriptural perspective on breast-feeding. Catholics and Mormons who are nursing are exempted from fasting requirements. Islam Breast-feeding is considered to be a child’s right, held against its parents. According to the Qur’an, mothers may breast-feed their infants for two full years, but if there is any potential harm to the mother she may stop (Qur’an 2:233). Also, if she and her husband agree, the infant can be weaned earlier. A wet nurse may be employed provided that she is properly paid and is of good character; in Arabic countries a member of the extended family may be chosen. The father has an obligation to support his wife as long as she is breast-feeding, and this continues even if the couple gets divorced. A hadith of the prophet Muhammad says that Allah has placed the sustenance of the infant in the two breasts of the mother. The rewards of breast-feeding are described in several hadiths where the breast-feeding mother is likened to one who fights for Allah. The prophet also declared that there was no milk better than milk of the mother. Breast-feeding an infant creates a series of


| 79

relationship laws that define “close relatives,” including parents, brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles. A woman who breast-feeds a child more than five times before it is two years of age becomes a milk mother to that child with legal rights regarding relationships. Being a milk mother may help with adoptions. Children so fed become milk siblings and may not marry another child breast-fed by the same woman. During the monthlong Ramadan fast breast-feeding women are exempted from the fast, though they may choose to still fast if they so wish. Those who take up the exemption must make up for the missed days at a later date. Nursing mothers may be encouraged to consume Nigella sativa (black seeds), which contain an active chemical that stimulates milk production. Baha’i Faith In 19th-century Persia where the Baha’i faith originated, breast-feeding to the age of two years was a cultural norm. Baha’i sacred writings make several references to infant feeding and endorse breast-feeding, or suckling, as a divine gift and the normal way of feeding infants. “Thus, ere thou didst issue from thy mother’s womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee” (Bahá’u’lláh 1985). Other writings indicate that from birth children must be provided with whatever will best support their health. Specifically, mother’s breast milk is described as being most agreeable and better suited to the child’s needs. Exceptions are made if the mother falls ill or if her milk runs dry. Breast-feeding is also associated with spiritual developments of the child, as love of God is said to be imbibed along with mother’s milk. Breast-feeding women are excluded from fasting requirements during the annual Nineteen-Day Fast, acknowledging the importance of maintaining the capacity of the mother to nourish her infant. The mother can choose whether to fast or not, and if she does then she is not required to make up the missed days at a later time, as is the case in the Islamic fast of Ramadan. The Baha’i faith endorses equality between men and women. Motherhood is highly valued, and men should support women in their decision to breast-feed. Breast-feeding is also congruent with teachings that Baha’is should follow scientific medical advice. See Also: Baha’i Faith; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Gender and Food; Hinduism; Islam

Further Reading Bahá’u’lláh. 1985. The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh. Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. “Breastfeeding.” n.d. World Health Organization, /en/. Laroia, N., and D. Sharma. 2006. “The Religious and Cultural Bases for Breastfeeding Practices among the Hindus.” Breastfeeding Medicine 1(2): 94–98. Yashmin, S. n.d. “Islamic and Cultural Practices in Breastfeeding.” Leader Today, http://


| Buddhism

Buddhism Originating in the sixth century BCE in what is present-day Nepal, Buddhism is a religion and a philosophy based on meditation, wisdom, and compassion. The founder of Buddhism was Siddhartha Gautama (ca. 563–483 BCE), who rejected both the luxury of his princely birth and the asceticism of monastic life and attained spiritual enlightenment by following what he called the “middle way.” Buddha’s example and his teachings provide guidance for the Buddhist community. Unlike Western religions, Buddhism does not profess belief in a personal god or in an immortal human soul, and there is no central religious authority governing the Buddhist community. Buddhists believe that it is up to each individual to find his or her own path to enlightenment through personal spiritual development in which meditation plays an important part. The two major schools of Buddhism are Theravada and Mahayana; the fundamental teachings of each are similar. Other forms include Vajrayana, Pure Land, Nichiren, and Zen, the latter of which is a form of Buddhism popular in Japan and in contemporary North America. Buddhism is the fourth-largest world religion with around 500 million followers worldwide, of whom about 4 million live in North America. Buddhism is a growing source of influence on Western thought and practice, including diet. Buddhist symbols include a lotus flower and an eight-spoke dharma wheel, which is sometimes featured on the Buddhist flag. Origins and Historical Development Buddhism arose in the sixth century BCE at a time of social and religious change. Brahminism, with its emphasis on priestly authority, ritual, sacrifices, and strict social or caste divisions, was dominant but was being challenged by ideologies such as Jainism, with its focus on nonviolence and individual responsibility. Into this milieu Siddhartha Gautama was born in the village of Lumbini in present-day Nepal into a life of princely privilege and power, which he renounced when he saw the suffering in the world. From its origins in northern India, Buddhism spread as Gautama and his disciples traveled to neighboring regions and shared their ideas with those who would listen. In about 263 BCE King Ashoka made Buddhism the state religion of his Indian empire, which established it throughout the subcontinent and helped it diffuse north and west to Tibet and Central Asia; east to China, Korea, and Japan; and southeast to Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. After the death of King Ashoka, Buddhism declined in India as Brahmin dominance was reestablished, and it is now a minority religion there. As Buddhism spread geographically, it was influenced by and adapted to local cultures. Two major branches of Buddhism evolved, though the fundamental teachings of each school are similar. Theravada, or the Way of the Elders, adheres to original Buddhist teachings and is dominant in countries of Southeast Asia (Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Burma). It can be thought of as a more conservative form of Buddhism. Mahayana, or the Greater Vehicle, is practiced in Vietnam, China, Korea, and Japan and makes less differentiation between monks and laity. Vajrayana


| 81

is a branch of Mahayana that developed in Tibet, Nepal, and Mongolia, while Zen Buddhism is a mixture of Mahayana and Taoism. This latter began in China, spread to Korea and Japan, and in the last century has become increasingly popular in Europe and North America. Following the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1951 large numbers of monasteries were destroyed, and thousands of Tibetans fled into exile, including the spiritual and political leader known as the Dalai Lama. Many exiled Tibetan lamas established communities in the United States, where Tibetan Buddhism is probably now the most widely practiced form. However, there are also Theravada retreats, Zen meditation centers, and a few Zen monasteries as well as other forms of Buddhism. Demographics The world population of Buddhists is around 400 million (Johnson and Zurlo 2007), though other estimates vary from 3.5 million to 1.2 billion. It is difficult to come up with precise figures, as it is common in some countries for people to follow more than one faith at the same time, such as Buddhism and Shintoism in Japan and Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism in China. Also, there are many who live by the philosophical principles of Buddhism but don’t participate in formal religious life and therefore may not be counted as Buddhists in official censuses and surveys. Numerically, the largest Buddhist populations are in China, Japan, and Thailand, while Thailand, Cambodia, and Bhutan have the highest percentage of the population practicing Buddhism (over 80 percent in each case) (Johnson and Zurlo 2007). There are large monastic communities, particularly in Southeast Asia. The first Buddhists arrived in the United States in the mid-19th century to work in gold mines and garment factories and as laborers on the western railroads. The first Chinese temple was built in San Francisco in 1853. Shortly after the World Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago in 1893, Buddhist organizations began to appear in the United States, and the Buddhist Society of America was founded in 1931. Interest in Buddhism revived during the counterculture movement of the 1960s and was further reinforced by increased Asian immigration in the 1970s and 1980s. There are approximately 2,150 Buddhist centers in the United States (“The Pluralism Project” 2008), with the highest number of Buddhist congregations being found in California, New York, and Texas (“2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study” 2012). Only one in three American Buddhists describe their race as Asian, while nearly three in four Buddhists say they are converts to Buddhism (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 2008). Beliefs and Teachings Buddha taught the four noble truths: that life involves physical and mental suffering, that this suffering is due to selfish desires, that the cure for suffering is to escape from these selfish desires, and that this cure can be effected by following the teachings of Buddha. This means obeying the five precepts of Buddhism: not to


| Buddhism take life, not to steal, not to lie, not to consume alcohol or other intoxicants, not to commit adultery, and to follow the eightfold path. It may take several cycles of birth, death, and reincarnation until earthly desire is totally extinguished and a state of enlightened bliss, or nirvana, is achieved. Customs and Social Practices Buddha’s teaching is known as the dharma and is one of the three refuges of Buddhism. The first step on the path to Buddhism is to accept the three refuges by declaring “I take refuge in the Buddha; I take refuge in the dharma; I take refuge in the Sangha” (O’Brien n.d.). Buddhist places of worship are known as temples; they often house relics or a statue of Buddha and are sites for mediation and prayer. Buddhists may also maintain a small shrine in the home. In Southeast Asia, Buddhist monasteries are central to village life and are open to the local people at all times. To reduce worldly distractions, monks must shave their heads, dress in simple robes, minimize their material possessions, practice celibacy, and depend on the lay population to provide them with food and other needs. This is because desiring food is a sign of still being attached to the world. Food must be accepted without comment on its quality and eaten without relish. Providing food to monks confers spiritual merit on the giver. In reciprocity for alms received, monks and

A villager offers rice to a Buddhist monk in Kanchanaburi, West Thailand. Monks are dependent on the lay population for alms, while feeding the monks bestows spiritual merit on the giver. (Namart Pieamsuwan/


| 83

nuns may offer blessings, spiritual guidance, and education. Theravada lay devotion focuses on giving alms and observing the three refuges. Ritual and Ceremony Buddhist rituals are centered on meditation and worship. Worship can take place at a home shrine or in a temple and involves sitting on the floor facing an image of Buddha and chanting or listening to monks reciting from religious texts. As an aid to meditation, Tibetan Buddhist monks create intricate sand paintings called mandalas. These are symbolic representations of the universe and often contain depictions of Buddha or deities. Mandalas may be painstakingly constructed using colored grains of sand over the course of several days only to be swept away, reminding people of the impermanence of life. Veneration of relics is common. Relics of Buddha or Buddhist texts are placed in stupas, which are stone hemisphericalshaped monuments that are visited by thousands of pilgrims. Food Laws and Practices Buddhists believe in reincarnation, including the possibility of humans being reborn as other animals and vice versa. Consequently, many Buddhists are vegetarian because they do not wish to harm living creatures and thereby accumulate negative karma. Karma is a moral concept that says essentially that good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds are punished, either in this life or the next. Taking a life, even for food, means that it must be paid for with a life, hindering one’s efforts to escape from the cycle of reincarnation. Avoiding meat is also held to strengthen compassion. However, meat isn’t absolutely forbidden in Buddhist doctrines, and dietary practices vary between sects and countries. In contrast to dietary prohibitions common in other religions, an emphasis is placed on wrongful killing rather than wrongful eating. Gautama Buddha advised monks that meat should only be eaten if they were certain that the animal had not been specially killed for the monk’s consumption. Fish and other seafood are generally acceptable because the fish are not killed but merely removed from the water, but fish is not consumed by Tibetan Buddhists, for whom it is associated with aggression. Meat is eaten in some Buddhist countries, where it may be obtained from Muslim butchers. Southeast Asian Theravada Buddhists are generally not vegetarian, and meat is even given to monks. Mahayana Buddhists, especially in China, are more likely to follow a vegetarian diet and may also avoid eating strong-smelling plants such as onion, garlic, chives, shallot, and leek, known as the “five pungent foods.” The strong flavors of these vegetables are thought to excite the senses, and such craving for food is a distraction to spiritual focus. Although consumption of alcohol or other intoxicants is discouraged because they cloud the mind, they are not forbidden. Some Tibetan Buddhists will drink alcohol in moderation and also eat meat. Dietary rules are generally stricter for monks and nuns than for laypeople. For example, Theravada monks eat only twice a day, in the morning and at noon, and then fast for the rest of the day and night. On special occasions laypeople may join


| Buddhist Festival Calendar in the fasting. Food is obtained through begging. Around dawn each day, monks walk through the community collecting alms. Laypeople can gain spiritual merit for themselves and for their dead relatives by preparing food and offering it to the monks. Monks should accept whatever they are given and be indifferent to the quality of the food offered to them. People may take food to the monasteries at other times too, receiving blessings in return. In Buddhist monasteries in China, communal meals are prepared and served to the monks by lay disciples. Zen cooking is a vegetarian style of cooking that focuses on achieving harmony, delicacy, and balance. Zen monks developed it as a meditative art. Soy and pressed wheat gluten (seitan) can be manufactured into various shapes and textures and, properly seasoned, can mimic various kinds of meat quite closely. At Zen temples monks may practice oryoki, which means “just the right amount” and involves a ritualized serving and eating of food in which there is no waste. Oryoki began with the disciples of Buddha, who would receive a stool, a robe, and a begging bowl. Today, monks receive oryoki bowls on ordination. See Also: Buddhist Festival Calendar; Fasting in Buddhism; Feasting in Buddhism; Jainism; Mindful Eating; Rites of Passage, Buddhist; Siddartha Gautama (Buddha); Vegetarianism

Further Reading Johnson, T. M., and G. A. Zurlo, eds. 2007. World Christian Database. Leiden: Brill. Mann, Gurinder Singh, Paul David Numrich, and Raymond Brady Williams. 2001. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America. New York: Oxford University Press. O’Brien, B. n.d. “Taking Refuge: Becoming a Buddhist.” Buddhism, http://buddhism.about .com/od/takingrefuge/a/takingrefuge.htm. “Oryoki Instructions.” n.d. Upaya Zen Center, /oryoki-instructions/. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2008. U.S. Religious Landscape Survey. Religious Affiliation: Diverse and Dynamic. Washington, DC: Pew Research Forum. “The Pluralism Project.” 2008. Harvard University, “2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study.” 2012. Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, Van Esterik, P. 2003. “Buddhism.” In Encyclopedia of Food and Culture, edited by S. Katz, 269–271. New York: Scribner.

Buddhist Festival Calendar Most Buddhist holidays are determined by the lunisolar calendar, and dates may also vary between countries and regions. Some holidays are common across Buddhist countries, while others are specific to tradition, region, or culture. The calendar includes variations of the festival name and indicates with which tradition or region it is most commonly associated: Th = Theravada (Thailand, Cambodia,

Buddhist Festival Calendar

| 85

Burma, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Laos), and M = Mahayana (Japan, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Mongolia, Indonesia, and Tibet). Z = Zen, and T = Tibet specific. Buddhist holidays are joyful occasions that usually involve visits to temples or monasteries and offerings of food to monks and the poor. Gregorian Calendar Date (2017) January 12–15 January 21–27 January 28 February 15 February 19–26




Mahayana New Year


Gutor Losar Nirvana Day (Parinirvana) Monlam Chemno (Great Prayer Festival)


Japanese Zen Buddhists may celebrate on December 31. Preparation for the New Year. Tibetan New Year. Anniversary of Buddha’s death and his entry to nirvana. Prayers are offered for the long life of the lamas and for the well-being of all living creatures. Last day of the Great Prayer Festival. Celebrates miracles attributed to the Buddha. First full moon day of March. Marks the historic spontaneous journey of 1,250 monks to pay homage to Buddha. Japanese observance of Buddha’s birthday. Involves washing of Buddha statues. Water festival with agrarian, religious, and secular elements. Begins on the first full moon day Buddha’s first moment of enlightenment, at age seven. First full moon in May. Most important Buddhist holiday. Celebrates the birth, enlightenment, and passing of Buddha. Saga Dawa is the holiest time of the year for Tibetan Buddhists. Mahayana Buddhists usually celebrate each event separately.


February 26

Chunga Choepa (Butter Lamp Festival)


March 12

Sangha Day (Magha Puja/Makha Bucha)


April 8

Hana Matsuri (Flower Festival)

April 13–16

Songkran (Bun Pi Mai)


April 11–14

Theravadin New Year


May 3

Raek Na (The Plowing Festival) Wesak (Vesak/Visakha Puja/Buddha Jayanti/ Purnima/Saga Dawa)


May 10

Th T



| Buddhist Festival Calendar (continued) Gregorian Calendar Date (2017)




July 6

Birthday of Dalai Lama


July 9


July 9

Asalha Puja (Dharma Day) Vassa (Rain Retreat)


July 13



July 27

Chokho Duchen


Tenzin Gyatso, the present Dalai Lama, was born on this day in 1935. Commemorates the first teaching of Buddha. Monks cease wandering but stay in one place and depend on passersby and temple visitors for alms. Laypeople may abstain from meat and alcohol, so the term “ Buddhist Lent” is sometimes used to describe this period. Honors departed loved ones. Similar to Ullambana. Commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon known as “Turning of the Wheel of Dharma.”

August 7

Ullambana (Ancestors Festival)


August 21

Shoton (Yogurt Festival)


September 5

Zhongyuan (Hungry Ghosts Festival)


October 5



October 5



Festival to relieve the suffering of wandering spirits through gifts of food. Also celebrated in some Theravadin countries. Historically on this day people converged on the Drepung monastery, bringing sour milk for the monks in return for blessings. Chinese festival to relieve the suffering of wandering spirits through gifts of food. Marks end of Vassa, the rain retreat. Robe-giving ceremony to honor monks. Takes place within four weeks following the end of the rain retreat. Falls in October or early November, but date varies according to rainy season and may be different in different countries.

Buddhist Festival Calendar October 11

Lhabab Duchen


October 30

Abhidhamma Day


November 4

Loy Krathong (Floating Bowl Festival)


November 4

Anapanasati Day


November 18

Elephant Festival


December 8

Rohatsu (Bodhi Day)


| 87

Buddha descended from heaven to visit the human world. Full moon day. In Burmese tradition, Buddha’s ascent to heaven to teach his mother the Abhidhamma. Full moon day. Flowers, candles, incense sticks, and coins are placed in woven boats and floated on the water to take away bad luck. Sermon of the Buddha on mindfulness of breathing. Thai festival in which elephants symbolize Buddhist teachings on how the young learn from their elders. Japanese celebration of the enlightenment of the Buddha.

Types of Buddhism are as follows: Th = Theravada. Primarily practiced in Thailand, Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Laos. M = Mahayana. Primarily practiced in Japan, China,Vietnam, Nepal, Mongolia, Indonesia, and Tibet. Z = Zen. Primarily practiced in Japan, a form of Mahayana Buddhism. T = Tibet-Specific Occasions. In addition, Uposatha observance days are held on each quarter of the moon, when clergy and laypeople alike renew their commitment to Buddhist teaching and practice. This is a general observation not specifically linked to Tibet.

See Also: Buddhism; Feasting in Buddhism; Losar; Songkran; Vesak (Wesak)

Further Reading “Buddhist Festivals 2016–2017.” n.d. Everfest, -festivals. “Primary Sacred Times for World Religions.” n.d. Interfaith Calendar, http://interfaithcal

C Candomble Candomble is a syncretist religion practiced predominantly in Brazil. The name is of African origin, and it’s meaning is usually rendered as “dance in honor of the gods.” Dance is a central part of Candomble worship. It originated in the 16th century among African slaves in colonial Portuguese Brazil. Practitioners of Candomble blend traditional African animist beliefs with Catholicism to produce a unique faith practice. There are an estimated 2 million followers of Candomble, which has gained new popularity in recent decades. Candomble is an oral tradition, so there are no holy scriptures. Candomblists believe in a single god named Olodumare and numerous minor deities called orixas (orishas). Each person is protected by two personal orixas (male and female), who control their destiny and can connect them to the spirit world by taking possession of their physical body. Dance is an important part of religious worship as a means to induce possession by the orixa. Worship takes place in people’s houses or at terreiros, of which there are thousands throughout Brazil. Candomble does not have dietary rules about what can and cannot be eaten and does not have fasting practices; nevertheless, food is a very important part of religious practice. Origins and Historical Development Candomble originated in Brazil among Africans who had been taken there as slaves in the era of European colonialism, beginning in the 16th century. The slaves came mainly from Nigeria and Benin (Fon and Yoruba) and Central Africa (Bantu), each with an indigenous religion tradition. They now form the so-called three nations of Candomble. The religion of the Portuguese colonists was Roman Catholicism, which they attempted to impose on the black slaves. While the slaves appeared outwardly to embrace Catholicism, and despite attempts to suppress Candomble, they retained their animist beliefs, producing a unique blend of African and European traditions. Because Candomblists had to hide or be secretive about their religion, they used Christian iconography to represent their own gods. Slavery was abolished in 1888, but the practice of Candomble remained largely secretive. In modern times Candomble gained in popularity following the repeal in 1970 of a law requiring police permission for Candomble gatherings. However, prejudice persists. The city of Salvador, in the state of Bahia in northern Brazil, is the major center of Candomble, and major Candomble festivals have become integrated into popular culture and are a tourist attraction. 89


| Candomble Demographics Candomble is predominantly a Brazilian religion. According to census figures, there are around 167,000 practicing Candomblists in Brazil (Novai 2013), but this is probably a gross underestimate, as many are still reluctant to publicly reveal their religious beliefs. There are practitioners in other South and Central American countries and small populations in Europe, particularly in Portugal and Spain. Beliefs and Teachings Candomble is polytheistic. Olodumare, the chief god, is served by minor deities collectively called orixas, or ancestral spirits. The orixas personify natural forces and mediate between humans and Oldumare. Individuals have their own orixas who protect them and whom they are supposed to worship throughout their lives. Each orixa is associated with a specific aspect of nature and with a specific day of the week, color, and food. Candomble does not profess belief in an afterlife. When people die, they continue to live in the spirit world as ancestors. The dead are buried, not cremated, so that their life force can be passed on to the living. The spirits can also come to Earth by possessing the bodies of the living. Customs and Social Practices New Year’s Eve is celebrated with a liturgical Mass and a popular street party with music and fireworks. New Year’s Day is known as Festa de Bom Jesus dos

Orixas Each orixa is associated with particular traits and colors. Each has their preferred foods, which are served to them in rituals on specific days or special occasions. Some orixas are identified with Christian religious figures such as Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, Noah, Saint Jerome, and Saint Lucia. Orixas are often worshipped on corresponding Catholic saint days. Orixa Oxala Ogum Xango Yemanja Exu Oxum Oxossi Yansa

Element Air Earth Fire Ocean Roads Freshwater Forest Air

Color White Blue/Green Red/White Blue/White Red/Black Yellow Green Red/Black

Weekday Friday Tuesday Wednesday Saturday Monday Saturday Thursday Wednesday

Different sources list other foods associated with each orixa.

Food White corn;Yam Beans/yam Spicy food/caruru (okra dish) Watermelon/moqueca Everything/cachaca (rum) Black-eyed peas/shrimp Black-eyed peas/corn/yam Acaraje/honey


| 91

Navegantes. A flotilla accompanies a boat carrying a statue of Jesus along the bay. Bonfim’s festival is celebrated in January on the second Thursday after Epihany. Bonfim is identified with Oxala, the chief orixa, and with Jesus Christ. A large procession, dressed in white, makes its way to the church of Bonfim; the steps of this church are scrubbed, while hundreds of food stalls are set up selling acaraje (fritter of black-eyed peas fried in palm oil) and other Afrobrazilian delicacies. On February 2 Festa de Yemanja attracts large numbers of the population of Bahia. Starting in the early morning, locals bring gifts of mirrors, flowers, candles, food, and cash to fill baskets that are put onto boats, which are pushed or taken out to sea as a request for Yemanja’s protection. If the boat tips and the gifts sink, this means that Yemanja has accepted the offerings and will extend her beneficence. On the same day, Catholic Masses and processions honor Our Lady of Navigators (the Virgin Mary). Residents may participate in both Catholic and Candomble ceremonies. Ritual and Ceremony Terreiros provide an indoor and outdoor area for worship. They house shrines to one or more orixas. People visit the terreiro to participate in ceremonies or to have priests tell their fortunes by means of divination with cowrie shells. Worship involves rhythmic dancing and chanting designed to produce a hypnotic state in which a person becomes possessed by his or her orixa. Ceremonies are usually presided over by priestesses who dress in costumes representing the spirit ancestors. Initiation into the church involves sharing information about one’s ancestors with a Candomble priest, who casts cowrie shells to help select the appropriate personal orixa guide. Following elaborate rituals over a period of days, the initiate is welcomed with a banquet accompanied by drumming and singing. Only initiates can enter the terreiro kitchen, and here there are numerous conventions governing personal conduct and how to prepare food. There are also rules governing which foods are suitable for different purposes. Men and women initiated into the priesthood are assigned different responsibilities and areas of knowledge, such as knowing what foods each orixa likes. Many Candomble festivals coincide with Catholic saints’ days, and each follows a similar pattern of observance. Elaborate preparations precede the ceremony itself in which many community members participate. This includes cleaning and decorating the temple and slaughtering animals (usually goats or chickens). Part of the animals will be used for the ritual sacrificial offering before the public ceremony, while the rest is prepared for the festival feast that follows the main ceremonies. During the main ceremony priests invoke the orixas to come down and possess them. Music pleasing to each orixa is played, and people dance to the drumming. Because no one knows when the orixa will appear, there is no set length for the celebrations. Food Practices Foods bought by slave ancestors from Africa are central to Candomble identity and practice. They include okra, yam, palm oil, coconut, and chili peppers. Over time


| Candomble African slave cuisine diffused into the local Brazilian and white colonialist foodways. Afrobrazilian foodways are seen particularly in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia. Food is part of all rituals and ceremonies and has both sacred and profane dimensions. There is no difference in the foods used in the everyday cuisine of Bahia and those used in terreiro kitchens, but through ritual preparation, the ordinary becomes sacred. It is known as comida da santo (food of the saints). Food offerings are made to orixas to secure their help and blessings and to increase axe (life force). Offerings are left at the terreiro for a few days before being taken to the appropriate milieu of the orixa, such as a forest, mountain, or crossroads. Sometimes the food is consumed by priests, who thereby benefit from the axe. It is not shared by congregants, as is the case in many other religions. Instead, separate dishes are prepared for sharing. Food at worship meetings is plentiful and is supposed to be consumed at the temple, although in some places boxes may be provided to take food away or for those in need to collect a meal. Typically the food is cold or lukewarm and is eaten while standing or walking around, as no tables are provided. Each orixa has favorite foods, and on the days that celebrate a particular orixa people eat these particular foods. Acaraje is the iconic food of Bahia cuisine. It is a bean fritter fried in palm oil and served with dried shrimp. In Candomble it is one of the foods offered to Yansi. In the secular world it a popular street food, famously

Cobs of yellow corn are eaten by Candomble devotees in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at a ceremony to honor Oxossi, one of the Candomblist orixas, or deities. Each orixa has a favorite food, which he or she is offered during ceremonies. (Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)


| 93

sold by baianas, women dressed in white African dress. Acaca is a thick batter of pulverized corn that is served wrapped in banana leaves. If white corn is used it is offered to Osala, and if yellow corn it is offered to Osossi. Amala is a stew of okra, shrimp, and onions and is the favorite dish of Xango. It may be served to terrerio visitors on Wednesdays (Xango’s day). Doburu is plain popcorn; it is offered to Omula every Monday and on August 16, his festival day. Feijoada is a bean and meat stew thickened with the starchy root, cassava. It is offered to Ogun, the orixa of war. Hausa rice is a mix of cooked rice with beef, onions, garlic, and chili pepper. It is offered (without spicing) to Osala and Yemanja, as is xin xin, a very popular chicken dish, with onions and shrimp cooked in palm oil. See Also: African Indigenous Religions; Animism; Sacrifice; Santeria; Vodun

Further Reading Ferro, J. 1999. Brazilian Foods and Culture. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke. Novais, A. 2013. “All about Religions in Brazil.” The Brazil Business, http://thebrazilbusi Rodriguez de Souza, P. 2015. “Food in African Brazilian Candomble.” Religion and Food, Scripta Instituti Donneriani Aboensis 26: 264–280. Van Eijk, F. 2010. Delicate Matters: How Candomble Food Habits Reflect Identity Dynamics. Leiden: African Studies Centre.

Cannibalism Cannibalism, also called anthropophagy, is the practice of eating human flesh or organs by other humans. The word is derived from the Spanish canibale, which itself is a corruption of Carib, the name of an indigenous tribe of the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. Spanish explorers encountered the Carib and neighboring tribes during their explorations to the New World in the 15th and 16th centuries and reported that they practiced cannibalism. Some scholars suggest that the reports were not based on eyewitness accounts but were propaganda to justify the colonists’ treatment of the natives as barbarians and slaves. Reports of cannibalistic behavior throughout history have been a way to draw clear cultural boundaries between a civilized “us” and a barbaric “them.” Cannibalism is one of the most powerful of taboos in human societies. Controversy abounds in the study of cannibalism as to whether it is or was ever a customary practice. There is archaeological evidence from bones and skulls that it was widely practiced in prehistoric times. In a few tribal societies cannibalism is still practiced in a ritual context. Otherwise documented incidents of cannibalism are isolated and usually related to survival needs, war and genocide, or individual mental illness. Anthropologists have ascribed several possible functions to the practice of cannibalism. Religious, magical, and dietetic motivations are interwoven in the


| Cannibalism explanations offered, as is the quest for vengeance. Endocannibalism is the eating of people from within the same tribe or community. As a ritualistic behavior it enables the life force of the deceased to be assimilated by the living so that the skills and energy of the dead are not lost. The Fore tribe of New Guinea in the first half of the 20th century ate the flesh of dead relatives as part of funerary rites in order to free the spirit of the deceased and assist the living by keeping the ancestral soul within the family. This was linked to the spread of a nervous system disease called kuru among women and children who ate the brain tissues. The practice was discontinued in the 1960s. A neighboring tribe, the Gimis, also practiced cannibalism until the 1960s. The Korowai tribe of Papua New Guinea is reported to still practice cannibalism though to a lesser extent than previously. The victims are khakhuas, who are believed to be witches who have taken on the form of men. Khakhuas can cause harm or death to the living and can only be stopped by being killed and eaten. The Korowais do not think of the khakhua as being human. Exocannibalism is the eating of people from outside of the tribe or community and has been linked to intimidating and exacting vengeance on enemies. Modern examples of cannibalistic behavior during conflicts fall into this category. In 2003 the United Nations Security Council condemned cannibalism committed by rebel fighters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The nutritional value of cannibalism is one theory that has been put forward to rationalize the practice, the claim being made that it provided at least a partial answer to the problem of scarce animal protein supplies. However, it is unlikely that humans could ever have provided an adequate supply of food. In 1959, the appearance in the Belgian Congo of European canned meats with labels showing healthy African babies fueled rumors that the tins contained the flesh of African babies that was consumed by white colonialist cannibals. Incidents of cannibalism have been connected to life-and-death situations. In conditions of severe hardship survival becomes an overall priority, and when the only hope of survival lies in anthropophagy, the practice is generally sanctioned. The bitter retreat of Napoleon’s army from Moscow, the famines that swept the Ukraine in the 1930s and 1940s, and the Siege of Leningrad during World War II all provide examples of humans overcoming their revulsion and breaking the taboo. In the late 19th century the pioneering Donner party, who were caught in a snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada mountains, kept half their number alive to see California through the expediency of cannibalism. A celebrated case in 1972 involved the crash of an airplane in the Andes when members of the Uruguayan rugby team were stranded for over 10 weeks. In subsequent public admissions that cannibalism was the means by which they had endured, the survivors claimed that their actions had been inspired by the fact that Jesus had shared his flesh and blood at the Last Supper and that eating of the dead had represented an intimate communion between them all. In the Christian sacrament of the Eucharist, bread and wine are believed by Roman Catholics to be transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ and are ritually consumed by communicants. The ancient Romans accused early Christians of cannibalism, a position that is rejected by contemporary Catholic scholars on the grounds that the flesh consumed is not under the form

Caste System

| 95

of flesh but instead is under the form of bread and also that while cannibals feast on dead bodies, the body of Christ remains alive. See Also: Eucharist; Sacraments; Taboos and Prohibitions; Primary Document: An Aztec Emperor’s Feast, by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1519)

Further Reading Arens, W. 1979. The Man-Eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthrophagy. New York: Oxford University Press. Harris, M. 1977. Cannibals and Kings. New York: Random House. McGowan, A. 1994. “Eating People: Accusations of Cannibalism against Christians in the Second Century.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 2(3): 213–242. Raffaele, P. 2006. “Sleeping with Cannibals.” Smithsonian Magazine, September, http:// _locale=es_ES&page=1. Read, P. P. 2005. Alive: The True Story of the Andes Survivors. London: Arrow Books. Sanday, P. R. 1986. Divine Hunger: Cannibalism as a Cultural System. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Caste System A notable feature of Hindu society is the ancient caste system, which divides people into four varnas (classes) with thousands of occupational, family, and regional subgroups called jati. Each caste has its own duties, responsibilities, and privileges (or lack thereof). Caste is a hierarchical concept that limits life choices, as one is born into a particular caste, and there is little social mobility. The Supreme Court of India ruled in 2007 that caste is inherited and cannot be changed. While caste barriers are less visible in modern urban centers, they remain a political and social challenge to Hindu society. Upper castes regard lower castes as ritually unclean, and social barriers to marriage between castes remain. The ancient Veda scriptures provided guidance on how an orderly society should be organized. The Rig Veda called for the division of society into four varnas, giving credence to the idea that the divisions were divine in origin. The highest-status group was the Brahmins, who were priests, teachers, and thinkers responsible for the spiritual dimension of life; next was the Kshatriyas, or warrior class that was made up of nobles, fighters, and administrators, whose job was to defend society. The Vaishyas were merchants, traders, and farmers who provided the economic engine of society. The Shudras were manual laborers and craftsmen. Their duty was to render service to others. One’s varna was determined by personal qualities and not by birth, and class responsibilities were complementary. Over time the class divisions hardened and became hereditary, giving rise to the current hierarchical caste system. A fifth group, outside the caste structure, undertook menial tasks that brought them into contact with distasteful materials such as cow


| Caste System hides, human waste, and dead bodies. They were known as untouchables, and interaction with them was avoided by the other castes. Even the shadow of an untouchable was considered polluting by some Brahmins. The Hindu concept of dharma, explicated in religious scriptures, elevates social duties and responsibilities above individual interests. Each person is seen as having a particular role in maintaining the social order; this is their fate and is therefore to be accepted without question. Laws of proper conduct and relationships are laid out in the Laws of Manu, compiled around 200 BCE, and have continued to be influential on Hindu life. The caste system persisted into modern times. In the 20th century challenges arose to the social injustices enshrined therein. Mohandas Gandhi, a social reformer and leader in the Indian independence movement, renamed the untouchables harijan, or children of god, and advocated for them to be incorporated into the Shudra caste. The term harijan has largely been replaced by dalit (oppressed). In 1950 untouchability was outlawed by the Indian Constitution, though discrimination continues. While caste divisions have been blurred, particularly in modern urban settings, there are still social barriers; for example, restricting marriage to within caste or even caste subdivision is common. In rural areas, caste divisions are still strong. Food and Caste There are numerous rules governing food conduct in relation to caste status such that food is both a product and a marker of hierarchical social relationships. Brahmins adhere to the strictest dietary standards and are most often (though not always) vegetarian. Meat, dairy, and eggs as well as onions and garlic are avoided, though actual practices vary in different regions. Eating with or accepting food from members of a lower class is polluting. Raw foods are considered to be hot and are therefore purer than cooked foods, which are cold. Brahmins who accept food cooked by a lower-caste person lose ritual purity and thus caste status; however, they may accept raw materials for a meal and also ghee and milk, for these are products of the sacred cow and cannot be polluted by touch. Food given to a lowercaste recipient is dropped rather than placed in their hands to avoid ritual contamination. Wealthy families may keep two kitchens—one for Brahmins and one for non-Brahmins—with separate utensils and even separate cooks. Before entering a Brahmin kitchen, one should bathe and put on fresh clothes. Cooks at temples are Brahmin so that the food prepared will be acceptable to all, and many restaurants hire Brahmin cooks for the same reason. In northern India, foods are categorized as being pukka or kacca. Kacca foods are cooked without fat (rice, chapati) or in water and are most vulnerable to impurity. Pukka foods are deep-fried in ghee and are therefore insulated against impurities and pollution. Caste distinctions in food practices are still important in India. When a woman marries, she is expected to cook the foods of her husband’s family. Caste-specific recipes were passed on from mother to daughter through oral tradition. With increased social mobility, this chain is often broken so that young wives may be challenged with knowing how to prepare suitable dishes. Cookbooks based on


| 97

Dalit Beef-Eating Festival In April 2012 some Dalit students at the Osmania University campus in Hydrabad organized a beef festival at which they consumed beef dishes as an assertion of their cultural identity in which beef is a dietary staple. The students had been trying to get the university hostel to include beef dishes on its menu, along with the nonvegetarian chicken and fish options. Opposed by members of a right-wing Hindu group, the event ended in violence including the stabbing of a student, the burning of vehicles, and arrests. Similar events on other campuses have been marred by violence, and an annual beef festival at the University of Hydrabad requires a police presence for protection. Critics of the festival say that it offends the sensibilities of other students and that beef consumption should remain a private practice, but supporters see this as a form of political oppression through food.

specific (upper) caste cuisine are emerging to fill the gap. Food can be used as a tool of social exclusion. Some upper-caste landlords make their housing complexes vegetarian only as a way of excluding lower-caste tenants (Dhillon 2014). Despite the moral opprobrium attached to eating beef, it is nevertheless an economical source of protein for poorer people and a cultural preference for others. There have been organized beef festivals to publicly protest against what is seen by some as nutritional discrimination in the name of class politics. See Also: Hinduism; Sacred Cow; Vegetarianism

Further Reading “Americas Many Religions: Hinduism.” n.d. Harvard University, The Pluralism Project, Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. Dhillon, A. 2014. “In India, Caste System Ensures You Are What You Eat.” South China Morning Post, July 27. Weisgrau, M. K. 2000. “Vedic and Hindu Traditions.” In Religion and Culture: An Anthropological Focus, edited by Raymond Scupin, 225–248. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Charity Charity describes the act of giving, usually to strangers, voluntarily and without expectation of material return. It can be directed at a specific individual or to a whole group of potential recipients. What is given may be money or goods, including food, and its intent and use can be local or international. The word “charity” is derived from the old French charité, which in turn comes from the Latin caritas, the term used for Christian love and benevolence.


| Charity Charitable giving of money or food is an integral part of many religions and is also highly valued in many secular settings. Charity may be read as an extension of customary hospitality to strangers, characterized by the “impersonal” nature of the transaction; the giver and the receiver do not necessarily know one another (though they may come to do so). Charity may be performed by individual believers through donations and contributions to their religious institutions or by individual faith members acting outside of formal religious institutions. It may also be done collectively through organizations and associations set up or sponsored by the faith. Examples include local poverty relief, social program sponsorship, overseas aid, and international development. There may be specific requirements for giving that are set by religious law or custom. Tithing is a concept that appears in different forms in different religions. Tithing refers to paying a specified portion (originally 10 percent) of one’s income to the church. Tithing was practiced in ancient Israel through the donation of a 10th of agricultural produce. Orthodox Jews today give 10 percent of their income to charity, a practice known as ma’aser kesafim. Christianity replaced compulsory tithing with the concept of voluntary generosity, though tithing is practiced by members of the Mormon Church. In Islam, zakat is a form of compulsory charity. It is a levy of 2.5 percent of wealth and assets (above certain limits) that every adult Muslim is required to pay annually. Zakat can be paid to eight categories of recipients, including the poor and needy, slaves and travelers, those in debt, new Muslims, zakat administrators, and in the cause of god, which includes supporting mosques, schools, or other Islamic institutions or community groups. The fact that zakat or tithing is obligatory may cause some to view it as not being a form of charity, as it removes the voluntary nature of the donation. Muslims are encouraged to make other charitable donations directly or through their mosque; these are more meritorious if they are kept secret or anonymous. The Qur’an stresses the responsibility of those with means to provide for the poor and makes the feeding of a specified number of poor people the expiation for certain offenses, such as breaches of fasting regulations. Baha’i scriptures describe charity as being pleasing and praiseworthy in the sight of God. Charity is associated with humility; recognizing that others are in need is a reminder of one’s own good fortune, which is itself a blessing from God. Voluntary giving to the poor is seen to be both noble and of spiritual benefit to the giver and also is a moral obligation: Is it possible that, seeing one of his fellow-creatures starving, destitute of everything, a man can rest and live comfortably in his luxurious mansion? . . . That is why, in the Religion of God, it is prescribed and established that wealthy men each year give part of their fortune for the maintenance of the poor and unfortunate. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1978) However, mendicancy is forbidden, and the giving of charity to people who take up begging as their profession is prohibited. The Islamic practice of zakat was also proscribed for Baha’is by their founding prophet. Currently there are no binding regulations governing zakat, but Baha’is are encouraged to contribute to a fund that


| 99

Tzedekah The Jewish scholar Maimonides (1135–1204 CE) organized the different levels of tzedekah (charity) described in the Talmud from the least meritorious to the most: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Giving unwillingly or grudgingly. Giving gladly, but insufficiently. Giving after being asked. Giving directly to a person before being asked. Giving to unknown beneficiaries, who know who is giving. Giving to known beneficiaries, who do not know who is giving. Giving when neither party knows the other’s identity. Giving a gift or loan that enables the recipient to become independent.

Source: Mishneh Torah, Laws of Charity, 10:7–14.

is used for administrative, educational, and charitable purposes. Charity is also a fundamental virtue in Judaism. The Jewish Torah says that Jews should contribute 10 percent of income to righteous causes. Orthodox Jews today give 10 percent of their income to charity, a practice known as ma’aser kesafim. The Jewish word tzedakah is often translated as “charity,” though it is more associated with concepts of fairness or justness and doing what is right. Tzedekah is one of the three ways in which Jews can receive forgiveness for sins and change the fate decreed for them by God during the Days of Awe. The Jewish obligation to charity can be met by giving to the poor or to religious, educational, or health care institutions. Christianity has long emphasized the duty of the believer to feed the poor and show love and compassion toward those in need. In the New Testament, Jesus describes how he will come on the Day of

A woman carries a basket of rosquilhas (traditional round sweet breads) for distribution to the poor in honor of the Christian saint Peter, during a Saint Peter’s Day procession, Pico Island, Azores, June 29, 2011. Distributing food to the poor is a common act of charity in many religions. (Jaime Debrum/


| Charity Judgment and condemn those who did not feed or succor those less fortunate, for in failing to do so they had left Christ himself hungry, thirsty, sick, and unclothed (Matthew 25:31–46). Christian charitable hospitals ministering to the poor were established in the fourth century CE and were a feature of monastic endeavor during the Middle Ages. In the 21st century church congregations and church-sponsored associations are heavily involved in charitable food projects such as food banks and soup kitchens. Some Christian denominations have set up charitable organizations to work for peace and development around the world. An example is the Mennonite Central Committee, which supports food-related activities from supplying emergency food aid to long-term food system development. While there are usually no material rewards associated with charity, there may be spiritual ones. Lay Buddhists can accumulate merit by donating food to begging monks. The Islamic prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever gives two kinds of things or property in charity for Allah’s cause, will be called from the gates of Paradise” (“Sahih Bukhari” n.d., 31:121). Men and women participating in evening worship at Mosques during Ramadan may receive iftar (fast-breaking snack) through charitable donations from the community or from local restaurants. The rewards from God are said to be equal to those given to each person who has fasted. Charitable donations are also collected prior to the two great Muslim festivals of Id al-Fitr and Id al-Adha and distributed or used to buy food for poorer members of the community so as to ensure that everyone can participate in a celebratory meal. For those who sacrifice an animal on Id al-Adha, the meat should be divided into three parts: one part for the home, one part for relatives and friends, and one part for charity. A similar practice in Judaism is the giving of maos chitim, or wheat money. This was originally a Passover tax used to purchase wheat to give to the poor so they could bake matzo for Passover seder meal. It came to refer more generally to charitable giving of food or money to enable needy families to acquire the kosher products required for Passover. At North American synagogues, congregations may assemble food hampers for local distribution or raise money to send overseas. Religious institutions such as a church, mosque, or temple may provide charitable services to the community. Food-related examples are soup kitchens and food banks run by congregation members and supporters on a volunteer basis. Charity is one of the four principles underlying the Sikh institution of the langar (free kitchen) that is an integral part of every Sikh temple. Anyone may attend and eat at a langar, whether they are there to worship or are simply hungry. Surplus food from the langar meal is distributed to people in need in the local community. It may be delivered to local neighborhood associations or to soup kitchens or homeless shelters. Sikhism extols the virtues of charity and the sharing of wealth. Guru Amar Das says that the godly person with riches is blessed because these riches can be used for charitable purposes and to give happiness. The wealthy are seen to have a responsibility to look after those less fortunate; this extends from family to the wider community and the provision of charitable hospitals and schools.

Christian Diet Plans

| 101

Charity (dana) is important to Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. Jain ascetics rely on receiving alms for their every need, including food, as do Hindu sadhus who have embraced the path of renouncement. Among the lay community the concept of seva, or service, calls for acts of charity and caring for the poor and hungry. On the festival of Makar Sankranti in addition to donating food and money to the poor and ascetics, people donate fodder to cattle. While generous giving is said to bring good karma, the giving of a cow in charity is said to bring happiness and contentment. Mahayana Buddhist practice includes cultivating a set of virtues called the six perfections. At the top of the list is dana paramita (perfection of generosity), which involves giving without expectation of reward and without attachment to the gift or to the recipient. The gift might be material goods, such as food, or may be spiritual teaching. Mormons undertake a weekly 24-hour fast from Saturday to Sunday evening. They are encouraged to donate the money saved from not eating to charity. During Ramadan, Muslims who are unable to fast for reasons of health or old age can substitute fast by feeding one poor person for each day of fasting missed. See Also: Compassion; Hospitality; Langar; Passover; Ramadan; Social Justice and Food; Soup Kitchens and Food Banks; Zakat

Further Reading ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1978. Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Translated by Habib Taherzadeh. Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre. Desjardins, M., and E. Desjardins. 2009. “Food That Builds Community: The Sikh Langar in Canada.” Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Culture 1(2), http://www.erudit .org/revue/cuizine/2009/v1/n2/037851ar.html. “Matnot Aniyim—Chapter 10.” n.d. Chabad, /aid/986711/jewish/Matnot-Aniyim-Chapter-10.htm. Poppendieck, J. 1998. Sweet Charity, Vol. 11. New York: Viking Penguin. “Sahih Bukhari.” n.d. Hadith Collection, -Sahih%20Bukhari%20Book%2031.%20Fasting.html.

Christian Diet Plans The weight-loss industry in the United States, including diet books and websites, weight-loss programs, and product sales such as diet pills, supplements, and meal replacements, is worth over $60 billion a year. In January 2015 a popular Internet retailer listed more than 44,000 items under the category “diet and weight loss.” Of these over 1,000 were in a subcategory of Christian diet books. Since its inception, Christianity has had a role in shaping eating practices by providing believers with moral guidance on proper diet. Most often this has involved the discipline of fasting. Fasting has sometimes meant going without or


| Christian Diet Plans eating smaller amounts and sometimes avoiding certain foods, particularly meat. Early Christians practiced self-denial, including fasting, in order to overcome bodily desires and to identify with the suffering of Christ. In 19th-century America, diet reformers such as Sylvester Graham and John Harvey Kellogg echoed the theme that dietary restraint was a way to control the unruly passions of the body so as better to focus on spiritual matters. In the context of contemporary societal preoccupation with appearance, thinness, and fitness, modern Christian weight-loss programs offer a similar mixture of physical and spiritual motivation and benefits that link health with religious duty. The genre emerged in the 1950s with the publication of Pray Your Weight Away by a Presbyterian minister named Charlie Shedd. Several other books followed, and since then hundreds have followed in his footsteps. Christian approaches to dieting are of two main types: those that propose a return to simple diets based on ancient foodstuffs and patterns of eating and those that incorporate religious motives and goals into dealing with weight issues by providing a spiritual path to weight loss. In both cases achieving a healthy body is viewed as a religious commitment. There is little commentary on diet in the New Testament beyond the assertion that all plants and animals were deemed fit for the use of humankind. To determine what was customarily eaten in the time of Jesus, scholars have drawn on archaeological, historical, and comparative geographical as well as biblical sources. Popular books such as What Would Jesus Eat, The Maker’s Diet, and The Hallelujah Diet seek to emulate presumed dietary patterns of biblical times. They encourage readers to forgo processed food products of the modern food industry in favor of “natural” foods such as grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, and vegetables. They suggest that the body is unable to deal adequately with additive-laden processed foods that have been robbed of their life-giving properties. Instead readers are advised to eat what is available directly from the earth. The Hallelujah Diet, also referred to as the Genesis Diet, is based on the biblical instruction found in Genesis 1:29: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.’” It recommends a close to vegan diet consisting of 85 percent raw foods. Rita Hancock’s Eden Diet is concerned not with what Adam and Eve ate but instead with how they ate—governed by hunger pangs as a cue to when to eat and constrained by the sheer effort of obtaining food. She contrasts this with modern 24/7 access to food, which prompts people to eat from habit and not from hunger, and suggests that successful dieting is not so much about avoiding certain foods but rather in respecting natural hunger cues. Christian weight-loss programs are part of what Kwan and Sheikh call “Success with God” diets. Essentially they employ the same techniques as non-Christian diet plans, aiming to achieve a negative calorie balance through a combination of dietary manipulation and exercise. They add two specifically Christian dimensions. The first is motivation based on the idea that a slim, fit body is a religious obligation. Authors speak of entering into a covenant with God to treat the body well or of achieving the weight God meant them to be. One of the most successful of Christian diet gurus, Gwen Shamblin, suggests that gluttony and greed get in the


| 103

way of spiritual grace and once pronounced, controversially, that fat people don’t go to Heaven. Her 12-week Weigh Down diet courses are held in thousands of churches around the world and have attracted more than 1 million participants. As well as providing motivation, Christianized diets provide the key to success. To be successful in their dieting attempts, people must look to God for divine help in resisting temptation and sticking with the diet plan. Shamblin suggests that overeating is a response to spiritual emptiness rather than to psychological stressors and that spiritual emptiness is mistaken for hunger for food. Therefore, overcoming poor eating habits requires turning to God for assistance. Obesity is linked medically to poor health and culturally to unattractiveness. Individuals are often viewed as being responsible for their condition (despite mounting evidence of the complex nature of obesity and the role of food environments and societal factors). As a result, they are thought to be lazy or lack willpower. Christian weight-loss programs also emphasize personal responsibility for eating habits, reinforcing societal privileging of the thin body, and in doing so help to further entrench that cultural norm. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Fasting in Christianity; Graham, Sylvester; Kellogg, John Harvey

Further Reading Colbert, D. 2002. What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great and Living Longer. Nashville: Nelson. Griffith, R. M. 2004. Born again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity. Berkeley: University of California Press. Hancock, R. M. 2009. The Eden Diet. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Kwan, S., and C. Sheikh. 2011. “Divine Dieting.” In Food and Faith in Christian Culture, edited by K. Albala and T. Eden, 205–220. New York: Columbia University Press. Malkmus, G., and P. Shockey. 2006. The Hallelujah Diet: Experience the Optimal Health You Were Meant to Have. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image Publishers. Rubin, J. 2004. The Maker’s Diet: The Forty Day Health Experience That Will Change Your Life Forever. Lake Mary, FL: Siloam. Shamblin, G. 1997. The Weigh Down Diet. New York: Doubleday. Shedd, C. W. 1957. Pray Your Weight Away. Philadelphia: Lippincott. “The U.S. Weight Loss Market: 2014 Status Report and Forecast.” n.d. Market Research, -Forecast-8016030/.

Christianity Christianity originated two millennia ago in the Roman-occupied province of Judea in the Middle East in what is now the modern-day state of Israel. The religion is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe


| Christianity was the son of God sent to Earth to save humanity from its sins. These teachings are recorded in the Bible, which consists of the Old Testament, or Hebrew Bible of Jewish sacred scriptures, and the New Testament, written by various authors in the century after the death of Jesus. According to biblical accounts, Jesus was sentenced to death by crucifixion on charges of treason, but 3 days later he rose from the dead and after 40 more days ascended into Heaven. Christianity is the most widespread religion in the world, with well over 2 billion followers. The three major branches of the church are Roman Catholic, led by the pope in Rome; Eastern Orthodox, whose titular head is the patriarch of Constantinople; and Protestant, of which there are hundreds of denominations. The holiest city of Christendom is Jerusalem. The cross, in multiple forms, has been the most prominent and universal symbol of Christianity. A pictogram of a fish is another common symbol stemming from early times, as are christograms, abbreviations made from the Greek letters for Jesus Christ. Although Christianity doesn’t have many food rules, food has always been important to Christians for both their bodily and spiritual health as well as being a means of expressing fellowship and charity. Food practices have varied throughout Christian history and across sects, ranging from extreme asceticism to dietary permissiveness. Food is mentioned extensively in the Bible, and some modernday Christians look to the Bible as a source of dietary guidance on healthy eating and even weight loss. Christian feast days, especially Christmas, are celebrated by a large part of the world population even in countries where Christians are a minority. Origins and Historical Development The sacred scriptures of Judaism foretold the coming of a messiah (enlightened one), who would deliver the Jewish people from persecution. Jesus was recognized as fulfilling this prophecy and is the founder prophet of Christianity. The story of his birth in a stable in Bethlehem is retold around the Christian world at Christmas. Jesus encouraged his followers to be humble and less concerned about material comfort and earthly wealth than about spiritual rewards in a future heaven. He criticized the political establishment and threatened the economic power of temple priests by denouncing the practice of charging for ritual baths required of anyone wishing to enter the temple and profits made from changing money into temple currency. He mixed freely with the poor and the sick, welcomed women as disciples, and shared food with all regardless of their social status. His ideas and behaviors were seen as a threat by both the Jewish and Roman authorities, and he was accused of blasphemy and treason by the high priest, Caiaphas, and then reluctantly condemned to death by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Following Jesus’s death, Christian teachings were spread by a band of disciples, particularly by the apostle Paul. Paul founded Christian churches throughout the Roman Empire despite continuing persecution by the authorities. With the ascendency of Constantine (285– 337 CE) as Roman emperor, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire and spread as far as India to the east and Ireland to the west. Christian


| 105

beliefs and practices developed in different ways, and in 1054 CE there was a major split between the Western Catholic Church centered in Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church based in Constantinople. In the 16th century, the Western church again divided between Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and many denominations of Protestants. Over the next 300 years colonialist powers and church missionaries spread Christianity to all corners of the world, where it flourished in different forms. Some trends over the last half century or so include evangelicalism, liberation theology, and creationism. The ecumenical movement is an effort to unify Christians from different traditions. In 1948 the World Council of Churches was founded in Geneva to bring Christians together in a unity of faith and common social purpose. It has about 350 member churches in 110 countries. Demographics Christianity is a truly global religion, with 2.2 billion adherents spread through nearly every country of the world. In 78 countries the Christian population exceeds 90 percent, while by number the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Russia, and China are home to the most Christians (Johnson and Zurlo 2007). About half the world’s Christians are Catholic, 37 percent (814 million) are Protestants, and 264 million belong to orthodox churches (Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life 2012). Catholicism is dominant in Brazil and Mexico, while Russia has the largest orthodox population. Christianity is the largest religion in the United States, with around 250 million people belonging to one of the many Christian denominations (Johnson and Zurlo 2007). Of these 65 percent are Protestants, the largest group by far being Baptist; 31 percent are Catholic, 2.2 percent Mormon, 0.9 percent Jehovah’s Witness, and 0.8 percent orthodox (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life 2008). While the native-born Catholic population has been in decline, it is more than compensated by the increase in immigrants who are Catholic. Beliefs and Teachings Christianity is a monotheistic religion. Christians believe that there is one God who has three aspects: God the father, God the son, and God the holy ghost (or spirit). This is called the Holy Trinity. They believe that God created the universe and is all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-present. The central message of Christianity is love for God and love for all people. The Christian prophet, Jesus, is believed to be the son of God who was sent to Earth in human form to show people how to live according to God’s will. Christians believe that humans are born as sinners but that Jesus’s death on the cross redeemed the sins of believers for all time and that they will join him in everlasting life in Heaven after their earthly days are over. Saints are part of the belief system of Catholic and Orthodox Christians but not of Protestants. Devout Christians may become saints through a lifetime of religious dedication and by performing miracles and may be called upon through prayer to intercede in personal and world affairs—for example, in healing the sick.


| Christianity Customs and Social Practices Christians try to model their lives on Jesus’s example. Praying to God is a central part of Christian ritual, and there are traditional prayers for different occasions in the liturgical calendar. Christian places of worship are called churches or chapels. Spiritual leaders are called ministers (in Protestant churches) or priests (in Catholic and orthodox churches). People may also pray to Mary, mother of God, and to individual saints. Christian church services also typically include singing of hymns, readings from the scriptures, and sermons. Sunday, the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, is the traditional day of rest from work for Christians and a time to attend church services and relax with family and friends. In many parts of the world its observance has declined under the influence of secularism. Ritual and Ceremony There are seven sacraments in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches (baptism, confirmation, Communion, penance, extreme unction, holy orders, and marriage). Only baptism and Communion are sacraments in the Protestant church. The central sacrament of Christianity is a shared meal known as Holy Communion or the Eucharist, in which bread and wine are transformed (literally or figuratively depending on denominational views) into the body and blood of Christ. Like most religions, Christianity has rituals that mark life events such as birth, coming-ofage, marriage, and death, each of which has food-related components. Feasts and fasts celebrating key events in the life of Jesus punctuate the Christian year. More information on these topics can be found in separate entries. Food Laws and Dietary Practices Because of the hugely diverse nature of Christianity, there are few food rules that have prevailed across time and cultures. Early Christians followed the food laws of Judaism that are laid out in books of the Old Testament. These were largely abandoned as Christianity developed its own distinctive practices. In the first book of the New Testament, Christians are told that all the bounty of the plant world is available to them: “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food” (Genesis 1:29). This is sometimes used to support the claim that Christians should be vegetarian. However, in later biblical accounts, after the great flood God gives Noah and his family permission to eat animals too: “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). Nevertheless, an ascetic Christian tradition developed that equated overindulgence in food, particularly animal food, with corruption of bodily humors, leading to sinful behavior. Denying the flesh was a way of nourishing the soul. The famous Rule of St. Benedict (480–547 CE) prescribed food restraint and etiquette for monastic orders in an effort to combat the sin of gluttony; it still guides Christian


| 107

Forbidden Fruit The biblical book of Genesis tells the creation story in which God creates Heaven and Earth in six days. On the last day he creates the first humans, Adam and Eve, and places them in an earthly paradise called the Garden of Eden. In the garden there is a tree of knowledge of good and evil, the fruit of which is forbidden, while all other plants and herbs can be eaten freely. A serpent tempts Eve to taste the forbidden fruit, which she does, giving some also to Adam. This results in a loss of their innocence and immortality, and they are banished from the garden. Traditionally the fruit eaten by Eve is identified as an apple (perhaps because of its Latin name malum, which is similar to the word maˉ lum, meaning “evil”); however, the Bible never names the fruit, and apple trees were not native to the region at that period in history. The term “apple” was also long used as a generic term for nonberry fruits and nuts.Alternative suggestions include pomegranate, fig, grape, etrog (citron), pear, and quince. Wheat, nuts, and mushrooms have also been suggested, while some scholars think it was not a real fruit but a metaphor for the fruit of the womb.

religious communities today. From the 17th through 19th centuries a strong current of thought persisted that food was associated with both health and moral danger and that by controlling one’s diet, one could control one’s passions. In England the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley (1703–1791 CE), had much to say about the proper food for the body, while in the United States a Presbyterian preacher named Sylvester Graham (1794–1851 CE) promoted simple vegetarian diets as the way to bodily health and spiritual salvation. This theme was taken up by John Harvey Kellogg (1852–1943 CE) and other members of the Adventist church. Kellogg invented rolled cereal flakes (cornflakes) that were at first promoted as a technologically pure food suitable for a pure body. Ideas of purity and naturalness persist in contemporary alternative health movements. Vegetarianism is not a Christian practice as such but is promoted by some Christians as a compassionate and ecologically sound practice. Some Christian sects, such as the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), promote vegetarianism and the avoidance of alcohol and stimulants such as tea and coffee as a means to preserving the body as a temple for the soul. Fasting plays an important part in Christian religious life, particularly in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The major fasts at Lent and Advent are not complete fasts, but they do involve giving up animal products and highly valued foods such as olive oil and wine. Historically, Catholics were expected to avoid eating meat on Fridays throughout the year in memory of Jesus’s death. The practice declined over time, and the requirement was changed in 1966 to apply only to Fridays in Lent, though there have been recent calls by some of the faithful for its reinstatement. Fasting is uncommon among Protestant sects. Other foods have symbolic significance for Christians. Jesus speaks of himself as “bread” (John 6:35) and is also described by John the Baptist as the Lamb of God (John 1:29). The ancient Jewish practice of sacrificing a lamb at the feast of Passover is transferred figuratively to


| Christian Western Festival Calendar the sacrifice Jesus made of himself on the cross. Eggs are associated particularly with the resurrection. In the orthodox tradition, at Easter time eggs are dyed red on Good Friday, representing the blood of the dying Jesus, and are cracked on Easter Sunday, symbolizing the opening of his tomb. As in all religious traditions, sharing food is an important expression of fellowship and identity. This occurs through sacramental meals, such as the Eucharist, liturgical feast days, and informal church suppers. Providing food for the poor and dispossessed is an important Christian obligation. Church groups are often involved in sponsoring food banks and soup kitchens and in international development work to improve food security for all. The last few decades have seen an explosion of interest in Christian approaches to diets and dieting. Two major themes are looking to the Bible for food wisdom and calling for divine help in dieting. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Christian Diet Plans; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Eastern Orthodox Church; Eucharist; Fasting in Christianity; Graham, Sylvester; Jesus; Kellogg, John Harvey; Lent; Protestantism; Roman Catholicism

Further Reading Albala, K., and T. Eden, eds. 2011. Food and Faith in Christian Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. Feeley-Harnik, G. 1994. The Lord’s Table: The Meaning of Food in Early Judaism and Christianity. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute. Johnson, T. M., and G. A. Zurlo, eds. 2007. World Christian Database. Leiden: Brill. Largen, K. J. 2009. “A Christian Rationale for Vegetarianism.” Dialog 48(2): 147–157. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2008. U.S. Religious Landscape Survey: Religious Affiliation: Diverse and Dynamic. Washington, DC: Pew Research Forum. Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2012. The Global Religious Landscape. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Sack, D. 2001. Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Christian Western Festival Calendar Western Christian churches use the 365-day solar calendar, also called the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 though not adopted in England and North America until 1752. This means that most dates in the church calendar are fixed; however, Easter continues to be calculated on a lunar calendar and so occurs on different dates each year, though always in the spring. The dates of other events that are tied to Easter also vary and are known as movable feasts. Some holy days are observed on the following or nearest Sunday. Some celebrations are specific to particular denominations of Christianity, and there are numerous saint days and other regional or country-specific celebrations observed by Christians in different parts of the world. For Catholics there are 10 holy days of obligation when they


| 109

must attend Mass and, if possible, refrain from menial work. Six of these are observed in the United States. The two holiest seasons celebrated by all Christians revolve around the birth of Jesus at Christmas and his death at Easter. Traditionally every Sunday was considered a complete day of rest, and some denominations still strive to observe it. Many Christian festivals have become secularized and are observed as civic holidays by Christians and non-Christians alike. See Also: Advent; All Saints’ Day; All Souls’ Day; Christmas; Easter; Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar; Lent; Mardi Gras; Thanksgiving

Further Reading Hill, C. 2003. Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books. Richards, E. G. 1998. Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Christmas Christmas is celebrated around the world by people of various religions or no religion as a time of peace, joy, and sharing. It is celebrated on December 24 and 25, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, respectively, though as a secular holiday it extends to December 26, which is called Boxing Day. In the Eastern Orthodox calendar Christmas falls 12 days later on January 6. It is an official public holiday in most countries, with some exceptions in North Africa, Central and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Nearly all Christian sects celebrate Christmas. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas, which they believe is based on pagan customs. They point out that Jesus did not instruct his followers to celebrate his birthday. Puritans and Quakers in New England and Pennsylvania also rejected Christmas as an invented tradition. Festive foods include oranges, nuts, baked goods, cookies, turkey, mince pies, and plum pudding. Christmas is literally the Mass of Christ, the day that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, founder prophet of the Christian faith whom Christians believe to be the son of God. It is the culmination of the 40-day period known as Advent, during which Christians prepare to receive the good news of Christ’s birth, and is thus a time of joy and thanksgiving. For the first 300 years of Christianity, Christ’s birth was not celebrated; birthdays were associated with pagan gods. The first recorded celebration of Christmas is from 336 CE, following the adoption of Christianity by the Roman emperor Constantine. There were many competing ideas about the correct birth date of Jesus, but eventually December 25 was chosen, and the religious festival was overlaid on preexisting midwinter pagan celebrations such as the Scandinavian Yule and the banquet of the sun practiced by the Roman cult of Mithras.


| Christmas Rituals and Customs Christmas was historically the fourth major festival of the Christian church year, after Easter, Pentecost, and Epiphany, but it has become a major focus of commercial and social activity around the globe, with parties, feasts, and gift giving being hallmarks of the Christmas season. Christmas Eve sees special church services that may feature candlelight, pageants (usually involving children) reenacting the nativity, the singing of carols, prayers, and readings from the Bible. Catholic churches usually hold a midnight Mass. The practice of decorating a live tree probably stems from pagan customs of tree worship and the use of evergreen boughs at winter solstice festivals. The modern Christmas tree tradition was introduced in Germany as early as the 16th century and was adopted in England during the reign of Queen Victoria. Eighteenth-century Pennsylvania Dutch settlers in the United States bought their German customs and traditions. The German custom was to decorate the tree with foods such as apples, nuts, and marzipan cookies. Other Christmas traditions include decorating houses with wreaths of holly or fir and creating lighting displays on the outside of houses and in city streets. Santa Claus is the Anglicized version of the 15th-century Father Christmas. In France it is Pere Noel, and in Germany it is the Weihnachtsmann. On Christmas Eve children eagerly anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus on a sleigh pulled by reindeer and bringing gifts. They leave a plate of treats such as cookies and carrots to feed Santa and the hungry reindeer and wake on Christmas morning to find the treats gone and presents left under the Christmas tree. In Germany and among German American families, children may also receive gifts of nuts, fruits, and candies from St. Nicholas on December 6. Symbolic Foods There are many foods and dishes that are associated particularly, if not exclusively, with Christmas in different parts of the world. With the globalization of food habits, roast turkey has become the centerpiece of Christmas meals in many countries, accompanied by local specialties reflecting cultural and ethnic customs. Baked goods are popular, and every region has its own version of a Christmas cake or Christmas cookie. The American Christmas dinner is based on English colonial traditions and resembles the Thanksgiving meal, in which the central component of the meal is turkey or some other roast meat. Christmas Eve is the final day of Advent, so for many Catholics it was traditionally a day of fasting from meat and dairy products. Although fasting is no longer required, fish courses are still common among Old World and immigrant families. Regional Variations Germany is home to a host of special Christmas baked goods. Anise star cookies are often made with a hole in the center and used as Christmas tree decorations. Lebkuchen are heart-shaped cookies covered in chocolate, while pfeffernusse are


| 111

spiced pepper and nutmeg cookies covered with powdered sugar. Gingerbread has been popular since medieval times. Elaborately carved molds were in wide use as early as the 17th century to produce gingerbread depictions of saints and of religious scenes such as the nativity and adoration of the magi. Italian Christmas fare varies from region to region in Italy. The Christmas Eve feast is called il cenone di natale and includes multiple fish and seafood dishes. Originating in 15th-century Milan, panettone, a Christmas sweet bread, is widely popular; it is made in a tall cylindrical shape with a rich egg and butter dough and dried fruit. Variations include pampepato (pope’s bread), made with pepper, chocolate, Italian panettone fruit cake has been a traditional spices, and almonds, which in Christmas food since the 15th century. (Monkey the Middle Ages was given to the Business Images/ pope as a gift, and pan giallo (yellow bread), originally made with saffron and popular in Rome. From southern Italy comes struffoli, small ball-shaped pieces of soft pastry fried and mixed with hazelnuts and then coated with honey and lemon zest. Cuccidatu is a Sicilian fig cookie spiced with cinnamon. Czech Christmas food traditions include eating fresh carp for Christmas dinner and slicing an apple core, hoping for a five-pointed star shape that signals good fortune for the year ahead. Because of the demand for carp in the weeks leading up to Christmas, many Czechs purchase a live carp and keep it in the bathtub until Christmas. The Christmas meal usually begins with fish soup followed by fried battered carp served with potato salad. A favorite dessert in France and Belgium is buche de noel, or Yule log, an edible reminder of an ancient Northern European custom. On Christmas Eve a tree was felled and dragged home, where it was burned in its entirety over the 12 days of Christmas, awaiting the return of the sun. If any of the Yule log remained unburned it was stored until the following year, when it was used to help light the new fire. Nineteenth-century French bakers popularized the dessert version, as it was no longer practical for most people to burn a tree. It is made from chocolate sponge cake covered with cream and rolled to form a cylinder. This is coated with melted chocolate or with chocolate butter cream frosting and scored to look like a log. Decorations such as sprigs of holly or marzipan mushrooms may be added.


| Christmas Commercially made Yule logs are often available in stores. Consoada is a popular Portuguese Christmas Eve dish made from boiled cod served with cabbage, potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs dipped in garlic and olive oil. Rabadanas is a Portuguese version of French toast made by frying slices of baguette that have been dipped in a mixture of milk and eggs and sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. In Spain, little almond shortbreads called polverones are made only for the Christmas season. The name comes from the Spanish word for “dust,” as the cookies are dusted with sugar. Turkey stuffed with truffles was once a popular Christmas Eve dish, but today the festive table is more likely to hold roasts of lamb or pork along with spicy sausage appetizers; fish soup; seafood such as prawns, lobster, or octopus; and a variety of cheeses. Turron, made from sugar, honey, egg whites, and almonds, is a ubiquitous sweet that comes in soft and chewy nougat-like textures. It is of Moorish origin and is produced in a factory in Jijona on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Scandinavian Christmas food is heavy on meat dishes and baked goods. Roasted goose stuffed with apples and prunes was popular for Christmas Eve, though duck is more often served. In Sweden the Christmas julbord, or Yule table, usually includes julskinka (ham) as well as lutefisk (dried cod), meatballs and sausages, and vortbrod—a Christmas beer bread that is dipped in the ham juice. Janssons frestelse is a dish of baked potatoes, onions, anchovies, and cream. Rice porridge (risgrynsgrot) is often eaten in the evening following the gift exchange. A traditional Finnish dish is pork with rutabaga and potatoes slowly roasted in birch bark boxes. In Norway, the favorite Christmas dishes are roasted pork belly, served with sauerkraut and potatoes, and pinnekjøtt, lamb ribs traditionally steamed over birch branches. Icelandic Christmas dishes include smoked lamb hangikjot and pork ribs as well as Yule pudding made with sweet rice and raisins. In Mexico and the American Southwest, handmade tamales are traditional for Christmas. Tamales are pockets of soft corn dough (masa), treated with slaked lime, that are filled with shredded pork or chicken, beans, onions, and chilies. They are wrapped in corn husks and steamed and are ideal for large gatherings, as they are both cheap and portable. However, preparation is labor intensive, and traditionally women participate in family or community social events called tamaladas, where tamale-making skills are passed from generation to generation. A typical Mexican Christmas Eve feast features a colorful salad of lettuce, beets, fruits, and nuts followed by bacalao a la vizcaina, a mestizo dish of cod stewed with tomatoes and olives. On Christmas Eve a papier-mâché piñata filled with candy is hung in the house; breaking it is said to destroy the devil, and its cornucopia of treats heralds good fortune in the year ahead. Such is the power of the modern idea of the Christmas dinner that it flourishes irrespective of seasonality. In Australia and New Zealand Christmas falls during the hottest time of the year, but the traditional roast turkey dinner with cranberry sauce is still in demand. However, some families choose to serve it cold at outdoor picnics. Barbecuing lamb or beef at beach or backyard parties is also popular. In the hot Australian outback Santa’s sleigh is pulled not by reindeer but by “six white boomers,” or kangaroos. In colder northern countries some people with the means to do so travel to warmer climes for Christmas. Hotels and restaurants cater to

Christmas Drinks

| 113

British Royal Engineers No. 3 Mobile Railway Workshop, North Africa Christmas Dinner 1944 Cream of tomato soup Roast pork and apple sauce Roast turkey and stuffing Roast potatoes and creamed potatoes Cauliflower and white sauce Peas and brown gravy Christmas pudding and custard Cheese and Fruit Lemonade and Beer

these travelers with “traditional” Christmas fare, notwithstanding the climate or local cuisine. Sitting down to a familiar Christmas meal may impart a sense of stability or normality when circumstances change, as shown by the menu for Christmas dinner served to British troops in the North African desert in 1944 during World War II. See Also: Christian Western Festival Calendar; Christmas Drinks; Easter; Eastern Orthodox Church; Epiphany; Feasting in Christianity; Protestantism; Roman Catholicism

Further Reading Farley, M. P. 1990. Festive Ukrainian Cooking. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. Gugino, S. n.d. “Cenone: The Feast of the Seven Fishes.” Sam Cooks, http://www.samcooks .com/cenone-the-feast-of-the-seven-fishes/. Miles, C. A. 2011. Christmas Customs and Traditions: Their History and Significance. New York: Dover Publications. Restad, P. L. 1995. Christmas in America. New York: Oxford University Press. Toropov, B., S. G. Cook, M. Gonsior, S. Robinson, and P. Weiss, eds. 2000. The Everything Christmas Book: Stories, Songs, Food, Traditions, Revelry and More. New York: Adams Media. Webb, L. S. 1995. Holiays of the World Cookbook for Students. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx.

Christmas Drinks Drink plays a big part in social and ceremonial occasions. Sharing a glass of cheer promotes goodwill and friendship. Christmas celebrations frequently feature drinks


| Christmas Drinks not normally served at other times of the year. These comforting and usually hot drinks are commonly alcohol-based, sweetened with sugar and flavored with spices. An archetypal Christmas drink popular in England for hundreds of years was wassail, a hot apple cider spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Pieces of toasted bread were floated on top (the origin of the practice of toasting with drinks). It was often prepared in large quantities, as attested to by a 10-gallon silver wassail bowl at Jesus College in Oxford University. Modern wassail recipes are based on wine, ale, or cider and may incorporate beaten eggs. Nonalcoholic versions use fruit juice and ginger ale. Eggnog is made from light cream and eggs with sugar and sometimes vanilla. It is comWassail, a traditional English Christmas drink of hot monly served mixed with an alapple cider spiced with cinnamon, cloves, and coholic spirit such as rum or nutmeg. Wassail comes from the Anglo Saxon for cognac. The term “nog” is de“good health.” (Rafer/ rived from “noggin,” which was an English carved wooden mug used to drink ale. Eggnog developed from an older concoction known as posset—a product of curdling hot cream and eggs in ale or sack (sherry) with sugar and nutmeg. Posset and eggnog were originally the preserve of the wealthy elite, as dairy products were expensive. In the North American colonies ordinary people had ready access to cows and chickens, so dairy products were plentiful; eggnog became widely consumed, with wine being replaced by rum. It was a popular social drink offered to visitors at Christmastime and remains more popular in present-day North America than in the land of its origin. A recipe for a very strong alcoholic eggnog is said to have been penned by President George Washington, although he forgot to mention the number of eggs: One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, 1/2 pint rye whiskey, 1/2 pint Jamaica rum, 1/4 pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well.

Christmas Drinks

| 115

Wassailing Wassailing is an old English custom that is still practiced in some parts of the country today. In the depths of winter, people would prepare a cider-based drink called wassail that was ceremonially offered to apple trees as a supplication for a good crop the following year. This custom evolved in medieval times into a ritual in which peasants would visit the lords of the manor asking for food and drink and alms in return for the blessing of “Waes Hael,” an Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning good health that turned into the name of the drink itself. In the 17th century the practice was for wassailers to carry a wassail bowl from which they offered the householder a drink in return for alms.The song “Here We Come a Wassailing” describes the activity. In North America around the turn of the 19th century amid concerns over public drunkenness, the wassailing custom transformed into the practice of caroling, in which groups of singers went door-to-door performing Christmas carols in the hope of being given food or money.

Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently. (“George Washington’s Christmas Eggnog” n.d.) In 1826 at West Point Academy an event known as the eggnog riots occurred after the alcoholic version was forbidden, leading some cadets to smuggle in whiskey, which they added to the eggnog and proceeded to drink to excess. Hot chocolate is often thought of as a quintessential winter drink. Drinking chocolate, served cold and spiced with chilli peppers, was a part of Aztec culture for hundred of years when the Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century. They took cocoa beans back to Spain, where a hot sweetened version of the drink evolved. In England milk was added to the drink, and by around 1700 chocolate houses were as popular as coffeehouses. Mulled wine is a popular European festive drink. It is made by slowly heating a mixture of red wine and water spiced with cloves and cinnamon and often with lemon and orange zest. The wine absorbs the flavors and is served warm. In Germany it is called gluhwein and is usually served in decorative souvenir ceramic mugs at Christmas markets. The addition of high-alcohol rum to gluhwein results in a potent drink known as feuerzangenbowle, which was popularized by a 1943 movie of the same name. The Scandinavian version is glogg, a mixture of cardamonspiced red wine, port, and brandy to which raisins and almonds are added. In the same vein of warming winter drinks, hot toddy is a mix of spirits (usually whiskey) and boiled water sweetened with honey or sugar. It was a favorite in Scotland during the cold, dark winter nights. Hot buttered rum was the choice of the North American colonists. The dark molasses-based liquor was poured over a mix of butter and sugar. Spiced apple cider, either alcoholic or nonalcoholic, is another popular holiday drink. Apples were plentiful in the American colonies and were used to produce


| Church Suppers cider in large quantities, particularly for Thanksgiving and Christmas. During prohibition, cider apple orchards largely disappeared, and the United States has never fully recovered its taste for cider. Mexican ponce navideno is a hot fruit punch sold by street vendors around Christmas. It is made with piloncillo, which is dark brown unrefined sugarcane, citrus fruit, guava, and an indigenous hawthorn berry called tejocotes. Spirits such as tequila or rum are added to make an alcoholic version. It is illegal to import tejocote berries into the United States from Mexico because of fears regarding insect contamination, but in recent years crops have been successfully grown in California. Atole is a thick corn-based drink with Aztec origins that is also popular in Mexico around Christmastime; chocolate may be added to produce champurrado, commonly served with deep-fried pastries called churros. Coquito is a frothy Puerto Rican festive drink made from coconut milk, condensed milk, and vanilla and spiced with cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It is served chilled. A Chilean favorite, colo de mono (monkey’s tail), combines an alcoholic spirit called aquadiente with milk, coffee, vanilla, and cloves. Dried hibiscus petals are the basis for a Jamaican specialty known as sorrel. The red flowers are in full bloom at Christmastime and are mixed with ginger, sugar, and rum diluted with water to taste. The rum is omitted for a nonalcoholic version that is popular with children. See Also: Alcohol; Christmas; Festivals; Wine

Further Reading Anderson, D. n.d. “Wassailing.” The Hymns and Carols of Christmas, http://www.hymns “George Washington’s Christmas Eggnog.” n.d. The Old Farmer’s Almanac, http://www Toropov, B., S. G. Cook, M. Gonsior, S. Robinson, and P. Weiss, eds. 2000. The Everything Christmas Book: Stories, Songs, Food, Traditions, Revelry and More. New York: Adams Media.

Church Suppers The church supper is an integral feature of communities throughout America. Kitchens and halls attached to churches allow both for food preparation and serving of communal meals or potluck dinners. In rural communities the fall supper is a major event bringing together most of the population to enjoy the fruits of the field. Originally they were known as fowl suppers, as the main dish was typically duck or goose. Local residents donate the food and provide their labor, and money raised from paying guests is used to support the church or community causes. In England church teas serve a similar purpose.

Church Suppers

| 117

The church supper has a long history. Toward the end of the 19th century the size of growing church congregations, especially in cities, eroded their community feel and rendered them more impersonal. At the same time, secular society was offering more social and entertainment options that took people away from the church. To counter this trend many churches began offering activities and events to attract and retain members. These included picnics, sports activities, community meetings, and parties, and they all included food. Study circles were set up to provide educational opportunities, and once again they incorporated food. Meals were typically organized on gendered lines with, for example, poetry readings for women and banqueting clubs for men. There was a decline in these sorts of activities during the economic depression years of the 1930s and the ensuing war years of the 1940s. Following the war, the practice of the church meal enjoyed a revival. Churchwomen’s groups formed around food, whether through ladies’ lunch circles or as providers of meals to the general church community. Menu advice catered to feminine stereotypes. A 1962 publication titled How to Plan Church Meals advised that women should be offered salads and dainty sandwiches that were “delicate, made for nibbling and looking pretty is far more important than nourishment” (Kirk 1962, 57). Family nights became more common and often took the form of themed potlucks. With changing demographics and social arrangements their popularity waned, as they failed to meet the needs of new social and family structures. With the rise in the number of women working outside of the home, there was also less volunteer capacity to organize and produce food for these events, further contributing to their decline. Some church bodies also felt that the focus on social activity detracted from their religious mission and called for an end to family nights and potlucks. As a result some churches became more outward looking by shifting the food focus from their own congregation to the wider community. Church members prepared meals for vulnerable groups such as shut-in seniors and families in need. The next step was to invite needy people to the church hall to share communal meals. This was the birth of the soup kitchen, which remains a major form of community service today. The tradition of monthly church suppers continues in urban as well as rural settings. Sometimes they are designed to provide an opportunity to discuss religious and social issues, and sometimes they emphasize entertainment. Other food events such as pancake breakfasts and barbecues flourish in communities across the land. In all cases they use food as a way of welcoming people to share fellowship. See Also: Charity; Christianity; Commensality; Soup Kitchens and Food Banks

Further Reading Holifield, E. B. 1994. “Toward a History of American Congregations.” In American Congregations, edited by J. P. Wind and J. W. Lews, 23–53. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


| Coffee Kirk, J. 1962. How to Plan Church Meals. Chicago: Fleming H. Revell. Sack, D. 1997. “On Deciphering a Potluck; the Social Meaning of Church Socials.” Material History of American Religion Project, /potluck.html. Taste of Home. 2009. Best Church Supper Recipes. New York: Reader’s Digest.

Coffee Coffee has long been a popular drink in many parts of the world and is associated with hospitality and conviviality. Coffee can mean the evergreen plant itself or the beverage made by drying and roasting the seeds or beans from the plant. There are two species of which many varieties are grown in different parts of the world. Coffea arabica comes principally from Southeast Asia and Latin America, with premium-quality production in Jamaica, Colombia, and Indonesia, and is the preferred variety for drinking. Coffea robusta is a more bitter product grown in Africa as well as in parts of Asia, particularly in Vietnam. Brazil, Vietnam, and Colombia are the top global coffee producers and exporters, and coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world after oil. The highest per capita consumption is in Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands, with the United States in 22nd place. The word “coffee” is derived from the Arabic qahwa, meaning “wine” and passed into English via the Turkish karveh and the Dutch koffie. Coffee is thought to have originated in Ethiopia, where the beans were probably chewed or the berries were used to make a bitter drink. Use of wild bush coffee dates back to the first millennium, but it wasn’t until the 14th century that the plant was exported to and domesticated in Yemen. Subsequently it became a major agricultural trade product in the Middle East. Yemen controlled the international coffee trade for 300 years, particularly through the port of Mocha, until Dutch merchants established plantations in Indonesia. Coffeehouses were introduced into Istanbul in the mid-17th century and from there spread throughout Europe. They became popular as meeting places for artists and writers as well as political actors. Soon coffee drinking had spread throughout Europe and its colonies, and the bean was exported to the New World, with the first Brazilian coffee bush being planted in 1727. Coffee became the preferred drink of American colonists partially as a protest against British tea taxes during the Boston Tea Party of 1773. In North America it was more common for people to buy green coffee beans and do their own home roasting, and so coffeehouses did not develop to the same extent as they did in Europe. The turn of the 20th century saw development of the first instant coffee, manufactured from freeze-dried beans. From the earliest method of simply boiling coffee with water, numerous techniques of preparation have developed. In the 21st century a form of coffeehouse culture has emerged in North American, with leading companies establishing thousands of chain outlets offering a wide range of regular and gourmet coffee products, along with food, in casual surroundings.


| 119

Coffee Anyone? Turkish Finely ground coffee boiled in a pot with water and sugar. Espresso Finely ground coffee infused with pressurized hot water. South Indian Filtered coffee and chicory blend stirred into sweetened hot milk. Saudi Ground coffee boiled with water, cardamom, and cloves and colored with saffron. Equal quantities of coffee and hot milk. Café con leche Cappuccino Espresso, hot milk, and steamed milk foam. One-third each of coffee, milk, and cream. Franziskaner Americano Espresso with added hot water. Cubano Espresso brewed with demerara sugar. Filtered coffee with sweetened condensed milk and ice. Vietnamese Irish Sweetened coffee with Irish whiskey and topped with cream.

Coffee contains an alkaloid called caffeine, a stimulant that produces a variety of effects in the body and the overconsumption of which has been associated with health problems and sleep disturbances. However, in moderate amounts coffee has more health benefits than negative effects and may be protective against liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. In Islam, coffee was used as a substitute for forbidden wine. Some medieval Muslim authorities tried to ban coffee as being contrary to directions in the Qur’an to avoid stimulants, while others actively incorporated coffee drinking in worship. Coffee drinking became part of Sufi devotional rituals, where it helped adherents remain awake, and it was consumed in the sacred mosque in Mecca. As coffeehouses sprang up throughout Persia, mullahs would visit them, giving religious lessons to counteract the liberal and political atmosphere they engendered. Coffee is permitted in modern-day Islam but may be avoided by devout Muslims. Offering coffee to desert travelers was part of traditional Bedouin hospitality and remains an important custom in Middle Eastern countries. While coffee has played a central role in cultural and religious hospitality, it has also been frowned upon by some religious sects as being an unnatural stimulant that is inimical to the health of both mind and body. Sylvester Graham was a highly influential 19th-century Presbyterian preacher and food reformer who promoted dietary regimes he deemed appropriate for Christian morality and healthy living. He advocated avoiding coffee, which he described as an astringent, stimulating narcotic beverage that produced sleeplessness, acidity of the stomach, dyspepsia, tremors, and paralytic affections. Consumption of coffee is discouraged in both the Seventh-day Adventist and Mormon sects of Christianity. For these faiths, the body is the temple of God and should not be polluted with substances inimical to health or that cloud judgment. The Mormon scriptures forbid the consumption of “hot drinks,” which is generally interpreted as meaning coffee and tea. Some


| Coffee

Bedouin man pours fresh spiced coffee called gabana. Serving coffee to guests is integral to Bedouin hospitality. (Amr Hassanein/

Cappuccino Cappuccino originated in 18th-century Viennese coffeehouses, where it was known as kapuziner. The addition of cream and sugar gave the coffee a brown color that was reminiscent of the hooded robes worn by friars of the Capuchin order. A lighter-colored drink made with more milk was named franziskaner, after the robes of Franciscan monks. Cappuccino was popularized in Italy in the early 20th century, after which it spread across Europe and to England, but it didn’t become popular in North America until the 1980s, when the Specialty Coffee Association of America was formed to promote high-quality coffee.

Mormons focus on the caffeine content of these drinks and extend the prohibition to all caffeinated drinks. In the Rastafari I-tal diet, coffee and other caffeinated beverages are avoided; instead herbal tea and infusions of plant roots are consumed. Jews are permitted to drink coffee, but there are circumstances when its kosher status may be in doubt and when it should be avoided. Some coffee chains that serve food products containing ham or bacon wash the plates on which these are served in the same sink as the coffee brew baskets and milk pitchers. This does not meet koshering requirements. The

Cold Food Festival (Hanshi)

| 121

Star-K kosher certification agency recommends against drinking regular, decaffeinated, or latte coffee from full-service coffee outlets. See Also: Graham, Sylvester; Kashrut; Mormons; Seventh-day Adventists; Sufi Islam; Wine

Further Reading “Coffee and Health: What Does the Research Say?” n.d. Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayo -health/faq-20058339. Graham, S. 1835. A Defence of the Graham System of Living: Or, Remarks on Diet and Regimen. 2010 ed. Charleston, SC: Nabu. Pendergrast, M. 2010. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. New York: Basic Books. Seidel, K. n.d. “Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook and Art Gallery.” Superluminal, http:// “Top 10 Coffee Consuming Nations.” n.d. World Atlas, /top-10-coffee-consuming-nations.html.

Cold Food Festival (Hanshi) Hanshi, or cold food festival, is celebrated in parts of China, South Korea, and Vietnam. It takes place over 3 days starting on the day before the Chinese Qingming tomb-sweeping festival. This occurs 105 days after the winter solstice, falling on April 5 in the Western calendar. The origin of Hanshi, meaning “eating cold food,” is disputed by scholars, but it appears to have begun in the Mianshan mountain region of Shanxi Province in northern China around the third century BCE before gradually spreading throughout China by the time of the Sui dynasty in the sixth century CE. The philosopher Huan T’an writing in the first century CE described how at the height of winter, the people of Taiyuan would abstain from using fire to prepare their food for five days. They did this in honor of the memory of the selfless actions of Chieh Tzu (Jie Zitui), who cut flesh from his own leg to make a soup to feed the exiled Jin prince, Ch’ung-erh (Chong’er). When Ch’ung-erh became king he wanted to reward his loyal followers, but Chieh Tzu, who was living on a remote mountainside with his mother, would not accept a reward. Ch’ung-erh ordered that fires be lit to force Chieh Tzu out, but he stayed put and was burned alive. In remorse, Ch’ung-erh declared that fires should be prohibited on the anniversary of Chieh Tzu’s death, and thus food had to be eaten cold. Over the ensuing centuries authorities tried to abolish the cold food practice as being incompatible with health and even survival; nevertheless, it persisted. Because Hanshi was so close to Qingming, the two festivals eventually became blended into one. In Shanxi Province, people may still eat cold food such as


| Coming-of-Age Rituals congee, noodles, soybean jelly, and glutinous rice cakes prepared the previous day as well as date cakes and wheat cakes. Outings are popular, and ready-to-eat cold food is sold for picnics. Elsewhere in China the tradition of eating only cold foods is no longer much observed. The festival is also celebrated in Korea, where it is known as Hansik. Visiting and cleaning ancestral graves is a common practice on this day. Cold foods eaten include rice cakes, soup, and salads in which the plant mugwort is a main ingredient. In Vietnam the cold food festival is called Tet Han Thuc and is celebrated on the third day of the third lunar month. Families gather and visit ancestral graves. There are two traditional festival foods: banh troi are glutinous rice balls with pieces of sugar inside, and banh chay are larger rice balls that contain green bean paste. The rice balls are placed on a tray on the ancestral altar and offered to the ancestors, after which they are shared among the family. See Also: Confucianism; Hungry Ghosts; Qingming Festival; Taoism

Further Reading Holzman, D. 1986. “The Cold Food Festival in Early Medieval China.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 46(1): 51–79. Liming, W. 2011. Chinese Festivals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Coming-of-Age Rituals Coming-of-age is a rite of passage that marks the transition of a young person to adulthood. It signals that a new phase of life has begun and may bring with it specific expectations, responsibilities, or duties. In secular societies coming-of-age is a legal convention that allows minors to make independent decisions (such as the age of consent for sexual relations) and bestows legal privileges such as driving a car or purchasing alcohol. In a religious context coming-of-age means full admittance into the faith and is often a time when religious vows or commitments are taken. Coming-of-age ceremonies typically occur around puberty or adolescence, though the actual age criteria varies between religions. Like all rites of passage, coming-of-age has three stages of before, between, and after. Rituals are designed to facilitate this passage and give public recognition to the change in status. Coming-of-age ceremonies usually incorporate a feast of some sort, and in some instances food plays a symbolic role in ritual acts. Buddhist In the Southeast Asian Theravada tradition, somewhere between the ages of 3 and 12 boys and some girls are initiated to become a novice monk or nun. They are dressed as princes or princesses in fine robes and crowns, and then in imitation of

Coming-of-Age Rituals

| 123

Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) who renounced his princely position, they cast off this finery and change into saffron robes and have their heads shaved. They may stay with the monks for one night to several years to begin their spiritual education. Among the Shan people of northern Thailand and Myanmar, the ceremony is called Poy Sang Long. During the three-day ceremony the young princes are carried around by relatives and are not allowed to touch the ground except in temples or at home. Christian The coming-of-age ceremony in the Christian church is known as confirmation, when older children and young adults are received as full and active members of the church. Confirmation is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Churches, though other Protestant denominations do not see it as conferring divine grace. Baptists do not practice confirmation, as believers are baptized as adults. Confirmation usually happens in the teenage years, but in the Eastern Orthodox Church it is often combined with baptism. The Church of England does not allow people to take communion unless they have been confirmed. Children prepare for the ceremony by attending confirmation classes. On confirmation day they wear best or new clothes and may receive confirmation gifts. Confirmation parties are common, replete with buffet-style foods such as sandwiches, chips, salads, and fruit trays or else a visit to a restaurant. The Hispanic tradition of quinceanera, which celebrates a girl’s 15th birthday, is particularly important in Mexico. It begins with a Catholic Mass in which she may receive a tiara and a rosary and renews her baptismal vows, followed by a fiesta with feasting and dancing. From ancient Aztec origins in which age 15 marked the time when a girl could become a mother, the quinceanera has blended with Spanish Catholic traditions and evolved into an often lavish party in which the religious component may or may not be included. Hindu Between the ages of 8 and 24 in a ceremony important to the perpetuation of the caste system, boys of the three upper castes become “twice-born.” Having been born once to biological parents, they are now born again to spiritual parents. The rite of upanayana sees the boys invested with a sacred thread that is worn over the left shoulder; its three strands represent Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva and the three vows (to respect knowledge, parents, and society). Only after the upanayana is a boy entitled to other religious rites. The scriptures proscribe different initiation ages for the three castes, but in modern India it is common for all to perform the ceremony just prior to marriage. Traditionally, upanayana marked the beginning of life as a celibate student. Now it is largely symbolic. Some groups now initiate girls, but usually they are not given the sacred thread. Before the ceremony boys would eat what would be their final meal with their mothers before leaving to study with their guru. In contemporary upanyana ceremonies in North America, a shared


| Coming-of-Age Rituals meal precedes the actual rites; following the initiation the new students present a begging bowl, which their female relatives fill with rice and fruit. Indigenous North American The vision quest is an initiation rite among some Native American tribes of the Great Plains in which adolescent boys go alone into the wilderness to a sacred site chosen by an elder and meditate and fast for three or four days and nights in search of a guardian spirit that will guide them on their path through life. To prepare for the vision quest the boy would undertake a purification ritual at a sweat lodge, where water was poured on hot stones to create steam that would cleanse the body. A smudging ritual followed in which herbs such as sweetgrass, sage, juniper, or tobacco were burned, producing smoke that was wafted over the candidate by a shaman or healer. After completion of the vision quest an elder helped the boy, who was now deemed to be a man, interpret his visions, and a ceremonial feast was held. Islam Because Muslims are raised from birth in the way of Islam, there are no specific coming-of-age ceremonies or initiation rites resembling the Jewish bar mitzvah or the Christian first Communion. However, there are events during childhood that mark the spiritual development of the child, such as the child’s first fast. Although young children do not have to observe the Ramadan fast, they may undertake short fasts from as young as five or six. The roza kushai (first fast) is an occasion for a family celebration, with the child’s favorite foods being prepared for the evening meal and perhaps gifts and new clothes being given. On reaching puberty a child assumes all the obligations of an adult Muslim, including undertaking the full Ramadan fast. When children finish their first complete reading of the Qur’an there may be a family celebration with food and gift giving, but extravagance is cautioned against. Judaism At age 12 for girls and age 13 for boys the ceremony of bat and bar mitzvah, respectively, is held to welcome the young adult fully into the faith. Candidates participate in a special service at the synagogue, during which they read passages from the Torah. They are then recognized as adults with personal responsibility for following Jewish laws. Bar and bat mitzvah celebrations are popular following the religious service and might include either a formal dinner and/or informal party food and drink. Shinto Seijin-no-Hi is the coming-of-age ceremony that is held each year on the second Monday of January. Adult status is attained at the age of 20 for both boys and girls,


| 125

and on Seijin-no-Hi civil ceremonies are held that are attended by anyone who will become 20 during the year ahead. This ceremony confers full citizenship rites including voting, thereby incorporating the young people into the adult world of rights and responsibilities. Celebratory parties and gift giving are common. While this is a secular event, some may choose to also attend a shrine to receive a Shinto blessing. Sikh There is no specific coming-of-age ceremony to mark the transition of a young Sikh to adulthood. However, around the age of 12 to 16 boys may begin to wear the turban. Daastar Bandi is a ceremony for the tying of the first turban by an elder, which often takes place at the gurdwara, with the family donating food and money to the temple. Following this the boy is eligible for initiation in the khalsa by receiving the Five Ks. See Also: Baptism Rituals; Birth Rituals and Ceremonies; Christianity; Death Rituals and Ceremonies; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; Marriage and Wedding Rituals; Rites of Passage; Rites of Passage, Buddhist; Shinto; Sikhism; Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. Mason, L. 2002. Food and the Rites of Passage. Devon, UK: Prospect Books. “Upanyana: The Sacred Thread.” n.d. Harvard University Pluralism Project, http://pluralism .org/religions/hinduism/the-hindu-experience/upanayana-the-sacred-thread/. “Vision Quest.” n.d. Warpaths2peacepipes, -american-culture/vision-quest.htm.

Commensality Commensality means eating together or, more broadly, signifies food as fellowship and has multiple dimensions. The word is derived from the Latin terms for “together” (com) and “table” (mensa). Sharing food together is an almost universal medium for expressing social solidarity and fellowship; it embodies values of hospitality, duty, giving, sacrifice, and compassion. Giving, receiving, and sharing food are gestures of friendship and symbols of trust and interdependency. The sharing of food has been a common theme in religious traditions, and both the giving and acceptance of food are often identified as religious duties. The intent of commensality is conveyed through the very act of sharing food; what is shared (specific foods or meals) and the context in which it is shared add specific meaning. The closeness of social relationships between people might


| Commensality almost be gauged by the types of foods and meals they share together. A new neighbor may be invited for tea and biscuits, casual acquaintances attend a cheese and wine soiree, business associates are offered a buffet, and close friends are invited to sit down and share a full meal. In the case of the family meal, who eats together essentially defines the family (Jones 2007). Eating together, which is often an integral part of religious ceremonies, contributes to feelings of group cohesion and identity. The Sikh founder Guru Nanak used food as a means of erasing old identities and creating a new one by declaring that there was no Hindu and no Muslim and requiring all to eat together. Participating in the same rituals and knowing that at particular times such as feast days or fasts Baha’is around the world are eating the same meal or making the same offerings helps bind the individual to the global faith body. This idea of commensality across time and space is an important tool in promoting a sense of oneness, of communitas. Notwithstanding the integrative function of commensal meals, they may also be occasions when social status, hierarchical authority, or gender divisions are demonstrated and reinforced. Those of higher social standing or the elders of the community may be served first or get the best food. Women and children may be served last. Even the seating arrangements carry messages about social relationships. Thus, commensal meals form boundaries that divide us and them and show who is included and not included in the group. Examples of commensality can readily be found in all religions. Examples from Christianity, the Baha’i faith, and Sikhism are given below. Christian An agape feast, also known as a love feast, is a religious meal shared as a symbol of love and fellowship among Christians. It gets its name from the Greek word agapae, meaning “selfless love,” and embodies the central commandment of the Christian prophet Jesus to love God and to love one’s neighbor. Among early Christians the daily agape feast was open to all. The love feast tradition is still observed by the Church of the Brethren, the United Methodist Church, and the Moravian Church. The idea of the open table where all are welcome persists as a way of bringing people together and contributing to social unity. Open commensality erases those boundaries so that none are excluded and all belong. The tradition of monthly church suppers continues, particularly in rural settings. Sometimes they are designed to provide an opportunity to discuss religious and social issues, and sometimes they emphasize entertainment. Other food events such as pancake breakfasts and barbecues flourish in communities across the land. In all cases they use food as a way of welcoming people to share fellowship. Baha’i Faith Speaking of the situation in Persia at the time of the prophet Bahá’u’lláh (1817– 1892), his grandson and successor ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that people and tribes were


| 127

separated by hatred and violent strife so that they would not come together for any purpose other than war: “They would not partake of the same food, or drink of the same water; association and intercourse were impossible” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1982). Nonbelievers and their food were thought to be ritually impure and thus to be avoided, a concept that Bahá’u’lláh abolished. Commensality in Baha’i teaching and practice takes two main forms. The first is as part of a formalized administrative community meeting known as the Nineteen-Day Feast. This feast, which incorporates administrative, worship, and social components, is held in every Baha’i community every 19 days. Its intent is to bring the Baha’i community together, even if only water is served at the material feast. In the early days of the faith in North America the Nineteen-Day Feast was often the only occasion that Baha’is in small rural communities would meet coreligionists. The second is by way of informal community gatherings to celebrate holy days in the Baha’i calendar. ‘Abdu’lBahá reinforced the power of commensality to build unity on these occasions, exhorting Baha’is to rejoice together and become as one assembly so as to demonstrate unity. The Baha’i belief that it is through the practical everyday actions of individuals that justice is created accords well with this sentiment. There are few better ways to disarm prejudice and dissent and to strengthen the ties between people than through sharing meals. Sikhism Every Sikh temple has a langar where food is prepared and a space where it is served to congregants and visitors. Guests sit in rows on mats on the floor to eat and are served by sevadars, who are community volunteers, putting into practice the Sikh value of seva, or selfless service. The institution of langar was begun by the first Sikh leader, Guru Nanak Dev (1469–1539 CE), as a means of challenging existing power structures and social inequities. No one was allowed to enter the presence of the guru before first eating a langar meal, regardless of rank or religion. The practice was continued by each of his successors, and even today little has changed in its form or purpose. Sharing food is a way of creating community, and by removing social and religious distinctions the langar offers the shared meal as a symbol of unity of humankind. Commensality does not usually figure in scientific discourses on food. Nevertheless, eating together is often encouraged by nutrition educators and other human services practitioners both for its social value and because it may confer nutritional benefits. An example of this is the tendency for older people living alone to skip meals or make do with snacks, which can have an impact on the amount and quality of nutritional intake to the detriment of health. Eating together is a strategy for ensuring eating at all and is the rationale behind the implementation of congregate meal programs in nursing homes and seniors residences. Similarly, young people and busy adults often skip meals or grab junk food on the run, with potential negative impacts on nutritional intake. Eating together has been shown to have both health and social benefits. Embedding nutritional health promotion in the social context of everyday life illustrates harmony between religious teachings and scientific goals.


| Compassion See Also: Agape Feast; Church Suppers; Feasting in Buddhism; Feasting in Christianity; Feasting in Hinduism; Feasting in Islam; Feasting in Judaism; Food and Religious Identity; Hospitality; Langar; Nineteen-Day Feast

Further Reading ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1982. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’lBahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. 2nd ed. Edited by Howard MacNutt. Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. Campbell, C. 2003. Stations of the Banquet: Faith Foundations for Food Justice. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. Gillman, M. W., et al. 2000. “Family Dinners and Diet Quality among Older Children and Adolescents.” Archives of Family Medicine 9: 235–240. Jones, M. 2007. Feast: Why Humans Share Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Compassion Compassion is a concept that embraces the idea of sympathy for the plight of others, respect, and fellow feeling. The term “compassion” is derived via French from the Latin compati, meaning to “suffer with.” In the context of food and eating compassion can be manifested in several ways that can be grouped under the headings of animal welfare, fasting, and feeding the poor. Animal welfare is an ethical concern for many in both secular and religious communities. According to the Farm Animal Welfare Council, good farm animal welfare is based on freedom from “hunger and thirst; discomfort; pain, injury or disease; fear and distress. It also means the freedom to express normal behavior. Compassionate behavior toward animals means rejecting factory-farming methods wherein animals may be confined in small spaces, denied natural light and grazing, and fed synthetic formula diets.” From a religious perspective animals are creatures that share god’s dominion and, even when they are destined to become food for humans they should be treated with respect. Compassion is demonstrated in the Hindu reverence for the sacred cow. Cows that have outlived their productive life are frequently rescued and kept in ‘old age homes’ where they are looked after. Compassion is a motive in ritual animal slaughter techniques required in various religions. For Jews it is cutting the trachea and esophagus and slicing the carotid arteries in a single cut of a sharp knife; for Muslims it is slitting the trachea, carotid arteries, and jugular veins; and for Sikhs it is a single blow to the head. Each is held by its practitioners to reduce suffering felt by the animal, though this is disputed by some who believe that these methods are inhumane. Belief that Islamic animal slaughter is ethical is often cited as one of the reasons for the growing popularity of halal food.


| 129

Perhaps the most compassionate of acts toward animals is not eating them. Buddha taught that the Brahmin practice of animal sacrifice was cruel and exhorted his followers to be compassionate and kind to all living beings. This was to be the basis for vegetarian dietary practices in Buddhism. Vegetarianism has been praised as a compassionate practice by some Sufi orders. For Baha’is, adopting vegetarian eating patterns contributes to a more compassionate and caring society through ethical treatment of animals and the environment. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes the killing of animals and the eating of their meat as “[s]omewhat contrary to pity and compassion” and suggests that it would be more pleasing to god to “content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on” (Hornby 1988). Thus, compassion for animals is a way of developing one’s spiritual qualities. Religious reasons for fasting frequently include the idea that fasting teaches compassion based on empathy for the suffering of others while at the same time reducing one’s own claim on world food resources. Sharing the physical experiences of a hungry person is more likely to evoke true understanding of what is means to go without food than merely reading about it or hearing it on the news. Fasting is also invoked as an example of divine compassion. The Islamic fast of Ramadan lasts for the entire ninth month of the lunar year, so the date is not fixed in the Western calendar but moves back each year through the seasons, taking about 33 years to complete a cycle. This is seen as an example of the compassion of Allah, as it ensures that Muslims in different parts of the world are treated equally, with longer and shorter fasting days as the seasons change. Compassion is also demonstrated by granting exemptions from fasting for those who are in poor health or traveling. Feeding the poor or otherwise alleviating suffering caused through hunger is another facet of compassionate religious practice. Compassion is demonstrated through acts of feeding and sharing food rather than through emotive empathy. There are many examples in the Christian Bible, including “Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way’” (Matthew 15:32–37). Most religions have institutionalized mechanisms for distributing food to the poor and needy, and many are involved in community food programs such as food banks and soup kitchens. See Also: Charity; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Halal Food; Hospitality; Jhatka; Kashrut; Vegetarianism

Further Reading “The Compassionate Food Guide.” n.d. Sustainable Food Trust, http://sustainablefoodtrust. org/articles/the-compassionate-food-guide/. Hornby, H. 1988. Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. New Delhi: Bahá’í Publishing Trust.


| Confucianism “Jhatka—The Sikh Method of Slaughter vs Halal /Kosher.” 2013. YouTube, https://www Kaza, Stephanie. 2005. “Western Buddhist Motivations for Vegetarianism.” Worldviews: Environment Culture Religion 9(3): 385–411.

Confucianism Confucianism, along with Taoism and Buddhism, is one of the three central religio-philosophical traditions of China and has persisted for over 2,000 years into modern Chinese society. Confucius was a philosopher and teacher whose ideas became widely accepted as the basis for the organization of state administration and individual ethical behavior. He was born in the Chinese province of Shandong in 551 BCE. In Chinese his name is K’ung Fu Tzu, which means “Master K’ung.” Confucianism is often regarded as a philosophy rather than a religion. It emphasizes social order and proper conduct and teaches the Doctrine of the Mean, which involves avoiding extremes of behavior and seeking compromise rather than conflict. Confucianism continues to be a powerful cultural influence in China. The Chinese ideogram for water is often used as a symbol for Confucianism, representing the source of life. Origins and Historical Development Confucius was born into a once-prominent family whose fortunes had declined as a result of political conflict. As a young man he took on agricultural work to support his family. Following the death of his mother he retreated into mourning, adopting an ascetic lifestyle and studying ancient wisdom and rites. This led him to reflect on personal virtue as a means to good political governance and a harmonious society, an idea that he offered, unsuccessfully, to warring feudal lords as a means of restoring stability to the land. He began to train public servants in the Chinese classics so they could be models of virtue and correctness. Confucius died in 479 BCE without having had much of an impact. However, after his death his writings were collected and became used as a model for good government. By the time of the Han dynasty in the 2nd century CE, the Confucian ideal of the gentleman scholar in the service of the state was well established. Other thinkers developed Confucian ideas in different ways, and by the 13th century Chinese civil servants were required to have a mastery of Confucian principles. This remained so right up to the beginning of the 20th century and the advent of republicanism. Religion had no place in the communist state established in 1949, and the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) championed ideas in direct opposition to Confucianism, such as egalitarianism instead of hierarchy. The opening up of China to the West in the late 1970s dealt another blow to traditional Confucian virtues, placing a new premium on acquiring power and money, on competition, and on material gain. In modern times Confucianism has enjoyed a revival among Chinese intellectuals,


| 131

with the opening of Confucian academies and the reintroduction of Confucianstyle civil service exams. Confucianism has also been influential in Korea, Taiwan, Macau, Vietnam, and Singapore and historically in Japan, where it had a significant influence in shaping government and educational institutions. Confucianism was studied in medieval Zen monasteries and later spread to mainstream society as a basis for public schooling as well as an underpinning for family and societal relations. Demographics China, Korea, Singapore, and Japan are the centers of Confucian thought and practice. The global population was estimated to be around 7.8 million in 2000. However, as Confucians may also be followers of Taoism and Buddhism or even of Christianity or Islam, it is difficult to give accurate numbers, and some sources suggest that hundreds of millions follow the tenets of Confucianism. Confucianism continues to be a strong influence on Chinese communities throughout the world. Beliefs and Teachings One of the reasons that Confucianism is often said not to be a religion is that it does not have a supernatural deity, or god. Neither does it promote the concept of an afterlife. Confucianism professes five ethical principles that should underlie human conduct. Jen is a concept that represents respect for all humanity and that therefore requires people to treat others with dignity and generosity. It requires selflessness and civic-mindedness, putting public interest before personal benefit. Li is the concept of proper behavior. For individuals this means doing the right thing in day-today life, maintaining balance, and avoiding extremes; for society it means observing laws, regulations, rituals, and customs that maintain social order. Chun tzu is the personal exercise of self-control and magnanimity toward others; it grows with maturity, and so elders should be respected. De is the concept of just power; rulers must be virtuous and must earn the respect of their subjects. Wen is the cultivation of arts, such as music, poetry, and painting, that enrich human life. Confucianism emphasizes continuity of secular rituals that preserve societal norms and harmony. For this reason it is said to function like a religion. Customs and Social Practices Family is very important in Confucianism, and there is a great respect for elders. The five constant relationships are parent and child, husband and wife, elder and younger sibling, elder and younger friend, and ruler and subject. Individuals are expected to behave according to their status in each of these relationships. The Double Ninth (Chong Yang) autumn festival is held on the ninth day of the ninth month of the Chinese lunar cycle, usually October in the Western calendar. The Chinese name is a homophone for longevity, and the festival is a time for paying


| Confucianism respect to elders and wishing them a long life. It embodies Confucian principles of respect for elders. The festival is also known as “Picnic in a High Place.” Climbing hills or mountains is a popular pursuit on Chong Yang and traditionally was thought to be a way of getting closer to the gods; now it offers physical activity to keep fit and an occasion for families to share outdoor picnics. Ritual and Ceremony The Confucian Book of Rites contains instructions for age-related rituals or rites of passage. At the age of 20 young people achieved adult status, marked by a capping ceremony for boys and a hair-pinning ceremony for girls. Divination rituals were used to choose an auspicious day. Guests attended and were expected to dress formally. A boy would be capped with an inner cap and then an outer cap and scarf, following which his hair was tied into a bun. He was given a new adult name and assumed the responsibilities of a full citizen. A girl would have her hair combed and pinned in a bun, after which she was deemed to be of marriageable age. In modern times these ceremonies are often incorporated into wedding ceremonies. Death is one of the most important rites of passage for Confucians. Families ensure that deceased relatives will have the things they need for their journey across the bridge of death to their ancestral home. This includes paper money and paper versions of consumer goods as well as food. The paper goods are burned, and prayers accompany the offering of rice and other foods. Rituals are held on the 7th, 9th, and 49th days after burial as well as on the first and third death anniversaries. Food Practices “Food can never be too clean; meat can never be sliced too thin,” according to Confucius. His views on food are found in a collection of writings called the Analects. They report that Confucius did not eat anything that had gone bad or that was poorly cooked or out of season. He introduced the idea of harmony of color, aroma, texture, and flavor in creating a meal, which should then be aesthetically presented. He thought that food that was poorly prepared would not nourish the body. In conformity with his Doctrine of the Mean, Confucius advocated a moderate, balanced diet. This meant a meal in which the staple rice predominated, accompanied by smaller amounts of meat and vegetables. Wine was acceptable so long as it was of good quality. Ginger was seen to be an aid to digestion. Confucius counseled silence while eating and to stop eating before reaching the point of satiety. These principles were applied to food prepared in Confucius’s home when he entertained prominent guests. Confucian cuisine has been passed on through generations of descendants and is still served at the Confucius mansion. This cuisine was listed as a national intangible heritage in 2011. Each course has a special name and meaning and is usually complex and time-consuming to create.

Cookbooks, Religious

| 133

Eight Immortals One famous Confucian dish bears the poetic name “Eight immortals crossing the sea gamboling around the Arhat.” According to Chinese legend, the eight immortals were individuals who were rewarded with the gift of immortality due to their good deeds.To earn this reward, though, they first had to swim across the East Sea, overcoming a number of obstacles created by devils in the sea. They were accompanied by an arhat, or Buddhist saint, who helped them prevail.The story inspired a chef to create a dish with eight foods representing the immortals. Shark’s fin, sea cucumbers, abalone, shrimp, fishbone, fish maw, asparagus, and ham are cooked and arranged in a bowl of chicken soup. A piece of chicken represents the arhat. Modern versions of the dish use less expensive ingredients.

See Also: Buddhism; Hungry Ghosts; Taoism

Further Reading “Confucius Food.” n.d. China Culture, -09/24/content_29474.htm. Fisher, M. P. 1999. Living Religions. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Holm, J., and J. Bowker, eds. 1994. Rites of Passage. London: Pinter Publishers. Johnson, T. M., and G. A. Zurlo, eds. 2007. World Christian Database. Leiden: Brill. Newman, Jacqueline. 2004. Food and Culture in China. Edited by Ken Albala. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Thompson, L. G. 1996. Chinese Religion: An Introduction. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Cookbooks, Religious Recipes for food dishes have been recorded for thousands of years, first in the form of Egyptian tomb paintings, then carved on stone tablets, and later written on parchment scrolls. Collections of recipes appeared from Roman times, and the first printed collection in English was published in 1500 CE. Since then but gathering pace in the 20th century, thousands of cookbooks have been written by professional chefs, food manufacturers, home economists, health promoters, food writers, and many more. They are also common as products of community group efforts, particularly for the purpose of fund-raising by charitable organizations. In 2013 over 3,000 titles were published in the category “cookery.” Notwithstanding the advent of the Internet with access to hundreds of thousands of free recipes, cookbooks are perennially among the top sellers and cover a wide range of styles and topics. They may offer simple basic recipes for beginners or complex multistage recipes for experts, or they may address the needs of families, singles, seniors, or those with particular health needs such as diabetes or celiac disease. They


| Cookbooks, Religious may focus on a particular ethnic cuisine or style of cookery, and they may address specific faith audiences. Religion-themed cookbooks such as the World Religions Cookbook may be aimed at introducing the typical foods and dishes eaten by different religious groups to a general audience. Their aim is not only to introduce new food ideas but also to provide knowledge and insights into different religious cultures. Many cookbooks go beyond recipes by including personal stories or information about the ingredients or about the cultural context of the dishes. My Bombay Kitchen is an example of a cookbook that combines recipes with personal stories of growing up in a particular cultural milieu, in this case a Zoroastrian Persian family. Eat, Live and Pray: A Celebration of Zarathusti Culture and Cuisine gathers Parsi and Persian recipes from around the world. The authors write that after prayer it is food that brings and keeps the Zarathrusti community together and that it is in the kitchen that traditions are maintained and passed on. Amish and Mennonite cookbooks offer a selection of traditional dishes from these Christian communities. There are cookbooks that offer readers the recipes to support a dietary pattern based on what was (supposedly) eaten in the early era of a religion. These are promoted as being healthier and simpler ways of eating that are aligned with religious principles. “What would Jesus have eaten?” is an example of a Christian perspective. It counsels readers to use natural unrefined products. Muslim Cooking with Muhammad offers halal meals that support healthy living by focusing on whole foods. Some authors want people to eat well so they can maintain their health in order to better practice their faith. Others include prayers and scriptural studies along with recipes, aiming to provoke reflection and discussion on faith and topics such as food justice. Religion and cookery has a long history. In 1885 Mrs. Horace Mann wrote a cookbook titled Christianity in the Kitchen: A Physiological Cook-Book. The title page includes a quote from the Bible: “There’s death in the pot” (2 Kings 4:40). Mann states that dietary abuses are the most prolific cause of bad morals. She says that “[c]ompounds like wedding cake, plum puddings, and rich turtle soup, are masses of indigestible material, which should never find their way to the Christian table” and goes so far as to call the dishes “unchristian” because they compromise health and therefore undermine morality. Mann lays down many food rules and discusses in detail what we would now call food science, according to her read of contemporary science. Similarly, science and Christianity met at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a health retreat run by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ella Kellogg, who was responsible for menus at the sanitarium, published a cookbook titled Science in the Kitchen: A Scientific Treatise on Food Substances and Their Dietetic Properties, Together with a Practical Explanation of the Principles of Healthful Cookery, and a Large Number of Original, Palatable, and Wholesome Recipes. Jewish cookbooks span the spectrum of Sephardic and Ashkenazi cuisine as it has developed in different places around the world. They offer insights into the lives and cultural practices of diverse modern Jewish communities. Some respect strict kashrut food requirements, while others freely ignore such restrictions. Jewish cookbooks appeared in German in the early 19th century, with the first

Coptic Feasts and Fasts

| 135

English example (The Jewish Manual: Or Practical Information in Jewish and Modern Cookery) published in 1846. In the United States, Yiddish cookbooks accompanied migrants arriving from Eastern Europe. Community cookbooks produced for a local audience became common. An early example of a commercial promotional cookbook was published by Proctor and Gamble in 1935. Titled Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife, it featured recipes that incorporated the then new nonanimal fat Crisco. Jewish dietary law prohibited the mixing of meat and dairy produce at a meal; the advent of a nonanimal fat for use in cooking opened up new horizons for Jewish cookery. East Indian cookbooks abound but tend to focus on regional cuisine rather than being specifically religious in nature. The Monks Cookbook contains vegetarian recipes from a Hindu monastery that are based on Ayurveda health principles and offer both physical and spiritual nourishment. In Buddhism cookery is viewed as a spiritual practice, and this is reflected in Buddhist cookbooks based on monastic practices and meals. See Also: Ayurveda; Christian Diet Plans; Tea Ceremony; Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Further Reading Dawood, K. B., ed. 2011. Heavenly Bites: The Best of Muslim Home Cooking. Markfield, UK: Kube Publishing. Himalayan Academy. 1997. Monks Cookbook. Kapaa, HI: Himalayan Academy Publishing. Kellogg, E. E. 1893. Science in the Kitchen: A Scientific Treatise on Food Substances and Their Dietetic Properties, Together with a Practical Explanation of the Principles of Healthful Cookery, and a Large Number of Original, Palatable, and Wholesome Recipes. Battle Creek, MI: n.p. Mann, M. T. P. 1858. Christianity in the Kitchen: A Physiological Cookbook. Cambridge, MA: Boston, Ticknor and Fields. Montefiore, Lady J. C. 1846. The Jewish Manual: Practical Information in Jewish and Modern Cookery—with a Collection of Valuable Recipes and Hints Relating to the Toilette. London: n.p. Muhammad, A. M., ed. 2003. Muslim Cooking with Muhammad. East Rockaway, NY: Sterling Pierce. Proctor and Gamble. 1935. Crisco Recipes for the Jewish Housewife. Cincinnati, OH: Proctor and Gamble Company. Rose, E. 2011. The New Complete International Jewish Cookbook. Hove, UK: Pavillion. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Coptic Feasts and Fasts The Coptic Orthodox Church is the main Christian church in Egypt with an estimated 7 million to 10 million followers, though the numbers are widely disputed. It is led by the pope of Alexandria, based in Cairo. Autonomous Coptic churches


| Coptic Feasts and Fasts also exist in Ethiopia and Eritrea, and there are about 1 million Copts outside of the North African region, including over 200 churches throughout the United States. The name “Coptic” is derived from the Greek word aigyptos, meaning “Egyptian.” The Coptic Orthodox Church was founded by the apostle Saint Mark in the first century CE as the first Christian church outside of the Holy Land and is dedicated to preserving the teachings of the early church fathers. It was also the source of Christian monasticism. The Coptic calendar is based on that of the ancient Egyptians and is one of the oldest in the world. It has 12 30-day months and a short 5- to 6-day month that allows for calendric adjustments during leap years. It is divided into three seasons (Inundation, Sowing, and Harvest) related to the flooding of the Nile River and the associated agricultural activities. The Coptic Church has a joyous outlook on life, and nearly every day is a feast of some kind. These may be categorized as major and minor feasts of the Lord, which are similar to the liturgical cycle observed in the Eastern Orthodox Church; periodic feasts that occur weekly or monthly; and saints’ day feasts, of which there may be one almost every day. The word “feast” does not imply the consumption of a meal but simply denotes a religious commemoration. At major celebrations such as Christmas and Easter when there are special meals, dishes served reflect cultural cuisine. For example, the Fast of the Nativity, during which no animal products are consumed, is commonly broken by Egyptian Copts with a Christmas feast featuring fata, a rich soup of lamb, rice, butter, and garlic with chunks of toasted bread. Sweet biscuits marked with a cross are also made especially for this time. Celebration of Easter coincides with the ancient Egyptian spring festival Shem el Nessim (smelling of the breeze), from which certain customary practices have been adopted. Traditional foods include salted fish, colored eggs, green onions (to ward off evil), and lupin seeds as a symbol of hope and renewal.

Coptic Seasonal Calendar Season Inundation




Start Date Sept 11 Oct 11 Nov 10 Dec 10 Jan 9 Feb 8 Mar 10 Apr 9 May 9 Jun 8 Jul 8 Aug 7 Sep 6

Month Tout Baba Hator Kiahk Toba Amshir Baramhat Baramouda Bashans Paona Epep Mesra Nasie

Coptic Feasts and Fasts

Coptic Christian families picnic along the Nile in Luxor, Egypt, for the spring festival of Shem el Nessim. The festival falls on the day following Christian Easter. (World Religions Photo Library/Alamy Stock Photo)

Coptic Feasts of the Lord Seven Major Feasts of the Lord The Annunciation (Baramhat 29/April 7) The Nativity of Christ (Kiahk 29/January 7) The Theophany or Baptism of Christ (Toba 11/January 19) Palm Sunday (Sunday preceding Easter) Feast of the Resurrection (Easter)/“The Feast” Ascension (40th day after Easter) Pentecost (50th day after Easter)

Seven Minor Feasts of the Lord Circumcision of our Lord (Toba 6/January 14) Entrance of our Lord into the Temple (Amshir 8/February 15) Escape of the holy family to Egypt (Bashans 24/June 1) First Miracle of our Lord Jesus at Cana (Toba 13/January 12) Transfiguration of Christ (Mesra 13/August 19) Maundy Thursday (Thursday of Holy Week) Thomas’s Sunday (Sunday following Easter)

| 137


| Coptic Feasts and Fasts In each month of the Coptic calendar the feast of the archangel Michael is observed on the 12th, and that of Saint Mary is observed on the 21st. Commemoration of the annunciation, nativity, and resurrection of Christ is marked on the 29th of each month. Every Sunday of the year, the Sabbath, is a day of rest. Fasting is not permitted on the Sabbath, even during Lent. In addition, there are almost daily saint-day feasts and other special occasions, including seven feasts associated with Saint Mary, the Apostles feast, Nayrouz (New Year), and two Feasts of the Cross. Maskal Maskal, on September 27, is a unique Ethiopian celebration that blends religious and agrarian motives. From a religious perspective, it commemorates the discovery of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified (known as the true cross). According to Coptic tradition, in 326 CE Helena, mother of Roman emperor Constantine the Great, went to Jerusalem in search of the true cross. She lit a fire, and the direction of the smoke guided her to the location of the cross, fragments of which were given to all the orthodox churches. Across Ethiopia on the night before Maskal or on the day itself, demeras (bonfires) built of tall poles topped by a cross are lit in celebration of Helena’s historic discovery. Houses and possessions, including cattle, are blessed, and people exchange wishes for prosperity by hoping that the cooking pot for collard greens is soon replaced by the cooking pot for potatoes. In rural areas, groups of neighbors share the cost of purchasing a fattened ox that they slaughter and share in a communal meal. A favorite dish in southern Ethiopia is kitfo, which is made by marinating raw minced beef in clarified butter seasoned with chilli and other spices. In the capital city of Addis Ababa, colorful processions converge on Maskal Square carrying flaming torches. Thousands of spectators come to see the lighting of a demera by the Ethiopian head of state and the patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and watch and listen as priests and students dance around the demara chanting and singing hymns. The agrarian dimension of the celebration comes from the fact that it marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of spring sowing and is celebrated with traditional songs. Fasting is an important part of Coptic Orthodox practice, and there are 210 days of fasting each year. Fasting generally means abstaining from all meat and dairy products. The longest fasting period is that of the Great Fast (Lent), which lasts for 55 days leading up to Easter. The pre-Christmas Fast of the Nativity lasts for 43 days, and that of the Virgin Mary lasts for 15 days. The three-day Fast of Ninevah recalls the biblical account of the prophet Jonah, confined in the belly of a whale as a penance for his disobedience to God. Many Copts, like other Orthodox Christian practitioners, also undertake voluntary fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays. See Also: Christian Western Festival Calendar; Christmas; Easter; Eastern Orthodox Church; Fasting in Christianity; Feasting in Christianity; Lent

Coptic Feasts and Fasts

| 139

Further Reading Abdennour, S. 2007. Egyptian Customs and Festivals. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. Cannuyer, C. 2001. Discoveries: Coptic Egypt: Christians of the Nile. New York: Harry N. Abrams. “The Feasts of the Church.” n.d. Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, /orthodoxy/coptic-orthodox-church/the-feasts-of-the-church/. Getahun, S. A., and W. T. Kassu. 2014. Culture and Customs of Ethiopia. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood.

D Dates Dates are the edible fruit of the date palm that originated in the Middle East. For centuries they have been part of the staple diet in this region, thriving in hot dry climates, and were possibly one of the first crops to be domesticated. Today Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia are the top producers of dates. In the United States they are grown in Florida, California, and Arizona. The name is derived from the Greek word meaning “finger,” describing their elongated shape. Dates provide a variety of essential vitamins and minerals and are an especially good source of potassium and iron. Being high in simple sugars, they provide energy but have a relatively low glycemic index, making them a good choice for people with diabetes. They are also rich in fiber. Dates come in many varieties. They can be eaten as fresh fruit, or the stones can be removed so they can be stuffed or chopped and used in other dishes. In the ancient Middle East, dates were boiled into thick syrup known as date honey or made into date wine. They are staple ingredients of the cuisine of several Middle Eastern and North African countries. In 2013 Egypt produced 1.47 million tons (3.2 billion pounds) of dates, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the world production. Dates are mentioned multiple times in the Qur’an and Dates for sale at a market in Medina, Saudi Arabia. the Hadith and also in the Bible. Dates are consumed by Muslims around the world The Qur’an (19:22–26) describes to break their fast at Ramadan. (Ahmad Faizal Yahya/ how Mary, mother of Jesus, was 141


| Day of the Dead provided with fresh dates to ease the pain of childbirth. Dates, accompanied by water or yogurt, are the traditional iftar snack with which Muslims break the Ramadan fast each day. In the hadith, the prophet Muhammad is reported to have broken his fast by eating dates: “Whoever has dried dates, then let him break the fast with that, and whoever does not, then let him break the fast with water, for indeed water is purifying” (Jami al-Tirmidhi n.d., Hadith 694). Another hadith says that an odd number of dates should be eaten. Many hadiths describe the benefits of dates, including protecting the body against toxins. The demand for dates increases during Ramadan. There are over 40 mentions of the date or date palm in the Bible, mostly in the Old Testament. The date is one of the seven species accorded importance in the Bible as being agricultural products of the land of Israel. The honey mentioned in the biblical description of a land flowing with milk and honey was probably date honey. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Hadith; Qur’an, Food in the

Further Reading Edelstein, S. 2011. Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality and Nutrition Professionals. Mississauga, Ontario: Jones and Bartlett. Jami al-Tirmidhi. n.d. The Book on Fasting, Vol 2, Book 3. n.p.: n.p. MacDonald, N. 2008. What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. Vaughan, J. G., and C. A. Geissler. 2009. The New Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Day of the Dead Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a two-day Mexican festival celebrated mainly in central and southern Mexico and to a lesser extent in Catholic communities throughout Latin America, Spain, Italy, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is also becoming popular in Hispanic communities in the United States and in some cities in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand. It falls on November 1 and 2, which are the dates of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the Christian calendar and to which the festival is related. In Mexico it is a national holiday. Although it sounds somber, the Day of the Dead is anything but. It is a time of colorful revelry, celebrating rather than mourning the lives of deceased ancestors by welcoming them back for an annual visit to their earthly homes. Day of the Dead has its origins in Aztec celebrations known as Feasts of the Dead, which lasted for a whole month. Displays of human skulls represented death and rebirth. The Catholic Spaniards who colonized the region in the 17th century objected to these pagan rituals. Unable to eliminate them entirely, they tried to assimilate them into the Christian celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.

Day of the Dead

| 143

The way that Day of the Dead is celebrated varies from place to place within Mexico and in the world community. Festivities in central and southern Mexico are the most elaborate, especially in indigenous Mexican Indian communities. Preparations begin weeks in advance, and many families expend considerable resources to ensure that the proper rituals and traditions are observed. Elaborate ofrendas (home altars) are set up, replete with offerings such as bright flowers (e.g., orange marigolds). Decorative sugar skulls, skeletons, and coffins purchased from markets are added, along with photographs of the departed. Christian religious artifacts such as crosses and statues of the Virgin Mary may also be included. Stalks of sugarcane, garlands of marigolds, or palm fronds are sometimes used to create an arch over the altar, representing the gateway from the underworld. Celebrants believe that at midnight on October 31 the gates of Heaven are opened so that the spirits of departed children can visit their families for a day. In some part of Mexico families may participate in a cemetery vigil, awaiting the moment when the children’s souls are released. November 1 is also known as Day of the Innocents or Day of the Little Angels (los angelitos). On this day the ofrendas include children’s toys and candy, which are replaced on November 2 with cigarettes and alcohol such as mescal, pulque, or atole (a pre-Columbian corn drink) to please the adult spirits. Family members gather around the altars to pray and to tell stories about their

Ofrenda offerings including sugar skulls, pan de muertos, sugarcane stalks, and orange marigolds are made as part of Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City, Mexico. (Jesús Eloy Ramos Lara/


| Day of the Dead

Sugar Skulls For months before the festival of the Day of the Dead, Mexican artisans are busy producing colorful skulls made from sugar paste and decorated with icing, tin foil, beads, feathers, and other adornments. These sugar skulls, called calaveras de azucar in Spanish, are widely sold in markets or sugar skull fairs and are a hallmark of the festival.They are placed on altars and on the tombs of ancestors as a sweet offering for ancestral spirits. Sometimes the name of the deceased loved one may be written in icing on the skull. On November 1, small skulls are placed on altars to remember deceased children; on November 2, these are replaced with larger skulls for adult ancestors. The tradition of creating skulls from sugar stems from the 17th century, when European missionaries introduced sugar art as part of their Catholic religious iconography. It was adapted by indigenous people, who used clay molds to create skulls for the Day of the Dead celebrations, and since then has evolved into an enduring folk art. For a competition held at the sugar skull fair in the city of Metepec, huge sugar skulls are made using a mold that is over 50 years old. In modern times, edible chocolate and candy skulls are increasingly mass-produced. Making sugar skulls is a fun craft for schoolchildren, and kits containing molds, meringue powder, and icing bags are widely available.

departed loved ones. Ensuring that departed spirits are happy is a way of ensuring good fortune for the living family. On November 2 the celebration moves to the cemetery, where parties or picnics to honor the dead are held among the gravestones and memorials. Graves are cleaned and decorated with marigolds and adorned with toys, trinkets, food, and drink. Vendors sell food treats, while mariachi bands provide music. While celebrations in other countries include visiting and cleaning of family graves, they generally do not replicate the party atmosphere of Mexican graveside celebrations. In modern-day Mexico, schools and government offices create ofrenda, though usually without the religious imagery. In cities, where traditional practices are less common, children may dress up in costumes and go door-to-door asking for candy or money, a custom reminiscent of Halloween. Parades are common in larger cities. Food Food is an important part of Day of the Dead festivities. The souls of departed ancestors must be welcomed with food and drink, so the ofrendas are loaded with fruits and nuts, tortillas, and a special sweet egg bread called pan de muertos, made with fruit and alcohol such as tequila and decorated with sugar glaze. Loaves may be round or shaped like animals, particularly rabbits, while extra dough is shaped into symbols of death such as bones and skulls. Soft drinks, milk, and hot chocolate are put out for the spirits of children, while beer and tequila are offered to the adult souls. The favorite dishes of the deceased are prepared as offerings and for sharing with family and friends. Candied pumpkin is popular and is made by cooking fresh slices of pumpkin in a brown sugar glaze. Another traditional food is

Death Rituals and Ceremonies

| 145

zacahuíl, a gigantic four- to six-foot-long tamale wrapped in banana leaves and baked the night before in an adobe brick oven and served to the community. In Guatamala a cold vegetable, egg, and meat salad dish known as fiambre is consumed only on this day, while in indigenous Ecuadorian communities special festival foods include colada morada, a spicy beverage made from local fruits and purple maize served with guaguas de pan (bread babies), a sweet bread shaped like a doll and decorated. Traditional-style Day of the Dead celebrations take place in Hispanic communities in the U.S. states of Texas and Arizona, while in other parts of the United States they have been blended with general art and cultural festivities. There is even a Day of the Dead music and art festival in the English city of Bristol, which has a sizable Latin American community. See Also: All Saints’ Day; All Souls’ Day; Aztec Religion and Ritual; Death Rituals and Ceremonies; Festivals

Further Reading Andrade, M. J. 2007. Day of the Dead: A Passion for Life. San Jose, CA: La Oferta Publishing. Kenyon, C. n.d. “How to Make Candy Skulls.” About Food, http://mexicanfood.about .com/od/sweetsanddesserts/ht/candyskulls.htm. Williams, K., and S. Mack. 2011. Day of the Dead. Layon, UT: Gibbs Smith.

Death Rituals and Ceremonies Rites of passage are important times of transition from one state of being to another; their observance is accompanied by ritual activities, and these frequently include food and eating. Of all the rites of passage that mark the human journey from cradle to grave, those surrounding death are universally important. In varying religious and secular viewpoints, death may be seen as the end of life, a transition to another spiritual form, or part of a recurring cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. It is frequently viewed as being a time of potential danger, when steps must be taken to secure the safety and well-being of both the deceased and those left behind. Common themes in various traditions are that food is made available to the deceased at a feast, food or food vessels or utensils are placed into the coffin or grave, food is shared by mourners and friends at a postfuneral meal, gifts of food or meals are provided to a mourning family for a period following the death, and memorial ceremonies are held at stipulated periods following the death that involve food left at grave sites or gifts of food exchanged between the living. Baha’i Faith Baha’is believe that the soul lives on after death. The dead should be buried within a one-hour travel distance (by any means) from the place of death, as there should


| Death Rituals and Ceremonies be no attachment to particular earthly locations, and the burial should take place as soon as possible following death. A Baha’i burial ring is placed on the forefinger of the deceased, and a prayer for the dead is recited at the graveside. There are no mourning rituals. Buddhism Funeral ceremonies are the most important rite of passage for Buddhists, as they mark the transition from one life to the next. Practices vary between Buddhist sects and countries but have similar themes. A wake is held to which guests bring condolence money, and the burial follows the next day. At a Vietnamese wake, guests may place grains of rice into the open mouth of the corpse so they will not be hungry as they depart this life. Bowls of rice placed on top of the coffin prevent the devil from entering it. In Theravada practice, the dead body is bathed and laid in a coffin. Monks perform daily chants over the body for up to seven days and in return are given mataka bhatta, which means “feast in honor of the dead.” Neighbors and friends gather each evening to listen to the chants, visit, and share food and drink. Cremation follows immediately or may be delayed for up to a year; memorial services are held 50 and 100 days after death. In Japan there are customs specifically associated with death that would not be practiced at other times. The deceased is offered a bowl of rice for his or her journey in which two chopsticks are stuck upright; to do this at other times would be at best culturally insensitive. Chinese Traditional Death was conceived of as a stage in life in which the soul passed on but in which ancestors, in the guise of heavenly guardian spirits, remained as family members. Following a traditional Chinese (Taoist) burial, a feast called a longevity banquet was given for guests who had attended the service. Often the meal was restricted to seven dishes, seven being the number associated with death, and did not include whole fish or noodles, which symbolize togetherness and long life on Earth. In contemporary North American Chinese communities, funerals are usually held at a mortuary and consist of a wake and preparatory rites on one night, followed by a formal service the next day, often with a Christian minister. In the Chinatown district of San Francisco, elaborate funeral processions are still common. Following the interment, mourners gather at a local restaurant to share a simple meal of seven courses. There has to be an odd number of tables, and guests crowd around whatever space is available. Christianity Christians believe in an afterlife in Heaven. There are many variations on funeral customs among Christian denominations and sects and among ethnic cultural communities. Four frequent elements in which food appears are the wake, the

Death Rituals and Ceremonies

| 147

funeral service and its immediate aftermath, the postfuneral meal, and memorial observances. A wake is a social gathering or party that takes place before a funeral. Traditionally it was held in the home, where the deceased was present, though modern wakes may be held at funeral parlors. A wake was a noisy affair, with music and dancing, eating and drinking, and a vigil or watch over the body until it was buried. Variously this was aimed at keeping the ghost of the deceased awake and conscious in its new spirit world, paying last respects, keeping pests such as rodents and insects away from the corpse, or even thwarting body snatchers who would steal corpses and sell them for medical purposes. Wakes in Ireland were often riotous affairs and were only reluctantly tolerated by the Roman Catholic Church. Wakes were also practiced throughout Europe and in North America. This kind of wake is now uncommon but still exists in parts of the British Isles. Another common funeral practice was for food for the dead placed in the coffin or interred in the grave. In Portugal millet bread and a coin were placed in the coffin, and professional female lamenters were paid for their services with wheat and rye grain. In many cultures, mourners shared food and drink at the graveside or during or following the funeral service. The food was often a sweet pastry or biscuit. Portuguese funeral bread is also distributed. Following a Greek funeral service, congregants gather in the church courtyard, where they share koliva, a mixture of boiled wheat, sugar, raisins, and nuts flavored with cinnamon. The wheat represents the hope of resurrection and shows that the dead are not forgotten. Introduced into the New World by European immigrants in the 17th century, Dutch dead cakes (doed koecks or dood kooken) stamped with the initials of the deceased or with a symbol such as a rooster, fish, dove, or rose were given to mourners in New York. The Pennsylvania Dutch served funeral guests with a raisin pie, while Kentucky funeral cake is still sometimes served at funerals in southern regions of the United States. Commonly, a funeral service (or celebration of life) is followed by an informal meal shared among friends and family. This may be held at the family home of the deceased or in a church hall, community center, or local restaurant. In Greek Orthodox tradition the family of the deceased provides a makaria, or meal of mercy at the church hall, the home, or a restaurant. Traditional foods served include fish, a dry cookie called paximathia, and metaxa, a Greek alcoholic drink. The priest blesses the koliva, bread, and wine and distributes them to the family. In the Westphalia region of northern Germany it is customary to visit a local inn or restaurant for Beerdigungskaffe, or funeral coffee with sweet biscuits. More substantial fare, including bread, meat, cheese, and eggs, may also be offered. The Greek Orthodox practice of sharing koliva is repeated on the 3rd and 9th days after a death and again after six months. For 40 days following the funeral the family refrains from eating meat. On the 40th day family and guests gather at the church and eat sweet bread called panhidha that has been blessed by a priest. Everyone repairs to the family home for an elaborate meal at which meat is served, signaling the end of the liminal period of mourning. In Portugal, loaves known as pao da caridade (charity bread) may be baked by families on the 1-year anniversary of a death and distributed to the needy.


| Death Rituals and Ceremonies Hinduism Most Hindus are cremated as soon after death as possible. A Hindu priest conducts the service, and mourners traditionally wear white. Hindus believe that after the physical death of the body, the soul awaits a new body in which it will be reincarnated. This is accomplished through the practice of pind daan (giving a body). For 10 days the son of the deceased should offer a pind, which is a round ball made of wheat and rice flour mixed with milk and honey, to build the new body as the deceased journeys toward the other world. On the 11th day the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, and Yama are invoked to witness the giving of the pinds. On the 12th day the deceased enters the other world to be released into the realm of ancestors. On the 13th day after a death it is customary to feed Brahmins in memory of the deceased. At memorial ceremonies in the years following a death, food is provided to Brahmins or to the poor and needy in memory of the ancestors. Indigenous Traditional Religions Death customs among many indigenous peoples are intended to help the deceased make the journey to the land of the ancestors. Rituals also help to maintain connections between the living and the dead, who are often considered to still be part of the family, while at the same time ensuring that they are at peace and won’t return to harm the living. To provide comfort in the journey to the spirit world, food offerings are made. In some African communities a ritual animal sacrifice is made to the ancestors; the spilling of blood is believed to prevent further misfortunes. The hide of the slaughtered animal may be used to cover the coffin or the body itself. Aborigines in Australia’s Northern Territories paint their bodies and perform ritual dances and chants to ensure that the spirit of the dead returns safely to its birthplace to be reincarnated. Islam Muslims believe in life after death, resurrection, and a day of judgment when loved ones will be reunited in Heaven. After death burial should take place as soon as possible, and there are detailed guidelines on how to bathe and shroud the corpse and on the burial ritual itself. Following the funeral, a meal may be served at the mosque or family home of the deceased. Sometimes meals or sweets are offered to the poor. During the first three-day mourning period observed by the family of the deceased, friends often bring meals as a gesture of support. According to the Qur’an, widows may not remarry until 4 months and 10 days after the death of a husband. During this period, known as ’iddah, the widow should not wear jewelry or perfume and should remain at home except for work and necessary errands. Judaism Because of their belief in the possibility of bodily resurrection, Jews prefer burial, which should occur as soon as possible after a death. After a simple funeral ceremony

Death Rituals and Ceremonies

| 149

at a synagogue or funeral home, seudat havara’ah, or the meal of consolation, is held at the home of the deceased. This mourning feast features round foods such as lentils, chickpeas, and boiled eggs that are symbols of eternal life. Bread and wine are served, but meat is usually avoided. The immediate family sits shivah for seven days mourning the deceased loved one, traditionally at the home of the relative. During the week following the funeral, an intense mourning period, it is customary for people to bring or send baskets of pastries, sweets, fruits, and nuts known as shivah baskets to the mourning family. Shintoism Shintoists believe that human souls are eternal and that after death they continue to live in one of the three other worlds inhabited by the gods (Heaven, the underworld, and the world beyond the sea). The essentials of the funeral rite are laid out by the Association of Shinto Shrines and include 20 different steps that must be followed precisely. The 4th step (makura naoshi no gi) includes offering food to the gods. The 6th step (kyuzen nikku) is a twice-daily offering of regular family food to the deceased, whose spirit is believed to stay close to home. In the 12th step (settai), food that has been prepared at a different location (to avoid pollution) is served to the mourners. Ashes are placed in an urn in an aboveground mausoleum. Following the funeral, mourners are invited to share a meal at the house of the deceased. Sikhism Death is viewed by Sikhs as being a transition of the soul to Heaven or reincarnation to the next earthly life and should not be lamented or grieved excessively. After the funeral, at which the body is usually cremated, a meal is hosted at the deceased’s home. Over the next 10 days the Guru Granth Sahib is read in its entirety at either the temple or the home of the deceased. Sanctified food called karah prasad is distributed to the congregation. Zoroastrianism Zoroastrians believe that death is the work of evil spirits and that at the moment of death the body becomes impure. As such it cannot be buried, for to do so would contaminate the pure earth of God’s creation. Instead Zoroastrians traditionally laid the dead body on a raised platform in a circular stone tower, where it was left for circling vultures to eat. After a death, consecrated foods such as dron (ritually prepared bread) and eggs are offered to sustain the soul of the newly departed. The family of the deceased may not eat meat for three days, a practice that may be linked to fear over impurities or to the idea that flesh food is more appropriate for celebratory occasions. On the fourth day after the funeral a meal with meat is eaten to mark the end of the mourning period.


| Diwali See Also: All Souls’ Day; Christianity; Day of the Dead; Hinduism; Islam; Judaism; Rites of Passage; Rites of Passage, Buddhist; Shinto; Sikhism; Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Further Reading Bryant, C. D., ed. 2003. Handbook of Death and Dying. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Chung, S. F., and P. Wegers, eds. 2005. Chinese American Death Rituals: Respecting the Ancestors. Lanham, MD: AltaMira. “Funeral Customs by Religion, Ethnicity and Culture.” n.d. Funeralwise, https://www Langar, R. 2012. “Feasting for the Dead: Theravada Buddhist Funerals.” In Studying Buddhism in Practice, edited by J. S. Harding, 51–64. New York: Routledge. “Traditional Funeral Foods.” n.d. Pinterest, /traditional-funeral-foods/.

Diwali Diwali, known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most important of Hindu festivals and is celebrated throughout the subcontinent and among Hindu communities around the world. It is as important to Hindus as Christmas is to Christians and is essentially a celebration of the triumph of light and goodness over darkness and evil. It is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains. Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word deepavali, meaning “row of lights.” In some regions the festival is known as Deepavali, and in Tibet it is known as Tihar. Lasting from one to five days, Diwali is held during the darkest nights of the Hindu lunar month, Kartika, falling in October or November in the Western calendar. Diwali is an official holiday in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka as well as in some other Asian, Caribbean, and South Pacific countries. Diwali is associated with several religious legends. It commemorates the return home of Lord Rama after 14 years in exile when he was welcomed with a huge display of candles and lamps. It also celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the evil demon Narakasura. Light signifies goodness in Hinduism, and the lighting of lamps represents the victory of light over darkness, goodness over evil. Diwali is also associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and in Gujarat it marks the beginning of the financial business new year. For Jains, Diwali marks the day in 527 BCE that Mahavira, the leader who gave Jainism its modern form, achieved nirvana. For Sikhs, Diwali commemorates an event in the life of the sixth guru, Hargobind, when in 1619 CE he was released from imprisonment in Gwalior. He along with 50 princes he had freed arrived back in Amritsar on Diwali, and the Golden Temple was lit with hundreds of lamps to welcome him. On Diwali new clothes are worn, greetings cards are exchanged, and there are family gatherings and parties. Gift giving often involves exchanges of boxes of elaborate mithai (sweets), while children receive gifts of money. In most towns


| 151

there are parades and street festivals with musicians and other entertainers. Rangoli are geometric patterns or designs created on a clean floor or perhaps on doorways by carefully applying colored sand and rice powder. On Diwali they may be created on doorways to welcome Lakshmi or on the floor along with diya lamps. The fourth day of Diwali is known as Annakut (heap of grain); it celebrates an occasion in Hindu mythology when Lord Krishna saved the people and animals from a deluge of rain by lifting Govardhan Hill on his little finger. People take hundreds of vegetarian food dishes to temples as offerings to the gods, and afterward the food is shared among worshippers. In some places rice is scattered from the second floor of the temple to the crowd below. Diwali is best known for the thousands of candles, oil lamps (diyas) and now electric lights that adorn houses, temples, and public buildings. The traditional earthen lamps are fueled with ghee or mustard oil. Lights are placed everywhere, on roofs, windowsills, and balconies and on driveways and along roads; lamps are also lit and floated on rivers. After sunset, families worship Lakshmi in shrines set up in the home. Five lamps are lit in front of the goddess, devotional songs are sung, and traditional sweets are offered as prasad. Afterward they are shared among family and friends. After worship, lamps are lit around the home to banish the darkness and to encourage Lakshmi to visit and bring good fortune. At night, large firework displays are common. Jain celebrations of Diwali are more serene, forgoing fireworks, but do include lighting lamps and exchanging gifts of sweets. Some Jains fast for the first two days. The day following Diwali is the Jain New Year, and businesspeople may take their new year accounting books to the temple to be blessed. In Tibet the five-day festival of Tihar includes days dedicated to worship of crows, dogs, and cows. Cows are garlanded, decorated, and offered special feed. Lakshmi is also worshipped, and lamps are lit. Food Practices Diwali is synonymous with mithai, or sweets. Traditionally households would put a lot of time and effort into preparing their own array of sweets, with the women getting together in each other’s kitchens in the days before Diwali to prepare dozens of sweetmeats, but more often these are now purchased from shops and restaurants. Gifts of dried fruits and nuts are also common at Diwali. Mithai are made from chickpea, lentil or rice flour, semolina, yogurt, condensed milk, nuts, raisins, and spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, and coriander. They are often gilded with vark (edible silver leaf). Chivda is a popular snack mix of chickpeas, nuts, rice flakes, and fennel seeds. Apart from sweets, there are different regional specialties that may appear on different days of the festival. Rich deep-fried puffed puris replace plain flatbreads and are often stuffed with savory fillings and sold as street food snacks. On the first day lapsi is popular in Gujarat; made from cracked wheat sautéed with ghee and sugar, it is often accompanied with karamani (yard-long beans), symbolizing longevity. Anarasa is a ground rice and jaggery dish popular in central India; small flat


| Diwali

An assortment of mithai—East Indian sweetmeats popular at the Hindu festival of Diwali. (Jehangir Hanafi/

Some Popular Sweets Barfi: Rectangular firm fudge-like sweets made of condensed, milk, nuts, cardamom, and pistachios. Gulab jamun: Deep-fried balls of milk solids soaked in rose-flavored syrup. Jalebi: Coil-shaped sweets made of wheat flour and yogurt and then fried until golden and dipped in sugar syrup. Kaju katli: Soft diamond-shaped sweets made from freshly ground cashews and sugar syrup with saffron and cardamom. Kaju pista rolls: Crushed cashews and pistachios rolled into a log shape. Motichoor ladoo: Round deep-fried balls of chickpea flour and semolina with crushed cashews, almonds, pistachio, and cardamom. Other ladoos may have coconut, sesame, melon, or poppy seeds. Rasgulla: Made by boiling dumplings of semolina and milk solids in syrup, where they are left to soak and acquire a spongy texture.

disks of dough are pressed onto poppy seeds and then fried in ghee. Crispy urad lentil pakoras are another Gurajari Diwali special snack. Ukkarai is a south Indian specialty made from channa dal and mung beans sautéed with cashew nuts, raisins, and coconut and drenched in jaggery syrup flavored with cardamom; it is made in most Tamil Brahmin homes for Diwali. Chakri are spiral-shaped savory snacks made from lentil or rice flour and spiced with red chili cumin and turmeric.

Durga Puja

| 153

Popular drinks include nimbu pani, which is fresh lemonade with ice flavored with ginger or mint, and sharbats, or cordials, made from citrus fruits, herbs, and flowers and diluted with water and ice. Falooda is a thick refreshing cold drink made from milk or water with rose syrup and containing pieces of tapioca or vermicelli and basil or cress seeds. It can be topped off with nuts and ice cream. See Also: Fasting in Hinduism; Feasting in Hinduism; Hindu Festival Calendar; Hinduism; Holi; Maha Shivaratri; Makar Sankranti; Navaratri; Prasad

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. “Diwali, the Festival of Lights.” n.d. Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, http:// Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. Webb, L. S. 1995. Holiays of the World Cookbook for Students. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx.

Durga Puja Durga Puja is a 10-day festival associated with the worship of the Hindu mother goddess. It coincides with the Navratri festival and is sometimes known as Durga Puja Navratri. Dura Puja is celebrated in different ways throughout India and the Hindu world. The Durga Puja ritual is the biggest and most popular of annual festivals in West Bengal and northeastern India and in Bangladesh and Nepal, while Navratri is celebrated in the north, south, and west of India. Durga is a symbol of female power and is generally depicted with 10 arms and bestriding a lion or tiger. According to sacred texts, Durga was created to vanquish the demon Mahishasura, who could not be defeated by any man or God. Durga Puja is an old festival dating back to at least the 12th century CE. Historically it was an extravagant affair that could be celebrated only by the wealthy elite. However, over time it has become a widespread community event from which the element of animal sacrifice has disappeared and in which images of the goddess are frequently modeled on a famous film actress. In earlier times Durga alone was worshipped, but now commonly her whole family is honored. In Bengal, Durga is joyfully welcomed as a daughter who visits her parents once a year, along with her children Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesha, and Karteka. The 10 days of Durga Puja begin on Mahalaya, the new moon day of the Hindu month of Ashvin, which falls in September or October in the Western calendar. The most important rituals begin on the 6th day and end on the 10th day with the immersion of the Durga idol. Durga has the combined power of all the gods in her ability to destroy evil; she has nine forms, each of which is worshipped on a different day over the course of the festival.


| Durga Puja Preparations for Durga Puja begin weeks before the actual festival. Temporary shrines in the form of pavilion-like structures called pandals are set up where Durga idols can be worshipped. They also offer cultural entertainment. In Kolkota over 2,000 pandals are put up, and sponsoring groups compete to provide the most elaborate structures; there are even organized tours arranged to see them. The festival is celebrated with pageants, food, visiting, and gift exchanges. On the 10th day earthenware images of Durga are smeared with vermillion powder and ceremonially immersed in the river or sea. Food offerings are part of the ritual of Kalparambho, performed before the commencement of the puja. They comprise panchashasha, grains of five types (rice, mung beans, til or sesame, white urad dal, or any variety of whole black leguminous seed, Job’s tears, or millet); panchagobbo, five items obtained from the cow (milk, ghee or clarified butter, curd, cow dung, and urine); and curd, honey, sugar, three big noibiddos (fruit offering), one small noibiddo, three bowls of madhupakka (a mixture of honey, curd, ghee, and sugar), bhoger drobbadi (items for the feast), aaratir drobbadi mahasnan oil, dantokashtho, sugarcane juice, an earthen bowl of atop (a type of rice), and til toilo (sesame oil). For other pujas different food offerings are needed such as green coconuts, fruit, sesame seeds, and betel leaves. Food Practices Food is an essential part of the Durga Puja celebrations. As people go pandalhopping they look for snacks to keep them going. Near every pandal in Kolkata there are food stalls with pots of mutton biriyani and rolls, which are a soft bread called paratha topped with an egg or spiced meats. Some restaurants offer special puja menus. Aloo posto is a popular Bengali side dish of potatoes and poppy seeds. Mishti dol is a creamy dessert made from full-fat milk (often buffalo milk) and sugar, which is boiled to reduce and allowed to cool for at least eight hours in an earthen pot. Patishapta is a milk and flour pancake stuffed with grated coconut or dried fruit and eaten as a snack. The food served to visitors at the pandals, which has first been offered to the gods, is called bhog. It commonly consists of vegetable curry, bread, chutney, and a sweet dish. Khichdi is a bhog food made of rice and lentils, commonly served with fried brinjal (eggplant). Regional Variations In Nepal, the celebration of Durga Puja still involves animal sacrifices. It stretches over 15 days, during which schools are closed. At the start of the festival people plant barley seeds to encourage a good harvest. The 8th day is a fast, and then at night sacrifices begin. Across the country thousands of goats, sheep, pigs, and fowl are sacrificed. On the last day elders give sprouted barley grains to the younger generation as a blessing. Because of the felt social obligation to buy new clothes and a sacrificial goat, the festival can be a financial burden for poor families who have to take loans at high interest rates.

Durga Puja

| 155

See Also: Fasting in Hinduism; Feasting in Hinduism; Hindu Festival Calendar; Hinduism; Holi; Maha Shivaratri; Makar Sankranti; Navaratri; Prasad; Sacrifice

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions;. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Festivals: Origins, Sentiments & Rituals. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith. Viswanathan, P. n.d. “Durga Puja in Bengal.” Dolls of India, /library/durga-puja/.

E Easter Easter is the holiest time in the Christian liturgical year and is observed by most Christian denominations. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Quakers do not observe it. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his death by crucifixion and is therefore both a solemn and joyful occasion. Easter Sunday is also referred to as Resurrection Sunday. Easter has its origins in a pagan spring festival held at the vernal equinox that celebrated the renewal of life by the returning sun. The English historian the Venerable Bede (673–735 CE) linked it to Eostre, a Saxon goddess of spring and fertility, though there is scholarly debate over the evidence that such a goddess existed. In Mediterranean Europe the celebration was known as Pascha and was linked to Pesach, the Jewish Passover. According to the biblical New Testament, the Passover meal was redefined as a Christian celebration in which Jesus himself was the sacrificial lamb (1 Corinthians 1:57). Easter is thus a time of new life both in the earthly agricultural realm, where spring sees the birth of young animals and the sowing of new crops, and in the spiritual realm, where the resurrection of Christ brings hope for new life for humankind. Easter is the oldest of Christian feasts and is a movable feast; that is, its date varies in the Western calendar from year to year, falling somewhere between March 22 and April 25. The date represents centuries of debate and draws on both religious and astronomical reasoning. In 325 CE at the Council of Nicaea the church decided that Easter would be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox on March 21. Should the full moon occur on a Sunday, then Easter would be celebrated on the following Sunday. Astronomers calculated the date of Easter for centuries ahead using a paschal moon cycle in which the full moon occurred on the 14th day of each lunar month. This rarely coincides directly with the astronomical full moon, but it does provide a standardized date. For Orthodox Christians who use the Julian calendar, Easter falls between April 4 and May 8. The 50 days following Easter Sunday are called Eastertide and end with the feast of Pentecost. Easter comes at the end of a 40-day period of fasting, known as Lent. Lent is marked with a series of special events as Christians anticipate the return of their savior. The week immediately preceding Easter is known as Holy Week, and the Easter vigil service on Holy Saturday is the holiest of the year. Traditionally full fasting was required on this day, and while Eastern Orthodox Christians observe a 157


| Easter

The Red Egg Images of Saint Mary Magdalene frequently depict her holding a red egg. Mary Magdalene was a devout Jewish woman who became a disciple of Jesus. According to the Bible, she was the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection and was the first to pass on the “good news” to others that she had “seen the Lord.” A legend grew up that she traveled to Rome to spread the news and obtained an audience with Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar. Tradition demanded that visitors bought the emperor a gift. Mary Magdalene gave the emperor an egg as a symbol of the resurrection, proclaiming “Christ is risen!” The emperor responded that rising from the dead was as likely as the egg turning red.The egg did indeed turn red, and since then it has been an tradition for Christians, especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church, to dye eggs red and crack them open at Easter, exchanging the good news that “Christ is risen!” At the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem the scene of Mary giving Tiberius a red egg is depicted in a large canvas that hangs above the iconostasis.

fast from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, in the modern Roman Catholic Church it is sufficient to refrain from eating one hour prior to the Communion service. The Roman Catholic service includes the lighting of a paschal candle, baptisms, and celebration of the Eucharist. The Eastern Orthodox vigil, which is sometimes conducted in darkness, ends at midnight on Holy Saturday. At the stroke of midnight candles are lit, and there is a procession around the outside of the church. The paschal service then begins immediately, including taking of the Eucharist, and is followed by the sharing of food to break the Lenten fast. Easter Foods The symbolism of Easter revolves around eggs and bread. Eggs have long been a symbol of fertility and renewal. The egg-carrying Osterhase (Easter hare) legend emerged in Germany in the 17th century and was later bought to America by German immigrants. People made nests for the hares, which they filled with colored eggs. The custom of chocolate eggs began in the late 19th century, and chocolate Easter egg hunts are now a fun activity in many parts of the world. Historically eggs could not be eaten during Lent (a tradition that continues in the orthodox church); commonly, hard-boiled eggs are cracked open and eaten on Easter day as a symbol of the resurrection of Christ. In the French city of Haux, Easter Monday sees the preparation of a giant omelet in the city square. With over 5,000 eggs and a hundred pounds each of bacon, onions, and garlic the omelet feeds up to 1,000 people. Ornate Easter breads are found in many countries. Hot cross buns are popular to eat on Good Friday, particularly in the British Isles. The spicy buns with dried fruit are marked with a cross, made of pastry or icing, that symbolizes the crucifixion. Other countries have their own version of Easter sweet breads, including Portuguese folar de pascoa and Czech babovka. Baba is a Polish coffee cake that


| 159

is baked in a fluted pan to resemble a woman’s skirts, while the Italian colomba di pasqua is often baked in a dove shape. Greek tsoureki is a braided sweet yeast bread decorated with red-dyed boiled eggs. It is flavored with mahlepi, a distinctive spice made from the inner kernel of St. Lucie cherry pits. The three strands of the braid represent the Holy Trinity. The Mexican sweet and savory bread pudding capirotada consists of layers of cheese and dried fruit and nuts; it also has ingredients that recall Christ’s crucifixion. Cinnamon sticks represent the wood of the cross, while cloves represent the nails. Pashka is a Russian dessert made from soft farmer’s cheese or cottage cheese pressed and molded into a truncated pyramid shape, Russian pashka dessert made of soft cheese. The symbolizing the church. It is cyrillic letters XB stand for Xpnctoc Bockpece, decorated with sliced almonds or meaning Christ is risen. (Olesia Sarycheva/ candied fruit forming the Cyrillic letters “XB,” which stand for “Christ is risen.” North America Easter dinner commonly features a baked ham and a variety of fresh vegetables. Before the advent of refrigeration, ham cured in the winter was ready for consumption in the spring, around Easter time. In Europe, roast lamb has long been a traditional Easter dish. Some Easter tables include a centerpiece of a lamb made entirely from butter. The week following Easter is known as Bright Week or Renewal Week in the Eastern Orthodox calendar. Bright Week is considered to be one continuous day of joy and prayer ending on the evening of Bright Saturday. During this time fasting is prohibited except that the clergy continue to abstain from meat. Easter Monday is a pubic holiday in many countries and is celebrated with both religious and secular activities such as picnics, kite flying, and egg rolling. Since 1878 an Easter egg roll has been hosted on the lawn of the White House on Easter Monday. The modernday event includes an Easter egg hunt, egg decorating, and the egg roll, as well as music storytelling, and sport and educational activities. Free tickets to the event are distributed via an online lottery system. In Poland, Easter Monday is known as Smigus-Dyngus (Wet Monday). It is celebrated as Dyngus Day by the Polish American community, especially in the city of Buffalo. Originally it was a pagan


| Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar festivity involving the dousing of young women with water but was incorporated into Christian celebrations following the baptism of the Polish prince Mieszko I in 966 CE. In Buffalo thousands of people gather for parades, music, and dancing, complemented by an array of traditional Polish foods. See Also: Bread; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Eastern Orthodox Church; Eggs; Feasting in Christianity; Lent; Passover

Further Reading “The Holy Traditions of Prosphora Baking.” n.d., http://www.prosphora .org/. Newall, V. 1971. An Egg at Easter. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Rees, C. 2011. Feast + Fast: Food for Lent and Easter. London: Darton, Longman and Todd. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar The Eastern Orthodox Church year, which starts on the first of September, features both fixed and movable feasts, the most of important of which is Pascha, known in the West as Easter. Pascha is a movable feast as its date changes each year, though it is always in the spring. A number of other events are linked to Pascha, so their dates vary too. There are 12 great feasts that celebrate events in the lives of Christ or of his mother, Mary, some of which are fixed and some movable. Patron saints days and other events are celebrated according to local custom. There are four major fasting

Eastern Orthodox Calendar (2017)* January 6 (13)




February 2 (15)

Presentation of the Lord

February 19 (m) February 26 (m)

Meat Fare Sunday Cheese Fare Sunday

February 27 (m)

Clean Monday

Commemorates the baptism of Jesus by Saint John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Also known as Epiphany. Celebrates the presentation of the infant Jesus at the temple, where the prophet Simeon revealed him to be the savior of all mankind. Last day before Pascha for eating meat. Last day before Pascha for eating dairy products. Marks the beginning of the Great Lent period of fasting.

Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar March 25 (April 7)


April 9 (m)

Palm Sunday

April 14 (m)

Holy Friday

April 16 (m)


May 25 (m)


June 4 (m)

Pentecost (Trinity Sunday)

June 11 (m)

All Saints Day

June 12 (m)

Fast of the Apostles

August 6 (19)


August 1–15 (14–28)

Fast of the Dormition

August 15 (28)

Dormition of the Theotokos

September 8 (21)

Nativity of the Theotokos Elevation of the Holy Cross

September 14 (27) (m)

November 15 (November 28) November 21 (December 4)


December 25 (January 7)

Feast of the Nativity (Christmas)

Presentation of the Theotokos

The angel Gabriel tells the Virgin Mary that she will be the mother of Jesus. Beginning of Holy Week. Recalls the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem the week before his death and resurrection. Commemorates the death by of crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Celebrating Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Pascha is held on the first Sunday after the full moon after March 21. It begins a week free from fasting. Forty days after Pascha. Christians believe that on this day Christ ascended to heaven. Fifty days after Pascha. Celebrates the founding of the Christian church on the day the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus’s apostles. Honors the deeds of all saints, known and unknown. Lasts between one to six weeks depending on the date of Pascha. Celebrates a miraculous event in which the prophet Jesus shone with radiance, revealing his divine status to his disciples. A fasting period ending with the Dormition feast. Marks the death or “falling asleep” of the Virgin Mary and the ascent of her body to heaven. Celebrates the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Orthodox and Catholic Christians celebrate the finding, by the mother of the first Christian emperor, Constantine, of the cross on which Jesus was crucified, Start of the 40-day pre-Christmas fasting period. Commemorates the consecration of Mary as a young girl in preparation of her role as the mother of Jesus. Orthodox celebration of the birth of Jesus.

* Gregorian calendar dates are given first. Julian dates are noted in parentheses. (m) Movable feasts. Dates differ from year to year.

| 161


| Eastern Orthodox Church periods. The dates on which feasts are observed is complicated by the fact that some orthodox churches (Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia, Jerusalem, and “Old Calendarist” groups in other countries) still use the Julian calendar, while others have adopted the Gregorian calendar used throughout the Western world. Orthodox churches following the old Julian calendar observe fixed festivals 13 days after the rest of Christendom. However, all orthodox churches celebrate the movable feast of Easter and the days that revolve around it, according to the old calendar. All Wednesdays and Fridays are fast days except during fast-free periods following Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. See Also: Christian Western Festival Calendar; Christmas; Easter; Lent

Further Reading Richards, E. G. 1998. Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wybrew, H. 2000. Orthodox Feasts of Jesus Christ & the Virgin Mary: Liturgical Texts with Commentary. New York: St. Vladimirs Seminary.

Eastern Orthodox Church The Orthodox Church is one of three main branches of Christianity, the others being Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. The term “orthodoxy” comes from Greek and means “right-thinking” or “correct belief.” The nominal head of the Eastern Orthodox Church is the patriarch of Constantinople, though there are several self-governing churches of Slavic, Middle Eastern, and Greek origin within the orthodox family. Orthodox bishops are seen to be part of the apostolic succession (a continuous line of bishops running back to the apostles of Christ), and orthodox practices have changed little over two millennia. Mount Athos in Greece is the center of orthodox monasticism. Many Eastern Orthodox Churches have adopted the Gregorian calendar for fixed feasts but retained the Julian calendar for movable feasts. This means that dates of many orthodox celebrations are different than those in the Catholic and Protestant calendar. Food is an integral part of Eastern Orthodox practice, both in the extensive cycle of liturgical feasts and fasts and in the context of ritual symbolism. In North America, orthodox ethnic food practices are anchored in the customs of the homeland of immigrant orthodox populations. Origins and Historical Development After the death of Jesus, Christianity spread slowly outward from its origins in the Middle East. In the fourth century CE Emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the religion of the Holy Roman Empire. Two centers of Christianity grew up,

Eastern Orthodox Church

| 163

in Rome in the West and Byzantium (renamed Constantinople after the emperor) in the East. Missionary activity spread Greek Orthodox Christianity to Russia, Ukraine, and other Slavic regions. In 1054 there was a split between Rome and Constantinople resulting in the separate future development of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity. There are presently 15 self-governing Eastern Orthodox Churches, each with its own patriarch or archbishop, and another 7 churches in the Orthodox Union. Demographics There are around 260 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, accounting for about 12 percent of the total Christian population (Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life 2011). The largest proportion of the orthodox population by far is in Russia (40 percent), followed by Ethiopia and Ukraine (13 percent each). The U.S. Orthodox Christian population is around 2 million, or about 0.6 percent of The Orthodox Church Autocephalous Churches • Church of Constantinople • Church of Alexandria • Church of Antioch • Church of Jerusalem • Church of Russia • Church of Serbia • Church of Romania • Church of Bulgaria • Church of Georgia • Church of Cyprus • Church of Greece • Church of Poland • Church of Albania • Church of Czech and Slovak lands • The Orthodox Church in America* Autonomous Churches • Church of Sinai • Church of Finland • Church of Estonia* • Church of Japan* • Church of China* • Church of Ukraine* • Archdiocese of Ohrid* *Not universally recognized as self-governing.


| Eastern Orthodox Church the adult U.S. population (Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life 2011). While Greece has only 4 percent of the total world orthodox population, almost half of U.S. Orthodox Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Almost half of the U.S. Orthodox Christian population lives in five states: California, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, and Massachusetts (“2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study” 2010). Beliefs and Teachings Eastern Orthodox Christians share Christian beliefs in the understanding of Jesus as the son of God and the events surrounding his death and resurrection. Eastern Orthodoxy holds that Christ has two natures, divine and human, and emphasizes the divine. Fasting and prayer are central elements of orthodox life. Worship follows patterns set at the beginnings of Christianity so that religious practice has remained almost unchanged over 2,000 years. In accordance with biblical guidance, bishops are bearded. They must remain celibate; however, priests may marry before (but not after) they are ordained. Church sacraments are celebration of the Eucharist, baptism, chrismation (confirmation), confession, marriage, the taking of holy orders, and the anointing of the sick (holy unction). Iconography is an important part of orthodox worship. Icons are usually painted wooden panels depicting Christ, the Virgin Mary, saints, or scenes from the Bible. They are used to adorn churches and homes. Food Practices The Eucharist is the most important sacrament in the Eastern Orthodox Church and is celebrated every Sunday and on feast days. By partaking in Communion, individuals are incorporated into the body of the church, and Eastern Orthodox churches do not allow nonorthodox Christians to receive communion. Special altar bread called prosforo, or the bread of offering, is traditionally prepared by pious laywomen to be used at Communion. Depending on local tradition, either one large loaf or five smaller loaves are used. Each loaf is made from two round pieces of leavened dough, which symbolize the human and divine natures of Christ, that are pressed or kneaded together. The bread yeast symbolizes the life force of the Holy Spirit. A wooden prosforo seal is used to stamp the letters “IC XC NIKA” (Jesus Christ conquers) on the bread. The priest cuts out and sets aside a section of the bread, which is called “the lamb.” The remainder is blessed and placed in a basket. During the Eucharistic prayer the “lamb” is consecrated, as is a chalice of wine; the priest then places the lamb in the chalice. As members of the congregation come forward to receive communion, the priest feeds them a small piece of wine-soaked bread on a golden spoon. After the service the remaining prosforo is distributed to the congregation, including to nonorthodox visitors. This is known as the antidoron, which literally means “instead of the Eucharist gift.” Fasting requirements are extensive in the Eastern Orthodox Church, though the degree to which they are adhered to varies. Over half the days of the year are

Eastern Orthodox Church

| 165

designated as fast days. While monastic communities and very devout laity strictly observe all these fasts, it is hard for most people to do so in the context of modern everyday living. There are 12 great feasts that celebrate events in the lives of Christ or his mother, the Virgin Mary, some of which are fixed and some movable. Saints’ days and other events are celebrated according to local custom. Some Orthodox Christians celebrate the name day of the saint after whom they are named. On the eve of the saint’s day, the celebrant brings five prosfora to church. The priest blesses the loaves, and one is returned to the celebrant; the others are cut and offered to the congregation. There are four main periods in the ecclesiastical year when strict fasting is required. These are the Great Fast (Lent), the Feast of the Apostles, the Feast of the Dormition, and the Nativity Fast. Strict fasting in the Eastern Orthodox Church means abstinence from meat, fish, dairy products, olive oil, and wine. The dates on which feasts and fasts are observed is complicated by the fact that some orthodox churches (Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Georgia, Jerusalem, Poland, Sinai, and monasteries on Mount Athos) still use the Julian calendar, while others have adopted the revised Julian calendar, which for practical purposes is identical to the Gregorian calendar used throughout the Western world. There are also variations in the duration and strictness with which fasts are observed, and exemptions are frequently granted. Wheat is an important symbolic foodstuff that features in many Eastern Orthodox customs. Koliva is made from boiled wheat kernels mixed with ground almonds and walnuts, raisins, pomegranate seeds, cinnamon and coriander, and powdered or granulated sugar. It is traditionally prepared for funerals and for memorial services 40 days, 6 months, and 1 year following a death. It is also served on the first Saturday of Lent and the two previous Saturdays, known as Saturdays of the Souls. The symbolism derives from a biblical verse from the Gospel According to John: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). By analogy, an earthly body must die in order to be spiritually reborn. Prayers for the souls of the departed anticipate the general resurrection of the dead at the time of Christ’s Second Coming. The preparation of koliva is time consuming, taking up to three days. In modern times most families do not make their own koliva and instead buy it from others (often older ladies). On saints’ days in the Greek monastery of Mount Athos, monks prepare koliva beautifully decorated with icons of the honored saint made by pressing colored sugars onto the surface of the dish. Eggs also carry much symbolic value. At the start of Lent, Cheesefare Sunday marks the last day dairy products can be eaten; in Russia, pancakes called bliny are a popular dish for using up butter, milk, and eggs. For some Orthodox Christians the last food consumed is an egg, accompanied by the declaration “With an egg I close my mouth, with an egg I will open it again,” referring to the fact that eggs will not be eaten again until Easter Sunday. At Easter, eggs are commonly dyed red, symbolizing Christ’s blood, and are cracked open with the joyful words “Christos Anesti” (Christ is risen) to recall the opening of Christ’s tomb and his resurrection.


| Eastern Orthodox Church

Resurrection Bread During the Easter vigil held on the evening of Holy Saturday, a large loaf of leavened bread, known as the artos, is blessed and sprinkled with holy water. Usually the artos is decorated with an image of the cross and a crown of thorns or a resurrection scene. It is placed on a table in front of the iconostasis (a wall or screen of icons that separates the nave of the church from the sanctuary), where it remains for the whole of the following week. During this time churchgoers may kiss the artos as a way of welcoming their resurrected Christ, and each day the artos is carried in procession around the outside of the church. On the Saturday after Easter, known as Bright Saturday, the artos is blessed and distributed among the congregation.

Easter is called the “feast of feasts” and is the most important occasion in the orthodox calendar. A traditional Greek custom following the midnight Easter service is to eat a special lamb soup along with sweet bread rolls. Spit-roasted lamb is a favorite Easter Sunday meal. Christmas is the second most important feast and is celebrated on January 7, following the 40-day Nativity fast. The Christmas Eve meal is served once the first star is seen. Christmas is, as in the West, a special family time and involves visiting, eating, and gift giving. On January 1, vasilopita (Saint Basil’s bread) is served in honor of the saint who, in the fourth century CE, persuaded the emperor of Caesarea to return coins and jewelry that had been levied in tax. Saint Basil had all the returned valuables baked into a gigantic loaf of bread; each person miraculously found his or her own possessions in the slice they received. In modern custom, vasilopita is a cake or rich bread in which a coin is hidden before it is baked. The bread is sliced by the male host and distributed in a ritual order according to local custom. The first piece is for Jesus Christ, the second is for Saint Basil, the third may be offered to the house as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune, and subsequent pieces are distributed to the eldest down to the youngest. Whoever gets the slice with the coin keeps it and often also receives a gift. If the first slice contains the coin, then the money is donated to the church. See Also: Christianity; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Eucharist; Fasting in Christianity; Feasting in Christianity; Protestantism; Roman Catholicism

Further Reading Erickson, John H. 1999. Orthodox Christians in America. Religion in American Life. New York: Oxford University Press. “Fasting and Fast-Free Seasons of the Church.” n.d. Orthodox Church of America, http:// Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2011. Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.


| 167

Rouvelas, M. 1993. A Guide to Greek Traditions and Customs in America. Ilioupoli, Greece: Attica. “2010 U.S. Religion Census: Religious Congregations & Membership Study.” 2010. Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, Whitley, K., and J. Hejazi. 2012. Around a Greek Table: Recipes & Stories Arranged According to the Liturgical Seasons of the Eastern Church. Guilford, CT: Lyons.

Eggs Eggs have been a part of human diets for thousands of years, with archaeological evidence of egg consumption dating back to the Neolithic age. Fowl were domesticated in different parts of the world as early as the third century BCE. They were introduced into North America in 1493 on Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the New World. Eggs are nutritionally valuable foods, being relatively cheap sources of high biological quality protein and one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D, and can be prepared in a large number of ways, alone or as an ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. Most eggs used for human consumption come from hens, but eggs of geese, ducks, turkeys, and quail are also popular in different countries. China is the world’s largest egg producer. Americans eat approximately 260 eggs per capita per year. Apart from their dietary importance, eggs are rich in cultural and religious symbolism. Taboos against eating eggs, particularly by pregnant women, are found in several cultures, such as in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In traditional villages of Nigeria and among the Mossis of Burkina Faso children are not allowed to eat eggs, as it is believed that doing so may encourage them to become thieves. Eggs have long been a symbol of fertility and new life. The egg appears in many creation myths. In the Hindu Vedas, a cosmic egg split into two parts to form Earth and Heaven. From the Orphic egg of the ancient Greeks emerged the god Phanes, who then created the other gods. A Chinese creation myth describes the birth of Pangu inside a cosmic egg; to escape, Pangu cracked the egg and pushed the two halves apart to form Heaven and Earth. Christianity Because eggs were not permitted to Christians during the 40 days of Lent preceding Easter, it was necessary to use them up. Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday and Pancake Day) was an occasion to prepare egg-rich dishes. Eggs are commonly depicted in Christian iconography, and in some Eastern Orthodox churches an egg is suspended from the ceiling above the altar. Eggs are associated with the resurrection of Christ, and there is much egg symbolism around Easter time. Christian mythology recounts that Mary Magdalene


| Eggs gave Emperor Tiberius Caesar the gift of an egg to symbolize the resurrection of Christ. In Eastern Orthodox tradition a hard-boiled red-painted egg represents the sealed tomb of the crucified Jesus; the egg is cracked open on Easter to symbolize the opening of the tomb. Greek Orthodox Christians may take a basket of red-dyed eggs to church for the Easter ceremony. In the Slovenian Easter custom of carrying the basket, five red eggs symbolize the wounds of Christ on the cross. The dyeing of eggs is a preChristian custom, but elaborate decorating of eggs reached its zenith in the Ukrainian art of pysanky. Batik wax-resist methods are used to produce intricate traditional designs. The eggs, Pysanka—Ukrainian decorative Easter egg. (Sergey given as gifts, represent the gift Mostovoy/ of life. Pysanky eggs would also be placed on the graves of ancestors or kept in houses or fields to protect against lightning or to ensure good harvests. They would also be exchanged among unmarried men and women. Pace (paschal) eggs are a feature of Easter ceremonies in some English villages, where an egg-tapping game is played. Hard-boiled eggs are tapped together, and the winner is the last one whose shell is unbroken. Egg rolling was a game that symbolized the rolling away of the stone from Christ’s tomb and is still played in some English villages and on the lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C. Egg tapping and rolling games are also found in other European cultural traditions. Judaism A roasted egg features on the Passover seder plate, where it represents ancient temple offerings. Often the egg is charred to symbolize destruction of the temple. At Passover some Jews dye eggs a golden or brown color by boiling them with onion skins or coffee grounds. A traditional Sabbath dish is a stew called cholent or hamin. In Sephardi cuisine, unshelled eggs are placed on top of the slowly cooking stew so that they turn brown. The eggs are shelled and served with the stew.

Eid al-Adha

| 169

Pace Egging Pace egging is a centuries-old northern English custom, remnants of which are still practiced today. Pace (paschal or Easter) eggs were traditionally dyed by boiling them with onion skins, though today they are usually colored with artificial dyes.The eggs were given to actors called pace eggers who, dressed in garish costumes and with soot-blackened faces, would parade through the village or town, performing and collecting money. The troupe included stock characters such as the Noble Youth, the Lady Gay, the Soldier Brave, the Bold Slasher, the Doctor, and the Old Toss-Pot, the latter of whom wore a tail stuffed with straw and pins. Other versions featured Saint George, who would do battle with various adversaries. Performances concluded with the pace egging song “Here’s one or two Jolly Boys, all of one mind / We’ve come a Pace-Egging, and hope you’ll prove kind / We hope you’ll prove kind with your eggs and strong beer / And we’ll come no more nigh you until next year.” The custom has been revived in recent times, and pace egger plays can be seen in a number of places in Lancashire and Yorkshire. The custom of rolling pace eggs down a grassy slope is still carried out at the Lancashire town of Preston. Hundreds of children compete to see whose egg can go farthest down the slope without cracking. Empty egg shells must be collected and crushed so they cannot be used as boats by local witches. Source: P. Cooke, “Pace Egg Heptonstall 3 April 2015,” Vimeo,

Other Many, though not all, Hindus are vegetarian and so do not consume eggs. Jains adhere to the principle of ahimsa, or nonharm, and are therefore strict vegetarians, avoiding eggs. Decorative colored eggs are often found on the Iranian New Year haft-seen table, and colored boiled eggs feature in the Egyptian holiday Shem el-Nessim. At a Zoroastrian wedding as part of the ritual of achumichu, a raw egg is passed seven times around the head of the bride to ward off ill fortune, after which it is smashed on the ground. See Also: Ahimsa; Christianity; Easter; Lent; Passover; Vegetarianism; Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Further Reading Newall, V. 1971. An Egg at Easter. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Toops, D. 2014. Eggs: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books.

Eid al-Adha Eid al-Adha, which means “feast of the sacrifice,” was instituted in the days of the prophet Muhammad and has its basis in the Qur’anic commandment to offer a


| Eid al-Adha sacrifice if one is prevented from performing the hajj (Qur’an 2:196). The sacrifice in the name of this festival refers to an incident described in the Christian Old Testament and in the Qur’an (37:99–111) in which God commanded the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael, as a sign of his obedience to divine will. (In the Jewish and Christian biblical telling it is Isaac, Abraham’s son with Sarah, who is the intended sacrifice.) Ibrahim prepared to do as he was bid, but God, seeing this demonstration of faith, allowed him to substitute a ram for the sacrifice. At Eid al-Adha, Muslims recall and celebrate God’s mercy and their own vows of submission to God. Sometimes called the Greater Eid, Eid al-Adha is the second most important festival in the Muslim calendar. Coming at the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the festival begins on the 11th day of the 12th Muslim month of Dhu al-Hijjah. Traditionally the festival lasts for four days and is a public holiday in many Muslim countries. It is also known as Bakr Eid in India and Kurban Bayrami in Turkey. As a highlight of the annual hajj, millions of pilgrims gather in the valley of Mina, on their way back to Mecca from Mount Arafat, to perform the traditional animal sacrifice. Around the world Muslims emulate the ritual. All adult male Muslims who can afford to do so must sacrifice a lamb or sheep, though goats or cows may also be used or even chickens or doves by poorer families. The meat,

A Muslim family in Israel celebrates Eid al-Adha with a feast of lamb. All families that can afford to sacrifice a lamb or other animal and distribute the meat to relatives, friends, and the poor. (Rafael Ben-ari/

Eid al-Adha

| 171

which should be eaten soon after slaughter, is divided in thirds and shared with family, friends, and the poor or given to the local mosque. In traditional Muslim countries herders and farmers can sacrifice their own animals. Others may go to the marketplace, where an animal can be bought and sacrificed, though prices are often higher than normal, and some families share the cost of one larger animal rather than each buying their own. In the Uighur quarter of Uramqi, an autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China, markets may be awash with sheep’s blood and pots of boiling mutton, while specialist butchers split the skulls of sacrificial animals to make a soup (Ingram 2012). Well-off families give the fleece, feet, and head of the sacrificial sheep to the local mosque as a tithe or to others who can’t afford meat and who consider entrails a delicacy. It is not practical or perhaps even legal to carry out animal sacrifice in many countries. Muslims in North America may visit a halal butcher or a farm or may join with other families in purchasing a whole animal carcass from a butcher, or they may simply buy extra meat that they can share at a feast. Apart from the sacrificial element, festivities at Eid al-Adha are similar to those at Eid al-Fitr. People attend prayers at mosques to thank God for his mercy. They wear new clothes, visit friends and family for meals, and exchange gifts and greetings, wishing each other “Eid mubarak,” roughly the equivalent of “Happy Eid.” It is obligatory to donate money to charity, and people may support the local community or send money to their homelands to help fund a sacrifice there. Eid al-Adha services at mosques in large U.S. cities may attract thousands of Muslims from different ethnic backgrounds who come to share prayers, food, and good wishes. Food Special dishes for Eid al-Adha vary by country and culture. In Morocco the first meal of the day is a wheat and milk sup known as herbel. Not surprisingly, meat dishes are more common than at other times of year, and barbecues are popular. Organ meats such as liver, heart, and intestines are used in a variety of dishes so that nothing goes to waste. Meat dishes are also common in India and Pakistan, including mutton biriyani, which is made by layering plain or fried rice with cooked meat and vegetables. Other mutton or goat dishes include a mild curry called korma as well as spicy meatballs called kofta. Other popular Eid al-Adha foods include dried fruits and desserts such as lab-e-shareen, made from milk and fruit. Traditionally Eid al-Adha is a time to visit the graves of relatives to pay respects. In North Africa people picnic at the grave sites. Leftover food is placed on the gravestone for the dead to enjoy the smell and may be taken by the poor. See Also: Animal Slaughter; Eid al-Fitr; Islamic Festival Calendar; Sacrifice

Further Reading Ahmed, S. 2008. Islamic Festivals and Their Religious Importance. New Delhi: Cyber Tech Publications.


| Eid al-Fitr Ball, L. 2010. “Fasting, Fairness, Friendship, Fun and Feeling Fine: The Roles of Food in Islam.” Religions in Education (32), .html. “Eid Al-Adha Celebrations Around the World—in Pictures.” 2013. The Guardian, October 15, Heine, P. 2004. Food Culture in the Near East, Middle East and North Africa. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Ingram, R. 2012. “Letter from China: Season of Sacrifce.” The Guardian, November 13. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Eid al-Fitr At the end of Ramadan, a monthlong fast, comes the joyful celebration known as Eid al-Fitr. The name is derived from the Arabic word fitr, meaning “to break fast.” Muhammad instituted the festival, along with that of Eid al-Adha, following his migration from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE, to replace two existing pre-Islamic celebrations. The festival is also known as Sweet Eid and Lesser Eid. Starting on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal, Eid al-Fitr is one of the major holy days of the Islamic year. While the date is generally now fixed by astronomical calculation, some countries such as Malaysia use the traditional sighting of a new moon to determine the beginning of Eid, so there may be slight variations in different parts of the world. Eid celebrations commonly last for three days, although only one day is religiously sanctioned, and in some countries the festivities are prolonged for a week or more. In predominantly Muslim countries Eid al-fitr is an official public holiday when schools, government offices, and businesses are closed for one to three days; in North America, Muslims usually take a day off from work or school. Following a month of fasting and religious discipline, Eid al-Fitr is a time to celebrate and show gratitude to Allah for having provided one the strength to complete the fast. It is also a time to seek forgiveness from each other. Since the time of Muhammad, giving to the poor and needy has been a central pillar of Islam. On Eid or the day before, each Muslim family gives a donation of food or money, known as sadaqat al-fitr (charity of fast-breaking) to ensure that everyone in the community can participate in Eid festivities. One’s fast is not complete until the donation has been paid, usually at the mosque or through charity collection boxes. Eid al-Fitr celebrations usually include sharing food, exchanging gifts, sending greeting cards, and visiting relatives and friends. The traditional holiday greeting is “Eid Mubarak,” meaning a happy and blessed Eid. Special Eid public prayers are held in mosques, community halls, and open spaces such as parks, and festive community events are arranged. People dress up and visit and share food in each other’s homes, and children may receive money or presents. Non-Muslim guests may be invited to participate in large community feasts where a rich and plentiful

Eid al-Fitr

| 173

Largest North American Eid Each year the Muslim Association of Canada organizes Eid festivities in the Greater Toronto Area. The event attracts 10,000 to 15,000 people, making it the largest Eid event in North America and one of the biggest cultural events of the calendar year. Beginning with congregational prayers, the daylong event includes carnival rides, sports tournaments, music shows, market bazaars, and an international food fair that offer a fun-filled day for all of the family.

array of dishes are served, particularly sweets and pastries such as sweet vermicelli pudding and sweet cardamom rice, which give the festival its common name, Sweet Eid. Eid celebrations vary in Muslim countries around the world. In Malaysia, it is a time to visit and clean the graves of deceased relatives, whose souls have visited the home during Ramadan. Festivities may continue over the next month, including popular open houses where all guests are welcome. In Egypt children participate in lantern parades around city streets and neighborhoods, stopping to sing songs and receive gifts of candy or money, reminiscent of the Christian tradition of caroling at Christmastime. In India and Pakistan, young girls may have their hands decorated with intricate henna designs. In cities and towns across the United States, Muslim communities organize Eid feasts and festivities. People send Eid cards, and kids receive money and presents. Food On Eid it is said that everyone is God’s guest; therefore, to fast on this day is forbidden. While the food served at Eid feasts reflects cultural patterns, there are some distinctive Eid dishes in different parts of the world. Ketupat is a Malaysian glutinous rice dish cooked by wrapping it in coconut leaves or in a special container so that it makes a compact cake. Market vendors sell ketaput cases made of woven palm leaves, and ketupat weaving competitions are popular. The case is half-filled with washed uncooked rice, and the palm leaves are sewn shut. It is cooked and hung before being cut open to remove the compressed cube of rice. It is cut into strips and served with rendang, a spicy dish of meat, chili, and coconut milk, or a spicy peanut sauce. Lemang is a rice and coconut milk mixture cooked in hollow bamboo canes lined with banana leaves. Lontong is a traditional rice dish in Java; it is served with sate, small pieces of chicken, goat, or beef on skewers. In the north Indian city of Hyderabad a meat stew known as Hyderabadi haleem is a popular Eid dish and one that has been granted geographical indication status in recognition of its uniqueness to the locality. Befitting its name of Sweet Eid, desserts and cookies are popular festive foods. Sawaiyan is a creamy pudding made from vermicelli, boiled and served with milk and sugar; names of and recipes for this dish vary from place to place. In Egypt, bakeries sell kahk, nut-filled cookies dusted with sugar; Iraq has date-filled pastries called klaicha, while ghraybeh, butter


| Epiphany cookies made with orange blossom water and ground almonds, are popular among Palestinians. In Turkey where the feast is known as Seker Bayrami (Sugar Feast), children may go door-to-door collecting sweets and chocolates in a tradition reminiscent of Halloween. See Also: Christmas; Eid al-Adha; Feasting in Islam; Islamic Festival Calendar; Ramadan

Further Reading Ball, L. 2010. “Fasting, Fairness, Friendship, Fun and Feeling Fine: The Roles of Food in Islam.” Religions in Education (32), “The Egyptian Kitchen.” n.d. Abissada Cooks, /dessert-kahk-cookies.html. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Seidel, K. n.d. “Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook and Art Gallery.” Superluminal, http:// Senturk, O. F. 2007. Charity in Islam: A Comprehensve Guide to Zakat. Translated by E. Atasever. New Jersey: The Light.

Epiphany The term “epiphany” is derived from the Greek word for “manifestation.” Epiphany falls on January 6 in the Western calendar and January 13 in the Eastern Orthodox calendar, where it is also called Theophany (manifestation of god). Other names include Three Kings’ Day, Feast of the Epiphany, and Twelfth Night. As well as the day itself, Epiphany refers to the whole period leading up to Lent. Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season and is the traditional time to take down the Christmas tree. The U.S. Virgin Islands celebrates the day as a public holiday, as do several European countries. Epiphany is one of the oldest of Christian celebrations. As related in the New Testament, it commemorates the arrival of the magi (wise men from the east) at the stable in Bethlehem bringing gifts to the infant Jesus, whom they recognized as the son of God (Matthew 2:1–2). In the early Christian church it was a more important celebration than that of Jesus’s actual birth. Just as the winter solstice passes and days get longer and lighter, Jesus is portrayed as the light of the world, come to dispel the ignorance of humankind. Epiphany also marks John the Baptist’s recognition of Jesus as the Christian messiah at the time of his baptism in the Jordan River. Eastern Orthodox Christians focus on the latter event, while Western Christians emphasize the former. On Epiphany some denominations also celebrate Jesus’s first miracle of turning water into wine as another sign of his divinity. Epiphany is a joyful celebration that includes religious church services and public and domestic parties, with parades, feasts, and gift giving. A tradition in medieval Europe was to elect a mock king to rule for the day and be feted by


| 175

revelers. A bean was hidden in a cake, and the man who found it became king of the bean. The woman who found a hidden pea was made queen. In England it became a popular custom to substitute paper lots for the bean and pea, and the charade was elaborated so that each paper had a character name, which the lot winner had to role-play. The custom was maintained by English settlers in the American colonies but had largely disappeared by the turn of the 20th century. Echoes of the medieval practice remain. In France, a sweet almond-stuffed puff pastry known as galette des rois appears in shops at Epiphany. The confection conceals a bean or a porcelain or plastic trinket such as a religious or historical figurine or a cartoon character. The cake comes with a paper gold crown to be worn by whoever gets the slice of cake with the prize. In Louisiana, king cake parties are a very popular pre-Lenten activity. In Spanish households the “three kings’ supper” on the eve of Epiphany includes a dessert known as roscon de reyes, which is a sweet bread flavored with lemon and orange zest and decorated with chopped almonds and candied fruit. It is baked in a ring, and a dried bean or a small doll representing the Christ child is hidden in the cake. The finder of the doll is king of the party, while the finder of the bean is supposed to pay for the next year’s celebrations. In Mexico, the finder of the Jesus figure in the king’s cake must take it to church on Candlemas (February 2) and must host a tamale meal for guests. Throughout Mexico and Latin America, Dia de los Reyes (Day of the Kings) is a big occasion eagerly anticipated by children, who receive gifts from the wise men instead of from Santa Claus.

Roscon de reyes, or three kings’ cake, is a traditional Hispanic dessert made for Epiphany. Religious figurines are hidden in the cake. (Anasife/


| Eucharist

Roscon de Reyes On the Day of the Kings in 2013, thousands of people gathered in the Zocala plaza of Mexico City to share in consuming a gigantic version of the traditional three kings cake. Prepared by 2,000 bakers, the cake was 1.2 miles long and weighed nearly 10 tons. Ingredients included 5 tons of flour, 3 tons of butter, 1 ton of marmalade and sugar, over 40,000 eggs, and hundreds of pounds of candied fruit. Plastic figurines of the baby Jesus were hidden in the cake.The cake was laid out in a continuous ring on tables that encircled the square. Organizers estimated that 200,000 servings of cake were distributed in less than 30 minutes.

In Hispanic neighborhoods of U.S. cities, the eve of Epiphany sees processions of costumed actors reenacting the journey of the magi. The annual East Harlem parade includes live camels and sheep. Since 2012 there have been Dia de los Reyes celebrations at Disneyland complete with Mexican music, dancers, food, and a craft area for children to make paper crowns. Epiphany celebrations are also popular among Eastern Orthodox communities. In Greece, the ceremony Blessing of the Waters is held on Epiphany. Men dive to retrieve a cross that has been blessed and thrown into the water. The winner is blessed with good luck for the coming year. Boats and ships are blessed, and there are celebrations with music, dancing, and food. A century-old annual Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs, Florida, which has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any U.S. city, includes church services, a procession, blessing of the fleet and of the waters, and a dive for the cross followed by a festival of food, music, and dancing. See Also: Baptism Rituals; Christianity; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Christmas; Jesus; Mardi Gras; Miracles

Further Reading Cosman, M. P. 1981. Medieval Holidays and Festivals. New York: Scribner. Henisch, B. A. 1984. Cakes and Characters: An English Christmas. London: Prospect Books. Hill, C. 2003. Holidays and Holy Nights: Celebrating Twelve Seasonal Festivals of the Christian Year. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.

Eucharist The Eucharist is a sacrament, or religious mystery, that is one of the most important of Christian rituals. The name “Eucharist” is derived from the Greek eucharistia, meaning “gratitude” or “thanksgiving,” and is used to refer to the complete church service and the shared meal that is at its heart. The term “Eucharist” was


| 177

used by the early Christian church and is the term preferred by Eastern Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, some Lutheran, and some Presbyterian churches. Within the church ritual it is often called “Holy Eucharist.” Other terms used are “Communion” or “Holy Communion,” while some other protestant denominations, particularly the Baptists, use the term “Lord’s Supper.” Others call it simply “Breaking Bread.” Participation in the Eucharist is a mark of Christian identity. The precise way in which the sacrament is administered further serves as a membership boundary marker between different Christian traditions. The Eucharist is a repeated reenactment of the last meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before going to meet his death. At the meal Jesus ate bread, saying “This is my body,” and drank wine, saying “This is my blood,” and he commanded his followers to “do this in remembrance of me.” The occasion is described in all four gospels of the New Testament of the Christian Bible, while the earliest mention is by the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 11:23–25). By participating in the Eucharist, Christians enter into the presence of God, receive spiritual nourishment, and are reminded of the death and resurrection of Christ. They also reassert their identities as Christians and their belonging to the body of the church. There are doctrinal difference in how orthodox and Catholic churches interpret the Eucharist and how Protestant churches view it. Orthodox and Catholic theology accepts the “Doctrine of Transubstantiation,” which declares that the bread and wine blessed during the Eucharist service turns into the actual body and blood of Christ. Anglican interpretations allow that the spirit of Christ enters the bread and wine, while the majority Protestant view is that the transformation is symbolic rather than literal. Description The term “communion” means “partaking” and generally refers to the act of participating in the Eucharist. In the Roman Catholic Church the rite is called a Mass and includes prayer, hymns, and confession of sins before the consecration and distribution of the bread and wine. Unleavened bread in the form of a wafer, or “host,” is used. In the Roman Catholic rite wine must be used; minimally fermented grape juice known as mustum may be offered to alcoholics. In the Catholic Church those receiving the Eucharist should have fasted at least an hour before receiving the host. In most Protestant ceremonies the wine may be substituted with mustum or nonalcoholic grape juice, and either leavened or unleavened bread can be used. The details of how communion is administered vary between denominations and individual churches and ministers. The person leading the rite is called the celebrant. Typically, lay helpers bring a basket of communion wafers and carafes of wine or grape juice for the priest or minister to consecrate with a blessing. These are then placed on a table or held by the lay helpers. Members of the congregation are invited to come forward to receive communion. Communicants eat a wafer and take a sip of wine or grape juice or dip their bread in the liquid. In the Roman Catholic Church, those receiving the host, or wafer, receive it on their tongue or in their hand. It is usual though not universal practice to sip from a common chalice,


| Eucharist

Who Makes Communion Wafers? Traditional communion wafers, or hosts, are made from only two ingredients, wheat flour and water. In the early Christian church wafers could only be produced by an approved baker following prescribed processes. Later it became the responsibility of convents and monasteries, for whom it was a source of income.The dough was rolled into thin sheets that were then cut with a circular die of heated iron and dried so they could be stored without spoiling. Modern communion wafers are produced in factories and distributed through businesses specializing in religious supplies. The wafers are produced in perforated sheets or stamped out and packaged for distribution, with different types being produced to meet the needs of different churches. They are produced in different sizes, shapes, and thicknesses and may be embossed with Christian imagery such as a cross or a lamb.The Cavanagh Company, a familyowned business in Rhode Island, produces 850 million wafers a year, which is estimated to be around 80 percent of the communion wafers used in Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal, and Southern Baptist churches in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Recently, churches have begun to offer gluten-free wafers as well.

which the priest or helper wipes clean between each communicant. Similarly, the priest might break a large host into pieces, or communicants take a small individual wafer. As they eat and drink communicants receive a blessing from the celebrant. In large churches there may be more than one station for bread and wine. When all who wish have received communion, a general blessing is given. Another practice is for church helpers to hand out bread and cups of juice to the seated congregation. The Eastern Orthodox Eucharist ritual, usually called the Divine Liturgy, has a number of distinguishing features. Communicants are supposed to fast, without food or water, from midnight the night before the Eucharist. The leavened bread used for the service is prepared by the priest or lay members of the congregation. It is called prosforo (offering). In Greek Orthodox tradition one large loaf is used, while Slavic tradition uses five smaller loaves. They are made with two layers, symbolizing the dual nature of Christ as both human and divine, and are also stamped with a seal reading “IC XC NIKA” (Jesus Christ conquers). The priest prepares the offerings by cutting the prosforo into several pieces; one piece, called the lamb, represents Christ and is used for distribution to communicants. Other pieces are for Mary, the mother of God; John the Baptist; prophets; saints; church leaders; and living and dead members of the church. Remaining bread that has not been consecrated is known as the antidoron. It is cut up and distributed to the congregation, including any nonorthodox guests, and may be taken home. Practice Issues A Eucharistic communion is called “open” if it places no restrictions on who may attend and “closed” if it is restricted to members of the church. Eastern Orthodox


| 179

Gluten-Free Communion Wafers In the Catholic Christian tradition communion wafers, or hosts, must be made of wheat and water, which has posed a problem for churchgoers with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is a reaction to the protein gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye. The Vatican allows low-gluten wafers to be used and also allows the option of receiving communion with wine only. Low-gluten wafers contain 0.01 percent wheat, which is enough to meet religious requirements but too low to cause problems for most people who are gluten intolerant. To prevent cross-contamination, the low-gluten wafers are placed in a separate closed container or in muffin tin liners and blessed along with the regular hosts. In the United States two suppliers of low-gluten wafers have the approval of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as meeting Church requirements. These are the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Missouri and Parish Crossroads in Indiana, which imports the wafers from Europe. However, some parishioners don’t think this is sufficient and want the Church to allow gluten-free wafers, which are acceptable in many other Christian denominations including Anglican, United, and Lutheran.

and Catholic churches practice closed Communion. The Lutheran Church requires that communicants have received the catechism, although the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America is open. Some churches require communicants to be baptized or to be a member of another church, while others welcome all who attend to take communion. In most Catholic and Anglican cathedrals and larger parish churches, the Eucharist is celebrated daily. Eastern Orthodox churches usually celebrate weekly, while other Protestant denominations hold weekly, monthly, or quarterly Communion services. Jehovah’s Witnesses observe it only once year at the Lord’s Evening Supper, while the Quakers have dispensed with it altogether. The festival of Corpus Christi, coming 60 days after Easter, marks the institution of the Eucharist. At the Vatican the consecrated host, contained in a protective vessel called a monstrance, is paraded around the streets. Some changes in the form of the Eucharist celebration have been made in response to the needs of congregants to ensure that all who so wish are able to participate in Communion. Substituting nonalcoholic grape juice for wine allows those who are teetotalers or alcoholics or whose religious codes proscribe alcohol to participate. Concerns over food intolerances, such as to gluten, have given rise to adaptations in practice, which remain controversial. See Also: Bread; Christianity; Eastern Orthodox Church; Roman Catholicism; Sacraments; Wine

Further Reading Feeley-Harnik, G. 1994. The Lord’s Table: The Meaning of Food in Early Judaism and Christianity. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute.


| Eucharist Foley, E. 2009. From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. “The Holy Traditions of Prosphora Baking.” n.d., http://www.prosphora .org/. Tannahill, R. 1976. Flesh and Blood. London: Sphere Books. Theokritoff, E. 2009. “‘Taste and See That the Lord Is Good’: Food in Orthodox Christianity.” World Religions in Education,

F Fasting as a Religious Discipline Fasting refers to voluntary abstention from food and drink. In one form or another fasting is an almost universal practice, and fasts are very common events in religious calendars. Some fasts are prescribed by religious authorities and are observed as religious obligations on fixed dates or at fixed times, while others may be discretionary practices of individual believers. Fasting is a centrally important religious discipline in some faiths. For Muslims it is one of the five pillars of Islam, while for Methodists it is one of the five “works of piety” that are spiritual practices by which one earns divine grace. As a religious practice, fasting may serve manifold purposes including communication or identification with the divine, penitence and seeking absolution for sins, supplication for divine favors or beneficence, altering consciousness to enhance vision quests, mourning, purification in preparation for special occasions or important life events, and as a means for moral or social protest. Fasts are also used to commemorate important days in the history of a religion. Often these purposes overlap within specific fasting events. Many religions stress the spiritual nature of fasting as a time for self-reflection and meditation. For the individual, fasting teaches patience, unselfishness, moderation, willpower, and discipline and promotes a spirit of social belonging, unity, and brotherhood. For Baha’is, the physiological experience of pangs of hunger consequent to fasting is seen as a vehicle for developing compassion and fellow-feeling for the hungry and starving people of the world and therefore as a prompt to charitable food giving or more fundamentally to action on social justice. Fasting practices differ in nature and extent but rarely involve complete prolonged abstention from food. More commonly, restrictions are placed on consumption of specific foods, often those with high status (such as meat) or those that are particularly important in the diet (such as olive oil during Greek Orthodox Lent). Frequently there are restrictions on the frequency of meals or on the times during which food may be taken, as in the Muslim fast of Ramadan, when eating is permitted only between the hours of sunset and sunrise, or for Buddhist monks and nuns, who do not eat following the noon meal. Sometimes the general populace observes only special fast days, while more ascetic adherents will forgo food on a regular basis. In some instances holy men and women will fast on behalf of the general population, as is the case with Buddhist monks. 181


| Fasting in Buddhism Merely going without food is not sufficient to realize the spiritual benefits of fasting. Fasting must be undertaken with correct intent, a concept known in Islam as niyyah and without which fasting is rendered useless. Fasting is frequently associated with other austerities, such as abstention from smoking and sexual relations and the abandonment of all sorts of luxury. See Also: Ahimsa; Asceticism; Fasting in Buddhism; Fasting in Christianity; Fasting in Hinduism; Fasting in Islam; Fasting in Judaism; Fasting in the Baha’i Faith; Jainism; Santhara

Further Reading Brandt, J. n.d. “Fast Days: A Guide to Survival.” United Synagogue Youth Project, http:// Bynum, C. W. 1997. “Fast, Feast and Flesh: The Significance of Food to Medieval Women.” In Food and Culture: A Reader, edited by C. Counihan and P. Van Esterik, 138–158. New York: Routledge. Garibaldi Rogers, C. 2004. Fasting: Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice. Edited by J. Kirvan. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books. Heng Sure. n.d. “A Buddhist Perspective on Fasting.” Urban Dharma, http://www.urband Herrmann, D. L. 1989. Fasting: A Bahá’i Handbook. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. “Fasting and Fast-Free Seasons of the Church.” n.d. Orthodox Church of America, http:// Walbridge, J. 1996. Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time. Oxford, UK: George Ronald.

Fasting in Buddhism When Prince Siddhartha Gautama (ca. 563–483 BCE) set out on his search for truth and enlightenment that would ultimately lead him to become the Buddha, he adopted an austere lifestyle that included extreme fasting. It is said that he eventually reduced his intake to only one grain of rice a day in his effort to detach himself from the material world. As he became progressively more emaciated, he lost even the strength to meditate. Realizing that he might die before he reached his spiritual goal, he accepted a bowl of rice and milk from the daughter of a local Brahmin. Regaining his strength, Siddhartha was able to renew his meditations and reach a state of enlightenment. From then on he rejected asceticism and adopted a life of moderation that became the basis of the Buddhist teachings known as the middle way, which remains an example to the worldwide sangha (Buddhist community). Sculptures of the fasting Buddha, emaciated with his ribs sticking out, are found around the world, the most famous being exhibited in the Lahore museum in Pakistan. Nevertheless, as in other religions, fasting is a part of Buddhist practice; it is stricter for monks and nuns than for the laity. Theravada monks eat only twice a

Fasting in Buddhism

| 183

day, once in the morning and again at noon, before fasting for the rest of the day and night, as a full stomach is believed to make meditation more difficult. Monks undertake a complete fast twice a month at the time of the new moon and the full moon. Extended fasting is not obligatory to Buddhist practice but may be taken up by individuals on a voluntary basis under the supervision of an elder monk. To prepare for a fast, the faster takes only dry bread for three days in order to prepare the stomach for going without food. Usually the fasting period is 18 days, during which only small quantities of water are drunk. This is followed by 3 days of gradually reintroducing food in the form of a thin porridge. Experienced fasters may undertake fasts of 36 or 72 days, again under strict supervision. This fasting practice is undertaken to purify the body and heighten mental clarity by enabling the faster to experience and understand the nature of craving and learn to differentiate between bodily need and bodily greed. For lay Buddhists in Asia, giving up meat on full moon days or at other times may be seen as a type of fasting, as it involves relinquishing desired foods. The Chinese Buddhist practice of zhai jie involves a vegetarian fast. Followers who practice zhai jie refrain from eating meat out of a reverence for life and as an aid to right thinking—the ability to see things clearly and distinguish right from wrong. Uposatha days are Buddhist days of observance that have been likened to the concept of the Sabbath in Judaism and Christianity. They are a time for intensifying meditative practice and renewing commitment to Buddhist teachings. Uposatha referred to the pre-Buddhist fast day that preceded an animal sacrifice. Buddha established these days as a time for monks to share Buddhist teachings with the community. Historically they corresponded with the new and full moon, though in some countries additional uposatha days have been added. In modern times the designated uposatha days do not always correspond with the lunar calendar. On uposatha days, all Buddhists should intensify their focus on spiritual practices such as meditation and scripture reading and observe the eight precepts given by Buddha in a sermon known as the visakhuposatha sutta. One of these precepts is not to eat after noon. Fasting is a gesture of social justice, demonstrating empathy and compassion for those who do not have enough to eat and reducing one’s own claim on world food resources. Fasting features in the Tibetan practice known as nyungne that is intended to purify negative karma and nurture compassion. Extending over two to four days, it begins with incense burning, prayers, chants, and the taking of strict vows. A vegetarian meal is eaten, followed by a complete fast (no food or liquid) during which silence must be maintained. The fast is broken with a blessing and a meal. The practice has become popular among some Buddhist groups in the United States, who offer weekend nyungne retreats. Among the Newars, a distinct Buddhist community living in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, fasting is used as a means of supplication to Buddhist bodhisattvas (enlightened beings who put off entering nirvana in order to help others), who are sometimes worshipped as deities. These deities can bring wealth and prosperity and ensure good fortune, such as having a male child or finding a suitable husband.


| Fasting in Christianity See Also: Asceticism; Buddhism; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Santhara; Siddartha Gautama (Buddha)

Further Reading Garibaldi Rogers, C. 2004. Fasting: Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice. Edited by J. Kirvan. Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books. Heng Sure. n.d. “A Buddhist Perspective on Fasting.” Urban Dharma, http://www.urband Rinpoche, W. 2009. Buddhist Fasting Practice: The Nyungne Method of Thousand Armed Chenrezig. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Fasting in Christianity Fasting has been a Christian practice since the early days of the church and is an integral part of the modern Christian church calendar. Fasting requirements and practices differ among the three main denominational groups, being most prominent in Eastern Orthodoxy, less so in Roman Catholicism, and virtually nonexistent among most Protestants. Christian fasting serves several purposes. It is a form of sacrifice, giving up an earthly pleasure in the name of God. It is a means of repentance, either atoning for sin or seeking forgiveness. It is a practice of self-control intended to nurture spiritual growth by denying the flesh. It is a way of intensifying prayer. And it is preparation for a feast. Eastern Orthodoxy Fasting is a major component of Eastern Orthodox practice, with over half the days of the year being designated fast days. While monastic communities and very devout laity strictly observe all these fasts, it is hard for most people to do so in the context of modern everyday living. Consequently, there are variations to the strictness with which the laws are followed. Strict fasting in the Eastern Orthodox Church means abstinence from meat, fish, dairy products, olive oil, and wine. There are four main periods in the ecclesiastical year when strict fasting is required. The Great Fast (Lent), which begins seven weeks before Easter, commemorates Christ’s 40 days in the desert. At the start of Lent, Cheese Sunday marks the last day on which dairy products can be eaten. In Greek folk tradition the last food consumed is a boiled egg, accompanied by the words “With an egg I close my mouth, with an egg I will open it again.” The fast is broken by eating a boiled egg following the Easter service. For the entire period of Lent no meat, fish (except shellfish), eggs, dairy products, and sweets are allowed. In strict practice, olive oil and wine are also avoided except on Saturdays and Sundays and are prohibited during the week preceding Easter. Olive oil was historically stored in casks lined with calf’s stomach and was thus viewed as being contaminated through contact

Fasting in Christianity

| 185

Kutia: Food on the Ceiling In Ukrainian tradition the end of the nativity fast is celebrated on Christmas Eve with svyata vechera, a meal of 12 meatless dishes. The first of these is a sweet porridge or thick soup called kutia, made from wheat berries and honey and often with poppy seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. Variations are found throughout the Slavic world. Family members and guests eat the kutia from a common dish as a symbol of unity. In some households, the eldest family member throws a spoonful of kutia up at the ceiling. The more of it that sticks, the greater the good fortune it portends for the coming year. A bowl of warm water is kept to clean the ceiling. The practice is not so common as in previous generations.

with an animal product. On Good Friday devout believers may begin a total fast that is broken after midnight service on Easter Saturday or after the Easter Sunday service. The Feast of the Apostles varies in length from one to six weeks depending on the date of Easter, ending on June 28, the eve of the feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. Strict fasting is required on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; oil and wine are permitted on other days, and fish is also permitted on Saturdays and Sundays. The two-week-long Feast of the Dormition in August follows the great Lent fasting rules, while the Nativity Fast follows the pattern of the apostles’ fast, with fish avoidance added during the final one or two weekends. On the last day of the fast, Christmas Eve, no food is eaten until the first evening star is sighted (or after the evening service). A Slavic custom is to break the fast with sochivo or kutia, sweet porridge made with boiled wheat, honey, and fruit. The Elevation of the Holy Cross, the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, and Theophany are single fasting days, though oil and wine are permitted. In addition, all Wednesdays and Fridays in the year are observed as strict fast days in commemoration of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion. Fasting is forbidden between Christmas and Theophany, during the 10th week before Easter, in the week after Easter (Bright Week), and in the week after Pentecost (Trinity Week). Exemptions from strict fasting are made for small children, pregnant and nursing women, and the elderly as well as people who are sick or who have medical conditions, such as diabetes, that would make fasting dangerous. Exceptions are also made if feast days fall during a fasting period.

Roman Catholics Christian fasting practices have changed over time. Ascetic eating practices, especially avoidance of flesh foods in particular and gluttony in general, were common among early Christians as a way of conquering physical wants and desires. In sixth-century Western monastic communities, eating and fasting practices were regulated by the Rule of St. Benedict. The rule struck a balance between asceticism


| Fasting in Christianity

The Rule of St. Benedict In 530 CE, Saint Benedict of Nursia compiled the Reguli Benedicti, consisting of a series of directives to guide Christian monastic community life. It emphasized moderation in eating and drinking because “nothing is more contrary to the Christ spirit than gluttony.” Chapters 39 and 40 provide guidance on food and drink: One daily meal to be eaten each day at noon or three p.m. A second meal may be taken. Two cooked foods are sufficient for each meal, so that those who may not be able to eat one can choose the other. Fresh fruit and vegetables to be added as a third dish when available. One pound of bread per person per day. Flesh of four-footed animals to be avoided except if in ill health. Smaller quantities of food for young children. Larger quantities of food at the discretion of the abbot for those doing hard work. One hemina (about half a pint) of wine a day for those not abstaining altogether.

and excess. It required that on fasting days only one meal be served instead of two. Meat was not allowed except for a sick person. Monks fasted from midnight before Communion at Mass on Sunday morning. By the early Middle Ages fasting requirements for the lay community had been codified. Quarterly Ember Days, falling on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday of weeks corresponding to the turn of the seasons, were prescribed as fasts for the whole church by Pope Gregory VII (1073– 1085 CE), although they had been sporadically observed since pre-Christian times. Additionally, abstinence from meat was obligatory on Friday and Wednesday (and/ or Saturday) throughout the year. The main fasting period was Lent. For 40 days Christians were restricted to one evening meal a day and abstained from meat, eggs, and milk except on Sundays. This created a demand for other protein and energy sources such as fish, nuts, and olive oil, though many could not afford these luxuries and continued to subsist on bread and vegetables. These fasting patterns persisted relatively unchanged into modern times. In the 1960s changes were made to church regulations that allowed Catholics to substitute other forms of penance in place of abstaining from meat except on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent, when the meat prohibition remained for all Catholics over the age of 14. For those over the age of majority (18 in the United States) up to their 60th year, fasting is required only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; on these days only one full meal should be taken, and two smaller meals or snacks are permitted. Apart from the age criteria, those in ill health are exempted from fasting. The church still recommends meat avoidance on all Fridays throughout the year, and in September 2011 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales declared that this was reinstated as a requirement, though there was no obligation to eat fish instead. Since 1969 the observance of Ember Days is a matter of episcopal discretion.

Fasting in Hinduism

| 187

Protestants Fasting requirements were mostly abandoned in the 16th and 17th centuries as Catholic doctrine and practices were rejected by Protestant reformers. Fasting is rare among present-day Protestant denominations, though individuals may choose to fast for personal reasons. Anglicans (Episcopalians in the United States) and Lutherans may follow the Catholic practice of giving up meat on Fridays during Lent, but this is voluntary. See Also: Advent; Asceticism; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Eastern Orthodox Church; Epiphany; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Lent; Protestantism; Roman Catholicism

Further Reading Albala, K. 2011. “The Ideology of Fasting in the Reformation Era.” In Food and Faith in Christian Culture, edited by K. Albala and T. Eden, 41–58. New York: Columbia University Press. Benedict of Nursia. 2011. The Rule of Saint Benedict. Translated and edited by B. L. Venarde. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. “Fasting and Fast-Free Seasons of the Church.” n.d. Orthodox Church of America, http:// Garibaldi Rogers, C. 2004. Fasting . . . Exploring a Great Spiritual Practice. Edited by J. Kirvan. Notre Dame, Indiana: Sorin Books. Henisch, B. A. 1976. Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society. University Park: Penn State University Press.

Fasting in Hinduism Fasting (upvas in Hindi) in Hinduism is a spiritual discipline that is a form of worship. It is a form of sadhana, or striving toward a goal, and is commonly associated with the making of vows (vrats). Fasting is a customary practice among lay Hindus. It is also important to holy men and women living an ascetic life. There are different forms of fasting that involve a range of dietary restraints, from forgoing certain foods to complete abstention from food and drink, that last for different lengths of time. Fasts may be associated with days of the week, events in the religious and astronomical calendars, or family occasions or be related to particular caste practices. Individuals may also undertake fasts at any time for a specific purpose. Fasting is more common among women than men. There are three main purposes for fasting. The first is self-control, seeking mastery of the bodily senses in order to progress spiritually. The second is atonement for sin. By fasting one can hope to avoid the negative karmic consequences of bad actions. The third is as a supplication to a deity for an earthly boon or fulfillment of a wish or desire. The benefits of fasting are thought to be both material and spiritual. Fasting is said to purify the body by ridding it of toxins. It helps restore


| Fasting in Hinduism balance of the three doshas (Ayurvedic principles) and prevents and cures disease. Fasting brings about heightened mental consciousness and spiritual awareness. By subduing rasna, the sense of taste, which in turn controls the other senses, fasting increases one’s self-control, an important element of yogic practice. Fasting also stimulates empathy with others who are hungry, and on occasion it has been used as a political tool, notably by the Hindu independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. Complete fasts that involve going without food and water are generally only performed by monks and ascetics. Reducing the quantity of food or the number of meals eaten or omitting certain foodstuffs from the diet is more common. Ektana is the practice of eating only one meal a day. Many Hindus observe farar, which means refraining from certain foods. The restrictions are generally on meat, fish, eggs, grains, onions, garlic, and some spices. Avoiding onions and garlic is common, as these foods are thought to excite the senses. Eating only particular kinds of foods is another form of fasting. Foods that are permitted during fasting are called farfar foods. There is a fairly long list of farari (permitted) foods, so the amount of food consumed during this type of fast is not necessarily less than normal. Individuals may vow to fast or eat only specific foods associated with a particular deity for a period of time. Examples are 21 days of drinking only milk in a vow dedicated to Shiva and a complete three-week fast following the new moon in the month of Kartika in a vow to Ganesha. Dharna parna describes the practice of fasting on alternate days for one month or longer. Nitya means “perpetual” or “obligatory”; applied to fasting, it signals the perpetual observance of a weekly or monthly fast or the permanent renouncement of a particular food item. Prayopavesa is an extreme practice of fasting to death. It means to resolve to die through fasting and is similar to the Jain practice of santhara. There are regulations governing prayopavesa, and it is path chosen by few. The Hindu lunar month is divided into two parts by the waxing and waning of the moon. Full moon day and no moon day are auspicious times to fast. The 11th day of each cycle is of particular merit for fasting. It is called Ekidashi, meaning “eleven,” and arises from a Hindu legend. Fasting on the 11th day is the main fast observed by Hindus, when they focus their senses on spiritual rather than worldly matters. A complete fast is preferred, but if not feasible then nongrain foods are acceptable. There are 24 such occasions during the year of which 4 are particularly sacred, the June and November ones also being associated with large pilgrimages. Some Hindus choose to fast one or more days each week. Each day of the Hindu week is connected to a planet and to deities associated with that planet, each of which has a particular focus. There are variations in practice, and other deities may be worshipped on any given day. Monday is associated with the moon. Fasts on this day are commonly dedicated to Lord Shiva and the goddess Parvati. Fasting lasts from sunrise to sunset, with a single meal being taken after evening worship. Devotees of Shiva, especially unmarried women, may visit Shiva temples, where they pour milk on the Shiva lingam in the hope of finding a good husband. Some devotees will fast for 16 Mondays in a row. Tuesday is associated with Mars and the monkey god, Hanuman. Fasting is directed toward overcoming obstacles, having a healthy

Fasting in Hinduism

| 189

Hindu worshippers donate fruit and fans to a priest on the occasion of Ekidashi. Ekidashi is the most austere of Hindu fast days and brings the faster great virtue. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/ GettyImages)

Legend of Ekidashi The god Vishnu was in a meditative sleep when he was attacked by a demon, Murdanav. Out of Vishnu’s 11th sense sprang a young woman. Murdanav was attracted to her and wanted her to marry him, and she said yes but only if he fought with her. The battle commenced, and Murdanav was killed. Vishnu was pleased by the actions of the young woman and named her Ekadashi, as she appeared from his ekadash indri (11th sense). He also granted her a reward, and she asked that people fast on this day and that by fasting they would be granted freedom from sins and the attainment of moksha (salvation).

childbirth, and a wish for conceiving a male. A single meal is taken of food made from wheat and jaggery. Fasting for 21 consecutive Tuesdays is meritorious. Wednesday is associated with Mercury and the worship of Krishna in the hopes of success in education and in new business enterprises. A husband and wife may fast together for family harmony. Thursday is associated with Jupiter and Vishnu or his avatar Dattatreya and his wife Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, love, and prosperity. It is common to wear yellow clothes in honor of Vishnu and to eat yellow foods such as chickpeas and ghee as part of the one meal allowed. Bananas may be offered to Vishnu. Friday is linked to Venus and to the mother goddess Shakti in one of her


| Fasting in Hinduism incarnations. White clothing is worn, and fasting lasts from sunrise to sunset, when white foods such as kheer are eaten. The fast is a supplication for happy marriage and family life. Santoshi Ma is a relatively new Hindu goddess, popularized in the 1960s, who brings happiness and contentment. She is worshipped particularly in northern India. The ritual fast lasts for 16 Fridays or until one’s wish is fulfilled. Only one meal is eaten during the day, and this must not include sour or bitter foods. Chickpeas and raw sugar (gur-chana) are offered to the goddess. At the conclusion of the fasting when one’s wish is granted, a ceremony is organized at which food is offered to eight boys. Saturday is associated with Saturn and the god Shani, bringer of adversity, who is feared by many Hindus. Shani idols and images are black. As part of ritual worship and fasting to placate Shani and ward off evil, dark clothing should be worn, and black foods such as sesame oil and urad dal should be eaten two hours after sunset. The ritual is observed 11 times during the year during the waxing phase of the moon. It is believed that Hanuman can protect against Shani’s negative influence, so many Hindus also worship Hanuman on Saturdays. Sunday is dedicated to the sun and Lord Surya. Salt, oil, and fried foods are avoided, and women dress in red, wear red tilaks, and offer red flowers to Surya. Surya worship is associated with securing success and respect and also with the prevention of skin disorders. Seasonal fasts are associated with the onset and end of the monsoon period, when some people eat only once a day. Fasting is also part of many festival celebrations. For example, during the two annual nine-day periods of Navratri it is common for women to fast for all or some of the days. In addition, there are many examples of specific fasts. Chandraayan is a strict fast usually undertaken as a penance. Commencing on a new moon day, one mouthful of food is eaten. On each subsequent day an additional mouthful is eaten until full moon day, after which the number of mouthfuls is decreased until the next no moon day. Karva chauth is a fast observed by married women, particularly in northern and western India, in which they seek wellbeing and prosperity for their husbands. It is held on the fourth day of the Hindu month of Kartik, in late fall. No food or water is consumed from sunrise until after the moon is sighted in the evening. Similar sentiments underlie the three-day fast of vata savirti purnima, celebrated in the summer, when only water and the roots of the banyan tree are consumed. Gauri vrat is a five-day period dedicated to the goddess Parvati and observed by umarried women, particularly in Gujarat, who seek an ideal husband. There is a partial fast in which wheat flour, milk, ghee, and fruit are eaten and salt is avoided. See Also: Ayurveda; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand; Hindu Festival Calendar; Jainism

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books.

Fasting in Islam

| 191

Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Festivals: Origins, Sentiments & Rituals. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith.

Fasting in Islam Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam that guides Muslim life and is an important religious duty. “You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God” (Qur’an 2:183). Going without food is not thought of as self-denial and punishment of the body but rather as a way of expressing piety, self-restraint, and freedom from worldly desire; Muhammad described it as a shield against committing sins. It is also a means of reaping spiritual rewards. Muhammad said that while every good act a person does reaps rewards, the rewards of fasting are beyond bound, as fasting is for God alone, and it is God who will give its rewards. Muhammad also told his followers that there were two pleasures for the fasting person; the first at the time of breaking his fast and the second at the time when he would meet his lord, who will be pleased because of his fasting. There are different categories of fasting in Islam: those that are obligatory (wahjib), those that are recommended but may be broken without penalty (mustahab), those that are blameworthy and discouraged (makruh), and those that are forbidden (muharram). Wahjib (Obligatory) Fasts The chief obligatory fast is Ramadan, a monthlong fast during the ninth month of the lunar year fasting for all those who have reached the age of responsibility. During Ramadan no food or drink may be consumed between dawn and sunset. After the custom of the prophet Muhammad, the fast is traditionally broken each evening with a snack of dates and water. The Ramadan fast was and is one of the most strictly observed of Islamic practices, though certain groups are exempted partially or totally from fasting. Deliberate infractions necessitate qada (restitution), in which missed days are made up as soon as possible, and also kaffarah (atonement), which involves prolonged additional fasting, extensive feeding of the poor, or the freeing of a Muslim slave. For example, pregnant, nursing, and menstruating women may postpone the fast and make up the days later, as may those who are sick, traveling, or involved in hard labor. These fasts of restitution are obligatory. Other obligatory fasts are those taken by individual fulfillment of vows and fasting required of those pilgrims on the hajj who cannot afford to make an animal sacrifice (otherwise they do not fast). Mustahab (Recommended) Fasts Fasting is considered recommended, or mustahab, on all days of the year on which it has not actually been prohibited. It is especially recommended on Mondays and


| Fasting in Islam Thursdays, as according to Muhammad, these are the days on which people’s deeds are shown to God. Generally, only very devout Muslims observe this practice. It was the practice of Muhammad to fast on the 13th, 14th, and 15th of each month, known as the bright days; devout Muslims follow the prophet’s example. The 9th day of the month Dhul-hijjah is known as the Day of Arafat, when pilgrims undertaking the hajj commemorate the end of the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad by spending the day on Mount Arafat in prayer. Those who are not on the hajj are expected to fast on this day. This fast is said to expiate the sins of both the past year and the coming year. Following Ramadan, a further six-day fast during the month of Shawwal after the feast of Eid al-Fitr is recommended by Muslim scholars based on a hadith that says that fasting for six days after Eid al-Fitr brings rewards equivalent to those of fasting for a whole year. In Sunni practice the days do not have to be consecutive or come immediately after Eid al-Fitr. Fasting anytime during the month of Shab’an is commended, as it was Muhammad’s practice to fast during much of that month. The 14th night of the month is known as the night of forgiveness (lailat al bara’ah). Muslims pray for forgiveness for past sins, believing that on this night their destiny is set for the coming year. It is especially mustahab to fast on the 15th. Ashura, falling on the 10th day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year, is a recommended fast generally observed by Sunni Muslims. Historically it was the first Islamic obligatory fast, but Muhammad subsequently transferred this obligation to Ramadan. Fasting on the day before or after Ashura is recommended, and Muharram is often seen as the best month for other voluntary fasts. Makruh (Discouraged) Fasts Fasting is discouraged on Fridays (the Muslim holy day) or Saturdays except during obligatory fast periods, on New Year, or on the day preceding Ramadan. Muharram (Prohibited) Fasts Fasting is prohibited on five days during the year. These are the first days of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha and the three days of Tashreeq, which are the 11th, 12th, and 13th of the month of Dhul-hijjah, immediately following the feast of Eid al-Adha. Shi’a Muslims observe a period of fasting and mourning for the death of Husayn, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, from the 1st to the 9th of the month of Muharram. However, fasting is forbidden on the 10th of Muharram, as on this day the enemies of Husayn fasted in preparation for the Battle of Karbala, in which Husayn was slain. See Also: Asceticism; Ashura; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Islam; Ramadan

Further Reading Ball, L. 2010. “Fasting, Fairness, Friendship, Fun and Feeling Fine: The Roles of Food in Islam.” Religions in Education (32),

Fasting in Jainism

| 193

Budak, A. 2006. Fasting in Islam and the Month of Ramadan. Somerset, NJ: The Light. Hoffman, V. 1995. “Eating and Fasting for God in the Sufi Tradition.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 62(3): 465–484. Sahih Bukhari. n.d. “Book 31: Fasting.” Hadith Collection, http://www.hadithcollection .com/. Wagendonk, K. 1968. Fasting in the Koran. Leiden: Brill.

Fasting in Jainism Fasting is a common feature of the Jain faith. It is undertaken to purify body and mind or in a spirit of penance and seeking forgiveness. There are specific religious occasions on which fasting is undertaken, but Jains are encouraged to fast at any time. Fasting is an ascetic practice, and monks may fast for long periods at a time; even up to one year is not unknown. It is also a form of lay devotion, with women fasting more than men. Extreme fasting unto death is a ritual practice known as santhara. Fasting is part of a Jain ethic of austerity, which means more than just forgoing material food and drink. Fasts must be undertaken with the correct frame of mind, and the faster must actually cease desiring food and drink. There are many different types of fasting austerities that the Jain can undertake, including the following: • • • •

Complete fasting for a defined period of time (anshan), during which no food or water is consumed. The longer the fast, the more negative karma is avoided. Partial fasting (unodary), which means reducing food intake so that one is always still hungry. Giving up one or more of ghee, sugar, salt, oil, milk, curd, or one’s favorite foods (rasa parityaga). Limiting the number of foods one eats (vrutti sankshep). Each morning one determines how many different foods one will eat that day (usually less than 14). This teaches discipline and self-control.

One of two major festivals in the Jain religious calendar is Paryushama (the other is Diwali). The term paryushana means “to stay in one place,” a practice instituted by wandering monks during the four-month monsoon period. Once confined to monastic communities, it is a major community event and involves eight days of fasting as Jains meditate, reflect on their faith, and cleanse themselves of sins and negative karma. Businesses may close or reduce hours, as Jains take time for ritual activities at religious centers, where monks lead daily meditations of repentance. Falling in November or December, Mauna Agyaras is a one-day meditative occasion that Jains observe with fasting and silence. It is dedicated to monks, teachers, and religious leaders and is commonly observed as the birthday of many of the tirthankaras (historical and legendary Jain teachers). Akshaya Tritika, celebrated in April when both the sun and moon are at their brightest, is an auspicious time for starting new endeavors. The term akshaya means “never diminishing,” and


| Fasting in Judaism charitable gifts of food given on this day are thought to be inexhaustible. Jain legend relates how the first tirthankara, Lord Rishabha, established the rules for how monks should seek and accept food. After a long fast in which he attained enlightenment, Rishabha gave up all earthly possessions. Instead he begged for the food he needed to live but was offered only gold and jewels by the people who still thought of him as a king. He continued to fast until his needs were understood and he was offered sugarcane juice, which he accepted. Those who fast on this day as well as those who have undertaken a full-year fast break their fast with sugarcane juice, which is considered one of the most precious of offerings. See Also: Diwali; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Jainism; Santhara

Further Reading Jain, Ashish. n.d. “Tapasya.” Jainsquare—A Complete Portal on Jainism, http://jainsquare. com/tag/encyclopedia/. Tobias, M. 1991. Life Force: The World of Jainism. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities.

Fasting in Judaism There are two major fasts and four minor fasts in the Jewish year. Observance of fast days varies by religiosity. Fasting is associated with the concept of repentance and with remembrance of tragic events in the history of the Jewish people. The practice of fasting is well attested to in the books of the Hebrew Bible. Fasting was most commonly a response to specific events that required supplication to God for forgiveness or mercy. For example, public fasting was called for during times of war, and fasting was undertaken to avert plagues or droughts. Fasts might also be proclaimed on the death of an important figure. Personal ascetic fasting was frequently undertaken as atonement for sins. Fast days were not tied to particular calendar dates. After the ancient Israelites were forced into exile in Egypt following destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem, a series of fixed fast days were initiated. These were tied to specific events surrounding the destruction of the temple and were therefore calendar-specific. Jewish fasts fall into three categories. First, there are fasts that are ordained in the Bible. The principal one of these is the fast of Yom Kippur, on which the faithful were instructed to “afflict yourselves” in order to be “clean before the Lord of all your sins” (Leviticus 16:29–30). Most Jews observe the fast of Yom Kippur, which falls on the 10th Tishri (September–October) and involves complete abstinence from food and drink for 25 hours, from sunset to sunset. Also prohibited are bathing, sexual intercourse, and the wearing of leather shoes. Fasting is a means of expressing repentance before God and must be done with sincere intent. It is usually preceded by a large meal and traditionally was broken with a light family meal or snack such as juice, eggs, bread, or soup. Among contemporary nonorthodox

Fasting in Judaism

| 195

American Jews a practice called Break the Fast has arisen that may involve an extensive and elaborate meal shared with friends or the community. A series of fasts commemorating the historical destruction of the temple in Jerusalem have biblical origins. The 10th Tevet (10th month) was the start of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The 17th Tammuz (fourth month) was when the city walls were breached. On the 9th Av (fifth month) the temple was destroyed, and on the 3rd Tishri (seventh month), Gedaliah, the Babylonian appointed governor of Judah was assassinated. These fasts last from sunrise to sunset except for Tisha B’Av (9th Av), which is a sunset to sunset fast involving complete abstinence from food and drink. Shortly before the start of the Tisha B’Av fast a “separation meal” is eaten; this consists of a piece of bread and a hard-boiled egg dipped in ashes, which symbolizes mourning for the loss of the first and second temples. Tisha B’Av is also a day of sadness to remember other historical tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people. Some scholars think that the fast days are much older and were associated with calendric festivals and only later became attached to the chronology of the temple. The fast of Esther on the 13th Adar is a sunrise to sunset fast that emulates the biblical fast of Queen Esther, who entreated her Persian husband to spare the lives of Israelites; it is followed the next day by the festival of Purim. The second category of fasts, those declared by rabbinical authorities, are generally observed only by pious Jews. They include a sunrise to sunset fast during each of the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and any other day in the Hebrew month of Elul. The first and second Monday and the Thursday following Passover and Sukkot were instituted as fasts to atone for sins that might have been committed during the festivities. They are known as B’hab days (an acronym for Monday-Thursday-Monday) and are observed by some Ashkenazi Jews. Fasting during the three-week period between 17th Tammuz and 9th Av is an extended period of mourning for the loss of the temple of Jerusalem. The 7th Adar is a fast marking the death day of the prophet Moses, and fasting occurs on the last day of each month, known as Little Yom Kippur. On Ta’anit Bechorim, the eve of Passover, firstborn sons should fast in gratitude to God in sparing the firstborn sons of Israel from the 10th plague, when the firstborn sons of Egypt were killed. Other fast days may be observed to mark various calamitous events in Jewish history. If a Torah scroll is dropped, all who witness it should fast for a day in repentance. The third category is that of personal fasts. It is customary to fast on the anniversary of the death (jahrzeit) of a parent. A bride and groom fast on their wedding day until after the marriage ceremony. Fasting is forbidden on the Sabbath except in the case of Yom Kippur. If a fast falls on a Sabbath, it is postponed until Sunday. In the case of the fast of Esther it is observed on the preceding Thursday, as the day following is the feast of Purim. Females over the age of 12 and males over the age of 13 should participate in fasts. For Yom Kippur, children over the age of 9 are encouraged to begin partial fasting. Adults are excused from fasting if it poses a threat to health. Also, pregnant and nursing women are exempted.


| Fasting in the Baha’i Faith See Also: Asceticism; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Jewish Festival Calendar; Purim; Yom Kippur

Further Reading Bobker, J. 2008. From Fasting to Feasting: A Unique Journey through the Jewish Holidays. Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House. Brandt, J. n.d. “Fast Days: A Guide to Survival.” United Synagogue Youth Project, http:// Greenspoon, L. J., R. Simkins, and G. Shapiro, eds. 2005. Food and Judaism. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press. Steinberg, P. 2007a. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Fall Holidays; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. Steinberg, P. 2007b. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Spring and Summer Holidays; Passover, Shavuot, the Omer, Tisah B’Av, edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

Fasting in the Baha’i Faith Most of the laws and directives related to fasting are found in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the Baha’i holy book, in which fasting and prayer are described as the two pillars that sustain the revealed law of God. A 19-day period is proscribed when adult Baha’is should abstain completely from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. The fast takes place in the Baha’i month of Ala, from March 2 and 20, and comes immediately before Nowruz, the Baha’i New Year. The fast is an individual obligation for Baha’is in all countries around the world. Fasting is only acceptable if it is done purely out of love for God, and it is the responsibility of each individual to undertake it to the best of his or her ability and life circumstances. The Baha’i fast is binding on all believers from the age of maturity, which is 15 years, until age 70 with exemptions granted for certain groups based on physiological status or practical circumstances. For those unable to complete the fast, there may be alternative requirements. Women who are menstruating are exempt from the fast but must instead each day perform ritual ablutions and repeat the phrase “Glorified be God, the Lord of Splendour and Beauty” 95 times. Pregnant and nursing women are also exempt. Those who are ill should not undertake the fast, as according to the prophet Bahá’u’lláh the virtues of fasting can only be realized in a state of full health. If going without food would be harmful, it should not be done. For example, someone with diabetes needs to eat regularly to keep blood sugar levels stable. Where necessary a doctor’s advice should be sought. Those engaged in heavy labor are exempted from the fast but are advised to eat frugally and in private. Travelers, provided that their journey is a minimum of nine hours in duration (or two hours on foot), are also exempt, though if they break their journey for more than one month they are exempt from fasting only for the first

Feasting in Buddhism

| 197

three days. If they return home during the fasting month they must start fasting immediately. Smoking is called “drinking smoke” in Arabic, and so smoking is banned while one is fasting. This prohibition is at present only binding on Baha’is of Middle Eastern background and has not yet been applied in the West. Baha’is are allowed to fast at other times of the year, but as this is not encouraged it is rarely done. Exemptions from fasting resemble those found in Islam but differ in details. For Baha’is there is no provision made for children to undertake partial fasts. Unlike in the Islamic model, those who are unable to meet their fasting commitments do not have to make any sort of restitution or make up the missed days later. Nor is sexual intercourse prohibited during fasting periods. Another difference lies in the fact that Baha’is eligible to be exempted from the fast are not prohibited from fasting if they so wish. The emphasis of the fast is clearly on spiritual benefits rather than on the effects it may have on physical health. It is seen as a time for meditation and prayer, spiritual recharging, and abstaining from selfish and bodily desires. By experiencing the sensation of hunger, the fasting individual can empathize more closely with those who suffer involuntary hunger and thus recognize the social injustice of food insecurity. There are also social benefits; fasting promotes a feeling of fellowship, knowing that Baha’is all over the world are fasting at the same time. In this way, fasting functions to strengthen ties between Baha’is of different cultures and races across the globe. Some see the timing of the fast, preceding the spring equinox, as an example of Baha’i principles of justice and equity in the application of religious law. It is the period when day and night are divided into about 12 hours in most parts of the world, so no Baha’is are having to fast a lot longer than others. At high latitudes where the days are long, fasters are permitted to go by the clock rather than by the actual sunrise and sunset. See Also: Baha’i Faith; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Ramadan

Further Reading “The Baha’i Fast.” n.d. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, Herrmann, D. L. 1989. Fasting: A Baha’i Handbook. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. 2000. “The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting.” American Baha’i 31(7): 3–6.

Feasting in Buddhism Sharing food is an important part of religious life, and feasts and celebrations punctuate the religious calendar of most faiths. Buddhist festivals vary across countries, regions, and cultures and are celebrated in different ways and even on different


| Feasting in Buddhism dates. Some of these festivals are described in detail in other encyclopedia entries. Feasting in Buddhism is linked to celebrations that are both agricultural and theological in origin and/or intent. Thus particular feasts may be part of celebrations that mark the passing of the seasons, a thanksgiving for a good harvest, or a wish for good weather or good crops to come. One example is Raek Na, the plowing festival, that is celebrated in Thailand on May 13. Spectators watch as a pair of sacred white oxen, accompanied by musicians, plow three furrows into which rice is planted. The oxen are given a choice of seven foods, and the one they first choose is held to predict the best crop for the coming season. Although it marks the beginning of the planting season, Raek Na has combined religious elements by celebrating the first moment of enlightenment of Lord Buddha at age seven. Sometimes feasts have a more theological focus, sharing the bounty with the divine or marking important occasions in the life of Buddha or the history of the faith. Shoton, celebrated in August in Tibet, is derived from the words for “sour milk” and “offering” and is sometimes known as the yogurt festival. It originated in the 11th century CE when thankful villagers would provide yogurt, a favorite food of the Bengali Buddhist teacher Atisha, to monks returning from their summer meditation retreat and in return would receive blessings for themselves and their animals. In the 17th century the fifth Dalai Lama introduced opera into celebrations, and since then Shoton has evolved from being a purely religious festival into five days of spectacular entertainment. In Lhasa thousands gather to listen to opera performances, watch yak races and daring displays of horsemanship, and witness the unfurling of a 600-squareyard thangka, or scroll painting of Buddha, on the hillside behind the Drepung Monastery. The scroll is opened as the sun rises so that the first rays fall on Buddha. Families and friends gather to drink buttered tea and barley beer and share favorite foods as they enjoy the festivities, while tourists sample yak yogurt and feast on local delicacies provided by vendors. Popular A Tibetan monk uses a power drill to mix yak milk foods include Tibetan hotpot, tea at the Drepung monastery during the annual tsampa steamed dumplings, Shoton, or Yogurt festival, near Lhasa, Tibet. (Goh braised duck, and yak meat. Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images)

Feasting in Buddhism

| 199

Buddha’s Feast Buddha’s Feast or Buddha’s Delight is a Chinese vegetarian dish that is especially popular on festive occasions, although it may be eaten at any time. Fermented red bean curd, also known as red Chinese cheese, is available in jars in Chinese grocery stores and imparts a distinctive pungent taste. Sometimes this is omitted for palates that prefer a less spicy dish. A variety of vegetables can be used—whatever is on hand—so the dish never turns out the same way twice. Ingredients 1 head Chinese cabbage, rinsed and chopped 2 carrots, chopped 6 pieces of baby corn 3 cloves garlic, crushed 4 cubes of red fermented bean curd 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce 1 tablespoon of oyster sauce 8 dried shiitake mushrooms 1 piece of cloud-ear fungus 4 bean curd sticks 2 bundles of cellophane noodles 1 tablespoon of cooking oil Directions The mushrooms, cloud-ear fungus, and bean curd sticks should be presoaked for about 2 hours to soften them. The cellophane noodles will need to be soaked for 10 minutes or so, and the carrots need to be blanched. Heat the cooking oil in a wok. Sauté the garlic for about 20 seconds, then add the red fermented bean curd, pressing it into a paste consistency. Add the mushrooms, fungus, and vegetables and sauté. Add the soy sauce and oyster sauce and about half a cup of water (you can use the water used for soaking the mushrooms). Simmer the broth, and add more water if required. Once the ingredients are cooked, add the cellophane noodles and stir for about 20 seconds. Serve hot with rice.

Feasting also provides a link to the ancestral past, as in the Buddhist-influenced festival Obon, the festival of lanterns that takes place in the summer months of either July or August. The festival, which is a major holiday time in Japan, celebrates an event described in a Buddhist text in which Mokuren, a disciple of Buddha, succeeded in releasing his mother’s spirit from the realm of the hungry ghosts. People welcome ancestral spirits back to their homes, providing a special feast with rice wine, fresh fruit, and vegetables. On the last day of Obon, the spirits are guided back to the spirit world by floating lanterns launched onto rivers and lakes or the ocean. During Obon Buddhist temples in North America may


| Feasting in Christianity organize community events at which a variety of Japanese and American food is provided in a carnival-like atmosphere. See Also: Buddhist Festival Calendar; Commensality; Gutor; Losar; Songkran; Vesak (Wesak)

Further Reading Feng Ge. 2002. Origins of Tibetan Culture. Singapore: Asiapac Books. Gerson, R. 1996. Traditional Festivals in Thailand. New York: Oxford University Press. Langar, R. 2012. “Feasting for the Dead: Theravada Buddhist Funerals.” In Studying Buddhism in Practice, edited by J. S. Harding, 51–64. New York: Routledge.

Feasting in Christianity Feasts are special occasions such as religious holidays or rituals where the food is different from the everyday meal. Sharing food is an important part of religious life, and feasts and celebrations punctuate the religious calendar of most faiths. Beginning with the earliest feasts of Easter and Pentecost, the Christian church added more and more feast days over time. The modern Christian liturgical calendar presents an abundant cycle of feasts and fasts associated predominantly with either Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy. Feasts are celebrated in commemoration of events in the life of Christ, the Virgin Mary, apostles, martyrs, and saints. Many days are dedicated to specific saints and are known as the “Feast of” a particular saint. These are not feasts in the sense of shared meals but instead are days to venerate men and women recognized by the church for their holiness. Nevertheless, particular customs, including food-related ones, may be associated with some saint’s days. For example, on February 1, St. Brigid’s Day, Irish people may leave buttered oat cakes on the windowsill to welcome a visit from the saint. In parts of Germany, celebration of the Feast of St. Martin begins at 11:11 on November 11 (the 11th month). The serving of St. Martin’s goose traditionally followed lantern parades, though mulled wine, hot chocolate, and baked goods are now more common. In Italy, March 19 is St. Joseph’s Day; it is customary to eat cream-filled pastry puffs called zeppola and donate food to the poor. Protestants generally observe fewer feast days. Many feast days, while originating in Christian practice, have become general celebrations in secular society. Examples include St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, Halloween, and Christmas. Some of these festivals are described in detail in other encyclopedia entries. Feasting in Christianity is linked to celebrations that are both agricultural and theological in origin and/or intent. Some Christian feasts are built on the bones of older pagan festivals. It was not uncommon for religious leaders to adapt existing customs to serve their own beliefs (and politics). One example of the Christianizing of pagan celebrations is Christmas itself, which incorporated elements of Scandinavian

Feasting in Christianity

| 201

Patron Saints of Food and Drink Patron saints are associated with particular causes, places, and professions. They are seen as guardians, and believers may pray to them, perhaps to ask for a good harvest or for success in business. Saint Ambrose Saint Anthony Saint Brigid Saint Charles Borromeo Saint Christopher Saint Drogo Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Saint Honoratus Saint Isidore Saint Lawrence Saint Martha Saint Martin Saint Neot Saint Nicholas Saint Peter Saint Urban Saint Walberga

beekeepers butchers (pigs) dairy farmers apple orchards fruit dealers coffeehouse keepers bakers cakemakers farmers cooks waiters and waitresses geese fish brewers fishermen vine growers harvests

Yule and European winter solstice traditions. Carnival, a festive period culminating in the exuberance of Mardi Gras feasting prior to the austerities of Lent, incorporated elements of pre-Christian agricultural festivals. In the early Christian church, Christmas, like other feast days, was commonly observed with a vigil and a fast broken at midnight with a communal meal or a large community feast. While individual family celebrations became more common over time, the communal feasting tradition persisted into the modern era in some rural European Catholic areas. Christian feasts linked to the remembrance of religious events are joyful occasions that help to produce a sense of communitas, or intense joy of belonging. In the Eastern Orthodox calendar the feast of the resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter is known as the “feast of feasts.” At midnight (or at the meal following), members of the congregation crack red-dyed eggs together, declaring “Christ is risen!” Ritual occasions such as wedding feasts and funeral suppers also serve to strengthen religious and community bonds. An agape feast, or love feast, is a religious meal shared as a symbol of love and fellowship among Christians. It gets its name from the Greek word agapae, meaning “selfless love,” and embodies the central commandment of the Christian prophet, Jesus, to love God and to love one’s neighbor. Among early Christians the daily


| Feasting in Hinduism agape feast was open to all and consisted of a communal meal followed by celebration of the Eucharist, at which consecrated bread and wine were consumed to commemorate Christ’s Last Supper. The tradition of table fellowship—the banquet that is open to all—remains a potent feature of contemporary Christian practice. See Also: Agape Feast; Christianity; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Christmas; Easter

Further Reading “Ecclesiastical Feasts.” n.d. New Advent, Jones, M. 2007. Feast: Why Humans Share Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lee, H. O. 2011. “Commensality and Love Feast: The Agape Meal in the Late Nineteenthand Early Twentieth-Century Brethren in Christ Church.” In Food and Faith in Christian Culture, edited by K. Albala and T. Eden, 147–170. New York: Columbia University Press. Wybrew, H. 2000. Orthodox Feasts of Jesus Christ & the Virgin Mary: Liturgical Texts with Commentary. New York: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press.

Feasting in Hinduism Sharing food is an important part of most faiths, and feasts and fasts punctuate religious calendars. Hinduism has more than most, and it is said that somewhere in India there is a festival every day of the year. Some are celebrated all around the country, while other are regional or local in nature. Food features at festivals as part of pujas, or devotional rites, and each festival has its distinctive cuisine. Festivals are associated with agricultural or seasonal activities such as harvests, with events important in the historical of the faith, or with particular deities. They are special occasions to give thanks to the gods and to share with family, friends, and strangers alike. Kumbh Mela, a festival held every third year in northern India, is said to be the largest gathering of humanity, with 120 million people attending during the 55 days of the 2013 event to bathe in the sacred waters where the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers meet. Local government authorities provided 16,500 tons of wheat flour, 6,000 tons of sugar, and 9,600 tons of rice to be sold at subsidized prices to ensure that no one went hungry. On the day following Diwali, which is known as Annakuta (meaning “hill of food”), Vaishnava devotees flock to temples to honor Krishna with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of offerings of food. In ancient times people of Vrindavan, the earthly home of Krishna, worshipped Indra, who brought the rains necessary for harvest. Krishna wanted them to worship the rich soil and productive livestock of Govardhan Hill itself. Indra sent thunderstorms to destroy the land, but Krishna lifted the hill on one finger and kept it safe from Indra’s rage, proving that he was the god of gods. To commemorate this event, at some temples hundreds of vegetarian dishes brought by devotees are used to build a hill of food in the shape

Feasting in Islam

| 203

of Govardhan Hill. Different sweets are used to create features such as lakes, rivers, and caves. In other places the food is placed on a symbolic hill of round tiers and is then sanctified and shared with all present. See Also: Diwali; Fasting in Hinduism; Hindu Festival Calendar; Holi; Maha Shivaratri; Makar Sankranti; Navaratri; Prasad

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Festivals: Origins, Sentiments & Rituals. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith. “Vrindivan Go Puja and Govardhan Puja.” n.d. Salagram, -Vrindavan-GP-GP2010.html.

Feasting in Islam Sharing food is an important part of religious life, and feasts and celebrations punctuate the religious calendar of most faiths. Sharing food has always been an important feature of Islam and one highly commended by the prophet Muhammad. In Islam there are two major feast days in the religious calendar. Eid al-Fitr, or Lesser Eid, comes at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It is a time to celebrate the successful completion of the fast by giving thanks to Allah and sharing the bounty he has provided, for food is seen as a gift from God. Large community banquets are common. In North America these community meals are typically open to anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, and provide a way of building bridges between cultures and nurturing friendship. Special sweets and desserts are popular, giving the festival its other name, Sweet Eid. Eid al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice, or Greater Eid, occurs during the time of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. As the name suggests, the central focus of this festival is a sacrifice—usually of a sheep or goat—and not surprisingly, meat dishes feature heavily in the feasts that follow. Prayers and worship are a central part of the feast; it is especially virtuous to recite Ikhlas, the 112th sura of the Qur’an, a thousand times as a reminder of God’s greatness. There are also feasts associated with other occasions, such as Mawlid al-Nabi, the birthday of the prophet, which is a major event in some parts of the Muslim world. In the Maghreb countries of North Africa, the day of Ashura is marked with carnivalesque celebrations. These include animal sacrifices and feasts at which chicken and eggs are consumed, along with cakes and doughnuts rather than the traditional couscous. Nowruz, the Persian New Year festival, is an example of an ecofest, being the occasion to welcome in the spring and the renewal of life, though it is more secular than religious in nature. Green shoots are grown and placed on a


| Feasting in Islam

The Imam Fainted (Imam Bayildi) There are several different tales about the origin of this famous Turkish dish of eggplant cooked in olive oil and stuffed with tomatoes, onion, and garlic. One story recounts that an imam (Muslim spiritual leader) fainted with pleasure when he tasted this exquisite dish served by his wife. Another tale recounts how the imam’s new wife brought 12 jars of the finest olive oil with her for her dowry and each evening prepared the eggplant dish using one of the jars of oil. On the 13th evening there was no oil left, and when the imam learned that all the oil had been used, he fainted. Another jocular version says that the imam fainted when he saw the cost of the ingredients for the dish. Ingredients 4 eggplants 5 tomatoes 1 onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 3 tablespoon olive oil ½ teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon cinnamon ½ cup parsley, chopped Salt and pepper to taste Olive oil for brushing Method 1. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Score the flesh deeply and brush with olive oil. 2. Bake the eggplants in the oven at 375°F (190°C) or until the flesh is soft. 3. Allow eggplants to cool, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. 4. Blanch the tomatoes, remove the skins, and chop. 5. Heat the oil in a pan, add onion, and cook until soft and golden. Add garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. 6. Add chopped eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and parsley. Add salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. 7. Add lemon juice and sugar to taste. 8. Place eggplant shells in a baking dish and spoon filling into them. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 375°F (190°C) for 30 minutes. 9. Serve as an appetizer at room temperature or chilled. Yield: 4–6 Servings

Feasting in Judaism

| 205

special table setting known as haft-seen; later they are cast out onto a river so that the bad luck of the previous year is taken away. Feasts are also part of life-cycle celebrations such as weddings. Typically foods offered are greater in quantity and more elaborate than at other times, but the actual dishes served vary according to region and cultural cuisines. See Also: Commensality; Eid al-Adha; Eid al-Fitr; Fasting in Islam; Islamic Festival Calendar

Further Reading Abdelgawad, W. n.d. “Wedding Customs around the Muslim World.” Zawaj, http://www Ahmed, S. 2008. Islamic Festivals and Their Religious Importance. New Delhi: Cyber Tech Publications. Ball, L. 2010. “Fasting, Fairness, Friendship, Fun and Feeling Fine: The Roles of Food in Islam.” Religions in Education (32), Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Feasting in Judaism Feast days punctuate religious calendars, marking the seasons, historical events, or people or recalling or reenacting significant events in the past. Every religion has holidays, some joyous, some sad, that are marked by customary practices, often but not always including eating and drinking. Jewish feasts are almost all associated with solemn events in the history of the ancient Israelites, and many are sad occasions with a theme of sacrifice. While customs, practices, and meanings associated with each feast have evolved over time, they provide a sense of historic continuity and strengthen social cohesiveness of the Jews as a people even among those who are not practicing religionists. Chapter 23 of the book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible is devoted to stipulating requirements for seven feasts ordained by God; they are known as the Feasts of the Lord. In Leviticus the feasts are described, with the dates on which they are to be held and the activities to be observed and with explicit instruction that the statutes are to last forever through the generations. The first feast is that of Passover (Pesach), to be held on the 14th day of the first Hebrew month of Nisan. The following day is the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi). Leviticus instructs that for seven days unleavened bread should be eaten, and on each day there should be a food offering to God. The first and last days are to be days of rest on which a holy convocation (religious meeting) should be held. Next is the Feast of First Fruits (Reishit Katzir), to be held on the day after the Sabbath following the feast of unleavened bread. The Israelites are instructed to give the first barley sheaves of their harvest to the temple priest, who will offer them to God by waving them in each compass direction. Each person is also to sacrifice an unblemished one-year-old


| Feasting in Judaism male lamb as a burnt offering. Ten-tenths of an ephah (4.5 liters) of fine flour mixed with oil and a fourth of a hin of wine (1 quart) complete the offering. No one is to eat bread or grain until they have made the offering to God. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) is set for the 6th of Sivan at the time of summer harvest. The Israelites are commanded to count 50 days from the day of the Passover barley offering and to present on that day an offering of two loaves made from two-tenths of an ephah of new grain and baked with leaven. The burnt offering is to consist of seven unblemished one-year-old lambs, one bull, and two rams. In addition, one male goat is to be given as a sin offering and two one-year-old male lambs as peace offerings. Farmers are further instructed not to reap the edges of fields or to collect gleanings and instead to leave them for the poor. This feast is also described in the book of Deuteronomy, but there are no precise sacrificial requirements; instead, each is instructed to give according to his means. The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) was ordained for the first day of the 7th Hebrew month of Tishri. This day of rest was to be proclaimed with a blast of trumpets, and a food offering to God was to be made, but in this instance the nature of it is not specified. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), on the 10th day of Tishri, is presented as a day for people to practice self-denial, rerain from work, and make a food offering to God. The Feast of Booths, or Tabernacles (Shavuot), is commanded to begin on the 15th of Tishri and to last for seven days. Unspecified food offerings are to be made each day, and the first and last are days of rest from ordinary labor. Three of the feasts are known as pilgrim feasts, as historically it was expected that the Israelites in Judah would travel to the temple in Jerusalem for the celebration. After the destruction of the second temple the pilgrimage obligation was lifted. Today, many Jews living in or near Jerusalem visit the western wall of the Temple Mount as a symbolic observance of the ancient pilgrimage.

Pilgrim Festivals Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. Deuteronomy 16:16 The pilgrimages noted in the book of Deuteronomy, part of the Torah, were required only of men, as women did not enjoy equal religious or legal status. The gatherings were huge, attracting Jews from all over the Middle East and the Mediterranean regions to Jerusalem to offer their animal sacrifices. To accommodate and serve the visitors a thriving business sector developed, offering inns to stay at, markets for purchasing sacrificial animals, and banks where money could be exchanged for local currency.


| 207

See Also: Fasting in Judaism; Jewish Festival Calendar; Passover; Rosh Hashanah; Shavuot; Yom Kippur

Further Reading Rubel, N. L. 2014. “The Feast at the End of the Fast: The Evolution of an American Jewish Ritual.” In Religion, Food and Eating in North America, edited by B. E. Zeller, M. W. Dallam, R. L. Neilson, and N. L. Rubel, 234–252. New York: Columbia University Press. Steinberg, P. 2007a. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Fall Holidays; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot. Edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. Steinberg, P. 2007b. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Spring and Summer Holidays; Passover, Shavuot, the Omer, Tisah B’Av. Edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

Festivals Festivals are complex and colorful occasions that are found in practically every society in one guise or another. They are community events that may be of a religious or secular nature, or sometimes both, and usually include feasting and entertainment as part of more general celebrations. Food appears at festivals in the form of sacred meals as an offering, sacrifice, or ritual exchange; in private or public hospitality; or in the form of elaborate banquets or carnival street food. The word “festival” is derived from the medieval Latin festivalis, meaning “of a church holiday,” in turn coming from the Latin root festa, meaning “feast.” In the Middle Ages a festival day was a religious holiday. Today the term “festival” may also describe nonfood events such as a music or film festival. Lasting from one to several days, festivals mark important events in human lives, natural world cycles, faith histories, and cosmological worldviews. Common themes concern birth and death, decay and renewal, changes in personal and social status, and the changing of the seasons. Festivals are recurring annual events that fulfill many functions, including maintaining and reinforcing group identity through reenactment of common cultural or faith beliefs and heritage. Often joyful in nature, they can also be solemn occasions marking tragic events. Four major types of festival can be distinguished. Ecofests celebrate astronomical or seasonal events and are frequently associated with preliterate or pagan rituals that were designed to ensure continuity of the food supply. This may have required petitioning or placating the supernatural powers that resided in the natural world and were believed to be responsible for the growth of plants or the migration of animals. Theofests celebrate religious events, bringing a temporal rhythm to the faith calendar; they are often wedded to ecofest predecessors. The dates of many religious holy days coincide with ancient pagan festivals. For example, Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ and also the winter solstice. The early Christian church deliberately utilized existing familiar pagan celebrations, giving them a


| Festivals new Christian meaning. Over time new festivals were instituted that had none of the agrarian rationale of earlier celebrations; instead, they celebrated national, local, and political occasions. These may be labeled, as a third group, secular and cultural festivals. A fourth category of festival embraces personal rituals; into this grouping can be placed birthdays and anniversaries together with rites of passage such as weddings and funerals. Ecofest Seasonal festivals associated with the rhythms of agricultural or pastoral life have been observed in human societies for millennia. Generally they occurred in times of plenty, when harvest was just gathered or when surplus was available. Egyptian scholars in the fifth millennium BCE associated the annual inundation of the Nile floodplain with astronomical phenomena, and from this developed the solar calendar with fixed dates for recurring festivals. The contemporary celebration of May Day in many parts of the world is a good example of an ecofest. May Day originally represented pagan attempts to force spring to return to the world and was focused on themes of fertility and renewal. In medieval times May Day featured green foods such as green parsley bread slices, green salads, green fruit, green apple cider, green peppermint rice, and mint green whipped cream, all symbolizing the triumph of spring. Theofest Religious calendars abound with festivals that commemorate events in the mythology of the faith or the birth, death, and other significant times in the lives of the founder, the prophets, the saints, and other important personages. There may be few days on which there isn’t a religious festival somewhere in the world. Most religions have their own calendar system (sometimes more than one) based on lunar or lunar-solar cycles, so it is sometimes difficult to identify exact corresponding dates in the Western Gregorian calendar. In the Jewish and Muslim calendars, festivals commence on the evening before the Gregorian date. Jewish festivals are linked to events in Jewish history, while the Christian festival calendar reflects the cycle of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Nominally Christian, Christmas is celebrated in varying ways and on varying days in many places throughout the world. Although it is predominantly a religious festival, it is blended with older pagan and agrarian customs. The extent to which religions can adopt and adapt existing practices may account largely for their survival and spread. When Sweden became a Christian country in 1537, the church immediately assimilated certain pagan traditions. Lussi, the Queen of Light, was linked to the Italian Saint Lucia, and the celebration of St. Lucia’s Day now marks the beginning of Christmas festivities in Sweden. The pagan custom of feeding birds and animals to ensure fertility in the coming year is continued in Baltic and Slavic countries, where on Christmas Eve bread and barley are fed to farm animals before the family eats its own evening meal.


| 209

Christmas is an example of a festival that has spread around the world even though it has not always retained its original meaning. In 1969 the anthropologist Richard Lee described how the San Bushmen of the African Kalihari desert held a special feast and dance for Christmas; their knowledge of Christmas originated from the London Missionary Society’s work in Africa, and according to Lee they viewed it as being a celebration to “praise the birth of white man’s god-chief” (Lee 1969). An ox was slaughtered by the headman and distributed among the community. In Russia, religious Christmas celebrations largely disappeared after the 1917 revolution, which ushered in the Soviet era. In the 1930s some old Christmas traditions were transferred to secular New Year celebrations, including the appearance of Grandfather Christmas bringing presents to children on New Year’s Eve. Easter is widely celebrated as a religious festival often spreading over several weeks, though Easter Sunday and the week preceding have become the focus of modern Easter celebrations. Occurring at the time of the spring equinox in March, it was named for the Saxon goddess Eostre, the goddess of dawn and spring. The cycle of celebration heralded the triumph of light over dark, of summer over winter. While Easter has become a quintessential Christian festival, echoes of the pagan ecofest are seen in the traditional hot cross buns served at Easter. The cross represents the four seasons, while the round bun itself is the sun. There are many examples of blended festivals where eco and theo lines are blurred. Nowruz, the Zoroastrian New Year, is a time of both earthly and religious renewal—the triumph of spring over winter and the victory of good (Ahura Mazda) over evil (Angra Mainyu). Halloween marks the end of the ancient Celtic year, the division between the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It also precedes the church holiday of All Saint’s Day and the following All Soul’s Day. On this latter day, prayers were offered up for the souls waiting in Purgatory, a practice introduced by Odilo, the abbot of Cluny, around the end of the first millennium CE. Historically, children would beg for soul cakes (shortbread biscuits with currants, cinnamon, and nutmeg) for the wandering spirits. If no cakes were offered, then the souls would play pranks. This custom is of course continued in the trick-or-treat visits of North American children to neighbors’ houses on Halloween. The householder gives sweets, candies, or other food treats to placate these modern-day spirits or else risks becoming the victim of (usually) harmless pranks. Secular and Cultural Festivals Secular festivals are innumerable. Divorced from agricultural or religious sentiments, they often mark events of national significance, such as Independence Days, military victories, or royal occasions. National holidays mark events in the history of a people or in the lives of notable figures. The well-known German Oktoberfest originated as a holiday to celebrate the wedding in 1810 of Crown Prince Ludwig. Scots the world over pay homage to the poet Robbie Burns on the anniversary of his birth, January 25, with a feast featuring the ethnic delicacy known as haggis. Thanksgiving, although having religious and agricultural roots, is largely now a


| Festivals

Folklorama Folklorama is the name of an annual festival held each year in Winnipeg, capital of the Canadian province of Manitoba, to celebrate the rich diversity of cultures that make up the city. For two weeks in the summer over 40 ethnic groups provide food, entertainment, and cultural displays in a series of pavilions in community centers, schools, and churches throughout the city. Food is one of the main attractions, and visitors can buy snacks, single dishes, or whole meals. In some cases dishes are altered to appeal to mainstream North American tastes, but mostly they are traditional recipes that offer a genuine ethnic food experience. Folklorama demonstrates the integral role of food in maintaining and promoting cultural identity. Although some of the national dishes offered (e.g., Scottish haggis) may no longer represent everyday eating habits, they do illustrate the importance of the idea of a national heritage cuisine. Food at Folklorama acts as a vehicle for introducing people to other cultural traditions; it provides a necessary element in a social event, as strangers sit together to share. It is also a focus for maintaining a sense of community within the larger community of Winnipeg, as people come together to plan, prepare, and serve the food of their homeland.

secular celebration that has patriotic overtones. Cultural festivals have no link to agricultural or religious calendars or to political agendas but instead are public celebrations of community life. Food festivals such as the National Cherry Festival in Michigan and the Vermont Cheesemakers Festival showcase local produce, while winter carnivals such as those in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Quebec City in the Canadian province of Quebec attract thousands to participate in activities, enjoy diverse entertainment, and sample specialty foods. Personal Festivities associated with personal celebrations usually revolve around major life events. While many are individual, such as birthdays, weddings, and funerals, some are communal in nature. The Japanese three-five-seven festival is an example. The custom of birthdays for commoners was probably introduced by the ancient Romans. Modern birthday parties call forth special birthday foods, often in the form of sweet treats, jellies, and cakes. In Japan, birthday celebrations include the serving of lobster; the hump of the lobster represents the bent back of old age, and by partaking of it the celebrant is desired of living to an old age. In Korea, a child’s first birthday is an occasion for special celebration. The child is dressed in bright clothes and given rice cakes, fruit, and cookies and is placed in the midst of symbols that represent possible future careers, and onlookers try to guess which one the child will grasp first. See Also: Buddhist Festival Calendar; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Hindu Festival Calendar; Islamic Festival Calendar; Jewish Festival Calendar; Rites of Passage; Sikh Festival Calendar

First Fruits

| 211

Further Reading Barer-Stein, T. 1999. You Eat What You Are. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books. Cosman, M. P. 1981. Medieval Holidays and Festivals. New York: Scribner. Davey, S. 2013. Around the World in 500 Festivals: The World’s Most Spectacular Celebrations. London: Kuperard. Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. Lee, R. B. “Eating Christmas in the Kalahari.” Natural History 78(12): 14–22. Liming, W. 2011. Chinese Festivals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Santino, J., ed. 1994. Halloween and Other Festivals of Life and Death. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

First Fruits First fruits are the first produce of a new harvest, whether it be grain, pulses, vegetables, or fruit. In agrarian communities the success of a crop was vital to survival. To try to ensure a good growing season, people would propitiate the gods and ask for their protection. Once the crop was ready for harvest, the first fruit was offered to the gods as a thanksgiving gift for a bountiful harvest. In some traditions the first fruits were given to the head of the community to taste before anyone else could eat of them. First fruit rituals are found in all religions. The ancient Greeks offered the first fruits of the corn crop to Demeter, goddess of agriculture, and her daughter, Persephone, at the festival of Thesmophoria in Athens and throughout Greece. First grapes were offered to Dionysus, god of wine, and first olives to Athene, goddess of wisdom. At the festival of Thargelia, the first bread of the new wheat was offered to Apollo. The produce was actually sold to provide support for the priests and the upkeep of the temples. In contemporary Greece, Thargelia is still celebrated by some groups. The Hebrews of biblical times practiced tithing by giving a 10th of first fruits to the temple priests. The Bible contains commands to the people of Israel to offer first fruits to God: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted.’” (Leviticus 23:9–11) Biblical verses indicate that a “tithe of the tithe” should be offered to God. Common offerings were the seven agricultural products of Israel (wheat, barley, olives [oil], pomegranates, dates, figs, and grapes [wine]), and offerings took place from the festival of Shavuot through until the festival of Sukkot. Detailed rules about who should give what offerings and when are found in the Mishnah and Talmud books of Jewish law.


| First Fruits Tithing of first fruits was adopted by the medieval Christian church. Eggs, wheat, and animals such as chickens and lambs were given to the church and used to support clergy and buildings. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the offering of first fruits begins on August 6 at the feast of the Transfiguration, when grapes (or apples) are taken to the church to be blessed. They are not kept by the church, as is the case in tithing practices. The offering is more a thanks for God’s bounty than material support for the church. In subsequent weeks other foods may also be taken to be blessed. In Christian churches in Britain and in former British colonies, the full moon nearest the autumn equinox brings harvest festivals, during which baskets of food, such as fruit and cereal, are taken to the church and placed on the altar to be blessed. The food may then be distributed to the needy. This custom started in 1843 in the English county of Cornwall and quickly became popular around the country. In North America, harvest festival is celebrated as Thanksgiving; this falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States and on the second Monday in October in Canada. Harvest festivals are held in almost every region around the world. First food ceremonies are a common thread among indigenous peoples of North America. There are 562 Native American tribes within the United States and around 600 First Nations bands in Canada. First fruit rituals are also found in Buddhism and Shinto. For example, in Sri Lanka a bowl of milk and rice is offered to Buddha at harvest time. In the Shinto ceremony of Daijosai, the emperor of Japan offers first fruits to the spirit of his

First Salmon Rites Among the Pacific Coast Indians from northern California to British Columbia, First Salmon rites were important occasions for giving thanks and for ensuring continued food security. Each year in March or April, adult salmon leave the ocean to swim upriver to their spawning grounds, where they die. The young salmon swim to the ocean to continue the cycle. Native people believed that salmon were immortal spirit beings who assumed fish form and sacrificed themselves as a gift of food for humans. If treated with due respect they would return the following year. The arrival of the salmon each spring was eagerly anticipated and greeted with ceremony and ritual. Although the details differed from place to place, the intent was the same. A salmon chief would greet the first salmon, honoring it with speeches and ensuring that proper ceremony was observed. The fish would be cooked and shared according to local custom. The head and bones were replaced in the water to allow the salmon to continue its journey. The freed soul of the salmon would return to inform other salmon of the proper treatment it received, thus ensuring continued future supplies of food. The First Salmon rite continues in some communities in modern times. An annual ceremony open to the public takes place in April at Celilo village on the Columbia River in Oregon. Although the Celilo Falls is now submerged below the Dalles dam reservoir, it was the most important indigenous freshwater fishery in the entire Columbia River basin and remains a sacred site.

Fish Fridays

| 213

ancestor, the sun goddess Amaterasu. At the time of the fall rice harvest, fresh rice shoots are offered to the gods. First fruit rituals were common among African pastoralists and persist today among the Swazi and Zulu nations. The Zulu festival Umkhosi Ukweshwama has stirred controversy because it includes the ritual slaughter of a bull. The modern African American celebration known as Kwanzaa was developed around the practices of African first fruit rituals. See Also: Church Suppers; Festivals; Kwanzaa; North American Indigenous Religions; Shavuot; Sukkot

Further Reading “Celilo First Salmon Ceremony.” n.d. Travel Oregon, -first-salmon-ceremony/. Crawford, S. J. 2016. Native American Religious Traditions. Oxford: Routledge. ‘Ksan, People of. 1980. Gathering What the Great Nature Provided. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre. Neusner, J. 1991. The Mishna: A New Translation. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Fish Fridays The custom of eating fish on Fridays derives from restrictions placed on meat eating as part of the fasting and abstinence rules promulgated by the Roman Catholic Church and was observed as early as the first century CE. Fasting requires a reduction in quantity of food eaten, while abstinence means total avoidance of certain foods, usually at certain prescribed periods in the church year. Christians believe that Jesus sacrificed his own life to save humankind. In remembrance of this, Catholics were required to make their own sacrifice by giving up meat during Lent and on other specified days (Fridays, Saturdays, and sometimes Wednesdays) throughout the year. Noncompliance brought the threat of fines or imprisonment or being put in the stocks. Friday was the day on which Jesus was crucified, so it was a fit day for making a personal dietary sacrifice. Fish provided a protein-rich alternative to meat, and the need was met largely with eels and herrings. As demand increased, local sources were insufficient, leading to a healthy trade for fishermen and an appetite for cod that may also have contributed to the European search for new fishing grounds off the coast of North America. With the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, dietary restrictions were abolished in the non-Catholic church. While some continued the custom of fish Fridays, fish eating declined overall. One of the consequences was a collapse in the market for fish. In a blend of religious and practical motives and with the approval of King Edward VI, a Protestant, in 1548 Archbishop Cranmer issued the “Proclamation for the Abstaining of Flesh in the Lent Time.” He declared that notwithstanding that


| Fish in Christian Symbolism all meat was fit for Christians on all days, they should nevertheless abstain from meat according to previous custom. This was to subdue bodily appetites for spiritual benefits and was also “for worldly and civil policy, certain days in the year, to spare flesh, and use fish, for the benefit of the commonwealth and profit of his majesty’s realm, whereof many be fishers, and men using that trade of living” (Strype 1848, 71). In the 1960s changes made to Church regulations allowed Catholics to substitute other forms of penance in place of abstaining from meat except on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent, when the meat prohibition remained for all Catholics over the age of 14. The Church still recommends meat avoidance on all Fridays throughout the year, and in September 2011 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales declared that this was reinstated as a requirement, though there was no obligation to eat fish instead. In 1962 a McDonald’s restaurant franchisee in a predominantly Catholic area of Cincinnati, Ohio, introduced the Filet-o-Fish sandwich in response to poor sales of hamburgers on Fridays and during Lent. Made from Alaskan pollack, it remains a best-selling item during Lent, when about 30 percent of yearly sales are made. It is also popular among Muslims and Jews for whom meat must be halal or kosher. In the United Kingdom, Friday remains a traditional night for a fish and chips supper for about one in five people, irrespective of religion. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Christianity; Fasting in Christianity; Fish in Christian Symbolism; Lent

Further Reading Fagan, B. 2006. Fish on Friday: Feasting and Fasting and the Discovery of the New World. New York: Basic Books. Foley, M. P. 2005. Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday? New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Smith, K. A. 2013. “The Fishy History of the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.” Smithsonian Magazine, March 1, -the-mcdonalds-filet-o-fish-sandwich-2912/?no-ist. Strype, J. 1848. Memorials of Archbishop Cranmer, Vol. 2. Oxford, UK: T. Combe.

Fish in Christian Symbolism Fish has been important symbolically in many cultures and was one of the earliest of Christian symbols. It is represented by a simple graphic, sometimes with letters. The Greek word for fish, ichthys (ixthus icthus), is an acronym for “Iesous CHristos THeou Yios Soter” (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior). For early Christians it could be dangerous to openly practice their faith, the penalty often being death. It was therefore necessary to meet and worship in secret. The drawing of a symbolic fish in the dirt or on a door was a way to let Christians know that the place was safe and sympathetic. To establish identity one person

Fish in Christian Symbolism

| 215

might draw a simple arc; if the other person was a Christian, he or she would draw another arc to complete the fish. If the person was not Christian, there was no harm done. Since then the fish has appeared extensively in Christian art, such as in stained glass windows in churches, mosaics, and paintings. Christians still use the fish symbol to identify themselves with decals on cars or in windows. Fish is used in the Bible to represent humankind. Several disciples of Jesus were fishermen by occupation and became “fishers of men” charged with spreading the Christian gospel after Jesus’s death: “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:18–19). The fishermen analogy is also used in reference to rescuing the Israelites from the bad ways they had fallen into in Babylon: “‘Look! I will send many fishermen,’ says the Lord, ‘to catch them’” (Jeremiah 16:16). The fish is a biblical symbol of abundance. There are two Old Testament accounts of miraculous catches of fish; having had no luck fishing, the disciples are told by Jesus to try one more time, resulting in a net full of fish (Luke 5:1–11; John 21:1–14). One of Jesus’s most famous miracles involved feeding a large multitude with a few loaves and fishes.

Coptic Christian relief depicting a fish and a cross, Egypt, 4th–5th century CE. The fish was one of the earliest of Christian symbols. (DEA/G. Dagli Orti/De Agostini/Getty Images)


| Food and Religious Identity

Loaves and Fishes The miracle of the loaves and fishes is recounted in all four gospels of the Bible. A crowd of 5,000 had assembled near the Sea of Galilee to hear Jesus preach. The day was hot, and no one had made provision for anything to eat. Jesus asked his disciple Phillip if there was food, and Phillip told him that half a year’s wages wouldn’t be enough to buy all the food needed. Andrew said that he had seen a boy with two barley loaves and five fishes. Jesus took this food, blessed it, and then broke it into pieces to be distributed to all present. After everyone had eaten their fill, he told the disciples to gather any crumbs left over so there would be no waste. They did so and filled 12 baskets with bread. While some Christians believe that this was truly a miraculous multiplying of resources, others interpret it as a lesson in sharing; they suggest that Jesus’s preaching persuaded the crowd to share the food they had doubtless had been hiding under their robes all along.

Tertullian (ca. 160–225 CE), a theologian and defender of Christianity, related the symbolism of the fish to baptism. He said that just as little fish (Christians), like the big fish (Jesus Christ), are born in water (baptized), they need to remain in water (Christian faith) to be safe. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Christianity; Fasting in Christianity; Fish in Christian Symbolism; Lent; Miracles

Further Reading Dery, C. A. 1998. “Fish as Food and Symbol in Ancient Rome.” In Fish: Food from the Waters: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, edited by H. Walker, 94–112. Totnes, UK: Prospect Books. Fagan, B. 2006. Fish on Friday: Feasting and Fasting and the Discovery of the New World. New York: Basic Books. Foley, M. P. 2005. Why Do Catholics Eat Fish on Friday? New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Food and Religious Identity The saying that you are what you eat is true on a figurative as well as literal level. While the quantity and balance of energy and nutrients that one consumes are linked to bodily health and wellness, food choice also carries cultural and spiritual meaning, signifying social relationships and conveying messages about class, ethnicity, and gender. Collectively, such characteristics form individuals’ identities— how they see themselves and how they are seen by the rest of the world. Religious identity describes the particular set of beliefs and practices that an individual professes or claims affiliation with, although it does not indicate the strength with

Food and Religious Identity

| 217

which beliefs are held or religious practices enacted. One marker of religious identity is diet. In obeying the dietary laws, one is continually reminded that one is a member of the faith. Most religions propound dietary laws, rules, or guidelines about what the faithful should or should not eat, where and how they should eat, and with whom they should or should not eat. Individuals who observe codified religious food rules make a public demonstration of belonging to a faith group and every day provide themselves with a private affirmation of identification with that group. In this way their sense of belonging and identity is constantly reinforced. Religious food laws may distinguish between and separate followers of different religions as well as subgroups or castes within religions. Such constraints bring religious considerations into everyday social life by restricting or sanctioning social interaction and behaviors. Proscriptions around food act as boundaries, serving to keep distinct and apart people and things deemed to be different: “I am a Hindu; the cow is sacred”; “I am a Jew; I do not eat pork.” The “other” is defined by what she or he does or doesn’t eat. The Islamic prohibition against pork is thought by some to have served the function of reminding Muslims that they were different from (and superior to) their Christian neighbors. In the eighth century CE Pope Gregory III prohibited the eating of horseflesh to Christians and Christian converts to set them apart from the horse-eating Vandals of Northern Europe. What people choose to drink is as much a part of their religious identity as what they eat. Commonly it is alcohol that is prescribed, but several religious sects prohibit or discourage consumption of caffeine-containing drinks such as tea, coffee, and colas. The need to preserve identity is especially felt when one group is threatened by assimilation into a larger or more powerful group. At one time Jews were forbidden to drink wine with non-Jews as a means of restricting social interaction that might have led to intermarriage with gentiles and ultimately to cultural assimilation. Christianity rejected Jewish food laws, seeing all food as good and fit to eat. However, early Christians had the choice of whether or not to follow Jewish customs if they thought that not doing so would be discourteous or inhospitable. This changed in the fourth century CE, when Christians were forbidden by canon law to eat food prepared or blessed by Jews or to participate in meals that made accommodations for Jewish dietary laws. Breaking the rules meant risking being banned from participating in Communion. Because it is not known to what extent early Christians and Jews followed these directives and because an individual’s food consumption is not necessarily visible publicly, some scholars suggest that rules on what may or may not be eaten are intellectual exercises rather than practical ways of differentiating people on a day-to-day basis. Instead they suggest that identity is more clearly signaled by who eats or doesn’t eat together and who serves and accepts or doesn’t accept food from whom. Notably, in the Hindu religion the caste system imposes strict rules of what may be eaten with and by whom. High-caste Brahmins may eat only “pure” food and thus cannot eat with or accept food from lower castes. Eating together, which is often an integral part of religious ceremonies, con­ tributes to feelings of group cohesion and identity. Participating in the same rituals


| Food as Religious Metaphor

Council of Laodicea After the death of Emperor Julian (ca. 363 CE), the Council of Laodicea was convened to examine and regulate how Christian church members should conduct themselves. Some of the new rules concerned food.

Canon 37 It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.

Canon 38 It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.

Canon 39 It is not lawful to feast together with the heathen, and to be partakers of their godlessness. Source: “Synod of Laodicea,” New Advent,

and knowing that at particular times such as feast days or fasts Baha’is, Jews, Muslims, and adherents of other religions around the world are eating the same meal or making the same offerings helps bind the individual to the global faith body. The Sikh founder Guru Nanak used food as a means of erasing old identities and creat­ing a new one by declaring that there was no Hindu and no Muslim and requiring all to eat together. See Also: Caste System; Commensality; Guru Nanak; Halal Food; Kashrut; Sacred Cow; Taboos and Prohibitions

Further Reading Delamont, S. 1995. Appetites and Identities: An Introduction to the Social Anthropology of Western Europe. London: Routledge. Fieldhouse, P. 1995. Food and Nutrition: Customs and Culture. 2nd ed. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes. Freidenreich, David M. 2011. Foreigners and Their Food: Constructing Otherness in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Law. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Food as Religious Metaphor A metaphor is a figure of speech in which one object or concept stands for or is used to explain or illustrate another by suggesting a likeness between them. Food

Food as Religious Metaphor

| 219

is a central part of human societies and human experiences and, because it is so familiar, is widely used metaphorically. In a religious context food metaphors are used to signify a variety of concepts such as divine love, obedience, and generosity as well as for places and spiritual activities. Some foods, such as bread, salt, and wine, are particularly rich in metaphorical meaning. Food metaphors are abundant in Christian scriptures. In the Bible, food is used as a metaphor for the word of God itself. In the Gospel According to John, Jesus tells his disciples that they should not work for food that perishes but instead should work for food that endures to eternal life; that is the food (spiritual teaching) given by God (John 6:27). Paul tells the Corinthians that all eat the same spiritual food and drink the same spiritual drink that comes from Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1). Sweetness is used to describe God’s love: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalms 119:103); “Taste and see that the Lord is sweet” (Psalms 33:9). Hunger is a metaphor for the desire for spiritual sustenance: “For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good” (Psalms 107:9). The land of Canaan, the promised land to which the Israelites were delivered out of slavery in Egypt, is described as a land flowing with milk and honey in a metaphor for abundance to be contrasted with the harshness of life in Egypt. Bread is an especially potent metaphor in Christianity. In the Bible it is mentioned over 300 times, particularly in the first five books of the Old Testament. Bread is a metaphor for Jesus himself: “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). At the Last Supper Jesus describes his body as bread, forming the basis for the centrally important Christian ritual of Communion, during which the body of Christ is eaten in the form of sacramental bread and wine: “Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body’” (Matthew 26:26). Salt is used as a metaphor in the biblical account of the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus calls the disciples the salt of the earth. Just as salt gives flavor to food, so too were the disciples to impart flavor to the lives of those who heard their teachings. In another food-related metaphor Jesus also describes his disciples as fishers of men. In other biblical passages, salt symbolizes wisdom. Because salt does not spoil, it became a metaphor for permanence and incorruptibility. A salt covenant or agreement was one that could not be broken. Food and drink metaphors are also used in other religions. In Sufi Islam, bread is a metaphor for life. Sufi mystical imagery uses intoxication of wine as a metaphor for the joy of losing personal identity and achieving unity with God, while the Baha’i prophet Bahá’u’lláh declares that he has “unsealed the choice wine with the fingers of might and power,” thus making hitherto unknown spiritual wisdom available to those ready to believe. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Bread; Eucharist; Jesus; Qur’an, Food in the; Salt, Religious Symbolism of; Sufi Islam; Wine


| Food Certification, Islam Further Reading Chiffolo, A. F., and R. W. Hesse Jr. 2006. Cooking with the Bible: Biblical Food, Feasts, and Lore. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Kurlansky, M. 2002. Salt: A World History. New York: Walker. Rubel, W. 2011. Bread: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books.

Food Certification, Islam Muslims are allowed to eat all foods that meet certain religious criteria. These foods are halal, or permitted. All foods are considered halal except pork and its by-products; alcohol, carrion, carnivorous animals, and blood are designated as haram, or forbidden. Halal food or products must not contain haram ingredients and must not have been in contact with haram foods. To be halal, meats must be prepared according to Islamic ritual slaughter requirements. Determining what is halal can be a significant challenge, particularly for Muslims living in countries with complex industrial food systems, where they need guarantees concerning the preparation and content of processed food products. Food labels, which in the United States must meet criteria set by the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services, can help Muslims determine what ingredients are in packaged products, but even this is not necessarily enough. Common food ingredients and food additives, including colors, emulsifiers, enzymes, flavorings, stabilizers, thickening agents, and even food packaging itself may contain items that do not meet halal criteria. Ingredients whose origin is not known and that may therefore be haram are widely used in sometimes unexpected ways and may be easily overlooked. Gelatin, made from skin, tissues, or bones of animals, is used in some low-fat yogurts and chewing gum; rennet, an animal extract, is used as a coagulant in some cheeses; animal enzymes may be found in chips; and alcohol can be found in vanilla extract. Not all products of these types use ingredients derived from animals, so to assist consumers in dealing with uncertainty, individual food products may carry a halal symbol of approval issued by a halal certification body. Food manufacturers can apply to have a product certified and become eligible to carry the halal symbol. A halal certificate guarantees that a product does not contain pork or other prohibited animal meat or its by-products or alcohol and that it has been prepared in sanitary conditions, including clean equipment, and according to Islamic ritual requirements. Halal certificates may also be issued to food production facilities or any establishment handling food to indicate that it has been inspected and approved to produce or serve halal food, though this does necessarily mean that all the individual products are halal-certified. Thus, Muslims may seek out a halal butcher for their meat purchases or go to a halal restaurant to eat. Halal certification originated in the United States in the 1960s as a service to Muslims living in non-Muslim communities. Jewish foods were already identified

Food Certification, Islam

| 221

A “Halal” food logo on display outside a fast food restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, assures diners that their burgers meet Islamic food laws. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Steps in Acquiring Halal Certification • • •

• •

An application is filed with a halal certification agency, giving detailed information about the product and its ingredients. The production facilities are inspected to determine sanitation procedures, cleanliness of equipment, risk of cross-contamination, and quality control measures. Animal welfare is examined. For slaughterhouses this involves ensuring that there is a trained Muslim slaughter man and that animals are correctly handled through the whole process, from restraining to stunning to slaughter. For a company it involves ensuring that animals were treated humanely at all stages prior to slaughter. Fees are negotiated, and a contract is signed. A halal certificate is issued, which is usually valid for one year.

with a kosher label, and this inspired Muslims to follow a similar path. Originally it was meat that was of the most concern. As the food supply became more complex, with thousands of multi-ingredient processed foods, the need to apply halal criteria to all foods became more pressing. In Muslim countries there was no need for a halal label, as all foods would naturally meet this requirement. However, as international trade in food grew and Muslim countries began importing products from non-Muslim countries, the halal identifier became important for those trying to market their products globally.


| Food Certification, Jewish There are numerous halal certification bodies in the world, including over 40 in the United States, that issue these approvals and certificates. Because there are no standard criteria and because certification requirements vary by country, rules may differ slightly among certification agencies. Because of this nonstandardization some Muslims do not accept the legitimacy of all certifying bodies, often preferring to rely on a trusted local halal authority. On an international scale there are implications for world trade and the export and import of foods, as some countries recognize only a limited number of foreign halal-certification bodies and will not accept products approved by others. The World Halal Council, headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia, was established in 1999 with the goal of addressing standardization of certification and accreditation between halal-certifying agencies within and between countries. The main halal certification agencies in the United States are the American Halal Foundation, the Islamic Information Center of America, and the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, all based in Illinois; the Halal Food Council SEA in Maryland; and the Islamic Services of America in Iowa. These organizations also help consumers in making appropriate food choices by producing lists of foods and ingredients classified as halal or haram that are available on the Internet. Some food manufacturers offer similar lists focusing on their own brand products. The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America publishes the magazine Halal Consumer, aimed at both consumers and the food industry, and maintains a website where consumers can ask questions about food products and manufacturers can apply to have their products considered for certification. Halal certification is also available for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. See Also: Halal Food; Halal Marketplace; Kosher Marketplace

Further Reading Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. Riaz, M. N. 2010. “Fundamentals of Halal Foods and Certification.” Prepared Foods Vol. 179, Issue 1. January 2010. Syed Rasheeduddin Ahmed. 2015. A Comprehensive List of Halal Food Products in U.S. Supermarkets. 9th ed. Huntley, IL: Muslim Consumer Group.

Food Certification, Jewish Jewish food laws include stipulations on what foods may or may not be eaten, how permitted animals are to be slaughtered and prepared, and requirements for nonmixing of meat and dairy foods. The dietary laws are termed kashrut, and foods that are permitted under these rules are termed kosher, a Hebrew word that means “fit” or “proper” (though the term “kosher” can apply to all aspects of Jewish law). The Jewish dietary laws are spelled out in detail in the holy scriptures of the Torah, especially in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Food Certification, Jewish

| 223

In a complex food market where there are thousands of processed foods with multiple ingredients, it can be difficult for an individual to determine if a product fits with kashrut rules. To assist Jews in identifying kosher foods, there are kashrut certification programs in which distinctive kosher symbols are placed on the packaging of manufactured foods that have been approved by a certification agency. There are over 1,100 kosher certification agencies offering services to the food industry worldwide, about 300 of which are based in the United States. Some are international in scope, while others serve local or regional markets. In the United States, five large organizations oversee 80 percent of the certification business. They are the Orthodox Union (OU), the Organized Kosher Laboratories (OK), the Chicago Rabbinical Council, Star-K, and KOF-K. The earliest of these was the OU, founded in 1898, that began to offer kosher certification in the 1920s. Kosher certification symbols are called hechshers. The OU’s symbol is the letter “U” surrounded by the letter “O” and is one of the most widely recognized of all kosher symbols. Because protocols differ between certifiers, some may not be considered to be reliable by all Jews. The U.S.-based Association of Kashrut Organizations has the goal of bringing all kashrut certifying agencies globally under one umbrella to ensure that the highest standards are maintained. Alongside the hechsher other classification words or symbols may be added, most commonly “D” or “Dairy,” “Meat,” or “Pareve” (neither meat nor dairy). For the important Jewish holiday of Passover, products should be specifically certified “Kosher for Passover” with words or the symbol “P.” This guarantees that the product is free from chametz (leavened foods). The quality-control process of ensuring that products meet strict kosher standards is supervised by a rabbinical specialist called a mashgiach. Each step from source ingredients to production to packaging is subject to careful inspection. It is not only the food ingredients themselves that are of concern; the production plant and equipment must meet kosher standards. Equipment and utensils that have come into contact with hot nonkosher food cannot be used for preparation of kosher food. For example, if a product is fried in vegetable oil, that oil must not have been pasteurized using equipment that has previously been used for rendering animal fats. Products that meet the criteria are granted the right to display the certifying agency’s symbol. The kosher food industry grew alongside Jewish immigration to the United States. Kosher processed foods began to be available around the turn of the 19th century, with a major innovation by the company Proctor and Gamble in 1911. A company cookbook proclaims that Crisco is kosher, a neutral or pareve fat that could be used with both milchig (milk) and fleichig (flesh) foods. It quotes a leading New York rabbi as saying that the Hebrew race had been waiting 4,000 years for Crisco. Ready availability of a pareve fat that could be used in any dish made life in the kitchen a lot easier for the Jewish home cook. In 1915 New York state issued the first kosher legislation requiring that stores selling both kosher and nonkosher foods clearly identify them as such. Then in 1923, vegetarian baked beans became the first food product to bear the OU kosher symbol. Joshua Epstein, an advertising executive and Orthodox Jew, suggested to Heinz that the company


| Food Certification, Jewish

A Jewish rabbi inspects containers of kosher yogurt at a yogurt plant in Minster, Ohio, to ensure that kosher-for-Passover yogurt meets kosher dietary certification standards of the Orthodox Union. (AP Photo/Skip Peterson)

Chametz Chametz refers to a food product made from any of the five grains of wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt that has been leavened (allowed to rise). A product containing one of these grains becomes chametz if it comes into contact with water and is not baked within 18 minutes. During Passover kosher rules are stricter than normal, and all forms of chametz must be excluded from the diet. Commercial products that are chametz-free are stamped “Kosher for Passover.” Not only should Jews not eat chametz during Passover, but they should not have it in their possession or derive any benefit from it. Rather than being thrown away, chametz may be sold to non-Jews and bought back once Passover ends. Sometimes the sold items are simply locked away within the owner’s home and retrieved once they have been paid for. Arrangements for the sale of chametz may be made in person through a rabbi or even completed online.

make kosher vegetarian baked beans as a Jewish-friendly alternative to pork and beans. The Heinz company didn’t want to put “kosher” on the product label for fear that it might antagonize non-Jewish customers, so instead the OU symbol was used. The strategy was successful, and with the growth of the processed food industry after World War II, the demand for kosher labeling increased.

Food Preparation Rituals, Religious

| 225

Within contemporary North America over 70,000 products offered in supermarkets are kosher, and the number of new products increases annually. While many Jews do not observe kashrut year-round, they are more likely to do so during Passover. Forty percent of kosher sales are generated during Passover. However, 90 percent of the kosher market is non-Jewish consumers. The main reasons that consumers purchase kosher are related to quality, healthfulness, and food safety, and the kosher symbol is seen to be a mark of high-quality food. Kosher products may appeal to people with health concerns: those suffering from lactose intolerance or allergies to dairy can be sure that products marked “kosher-pareve” are safe to consume. Vegetarians and vegans can be sure that pareve products contain no meat or meat derivatives. Because shellfish are not permitted under kashrut rules, kosher certified products are suitable for people with shellfish allergies. Products marked “Kosher-Passover” or “P” are wheat-free and therefore are suitable for people with celiac disease or those following gluten-free diets. Kosher products may also be favored by people from other religious backgrounds, including Muslims, Hindus, and Seventh-day Adventists. See Also: Food Certification, Islam; Halal Food; Judaism; Kashrut; Passover; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Gooch, M., C. Schmidt, G. Freid, and A. Felfel. 2011. Assessing the Opportunities and Challenges Facing Canada’s Specialty Food Industry. Guelph, Ontario: Value Chain Management Centre. MINTEL. 2010. Specialty Foods: The NASFT State of the Industry Report—The Market— US—July 2010. Chicago: Mintel. “OU Kosher Certification.” n.d. Orthodox Union,

Food Preparation Rituals, Religious Religious food laws are often concerned with what foods may or may not be eaten, when, and by whom. Religion also influences how foods are prepared. Religious aspects of food preparation include maintaining purity, conferring blessings or spiritual power, and practicing spiritual discipline. Ritual slaughter of animals to make them fit for use is a requirement of Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism and is discussed in other entries. Hindu scriptures emphasize purity in food. Three aspects of food fit for the gods are the quality of ingredients (pachaka shuddhi), cleanliness of the cooking vessels (pathra shuddhi), and the chef’s cleanliness and mental attitude (paka shuddhi). Sattvic food is high-quality fresh seasonal vegetarian food that promotes health and longevity, restores balance in the body, and promotes a mental attitude of harmony and serenity. Cooking vessels must be clean. The food preparer should be clean in both body and mind and traditionally should bathe and put on clean


| Food Preparation Rituals, Religious clothes before preparing food. In orthodox Brahmin Hindu households, menstruating women are not allowed to cook for fear of pollution. Judaism has strict purity laws regarding food preparation to maintain the kosher status of ingredients. Melihah is a process to ensure that blood is fully removed from meat by soaking it in water for half an hour, then covering it in salt for a further hour. The meat is then rinsed twice and is ready for cooking. Organ meats are too rich in blood for this process to be effective and must instead be roasted. Based on a biblical injunction, Jews should not mix meat and milk at one meal. After eating meat an observant Jew should wait three to six hours before consuming dairy products so that any remnants of meat fat have dissipated from the mouth. After eating dairy products, the mouth should be rinsed and cleansed with bread before eating meat; no elapse of time is required. Under kosher law, cooking equipment and utensils take on the characteristics of foods they touch in the presence of heat. Thus, if they are used for preparing meat they become fleishig and cannot then be used to prepare dairy products until they have been kashered (ritually cleaned). Many households keep two sets of cooking and eating equipment, even two separate kitchens, to help maintain kosher rules. Rastafarianism promotes the use of fresh unprocessed foods. I-tal food is normal Jamaican cuisine but is prepared without salt and additives. It is common among religions to offer thanks to God at mealtimes. This can be in the form of a prayer or grace asking for God’s blessing, or it may involve symbolically offering the food to God before it is eaten. Food may also become sacred through the way in which it is prepared. At the Islamic festival of Ashura, Mevlevi Sufi Muslims prepare a porridge-like dish called ashura. The ashura pot is stirred in a series of ritual movements tracing a double hu, the Arabic sign of divine presence; hymns are chanted, and the Bismillah (In the Name of Allah) is recited. The spiritually charged ashura is shared as a remembrance of God. Similarly, by speaking the name of God during bread making, the bread becomes imbued with spiritual power (baraka), which is shared by those who consume the bread. At a Sikh worship service a sacred pudding (karah prasad) is prepared and distributed to the congregation. The cooking vessels, which should be iron or steel, must be freshly washed. Hymns are sung, prayers are recited, and the pudding is touched with the point of a kirpan (ritual dagger) to symbolically strengthen it. Professional chefs strive to present food in aesthetically pleasing ways through the use of color, texture, shape, and artful combinations of ingredients. Deliberative food preparation can also be a form of spiritual discipline. Zen shojin cooking is a vegetarian style of cooking that focuses on achieving harmony, delicacy, and balance and avoiding waste by utilizing simple, fresh, seasonal ingredients. Dogen Zenji, a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist monk, wrote an essay titled “Tenzo Kyokun” (Instructions for the Cook), which discussed the qualities needed in a cook as well as the work of preparing and serving food: After this work has been done it is time to prepare for the following day’s noon meal. First of all, check to see if there are any insects, peas, rice-bran, or tiny stones in the rice, and if so, carefully winnow them out. When choosing the rice and vegetables to be used, those working under the tenzo should offer sutras to the spirit of the kamado [wood burning stove]. Then, begin preparing


| 227

the ingredients for whatever side dish and soup there might be, cleaning everything thoroughly of any dirt or insects. When the tenzo receives the food from the kusu [community affairs officer], he must never complain about its quality or quantity, but always handle everything with greatest care and attention. Nothing could be worse than to complain about too much or too little of something, or about inferior quality. Both day and night allow all things to come into and reside within your mind. Allow your mind (Self) to function together as a whole. (Dogen and Roshi 2005, 6) Cooking was developed as an unhurried, meditative art in which the consciousness is engaged and the cook focuses fully on what he or she is doing. Cooking remains an important Zen discipline and part of the daily routine for Zen monks and nuns. See Also: Animal Slaughter; Kashrut; Mindful Eating; Prasad; Sikhism; Sufi Islam

Further Reading Dogen, E., and K. U. Roshi. 2005. How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment. Translated by T. Wright. Boston and London: Shambhala. Forst, B. 2009. The Kosher Kitchen: A Practical Guide. New York: Mesorah Publications. Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Rites and Rituals: Sentiments, Sacraments and Symbols. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith.

Fruitarianism Fruitarianism describes a particular type of vegetarian diet consisting mostly of fresh fruits often, though not always, eaten raw. There are variations in what is considered to be acceptable, though the central premise is that only living foods should be consumed. Fruitarians will not eat any food that involves taking a life or harming a plant, including vegetables that are pulled from the earth or cut from the plant. Botanical fruit, including several culinary vegetables such as tomatoes, sweet and chili peppers, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, and eggplant as well as nuts, grains, and beans, is viewed as being a food that is freely offered by nature and whose use does not require causing harm or death to any living thing. Very strict fruitarians may only use fruit that has naturally fallen from the plant. In most fruitarian regimes, fruit forms at least 70–80 percent of the diet, mostly eaten raw. Some fruitarian advocates recommend that only a single kind of fruit should be consumed at a meal, and there should be a 45-minute gap before another type fruit is eaten. Usually they allow that fruits can be eaten in any quantity, relying on diminishing appetite to naturally self-limit consumption. From a religious perspective Jains, adherents of one of the oldest of living world religions, are strict vegetarians who try to uphold the principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence, by avoiding injury to all life, including plants. They do not eat root vegetables, including onions and garlic, as pulling up the root kills the plant and


| Fruitarianism may also harm the creatures that live there. Leafy green vegetables and dairy foods, though permitted, may also be avoided so that strict orthodox Jains pursue an essentially fruitarian diet. In North America only a small percentage of Jains follow a strict Jain diet. Some Christians interpret the biblical Garden of Eden as being the original fruitarian paradise, claiming that Jesus was a vegetarian or even a fruitarian. According to the New Testament, “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food’” (Genesis 1:29). While fruit was a valued dietary component among the ancient Israelites, there is substantial evidence that a wide range of other foods were eaten, including meat and fish. In another religious tradition, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá grandson of the founder of the Baha’i faith, writing in the early 20th century, declared that fruit and grains were the natural diet of mankind and that there would come a time when meat would not be eaten and all ills would be cured by diet. The father of Indian independence, Mahatma Gandhi, experimented with many dietary regimes throughout his lifetime. His writings make many references to a fruit-based diet, and for six years he lived on a diet of groundnuts, lemons, dates, and olive oil as a diet. He felt that this diet of foods affordable to the poorest people was most compatible with his search for simplicity and spiritual discipline. On medical advice, he did eventually agree to drink goat’s milk and later admitted that he had nearly ruined his constitution. The American Natural Hygiene Society, founded in 1948, and its successor, the American College of Life Sciences, founded in 1982, championed the superiority of plant-based diets. The Natural Hygiene diet is essentially a fruitarian regime but recommends that most foods be eaten raw in order to prevent the destruction of live enzymes that were said to be needed for proper digestion and to help cleanse the body of toxins. In fact, enzymes are destroyed when they come into contact with the acidic environment of the stomach. Fruitarianism is widely discussed and promoted on Internet websites and social media sites hosted by groups and organizations as well as individual practitioners. The websites offer a mix of inspirational and practical guidance on why and how to become a fruitarian. Although there is a long list of claims for health benefits of fruitarianism, in the absence of scientific investigation these are mostly based on anecdotal evidence and personal stories. See Also: Ahimsa; Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand; Jainism; Vegetarianism; Primary Document: A Converted Fruitarian (1900)

Further Reading Carrington, H. 2010. The Fruitarian Diet. 1912; reprint, Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing. Durette, R. 2004. Fruit: The Ultimate Diet. Black Canyon City, AZ: Fruitarian Vibes. Fieldhouse, P. 2015. “Fruitarianism.” In The Sage Encyclopedia of Food Issues, edited by K. Albala, 694–697. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Gandhi, Mohandas K. 1993. An Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments with Truth Boston: Beacon. Ungar, P. S., and M. F. Teaford, eds. 2002. Human Diet: Its Origin and Evolution. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey.

G Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand (1889–1948) Mahatma Gandhi was a leading figure in the India independence movement during the first half of the 20th century. “Mahatma” is a Sanskrit term designating him as holy or a great soul. Gandhi demonstrated the power of nonviolent civil disobedience in achieving political goals. A deeply religious man, he adopted an austere lifestyle and experimented extensively with diet. He used fasting as both a personal spiritual discipline and a political tool. Throughout his life Gandhi fasted in the name of antiviolence, in the cause of Hindu-Muslim unity, and for reforms to the caste system. He is most commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi and is also referred to as Bapu (father) or Father of the Nation. Born Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on October 2, 1869, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, in 1888 Gandhi went to University College in London to study law, where he qualified as a barrister. After a brief return to India he went to South Africa where he lived for 20 years, becoming involved in social justice and defending the rights of the Indian minority. In the struggle against both British and South African (Boer) authorities he embraced and championed the concept of satyagraha, or noncooperation. Under his leadership nonviolent civil disobedience was deployed to fight injustices even in the face of punishing repression from the authorities. Eventually he was able to win concessions from the government. Always deeply religious, he became fastidious in his personal life, adopting an ascetic way of life. His reputation grew, and by the time he left South Africa in 1914 he was being called Mahatma—the great soul. Back in India, Gandhi organized opposition to British colonial practices that oppressed the Indian people. He mounted large-scale boycotts and protests, for which he was jailed. One way Gandhi resisted British economic dominance was by the simple act of weaving khaddar (homespun cloth). Indian cotton was exported to England, where it was made into cloth in British cotton mills and then reexported back to India. Gandhi called for a boycott of British cloth and the revival of homespun as a symbolic and real act of independence. Salt making was the focus of another civil disobedience campaign. British law forbade Indians to make their own salt; instead, they had to purchase British salt that was heavily taxed to support the colonial regime. Gandhi led a march of over 60,000 people to the sea at Dandi, where he proceeded to make salt. Perceiving his popularity and powerful influence, English authorities invited him to London for discussions that were the beginning of a long path toward finally achieving independence for India. 229


| Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand (1889–1948)

Gandhi’s Hunger Strike Between 1913 and 1948 Gandhi undertook 17 public fasts varying in duration from 3 to 21 days. While his early fasts were penitential in nature, his later fasts were directed toward social justice for the harijans and to stopping violence and preserving or restoring peace and unity between Hindus and Muslims. On February 12, 1943, while under detention in the Aga Khan palace at Poona, accused by the British of inciting civil disobedience in the cause of Indian independence, Gandhi began what was to be his longest fast. The fast was in protest of the detention of leaders of the All India Congress Party and of excessive force in dealing with the violence that followed this act. Viceroy Linlithgow, the British governor-general, blamed Gandhi for the violence and accused him of political blackmail through his proposed hunger strike. During the fast, which lasted for 21 days, Gandhi consumed only fruit juice and water, and as the fast progressed he became severely weakened, his kidneys began to fail, and the doctors attending him feared for his life. However, he did not succumb, and on March 3, to the relief of a watching world, he broke the fast with a glass of diluted orange juice handed to him by his wife. For the first time his strategy of fasting had failed to achieve its goals, though the British had taken a huge risk by accepting that Gandhi might die. In any event Gandhi was kept imprisoned until May 1944.

Gandhi took up the cause of the untouchables, whom he renamed harijan (children of God) and strove against caste barriers, undertaking a series of fasts to draw attention to their plight. Anxiety about Gandhi’s self-imposed life-threatening condition spurred changes in community attitudes and reforms by the government. Later Gandhi was to fast against Hindu-Muslim strife in the run-up to Indian independence, and this time he almost did die. Food and Diet The Gandhis were Vaishnavas. My parents were particularly staunch Vaishnavas. . . . Jainism was strong in Gujarat, and its influence was felt everywhere and on all occasions. The opposition to and abhorrence of meat-eating that existed in Gujarat among the Jains and Vaishnavas were to be seen nowhere else in India or outside in such strength. These were the traditions in which I was born and bred. Gandhi, Diet and Diet Reform (1949) From the outset Gandhi was a vegetarian by family and religious custom. Before leaving for England to study law, he had to promise his mother that he would not eat meat. In London Gandhi read Henry Salt’s “Plea for Vegetarianism” and joined with English diet reformers to promote vegetarian ideals. As a strict vegetarian Gandhi rejected meat, eggs, and dairy products as well as tea, coffee, and alcohol. He became extremely interested in food and its effects on the body and began to

Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand (1889–1948)

| 231

experiment with his own diet, something he referred to as a lifetime hobby. He continually modified his views as he tried out different dietary ideas. In 1917, succumbing to a severe illness, he was persuaded to drink goat’s milk, which he did for the rest of his life, though he continued to be convinced that there must be vegetarian alternatives: I have always been in favour of a pure vegetarian diet. But experience has taught me that in order to be perfect fit, vegetarian diet must include milk and milk-products such as curd, butter, ghee, etc. This is a significant departure from my original idea. I excluded milk from my diet for six years. At that time, I felt none the worse for the denial. But in year 1917, as a result of my ignorance, I was laid down with severe dysentery. I was reduced to a skeleton, but I stubbornly refused to take any medicine and with equal stubbornness refused to take milk or buttermilk. But I could not build up my body and pick up sufficient strength to leave the bed. I had taken a vow of not taking milk. A medical friend suggested that at the time of taking a vow, I could have in mind only the milk of cow and buffalo; why would the vow prevent me from taking goat’s milk? My wife supported him and I yielded. Really speaking, for one who has given up milk, thought at the time of taking the vow only the cow and the buffalo were in mind, milk should be taboo. All animal milks have practically the same composition, though the proportion of the components varies in each case. So I may be said to have kept merely the letter, not the spirit, of the vow. Be that as it may, goat’s milk was produced immediately and I drank it. It seemed to bring me new life. I picked up rapidly and was soon able to leave the bed. On account of this and several similar experiences, I have been forced to admit the necessity of adding milk to the strict vegetarian diet. But I am convinced that in the vast vegetable kingdom there must be some kind, which, while supplying those necessary substances which be derived from milk and meat, is free from their drawbacks, ethical and others. (Gandhi 1948, 18–19) Gandhi was interested in the role of food in both physical and spiritual health and undertook long fasts for health as well as political purposes. He gradually simplified his own diet, excluding even spices and pulses and eating only boiled or raw food. For a while his diet consisted of only five different foods. But while he offered dietary advice, he never sought to force others to change, even if they were meat eaters, but simply set an example that others could follow. Gandhi’s vegetarianism stemmed from his perspective on nonviolence toward any life form and because of the untoward stimulant effects of nonvegetarian food on the body. He considered that one should eat to live and not live to eat; food was thus reduced to necessary fuel for the body. Gandhi spoke and wrote voluminously on diet, including The Moral Basis for Vegetarianism (1931), Key to Health (1948), and Diet and Diet Reform (1949), the latter of which is a collection of his writings for various publications over the course of two decades. He writes in detail about the nutritional value of different foods, provides detailed accounts of his own diet and its effects on him, and describes his


| Ganesh Chaturthi experiments with different dietary regimes. His writings show that he also avidly read the ideas of others, including scientific nutritionists. Despite his inspired leadership and the reverence in which he was held, Gandhi was ultimately unable to maintain Hindu-Muslim unity or to resist the partitioning of India to form the separate Muslim state of Pakistan. Religious strife continued, with large-scale killings on both sides, and Gandhi went on a hunger strike again until peace was restored. He was assassinated by a Hindu nationalist on January 30, 1948, on his way to a prayer meeting in Delhi. Gandhi was 78 years old. His body was cremated on the banks of the Jumna River, and he was mourned by a crowd of 1 million people. See Also: Asceticism; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Fasting in Hinduism; Hinduism; Sacred Cow; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Fischer, L. 2004. The Life of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: Harper and Row. Gandhi, M. K. 1948. Key to Health. Translated by S. Nayar. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House. Gandhi, M. K. 1949. Diet and Diet Reform. Ahmedabad: Navajivan Publishing House.

Ganesh Chaturthi The elephant-headed god, Ganesh, or Ganesha (also known as Vinayaka), is one of the most popular and revered of Hindu deities. Ganesh Chaturthi celebrates his birthday and is a time to honor him as a remover of obstacles and bringer of good fortune. It is especially popular in the state of Maharashtra, with huge celebrations taking place in the city of Mumbai. Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. Hindu mythology tells how Parvati created Ganesh out of sandalwood soap and left him to stand guard while she was bathing. When Shiva arrived at the house, Ganesh tried to stop him from entering, and Shiva cut off his head. Parvati pleaded with Shiva to restore Ganesh, and so Shiva directed his followers to bring him the head of the first living thing they found. This turned out to be an elephant, and so Shiva fixed it on the child’s body and breathed new life into him. Another legend tells of a contest between the gods in which they were challenged to go three times around Earth to decide who would be chief among them. The gods set off at great speed, but Ganesh simply walked three times around his parents, declaring that they encompassed the whole world. It was declared that he was the winner and that whoever offered prayers to him would not face obstacles. It is considered auspicious to worship Ganesh before any new undertaking. Chaturthi is the fourth day of any lunar month in the Hindu calendar. Ganesh Chaturthi falls in the Hindu month of Bhadra (August–September). Its duration

Ganesh Chaturthi

| 233

Sweet dumplings called modak are a favorite snack at the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god, is often depicted holding a modak in one hand. (Subodh Sathe/

varies from region to region, but 10 days is the most popular. The origin of the festival is credited to a 17th-century warrior king, Chhaprapati Shivaji Maharaj, who saw it as a way to celebrate Indian culture and unity. It was revived and given its modern form during the late 19th century as a focus for Hindu identity, when the large public festival gatherings became an expression of resistance to British rule. Preparations for the festival may begin months in advance. Clay models of Ganesh are made. They may be miniatures that can be placed on home altars or huge statues up to 20 meters tall. Festival committees compete to make the most impressive idols. Tents are erected in public places or on street corners where Ganesh idols can be worshipped. In a ritual called pran pratishtha, a priest chants mantras requesting the god to reside in the idol, bringing it to life. Offerings of rice cakes, coconut, and jaggery are made. The tent venues commonly offer entertainment and health and social services such as medical care and food alms. On the 10th day, idols are paraded on decorated floats around the streets accompanied by drumming, singing, and dancing. At the end of the festival idols of Ganesh are immersed in the waters of a river or the sea as a ceremonial farewell to Ganesh as he returns home, taking with him the misfortunes of the world.


| Gender and Food Food Practices Ganesh is said to be very fond of sweet foods, particularly modak and ladoos. He is commonly depicted holding a modak in one hand. Modak is a sweet dumpling, made from rice flour with a filling of coconut and jaggery, that is steamed or fried. Its name comes from mode, meaning “pleasure,” and k, signifying a small bit, so that it is something small that gives pleasure. Traditionally 21 modaks are offered at the end of worship ceremonies on Ganesh Chaturthi and are then distributed as prasad. There are many kinds of ladoos. Coconut ladoos are made by adding desiccated coconut and cardamom to hot sugar syrup and forming them into small balls. In the Hindu scriptures it is said that whoever offers 1,000 ladoos to Sri Ganesh finds fulfillment of personal desires. Other popular dishes for Ganesh Chaturthi are moong dal khichdi, a minimally spiced rice and dal mix, and kala vatama amti, or black pea curry. See Also: Diwali; Fasting in Hinduism; Feasting in Hinduism; Hindu Festival Calendar; Hinduism; Holi; Makar Sankranti; Navaratri

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Rites and Rituals: Sentiments, Sacaments and Symbols. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Gender and Food Gender refers to socially and culturally constructed differences between males and females. Because these categories are socially determined, they are not fixed; they differ in different societies and change over time. This can be contrasted with biological sex differences where, for example, only women can give birth to children. Men and women have always divided the work necessary for survival as well as for raising children and maintaining a home and generally for societal functioning. This is called the sexual division of labor. In most societies male and female tasks are different, with the female ones being less valued and rewarded. Food is gendered in that roles relating to food throughout the food system from production to consumption and disposal are differentially allocated to women and men and are often differently valued. For example, in patriarchal societies cooking is often thought of as “women’s work” and is not rewarded economically. Some scholars suggest that food work is given to women to do because it is low status, while others suggest that food work is less valued because it is predominantly a female domain.

Gender and Food

| 235

Generally, from a simple physiological perspective, men have higher nutritional requirements than women, and this fact must not be ignored when examining the gender basis of food consumption. However, it does not necessarily hold true in individual circumstances; some women will need more food than some men. The physiological needs of pregnant and lactating women also make them more susceptible to malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Twice as many women suffer from malnutrition as men, and girls are twice as likely to die from malnutrition as boys. Food Getting In hunter-gatherer societies there was a division of labor between men and women in regard to food. While men were the main (but probably not exclusive) hunters of big game, women were mostly involved in securing small-game animals, fishing, and gathering plants. Each made valuable contributions to the subsistence economy; the idea that “man the hunter” was primarily responsible for feeding the family is largely discredited. In rural areas of developing countries in the 21st century, women and men continue to play different roles in securing food for their families and communities. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that while men grow crops, women provide most of the food for home consumption through growing gardens and raising small livestock. They are also responsible for home food processing and food preparation. In modern industrial societies most people do not forage for food and instead buy it in the local retail market, whether that be a supermarket, a local corner store or bodega, or a farmer’s market. In the United States in 2008 about two-thirds of grocery shopping was done by women. In 2014 while three-quarters of women identified themselves as the primary grocery shopper, 40 percent of men claimed to have equal responsibility. Food Preparation Food preparation in a domestic setting has mostly been considered to be a female responsibility. In Western industrial countries particularly following World War II, gender roles were defined by the nuclear family in which the husband went out to work outside the home while the wife looked after child rearing and domestic chores, including shopping and cooking. Feminist scholars have pointed out that this domestic work was largely invisible and undervalued because it did not contribute directly to national statistics on employment and productivity. A study of 10 European countries between 1998 and 2002 showed that 70–80 percent of cooking was done by women. When men cook at home it is more likely to be higher-prestige activities, such as barbecuing or special celebration meals. Outside of the domestic sphere, in restaurants male chefs are more likely to be in charge. In Japan, sushi preparation has traditionally been a male-only occupation, underpinned by a belief that the warmer body temperature of women produces poorer products. This is slowly changing, though prejudices remain.


| Gender and Food

Women in the Kitchen Joan Gussow, a noted American nutritionist, said that getting women out of the kitchen has been a goal of everyone from Lenin to the National Organization for Women. Almost a century earlier in 1870, Annie Denton Cridge wrote a satirical story titled “Man’s Rights; Or How Would You Like It?” in which she reversed stereotypical attitudes toward men and women. She envisioned a large mechanized cooking establishment that, by feeding one-eighth of Philadelphia’s population at a single sitting, would give housewives time to read, think, and discuss big ideas— and all at a lower cost than when every house “had its little selfish dirty kitchen.” Sources: A. Denton Cridge, Man’s Rights: Or, How Would You Like It? (Boston: William Denton, 1870); J. D. Gussow, “Does Cooking Pay?,” Journal of Nutrition Education 20(3) (1988): 221–226.

Food Service and Consumption The rituals and mechanics of serving food continue to emphasize differences between gender roles and status. What appears on the family dinner table is the result of a complex set of decisions and activities. Males have considerable influence on what is served even if they themselves are not involved in shopping and cooking. Women commonly defer to the food preferences of men. This has been interpreted variously as a sign of love, devotion, or service or as a symbol of women’s oppression. The family meal is a powerful socializing event; feminist scholars have argued that privileging of male preferences together with women’s domestic duty to prepare food amounts to an expression and reinforcement of gender divisions, as children see these gendered performances repeated daily. In Western societies it is common for men, women, and children to sit together to share meals. This is not the case in many traditional societies and non-Western cultures, where gender roles are more strongly delineated. In many societies women and girls eat the food remaining after the male family members have eaten, which in situations of scarcity may lead to higher levels of malnutrition among females. Examples of men eating first can be found in rural Chile, among the nomadic Gadulia Lohars of northern India, and the Matsingenka of the Peruvian Amazon. In traditional Islamic practice, men and women eat separately. Restaurants may have separate entrances for single or groups of men, women, families, and children. The purpose is to keep women away from the gaze of men they don’t know. Booths with curtains or screens offer further protection from prying eyes. At Sikh langars (communal kitchens), men and women sit in separate rows, though this is not always observed in Western settings. Food Preferences Food preferences also appear to be gendered, and there are cultural ideas about what and how much food is appropriate for women and men. In North America,

Gender and Food

| 237

Men’s Bread, Women’s Bread In 2015 Stonemill Bakehouse, based in Toronto, Canada, introduced men’s and women’s “Wellbeing” breads. The company claimed that they were specially formulated to meet the unique nutrient needs of male and female consumers. The “female” bread was packaged with a pink label proclaiming that the loaf was made with hemp and quinoa and fortified with vitamin D, calcium, and iron and was described as light and mild. The “male” bread came with a brown label and was marketed as being hearty; it was made with barley and rye, emphasizing its protein and fiber content. In response to consumer complaints, the company scrapped the gender-specific labeling while keeping both products available on store shelves.

meat such as steaks, burgers, and chili are associated with men, while soft foods such as chocolate, yogurt, quiche, sushi, and salad are seen as feminine. Advertising relentlessly plays into or helps create gender stereotypes. Meat, burgers, and fastfood snacks are targeted to men, while women see endless ads for yogurt and calorie-reduced products or are induced to sample the “guilty” pleasures of a little chocolate or ice cream. While there have been attempts to link male preferences for meat back to evolutionary theories about man the hunter, it is clear that the concept of proper foods for men and women is a cultural artifact. Once associations are established, men and women may follow them to demonstrate their femininity or masculinity. For example, vegetarian men may be perceived to be less masculine than their meat-eating counterparts. See Also: Anorexia, Holy; Bread; Food Preparation Rituals, Religious; Langar; Taboos and Prohibitions; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Counihan, C., and S. L. Kaplan, eds. 1998. Food and Gender: Identity and Power. Reading, UK: Harwood Academic Publishers. European Commission. 2004. How Europeans Spend Their Time: Everyday Life of Women and Men. Luxembourg: Office for Official Communications of the European Communities. “Gender: Food Security.” n.d. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Ochs, E., and M. Shohet. 2006. “The Cultural Structuring of Mealtime Socialization.” New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development 111: 35–49. Owen, L. R. 2005. Distorting the Past: Gender and the Division of Labor in the European Paleolithic. Tubingen: Kerns Verlag. “U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2014.” n.d. Food Marketing Institute, /research-resources/grocerytrends2014. Zhu, L., et al. 2015. “Macho Nachos: The Implicit Effects of Gendered Food Packaging on Preferences for Healthy and Unhealthy Foods.” Social Psychology 46(4): 182–196.


| Graham, Sylvester (1794–1851)

Graham, Sylvester (1794–1851) Sylvester Graham was a highly influential 19th-century Presbyterian preacher and food reformer who promoted dietary regimes that he deemed appropriate for Christian morality and healthy living. He recommended a “natural” diet for both physical and moral well-being and emphasized the importance of prevention rather than cure. He was a staunch advocate of vegetarianism and the consumption of whole grains, a key figure in the health reform movement, and a founding member of the American Vegetarian Society. Graham was born in 1794 in West Suffield in Connecticut, the son of a clergyman who died while Graham was still a boy. Graham had an unsettled upbringing and tried various jobs before turning first to teaching and then to the ministry. While serving as a Presbyterian minister in Newark, New Jersey, he became interested in the temperance issue. He was offered a job as an agent for the Pennsylvania Temperance Society and moved to Philadelphia, where he gave public lectures that drew large crowds. His studies of physiology and anatomy convinced him that the road to temperance lay in proper care of the body through healthy living. Alcohol avoidance, diet, sleep, sex, and physical activity all had a role to play, but it was with diet that Graham was most concerned. He believed that a wholesome diet was a prerequisite for a wholesome body and soul and for leading a righteous life. He lectured and wrote extensively on dietary reform, including a treatise on bread and bread making in which he advocated eating home-baked bread made from whole wheat flour instead of the commercially available fiber-poor white bread. Graham’s thinking, like that of other health reformers, was influenced by the Greek humoral theory that explained and treated bodily illnesses as resulting from imbalances in four bodily elements, or humors. Foods, it was believed, also had humoral properties and therefore could be used to restore imbalances. For Graham, meat was particularly problematic, as it could excite the temper and lead to sexual excess. Spices, alcohol, coffee, and tea were also to be avoided. He proclaimed vegetarianism to be the natural diet: “Fruits, nuts, farinaceous seeds and roots, with perhaps some milk and it may be honey, in all rational probability constituted the food of the first family and the first generations of mankind” (Graham 1849). Graham wasn’t the first to link food, health, and Christian morality. The English Methodist leader John Wesley had a similar message, which itself continued a strand of ascetic thought dating back to the early Christian church. But it was Graham who put the ideas into words and practice in the United States. Graham authored many books and pamphlets, the most influential of which was Lectures in the Science of Human Life (1839). He cofounded the American Physiological Society and lectured extensively to clerical and college audiences. Graham was a popular public speaker and gathered many admirers and followers, who became known as Grahamites. Some of these supporters opened hotels and boardinghouses run on Graham’s dietetic philosophy, where guests were served a sparse regime of Graham (whole wheat) bread and crackers, vegetables, fruit, and water. Stores opened selling Graham flour and bread. For a year or so, Oberlin

Graham, Sylvester (1794–1851)

| 239

Graham Crackers The original graham cracker (or graham wafer), developed by Reverend Sylvester Graham around 1830, was a bland unsweetened food quite unlike the modern products that bear his name. Graham flour was made by finely grinding the wheat endosperm and then adding back the more coarsely ground bran and germ layers to provide a distinctive slightly sweet nutty flavor. It was used to bake the thin very hard crackers, which had to be moistened to eat. Apart from promoting its intrinsic nutritional value, Graham believed that the blandness of the cracker would help to curb lustful behavior. By the 1880s, cookbooks commonly included recipes using graham crackers. Modern commercial graham crackers are often made with mainly bleached white flour with small amounts of graham flour or whole wheat flour and are usually sweetened with refined sugar—the antithesis of their originator’s idea. Graham flour can be bought in health food stores, and recipes for homemade graham crackers are readily available.

College in Ohio officially adopted the Graham diet, banning tea, coffee, highly seasoned meats, and rich pastries. Honey was used sparingly as a sweetener, and condiments were absent; one professor was even fired for bringing his own peppershaker to the dining hall. Graham’s ideas found an eager audience, but they also provoked opposition and even attacks from tradesman such as bakers and butchers, while his lectures on sex and chastity offended some gentile sensibilities. Graham died in 1851. His home in Northampton, Massachusetts, is now a restaurant named Sylvester’s (it does not follow Graham diet principles). He is remembered principally through the product that still bears his name, graham crackers, a modern version of his original whole wheat biscuit. The Seventh-day Adventists took up his ideas, and it was the Adventist Kellogg brothers who were to go on to establish a business built on “natural foods.” Graham’s ideas also find echoes in some contemporary food movements that point the way to health through “natural food” and right living. See Also: Asceticism; Kellogg, John Harvey; Protestantism; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Graham, S. 1849. Lectures on the Science of Human Life. London: Boston, Marsh, Capen, Lyon and Webb. Levenstein, H. 1988. Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Maddocks, M. 1988. “Health and Healing in the Ministry of John Wesley.” In John Wesley: Contemporary Perspectives, edited by J. Stacy, 138–149. London: Epworth. Mowbray, S. 1992. The Food Fight: Truth, Myth and the Food-Health Connection. Toronto: Random House.


| Gurpurbs

Gurpurbs Gurpurbs are special festive days in the Sikh calendar that commemorate historical events in the lives of the 10 Sikh gurus, or religious leaders. The term gurpurb is a portmanteau word derived from “guru” (spiritual leader) and purb, a Punjabi word meaning “festival” or “celebration.” Gurpurb celebrations include the birth and death of each of the 10 gurus as well as the date each acceded to the guruship. One of the most widely observed is the birthday of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak. It is held on the full moon day of the lunar month of Kartik, which is October or November in the Western calendar. In the West celebrations are often held on the nearest Sunday. Sikhs from around the world visit the shrine of Guru Nanak’s birthplace in Talwandi in the Pakistani Punjab to celebrate. At the gurdwara two days prior to a gurpurb, a complete uninterrupted reading of the Guru Granth Sahib is commenced so that it finishes on the festival day itself. This ritual is known as akhand path and is carried out by professional readers who each read for two or three hours at a time. The practice originated in mid18th-century India when the few copies available of the Guru Granth Sahib were read out loud before being passed on. The gurdwara may be decorated with flags and flowers and lit for the occasion. The day before or day of the gurpurb, processions are held in which the Guru Granth Sahib is carried around the streets, headed

Festivals marking events in the lives of the Sikh gurus are called gurpurbs. Here, Sikh devotees at the Qila Mubarak Sahib temple in Bathinda, India, celebrate the 547th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, on November 25, 2015. (Sanjeev Kumar/Hind)


| 241

Chhabeel During the hot months of summer and particularly on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev, thousands of roadside stands appear around towns and cities and along highways in the Punjab. The counters are called chhabeels and are manned by volunteers of all ages who offer free glasses of thirst-quenching sweetened milk and water to pedestrians and motorists alike, irrespective of religious identity. Many chhabeels are also erected around gurdwaras. The practice is centuries old and has spread to other areas of India. It is said that a supporter provided Guru Arjun Dev with cold drinks when he was being tortured with scorching hot sand; the cool drinks distributed on this day recall that event and help alleviate the discomfort of scorching temperatures. Sikh groups in North America also sometime organize chhabeels, handing out bottled water and cans of soda as well as organizing open-air buffets.

by five Sikhs representing the original Khalsa Panth and accompanied by banners, musicians, singers, and martial art displays. Early on the morning of the gurpurb, participants dressed in their best clothes attend the gurdwara, where there are hymns, prayers, and lectures. Crowds numbering in the thousands may partake in the free langar meal at some of the larger gurdwaras. Sometimes sweets are distributed to passersby outside the gurdwara. Similar practices surround the birthday of the 10th and last human guru, Gobind Singh, who initiated the order of the khalsa for devout Sikhs and established the Adi Granth (original book) as his successor and eternal Sikh guru, with the honorific title Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The 5th guru, Arjun Dev, the compiler of the Adi Granth and founder of the holiest Sikh site, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, was put to death by the Moghul emperor for supposedly supporting his rival. The gurpurb falls in summertime, and traditionally cool drinks are distributed to the crowds in remembrance. The martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur is another important date, along with the installation of the Guru Granth Sahib at Amritsar and the creation of the khalsa. Newspapers commonly mark gurpurbs by publishing special editions, and public educational events may be held at universities and in libraries. The practice of exchanging greeting cards, including e-cards, is gaining in popularity. In the United States, the birthday gurpurb of Guru Nanak has been celebrated since 2010 with a gathering at the White House. See Also: Guru Granth Sahib; Guru Nanak; Langar; Sikh Festival Calendar; Sikhism

Further Reading “Chhabeel.” 2013. YouTube, October 6, WS-M. Duggal, K. S. 2010. Sikh Gurus: Their Lives and Teachings. New Delhi: UBS Publishers’ Distributors. Kaur Singh, N. G. 2011. Sikhism: An Introduction. London: I. B. Tauris.


| Guru Granth Sahib

Guru Granth Sahib The Guru Granth Sahib, also known as the Adi Granth, is a compilation of Sikh sacred scriptures. The honorific Sri (Holy) is often added to the title. “Granth” is derived from the Sanskrit word grantha, meaning “book,” while “Sahib” is a term of respect. “Guru,” meaning “spiritual leader,” is a title given to the succession of 10 Sikh religious leaders. The Adi Granth (original book) was compiled by the 5th Sikh guru, Arjun Dev (1563–1606). It comprises hymns and poems composed by earlier gurus as well as by Muslim and Hindu sages and is written in a script called gurmukhi, meaning “from the guru’s mouth.” Sikhs believe that these literal words of the gurus are the word of God. The 10th guru, Gobind Singh (1666–1708), added further material; he declared that after his death there would be no more living gurus but that the book would become the eternal spiritual guide for Sikhs. It was therefore given the title “Guru.” Since 1708 the book has been the source of authoritative guidance for the Sikh community. A copy of the sacred book is present in every Sikh gurdwara (temple), where it is kept in a separate quiet room, wrapped and placed in a canopied bed. At the beginning of the day the book is carried in procession to the main hall of the gurdwara, where it is placed on a raised platform. The sacred book must always be at a higher level than the sangat (congregation), who customarily sit on the floor. The book is also present at most ceremonial occasions such as weddings. At a service the granthi, an appointed or volunteer officiant, acts as attendant to the Guru Granth Sahib. The book is opened at random, and the first prayer on the left-hand page is read out loud. Whoever attends to the book must first remove shoes and wash their hands and feet. They must ensure that the Granth never touches the floor. While the book is being read, an attendant waves a fan over it. At festivals the Guru Granth Sahib is read through from beginning to end, a process that takes about 48 hours. Food is mentioned many times in the Granth, often in the context of spiritual metaphor. However, there are also references to material food. Some passages in the Granth seem to favor vegetarianism and warn about not eating meat slaughtered the Muslim way. They ask why, if God is found in all living beings, take a life by, for example, killing a chicken? If blood (or meat) is consumed by a human being, then how can his heart be pure? However, verses by Guru Nanak proclaim that eating and drinking are pure, for food and drink have been given by God to people for their sustenance. And there are many verses that indicate that worrying about diet is less important than acting with spiritual wisdom and that neither meat eating nor vegetarianism is to be preferred: What good is food, and what good are clothes if the True Lord does not abide within the mind? What good are fruits, what good is ghee, sweet jaggery, what good is flour and what good is meat? (“Sri Granth” n.d., 142) The fools argue about flesh and meat but they know nothing about meditation and spiritual wisdom. What is called meat and what is called green vegetables? And what leads to sin? (“Sri Granth” n.d., 1289)

Guru Nanak

| 243

See Also: Guru Nanak; Halal Food; Jhatka; Sikhism

Further Reading Kaur Singh, N. G. 2011. Sikhism: An Inroduction. London and New York: I. B. Tauris. “Sri Granth.” n.d.,

Guru Nanak Guru Nanak was the founder and first spiritual leader of Sikhism, which was centered in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent. The term “guru” means “spiritual leader.” Nanak’s full title, Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji, reflects his esteemed position. Sri means “holy,” dev means “god or divine,” and ji is an honorific placed after a name as a sign of respect. He died in 1539 at the age of 70. Little is known about the historical Nanak, but details of his life are reported in janamsakhis (life stories) written after his death. They are generally acknowledged to be hagiographical rather than historically accurate accounts, though they form the basis for popular Sikh narratives. Nanak was born on April 15, 1469, in the small Punjabi town of Talwandi (present-day Nankara in Pakistan) into a Hindu family. The Punjab at that time was half Hindu and half Muslim. As a child, Nanak showed an intense interest in studying religion and arguing religious lore and philosophy with both Hindu and Muslim sages. When the time came for him to undergo the sacred thread-tying ceremony that identified upper-caste Hindus he refused, asserting that it was one’s deeds that distinguished one, not wearing an outward symbol. His father set him up as an accountant, but Nanak was not interested in commerce and gave his money away to the needy. At the age of 30, Nanak underwent a deep spiritual experience. He was meditating by a river when, according to Sikh accounts, he was taken into the presence of God. Nanak was given milk to drink, which God said was a nectar (amrit) that would give Nanak spiritual strength. Local townsfolk assumed that Nanak had drowned in the river, but after three days he reappeared and told the story of his experience and his calling from God. For the next 20 years Nanak traveled extensively throughout India, Tibet, Afghanistan, and the Arabian Peninsula spreading his message that there was no Hindu and no Muslim, there was only god. Nanak emphasized the virtues of honest hard work and of caring for the poor and needy, praising deeds over mere words as the essence of faith. He eventually returned to Punjab and settled in the village of Kartarpur. Nanak attracted more and more disciples, and Kartarpur, the “City of God,” grew to become the major center of Sikhism (later to be moved to Amritsar). One of Nanak’s major innovations was the establishment of the institution known as the langar, or free kitchen. All who came to hear his teachings, irrespective of their social status, occupation, or religion, had to first sit down and eat together. In this simple way, Nanak succeeded in revolutionizing Indian society by rejecting


| Gutor the rules and customs that perpetuated political and social inequities. Hindu society was based on the hierarchical caste system in which people born into different castes were allocated a role and status in society that could not be changed. Lowercaste Hindus could never aspire to social advancement and were severely restricted in their interactions with people from higher castes. This hierarchy was maintained by, among other things, detailed rules about who could eat or share food with whom. Nanak’s teachings were compiled in written form in the Adi Granth (original book). The book is written in a script called Gurmukhi, meaning “from the mouth of the guru,” and is poetic in nature. His writings emphasize his belief in one universal god and in the equality of all humankind. These were added to by subsequent gurus and eventually became the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book and eternal spiritual guide. Nanak died in Kartarpur on September 22, 1539. Both Sikhs and Hindus as well as Muslims erected shrines in his memory. Among his final instructions to his successor was a plea to keep the langar always open. The langar tradition has endured into the modern day and continues to embody Sikh ideals of equality, hospitality, service, and charity. See Also: Commensality; Jesus; Langar; Muhammad; Sikhism

Further Reading Duggal, K. S. 2010. Sikh Gurus: Their Lives and Teachings. New Delhi: UBS Publishers’ Distributors. Kaur Singh, N. G. 2011. Sikhism: An Inroduction. London: New York: I. B. Tauris.

Gutor Gutor, or Nyi-Shu-Gu, is a Tibetan festive period that precedes and prepares for the New Year celebrations of Losar. Gutor involves about two weeks of activity leading up to New Year’s Eve, which occurs on the 29th day of the 12th month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, usually in February or March. Gutor has its origins in folk traditions and traditionally was a time of renewal and getting rid of evil spirits and other negative influences before the end of the old year. This custom is continued in contemporary practice, as Gutor is all about purification. Houses are thoroughly cleaned, household food stocks are replenished, and new clothes are acquired, ready to welcome in the New Year. Special foods and drink are prepared. Sweet foods such as dresi and deep-fried pastries called khapse are traditional, and chang (barley or rice beer) may be drunk. At the Gutor meal on New Year’s Eve, a noodle soup dish called guthuk is served. Gu is Tibetan for “nine,” and thuk means “noodle soup.” The soup has nine ingredients to which large dumplings containing hidden items—such as beans, hot chilies, sugar cubes, pebbles, cotton balls, bits of wood,


| 245

charcoal, wool, or scraps of paper with the names of objects written on them—are added. Each person gets a dumpling in his or her soup but instead of eating it opens it to reveal its contents, which are supposed to indicate the recipient’s character or predict his or her New Year fortune. For example, wool symbolizes kindness, while charcoal represents cold-heartedness. This is a fun, lighthearted activity. Another custom at the Gutor meal is to make a human effigy out of dough (lue) and place it in a broken or cracked bowl. Family members take small dough balls (drilue), which they squeeze and touch to their bodies and then add to the dough figure along with a little soup; this is done to take away aches and pains and ill health. After the meal, a small torch is lit and is carried from room to room while calling out evil spirits that may be around. The torch is then taken out of the house, along with the bowl containing the lue and drilue, and left at a road intersection so the spirits cannot find their way back. Bonfires may be lit at intersections and fireworks or firecrackers set off. In Tibetan villages stones are placed against the outer walls of homes, and guthuk and chang are poured over them as offerings to the spirits. After the guthuk meal, an adult male carries a flaming torch through every room in the house while shouting “Get out! Get out!” Firecrackers are set off, and the torch is cast away with supplications for the evil spirits to not return. See Also: Buddhist Festival Calendar; Feasting in Buddhism; Losar; New Year

Further Reading “Nyi-Shu-GuTraditions: Out with the Old.” n.d. YoWangdu, /tibet-travel/guthuk.html. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

H Hadith The term “hadith” is an Arabic word meaning “story” or “report.” It acquired a very specific meaning following the Islamic revelation, when it came to refer to the collected sayings and deeds of the prophet Muhammad, including his everyday actions and customs and what he praised or criticized. Together with the Qur’an, the 1,236 separate Hadith texts provide a practical guide to daily living for Muslims. The hadiths themselves contain many references to food and drink as well as fasting, while a 14th-century treatise known in translation as “Medicine of the Prophet” is devoted entirely to advice on food and drink related to health and healing based on what the prophet did and said. As Muhammad traveled around the country spreading the message of the Qur’an, his followers interpreted everything he said and did as a practical example of what the faith required of them. At first this information was not written down but was passed on by word of mouth from the companions of the prophet, who reported to others what they heard and saw. These others in turn passed on what they were told, and so over time hundreds of reports, or hadiths, came into circulation. Often there was doubt as to their authenticity, and often they were full of contradictions. Eventually scholars decided that the hadiths should be reviewed, authenticated, and written down to ensure that only the true words and deeds of the prophet be used to guide Muslim life. Accordingly, during the 8th and 9th centuries written compilations of the hadiths were made. Each hadith has two parts: the source of the report and its subject. For example, a companion of the prophet would state that “I heard the prophet say . . . ,” and then someone would say “I heard the companion say the prophet said . . . ,” and that person would say “I heard this follower say the companion said he heard the prophet say . . . ,” and so on. The closer the source to the prophet himself, the more authentic the hadith is thought to be. The second part is the actual subject matter of the report. For example, “The prophet said ‘It is good to eat what is offered.’” Several different Hadith collections were made, of which the primary ones in the Sunni tradition are those narrated or written by Bukhari, Muslim, Abu-Dawud, and Malik; among Shi’a Muslims, there are those by Shaykh al-Kulayni, Shaykh al-Saduq, and Shaykh al-Tusi. There are some differences of opinion over what was included or the degree of authenticity of a particular hadith, and Sunni and Shi’a Muslims accept different Hadith collections as authoritative. It is because of this that there are some differences in the guidance given on food by the different schools of religious authority. While hadiths on food and drink are found throughout the collections, 247


| Halal Food Book 65 of the Bukhari (Sunni) collection is titled “Food, Meals” and contains 92 hadiths on the subject of food and drink. It includes hadiths that elaborate on food restrictions mentioned in the Qur’an, praise the virtues of particular foods, describe how food is used for health and healing, and provide guidance on hospitality and eating manners. Physicians drew on Hadith sources and incorporated their religious wisdom with medical knowledge and customary practice in prescribing treatment. Medicine of the Prophet by Qayyim al-Jawziyya (1292–1350 CE) examines customary medical practice in light of the hadiths and then provides an alphabetical listing of all medicinal substances mentioned by the Qur’an or in any way recommended by the prophet, many of which are food and drink. Diet was generally recognized as the principal and preferred way to treat disease. See Also: Healing with Food; Hospitality; Islam; Muhammad; Qur’an, Food in the

Further Reading Hadith Collection. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzıˉ yah. 1998. Medicine of the Prophet [Zad al-ma’aˉd.]. Translated by Penelope Johnstone. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society. Muhammad Ibn Ismail Al Bukhari. 1997. Imam Bukhari’s Book of Muslim Morals and Manners. Translated by Y. T. De Lorenzo. Alexandria, VA: Al-Saadawi Publications.

Halal Food The term “halal” refers to food that is lawful, permitted, or acceptable in the sight of God. Under Islamic law all human actions are allocated to one of the five categories: obligatory, recommended, permitted, disapproved, or prohibited. Halal foods are all those that are permitted freely for consumption. There are also foods that are forbidden in all circumstances, and these are termed haram, meaning “unlawful” or “prohibited.” Most foods fall into one of these two categories. However, there is a third class of mushbooh (makruh) foods that are suspect or doubtful and on which religious rulings are required to determine their acceptability. If a person is uncertain whether a food is halal or haram then it is mushbooh to them and should be avoided. Ingredients commonly used in processed foods, such as emulsifiers, gelatin, rennet, and enzymes, fall into this category, as they may or may not be derived from animal sources. In today’s complex food market with its many processed and novel foods with long lists of difficult-to-read ingredients, it is not surprising that the halal status of many products is difficult to ascertain and is a common subject of dietary queries to religious authorities. Halal laws are derived principally from the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an. In the Qur’an food is described as a gift from God, to be enjoyed and appreciated without undue burden. All foods are permitted unless specifically prohibited.

Halal Food

| 249

“Livestock animals are lawful as food for you with the exception of what is about to be announced to you” (Qur’an 5:1). Pork is the preeminent example of a haram food and is the only meat specifically forbidden in the Qur’an. Other Qur’anic prohibitions apply to blood, carrion, and food over which any other name than God’s has been invoked. To be halal, meat must come from animals ritually slaughtered by slitting the throat of the animal and allowing the blood to drain, a procedure that is calculated to spare the animal unnecessary suffering. The words “Bismillah; Allahu Akbar” (I begin with God’s name; God is great) are pronounced over the animal as its throat is slit. There are similarities with Jewish kosher animal slaughter procedures, and according to the Qur’an “The food of the People of the Book is lawful for you, as your food is lawful for them” (Qur’an 5.5). Alcohol is generally considered to be haram. The Qur’an is not the only source of dietary guidance for Muslims. The Hadith, which is the collected deeds and sayings of Muhammad, contains much material concerning food and drink and identifies additional haram foods and food practices. The flesh of the domestic donkey is prohibited, as are carnivorous animals such as tiger, fox, dog, and leopard, which kill prey by using their paws, and birds of prey. Fish must be alive when taken from the sea or river, and only fish that have fins and scales are allowed. Land animals without ears, such as frogs and snakes, are prohibited. Over time Islamic religious authorities interpreted and added to the food guidance found in the Qur’an and the Hadith. Several schools of Islamic jurisprudence arose, espousing different interpretations of Islamic law including rulings on food matters. The four main Sunni schools are Hanbali, Maliki, Shafi’i, and Hanafi. Shi’a Muslims follow the Ja’fari school. There are some variations in how each school categorizes certain foods. For example, the Hanafi school forbids the eating of mussels and shrimp, while the Maliki school believes that it is permissible to eat all seafood. The Shafi’i and Hanbali schools allow the flesh of horses, forbidden by Maliki. Foods forbidden exclusively by Shi’a hadiths include porcupine, fish without scales, rabbits, and certain body parts such as gallbladder and spleen. Alcohol and other intoxicating substances are considered haram because their use clouds the mind, interferes with judgment and self-control, and potentially leads to social problems. Some food products such as vanilla extract and wine vinegar contain alcohol and must therefore be avoided. Similarly, fruits that have fermented are haram, though natural sugar alcohols such as sorbitol are halal because they are not intoxicating. However, some Muslims, notably Sufis, interpret Qur’anic verses to not prohibit wine. Wine drinking is also acceptable to the Alawite sect. Coffee consumption has been controversial at times, though 16th-century attempts to ban it proved impossible to enforce. Today some devout Muslims will not drink coffee, while elsewhere it is a symbol of hospitality. The degree to which Muslims follow halal laws varies. Generally, Shi’as are the most orthodox and are very careful with everything they eat. Jewish kosher products are acceptable to most Sunnis, while some may eat any commercially processed meat except for pork. Still others may choose to eat pork and consume alcohol. Yemeni adults, especially men, commonly chew qat, a plant whose leaves


| Halal Marketplace contain a mild stimulant. For observant Muslims, if situations arise in which haram foods are consumed inadvertently or because out of necessity for survival, then no blame is attached. See Also: Food Certification, Islam; Hadith; Haram Food; Islam; Qur’an, Food in the

Further Reading Abdel Haleem, M. A. S. 2004. The Qur’an: A New Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 2006. Halal Food Markets Product Report. Ottawa, Ontario: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Delgado, L. D. 2006. Halal Food, Fun and Laughter. Raleigh, NC: Muslim Writers Publishing. Nurdeng, D. 2009. “Lawful and Unlawful Foods in Islamic Law Focus on Islamic Medical and Ethical Aspects.” International Food Research Journal 16: 469–478. “The Original and World’s Largest Guide to Halal Restaurants and Markets.” n.d. Zabihah, Qaradawi, Y. 2006. The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. London: Motilal Books.

Halal Marketplace The global Muslim population is about 1.6 billion, approximately 23 percent of the world’s people, and is expected to reach 30 percent by 2025 (“World’s Muslim Population More Widespread Than You Might Think” 2013). This constitutes a huge potential market for consumer products, including halal food, that meet Islamic religious requirements. With the spread of urbanization, fewer people directly produce the food they eat, turning instead to the commercial marketplace to fulfill their nutritional needs. Growing affluence and disposable income help to drive the demand for diverse and convenient products. The ready availability of halal foods in the marketplace, recognizable by distinctive stamps of certification, allows Muslim consumers to make choices that meet both nutritional and religious needs. There is also a sector of the non-Muslim population who choose halal foods because of perceptions of their superior quality, safety, or ethical standards regarding compassionate treatment of animals. The halal food business sector is a relatively recent phenomenon. In 2005 the World Food Market trade fair in London featured its first halal exhibition and began serious discussions of the business potential of halal. After a decade of rapid and continuing growth, the halal business is now worth an estimated US$640 billion, or approximately 17 percent of the global food industry. Islamic dietary laws require that Muslims eat only foods that are lawful, or halal. However, halal food is not readily distinguishable from nonhalal. Consumers who purchase meat from a local halal butcher may be confident that what they are

Halal Marketplace

| 251

Halal butcher stall in the Mercato Centrale in Florence, Italy. Hundreds of Italian companies are halal certified, and the market for halal is growing by over 15 percent annually. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

getting is halal, but in the big complex international food market they do not have this personal knowledge. Halal certification is the means by which manufacturers can reassure consumers that their products are acceptable from a religious point of view, and certification bodies play a major role in regulating the trade in halal food. While there is no one universal certification body and while requirements vary from country to country, there are some that are more widely recognized. In the United States the major certifiers are the American Halal Foundation, the Islamic Information Center of America, and the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, all based in Illinois; the Halal Food Council SEA in Maryland; and the Islamic Services of America in Iowa. To be able to successfully export into Muslim markets in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, the halal certification has to be recognized by the country of export. To make matters more complex, this recognition may be product specific, so the exporter has to determine for each food what is required. The largest halal markets are in the Asia-Pacific region, North Africa, subSaharan Africa, and the Middle East. China is an emerging market with a large Muslim population, while Russia and some West European countries, particularly France and the United Kingdom, also have a strong demand. In contrast, the North American Muslim population is small, and the halal market is relatively undeveloped. However, it is likely to grow in response to a growing population of young,


| Halal Marketplace relatively affluent Muslims demanding ready access to a wide range of halal products that cater to their tastes and lifestyles. In recent years, a number of Asian nations have begun to emerge as centers for halal markets by providing expertise and infrastructure for product standardization and certification, scientific research, international trade shows, and media awareness. Malaysia is aiming to become an international halal hub and since 2006 has hosted the annual World Halal Forum to promote the global halal market. The Malaysian government also hosts the Malaysia International Halal Showcase, a biannual trade fair that brings together the world’s largest display of halal products and services. Currently Malaya is the biggest halal exporter, while Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore are also active in driving the halal market. Large supermarket chains have also recognized the demand for halal products and the significance of this niche for business. In 2005 Tesco, a major grocery chain in the United Kingdom, brought halal into the mainstream by announcing a plan to expand product lines and source US$285 billion worth of halal products. Other supermarkets quickly followed suit. In the United States there has not been a similar rapid development of a mainstream halal market, but Chicago-based Crescent Foods provides halal chicken products to over 130 Walmart supercenters and neighborhood markets across America, while the Saffron Road company supplies frozen halal entrees to Whole Foods Market stores across the country. The food-service industry is another major user of halal products. Restaurants catering mainly to Muslim customers offer halal menus, although it is not yet common in mainstream U.S. restaurants; in 2013 the only two U.S. McDonalds restaurants that were serving halal withdrew these options after concerns that they were not consistently halal. Nevertheless, major food distributors such as US Foods, Sysco, and Gordon Foods Service do make a selection of halal products available to restaurants. There are also examples of successful halal street food vendors and online halal ordering services with free home delivery. Airlines commonly provide halal choices in their meal selections, while public institutions in the education and health care sectors as well as the military and prison services increasingly provide halal options as part of a mandate to respect religious requirements. Trade journals such as the Halal Journal focus on the Muslim market worldwide and include features on lifestyle as well as business. Halal Connect is the magazine of the American Halal Association. The American Muslim Consumer Conference was created in 2008 to understand and address the needs of Muslim consumers and promote products and services. Challenges In Malaysia the halal industry has been regulated by government since the 1980s, but in other countries religious food markets are not state regulated, so consumer protection may be lacking. Some critics have suggested that this may lead to instances of fraudulent certification and misleading halal claims. Critics also suggest that the halal market is being driven by commercial rather than religious concerns that threaten to undermine the religious significance of halal by turning it into


| 253

simply a brand. Instead of being a hallmark of Islamic identity, it is reduced to a lifestyle choice as marketers seek to attract non-Islamic consumers. Certainly halal is projected as a superior-quality product that can attract a price premium. In May 2014 British tabloid newspapers sensationalized a story reporting that a major chain pizza restaurant was using halal chicken as a matter of course. Two potentially controversial issues were identified. The method of slaughter used for halal meat (slitting the animals’ jugular and draining the blood) was portrayed as being cruel, and the fact that the products were not labeled as halal was construed as robbing consumers of an informed choice. Some commentators observed that the headline claiming that millions are eating halal food without knowing it indicated a degree of Islamophobia. Political sensitivities in the United States may also pose challenges to products that are associated with Islam. See Also: Animal Slaughter; Food Certification, Islam; Halal Food; Kosher Marketplace

Further Reading Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. 2011. Global Pathfinder Halal Food Trends. Ottawa: Government of Canada. Fischer, Johan. 2011. The Halal Frontier: Muslim Consumers in a Globalized Market. Contemporary Anthropology of Religion. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. “Halal Connect.” 2012. American Halal Association, /wp-content/uploads/2012/09/HC4-web.pdf. Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2011. The Future of the Global Muslim Population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. “The 6th World Halal Forum: The Power of Values in Global Markets.” 2011. World Halal Forum, “World’s Muslim Population More Widespread Than You Might Think.” 2013. Pew Research Center Fact Tank, June 7, /worlds-muslim-population-more-widespread-than-you-might-think/.

Halloween The name “Halloween” is derived from an old English word “hallowed,” meaning holy or sanctified. It is a contraction of “All Hallows’ Eve” (“Even” in Scotland), the night before the church-based feast All Hallows’ (All Saints’) Day. The name “Halloween” was not used until the 18th century. Halloween is celebrated on October 31 in many countries around the world. Together with All Saints’ Day on November 1 and All Souls’ Day on November 2, it makes up Hallowtide, a time dedicated to remembering the dead. Origins and Development Halloween has both pagan and Christian roots. Many of the customs and practices associated with Halloween today can be traced to the Celtic pre-Christian festival


| Halloween Samhain. Across Western Europe, particularly in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, Samhain was the most important day of the year. Falling on November 1, it marked the onset of winter and the beginning of a new year. Bonfires were lit, and offerings of food and drink were given to placate or comfort the supernatural spirits that were thought to be abroad on that night. Customs such as mumming or guising, which involved dressing in costume and visiting houses to perform plays or to ask for soul cakes, were incorporated into the festivities. Impersonating spirits by dressing up was thought to be a way to avoid recognition and unwanted attention. Following a common church practice of Christianizing existing pagan festivals, in 835 CE Pope Gregory IV fixed the Catholic feast of All Saints’ Day for November 1. The night before the feast day was kept as a vigil that involved prayers and partial fasting or abstinence from meat. In 998 CE November 2 was declared as All Souls’ Day in the Christian calendar. Catholics prayed to help Christian souls trapped in Purgatory move on to Heaven. In some places Christians would dress in costumes as a disguise to avoid the unwanted attentions of wandering souls looking to return to Earth to exact vengeance on enemies. Others lit soul lights to help the dead find their way. Over time the pagan and Christian traditions became conflated. Halloween came to North America with British colonists but was not widely celebrated until the 19th century bought large-scale European immigration. Customs and Practices Many customs have been associated with Halloween at different periods of history and in different countries. The most common ones include guising (dressing up to confuse evil spirits) and visiting neighbors’ homes. People would give food or gifts to the spirit visitors to persuade them not to cause mischief. This is the origin of modern-day trick-or-treating in which children go door-to-door shouting for the homeowner to give them a treat or else suffer the consequences. Jack-o’-lanterns carved originally from turnips were based on an English folktale that told how Jack, unable to enter Heaven, did a deal with the devil to keep himself from Hell; the devil gave Jack a fiery ember, which jack placed in a hollowed-out turnip. In North America pumpkins were quickly substituted for turnips, being much larger and softer and thus easier to carve. At Samhain, divination games were played to seek information about marriage and death. Nuts and apples were often part of these games. An apple peel dropped over one’s shoulder was supposed to show the initial of one’s true love. Until recently, apple-bobbing remained a popular festive activity. Contestants had to try to bite into an apple floating in a bowl of water without using their hands. Traditionally the first to succeed was said to be the next in line to be married. Halloween was promoted in the early 20th century as a party occasion for adults and children, but trick-or-treating did not become common until after World War II. With the end of sugar rationing in 1947 and fueled by commercial interests, the event became an extravaganza of overconsumption of sweets. More candy is consumed at Halloween than at any other time of year.


| 255

Halloween Foods Apples, nuts, corn, pumpkins, and, of course, candy have been closely associated with Halloween in different countries over time. In Ireland, dishes based on potatoes and other vegetables were associated with Halloween, as meat was forbidden during the Catholic vigil and fast leading up to All Saint’s Day. Colcannon is made from potatoes and cabbage or kale, champ is mashed potato and leeks or onions with melted butter, boxty is a potato pancake, and fadge is sliced apples baked with potato cake and sprinkled with butter and sugar. Barmbrack is a raisin loaf into which a ring and a coin are baked; the finder of the ring will be married in the coming year, while the coin finder will find riches. Commercial barmbrack is sold in bakeries and stores. In America, pumpkins replaced the old world turnip for the carving of jack-o’-lanterns. The flesh scooped out of the pumpkin could be baked into pumpkin bread or used as a pie filling. Some people roast and salt the pumpkin seeds to make a snack. Candy corn, introduced in North America in 1895, wasn’t specifically for Halloween but quickly became associated with it. Caramel corn is a popular variation. Caramel and candy apples are made by inserting a stick into a small apple and dipping it in melted toffee or syrup, which is then allowed to harden. Homemade treats such as candy apples and candy floss were once popular but were mostly phased out in the 1980s as concerns grew over safety and the possibility of foods being tampered with. Religious Perspectives Many churches sponsor Halloween night events as harmless fun occasions for children, while others see Halloween as an essentially pagan ritual that has no

Halloween Candy Halloween is the biggest time of the year for sales of candy in North America, surpassing Christmas and Valentine’s Day. U.S. consumers spend about $2 billion buying 600 million pounds of Halloween candy, predominantly chocolate, followed by candied corn. Advertisements for Halloween candies have appeared since the 1900s. Early treats included nut kisses, buttercups, and cream caramels. Orange gumdrops and jellybeans with black licorice were popular in the 1920s, with brand name confections becoming dominant in the 1950s.The 1960s saw the first example of small boxes (of raisins) packaged in a larger bag and a “feed bag”—a child’s apron with pockets to hold popcorn and candy. The modern heavily commercialized Halloween has been criticized for its encouragement of excess and from a public health point of view, as excessive sugar consumption is associated with dental cavities and with childhood obesity. While children may not appreciate being handed toothbrushes instead of candies as they trick-or-treat, U.S. dentists participating in a Halloween buyback project pay kids to return their candy, which is then donated to an organization that sends care packages to troops overseas.


| Halloween place in the modern church. Some churches emphasize Christian elements of Halloween and encourage people to attend services and offer prayers and perhaps fast or at least abstain from meat. The contemporary Night of Light movement aims to revive the practice of the vigil in a move to reclaim Halloween as a sacred time; kids are encouraged to dress up as saints or biblical characters at church parties rather than go trick-or-treating. Other organizations provide Halloween-themed packages of scripture candy and religious leaflets for people to hand out with the candy. Regional Variations The Irish city of Derry claims Europe’s biggest Halloween celebration, with a weeklong festival organized by the council. It includes fireworks, ghost tours, night markets, and a parade called Carnival of the Lost Souls. Other European countries have not traditionally celebrated Halloween, though interest in candy eating and costume parties has grown in recent years, probably through North American influence. The Filipino custom of pangangaluluwa resembles old European souling practices; groups of people, draped in white cloths, visit homes and sing in return for prayers and gifts of food or money. The “souls” should be offered sticky rice, or they may play tricks such as stealing items of clothing and leaving them in the street. This tradition has largely given way to North American– style trick-or-treating. Americanized versions of Halloween have also spread to China and Japan as well as to Australia and New Zealand, where it has never been common. See Also: All Saints’ Day; All Souls’ Day; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Day of the Dead; Hungry Ghosts

Further Reading Arkins, D. 2004. Halloween Merrymaking: An Illustrated Celebration of Food, Fun and Frolics from Halloweens Past. Los Angeles: Pelican Publishing. “Halloween Headquarters.” n.d. National Retail Federation, /halloween-headquarters. Hess, A. E. M. 2013. “America’s Favorite Halloween Candy.” 24/7 Wall St., October 16, Morton, L. 2011. The Halloween Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. Olver, L. “The Food Timeline: Halloween Food Traditions.” Food Timeline, http://www Santino, J., ed. 1994. Halloween and Other Festivals of Life and Death. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. “US Consumers Say Boo to Store Brand Candy on Halloween.” 2009. Nielsen, October 15, -brand-candy-on-halloween.html.


| 257

Hanukkah Hanukkah is an eight-day winter festival held between the 25th day of Kislev and the 2nd day of Tevet in the Hebrew calendar. It falls in late November or early December in the Gregorian calendar. The name “Hanukkah” means “dedication.” It is also known as the Feast of Lights. As is the case for many Jewish festivals, Hanukkah commemorates an event in the history of the Jewish peoples. In this case it celebrates the recapture of the second temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE by the Maccabees (a band of Jewish fighters). They rebelled against the Syrian Greek ruler Antiochus, who had forced them to adopt non-Jewish practices, including eating pork. Jewish tradition recounts that the victors found only one jar of ritual oil, still sealed by the high priest, with which to light the menorah (candelabrum) that was supposed to burn in the temple each night. Although there was only enough oil to burn for one day, the menorah stayed alight for eight days until a fresh supply of oil had been prepared. To commemorate this miracle, an eight-day festival was inaugurated to celebrate the survival of the Jewish faith. At the start of Hanukkah, nine candles are placed in a candlestick holder, called a menorah. For each of eight successive nights, an additional candle is lit moving from left to right, simulating the lengthening of days. The ninth candle is known as the servant candle and is used to light all the others. Children play dreidel games. The dreidel is a spinning top that has Hebrew letters on its sides signifying the

Latkes with applesauce and sour cream. Latkes are one of the traditional foods of Hanukkah, the Jewish eight-day festival also known as the Festival of Lights. (


| Haram Food

Flaming Tea Ceremony An old Russian Jewish custom at Hanukkah was drinking “flaming tea.” Sitting around the table after the Hanukkah meal, each person would take a lump of sugar on a teaspoon and dip it in brandy (or other spirit). Traditionally, the teaspoon was balanced across a teacup. Accompanied by the singing of a holiday song, the sugar lumps would be lit with a candle to create a ring of flame; then in unison everyone would drop their flaming sugar into the strong black tea before drinking it.

phrase “a great miracle happened here.” Children bet on which letter the dreidel will land on, often using chocolate coins, called geld, or candy or nuts. Although Hanukkah was historically not a major Jewish holiday, because of its proximity to Christmas it has become a major festive occasion, with children receiving gifts on each night of the holiday. Deep-fried foods are hallmarks of Hanukkah, recalling the miracle of the oil lamps. Different regions have their own versions of a fried dough dipped in syrup or honey; especially popular are sufganiyot, jam-filled doughnuts that may be deep-fried and dusted with sugar and were “borrowed” from German Christian New Year’s cuisine. Originating in Eastern Europe, latkes made use of potatoes, which were cheap, and goose fat. Modernday latke recipes call for canola, peanut oil, or olive oil; starchy potatoes are grated and mixed with chopped onions, bound with flour or eggs, and traditionally fried in the hot fat. They can be served with apple sauce or sour cream. Since the Middle Ages, dairy foods have also been a feature of Hanukkah. See Also: Jewish Festival Calendar; Passover; Purim; Rosh Hashanah; Shavuot; Yom Kippur

Further Reading “Chanukah.” n.d., /Hanukkah.htm. Goldstein, D. 1999. A Taste of Russia. Montpelier, VT: Russian Life Books. Sirkis, R. 2004. A Taste of Tradition: The How and Why of Jewish Cooking. Jerusalem: Gefen Books. Steinberg, P. 2007. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Winter Holidays; Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim. Edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

Haram Food The Islamic concept of haram is used to describe things and actions that are unlawful or impermissible. This is applied to all aspects of human life including food and food-related behaviors. The Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, describes food as

Haram Food

| 259

beneficence to humankind and makes clear that all foods are permitted for human consumption unless they are specifically forbidden. What is forbidden falls into one of four categories: pork and pork products, blood, carrion or meat of dead animals, and meat dedicated to anyone other than Allah. Intoxicants, including alcohol, are also haram. Additional haram foods and practices are based on the Hadith, which is the collected sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad, and Islamic scholars today use principles based on the Hadith to determine if particular foods are halal or haram. The purpose of haram is to help Muslims avoid that which is impure and harmful to individuals with respect to physical health and well-being and ethical living. It is haram to eat or drink anything that may lead to ill health or death in the short or longer term. It is also haram to eat or drink large quantities if this would be injurious to health. In the sura (chapter) of the Qur’an called “The Feast,” there is a clear description of what foods are considered haram: “You are forbidden to eat carrion; blood; pig’s meat; any animal over which any name other then God’s has been invoked; any animal strangled, or victim of a violent blow or fall, or gored or savaged by a beast of prey, unless you still slaughter it [in the correct manner]; or anything sacrificed on idolatrous altars. You are also forbidden to allot shares [of meat] by drawing marker arrows—a heinous practice!” (Qur’an 5:3). The same sura contains a prohibition against intoxicants: “With intoxicants and gambling, Satan seeks only to incite enmity and hatred among you, and to stop you remembering God and prayer. Will you not give them up?” (Qur’an 5:91). Muhammad added prohibitions on eating fanged or clawed carnivorous animals that prey on other creatures; birds of prey; reptiles, snakes, and crocodiles; elephants; donkeys, mules and asses; pests such as rats and scorpions; and all insects except locusts. While all Muslim schools of jurisprudence agree that fish with scales are halal, some rule that shellfish and fish without scales and fish that are caught dead are haram. Animals that die from strangulation, a blow, a fall, or from attack by a wild beast are haram. Even halal animals become haram if they are not slaughtered in the proper way, by slitting the throat and draining the blood while invoking the name of Allah: “So [believers] you may eat the meat of any [animal] over which God’s name has been pronounced, if you believe in His revelations” (Qur’an 6:118). By this act believers ask Allah’s permission to take a life created by Him and in doing so affirm their identity as followers of Islam. Scientific reasons have been advanced to explain the various prohibitions. Eating carrion is said to be dangerous because the meat might be diseased and contain toxins harmful to human health, causing problems such as anthrax, brucellosis, and pasteurellosis. Blood that is drained from the body may contain harmful bacteria or toxic metabolic products. Pork may be infected with Trichinella spiralis, a parasitic worm. While cooking destroys the parasite, consumption of raw or undercooked pork can cause serious illness. Some scholars reject this explanation, as it relies on scientific knowledge not available at the time; the fact that the pig was seen to be a filthy animal prohibited by Allah was sufficient reason to avoid it. Other explanations invoke religio-political factors. Pre-Islamic nomadic Arabs drank blood extracted from live animals and used blood from sacrificed animals to


| Healing with Food pour on the Kaaba (the sacred shrine at Mecca). Prohibiting consumption of flowing blood served to differentiate the new believers as Muslims and affirm their faith. Ultimately, avoiding prohibited foods is a way of showing obedience to the divine will. Products or ingredients derived from or contaminated by haram foods are themselves haram. Identifying haram ingredients in processed food products in the modern supermarket can be challenging and requires careful attention to food labels. Examples of “hidden” haram ingredients include gelatin in some yogurt and chewing gum, rennet in cheese, animal enzymes in a wide range of processed products, and alcohol in extracts such as vanilla and orange. Organizations such as the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America provide guidance to shoppers in the form of lists of haram and halal foods. See Also: Food Certification, Islam; Hadith; Halal Food; Islam; Qur’an, Food in the

Further Reading Abdel Haleem, M. A. S. 2004. The Qur’an: A New Translation. Oxford: Oxford University Press. “Halal Shoppers Guide.” n.d. Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, http://www Nurdeng, D. 2009. “Lawful and Unlawful Foods in Islamic Law Focus on Islamic Medical and Ethical Aspects.” International Food Research Journal 16: 469–478. Qaradawi, Y. 2006. The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam. London: Motilal Books.

Healing with Food In the secular world diet is associated mostly with good bodily health. The active biochemical constituents of foods, such as protein, vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids, and phytochemicals, are linked to physiological and metabolic processes that keep the body functioning and assist in recovery from injury and disease. For example, zinc, among other nutrients, is important for wound healing. However, for millennia prior to the scientific discovery of nutrients, as a healing substance food has been widely viewed as a vehicle for restoring balance to an outof-kilter system. The idea that food is an important means of healing can be traced in many cultural traditions to ancient times, when there was no real distinction between food and medicine, and for many centuries physicians from Greek, IndoAryan, Arabic, Chinese, and indigenous traditions treated patients predominantly through diet. In traditional indigenous practice in many contemporary societies, wild plants are still widely used as both food and medicine. The ancient idea that “food is medicine” recurs in many cultural traditions. It essentially revolves around a concept of balance or harmony in mind and body that is achieved by the mixing in proper proportions of different elements found in

Healing with Food

| 261

food. When these elements are out of proportion, balance is disrupted and illness ensues. Dietary manipulation to restore balance is the key to healing. Systems that employ this idea of proper balance include the humoral theory of ancient Greece, the Ayurveda medicine of India, the hot-cold system of Indo-Mediterranean and Latin American regions, and the yin-yang continuum of traditional Chinese medicine. The Greek doctor Hippocrates is famously said to have pronounced “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Greek humoral theory held that there were four bodily elements, each of which had particular characteristics. Medical practice consisted of understanding the normal mixture of humors or complexion of a person, the complexion of the person’s illness, and the method of restoring harmony in the body. Humoral theory and practice was spread widely by Christian, Jewish, and Muslim physicians. The Indian Ayurveda system incorporates multiple variables that interact to determine the effects of particular foods on particular body types in particular circumstances. Dimensions include six tastes, five elements, 20 material qualities, and three mental qualities. The type, quantity, and combination of each of these dynamic characteristics has positive or negative effects on both physical and mental well-being that the correct foods can help rebalance. Incorporation of these ideas into religious frameworks is seen in Islamic treatises such as the 14th-century “Medicine of the Prophet” based on the words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad and in Baha’i writings. “So, if the saccharine constituent increases, the health is impaired; and when the doctor forbids sweet and starchy foods the saccharine constituent diminishes, the equilibrium is reestablished, the disease is driven off” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1981). ‘Abdu’l-Bahá goes on to explain that the science of medicine is still in a condition of infancy and has not reached maturity. But when it does, cures will be performed “by things which are not repulsive to the smell and taste of man; that is to say by aliments, fruits and vegetables which are agreeable to the taste and have an agreeable smell.” Christian dietary reformers in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries promoted a similar message. They believed that physical health and moral and spiritual rectitude were associated and that proper dietary regime was the solution to healing body and soul. George Cheyne, a British physician, wrote that “It is diet alone, proper and specific diet, in Quantity, Quality and Order, which is the sole universal remedy and the only Means known to medical Art” (Cheyne 1740). Similar sentiments underpinned dietary and medical practice at the Seventh-day Adventist sanatorium at Battle Creek, Michigan, and fired the protestant zeal of Sylvester Graham. In a religious context food is also a source of spiritual healing. Aush is a souplike stew of lentils, legumes, noodles, herbs, and whey broth that is said to have health-giving and healing powers and is commonly served at Zoroastrian communal events. During the ritual preparation of aush, prayers are said over the food so that eating it provides spiritual as well as nutritional nourishment. Karah prasad is food sanctified at a Sikh worship service and then shared with the congregation. Ashura is a sacred pudding prepared by Sufi Muslims that is imbued by a stirring and chanting ritual with divine blessing and therefore capable of promoting both the physical and spiritual well-being of those who eat it. Similarly during Sufi


| Hindu Festival Calendar bread making, bread is imbued with baraka or spiritual power, which nourishes both the body and mind of the eater. In the West beginning in the 19th century, the relationship between food and healing was put on a scientific basis with the identification of active ingredients such as vitamins and minerals in food and their role in maintaining and repairing body systems. Food and medicine became progressively seen as separate categories, and food was relegated to the subservient role. Notwithstanding the fact that nutritional therapy is now an indispensable component of the treatment of many diseases, Western healing has come to depend more and more on medical interventions involving drugs and surgery. However, in the 21st century the notion of food as medicine has received new impetus from scientific research into functional foods (foods that have an effect in the body beyond their basic nutritional role), and nutraceuticals, sometimes known as medical foods, which are biochemically active food components that can be isolated and used in a therapeutic way. See Also: Ashura; Ayurveda; Baha’i Faith; Hadith; Seventh-day Adventists; Sikhism; Sufi Islam

Further Reading ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 1981. Some Answered Questions. 3rd ed. Wilmette, IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. Cheyne, G. 1740. An Essay on Regimen. London: C. Rivington. Heasman, M., and J. Mellentin. 2001. The Functional Food Revolution. London: Earthscan Publishers. Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzıˉ yah. 1998. Medicine of the Prophet [Zad al-ma’aˉd]. Translated by Penelope Johstone. Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society. Pieroni, A., and L. Price. 2006. Eating and Healing: Traditional Food as Medicine. Binghampton, NY: Food Products Press. Tirtha, Swami Sadishiva. 2007. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention and Longevity. New York: Ayurveda Holistic Center Press.

Hindu Festival Calendar Hindu holidays are dated based on a lunisolar calendar, which means that their Gregorian dates vary somewhat year to year but are in time with the seasons. The holidays mark the passing of the seasons, honor particular gods and goddesses, or mark events in the lives of Krishna and Rama, two of the most well-known avatars of Lord Vishnu. There are hundreds of Hindu religious holidays and utsavas (festivals), some of which are widely celebrated while others are regional or local. The names, dates, meanings, and customs associated with the festivals vary throughout the Hindu world. The table shows only the most common ones.

Hindu Festival Calendar Gregorian Calendar Dates (2017) January 14



February 1

Makar Sankranti/ Pongal Vasant Panchami

February 24 March 13

Maha Shivaratri Holi

April 5

Rama Navami

April 11

Hanuman Jayanti

June 25

Ratha Yatra

July 27

Nag Panchami

August 4

Varalakshmi Vratam

August 7 August 15 August 25

Raksha Bandhan Janmashtami (Krishna Jayanti) Ganesha Chaturthi

Harvest festival. Time for new starts and reconciliation of disagreements. Marks the start of spring. Widely celebrated in northern India. In Bengal it is dedicated to Saraswati, goddess of wisdom and the arts. Celebrates the life of Lord Shiva. A spring festival where people throw colored powder and water at each other. Celebrates the defeat of the witch Holika by Lord Vishnu. Celebration of the birthday of Rama, the seventh reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. Marks the birth of the monkey-headed Hanuman, a devotee of Lord Rama. Chariot festival in which thousands of people pull huge wagons carrying images of Lord Jaggannath. Honoring of snakes. Snakes may be caught and exhibited, and rice and vermillion may be sprinkled on cobra hoods. In southern India women ask Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, to give health and long life to their husbands. Celebration of brotherly and sisterly love. Birthday of Lord Krishna.

September 21–29


September 27–30

Durga Puja

September 30

Dussehra (Vijayadashami)

October 19


Harvest festival honoring Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of good fortune and remover of obstacles. Nine-day festival in which three days each are dedicated to the mother goddess in her three forms of Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. One of the biggest festivals in northeastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Celebrates the Mother Goddess. Pan-Indian festival but especially important to Bengalis. Celebrates Lord Rama’s victory over the evil demon Ravana. A one- to five-day festival of lights celebrating the triumph of light over darkness

| 263


| Hinduism See Also: Diwali; Durga Puja; Feasting in Hinduism; Holi; Maha Shivaratri; Makar Sankranti; Navaratri

Further Reading Adarsh Mobile Applications. n.d. “Online Panchang and Hindu Calendar for the World.” Drik Panchang, Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Festivals: Origins, Sentiments & Rituals. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith.

Hinduism With origins in India around 2000 BCE, Hinduism is today the third largest of the world’s religions. It has no single founder and no one specific religious philosophy and is not centrally organized. Hindus call it sanatana dharma, the eternal way, and it can be described as a synthesis of ideas and practices that underpin a way of life rather than as one discrete religion. Brahman is the name given to the universal spirit who is worshipped in the form of hundreds of gods and goddesses, the chief of which are the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. These gods appear on Earth from time to time as avatars, the best beloved of whom are Rama and Krishna. Hinduism is practiced in many different forms in different regions of India and around the world, but all share the goal of achieving moksha, or spiritual liberation, and becoming one with the universal spirit. Varanasai, on the banks of the Ganges River, is one of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities and is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. While many Hindus are vegetarian, Hindu dietary laws are complex and vary from region to region and between social classes. The most important Hindu symbols are the sacred sound “aum” or “om,” which represents the essence of the universe, and the swastika, an ancient symbol of good fortune. Origins and Historical Development Hinduism is the name given to a set of ancient religious traditions that are usually traced to around 2000 BCE in the Indus Valley civilization of northwestern India (what is now Pakistan). The name “Hindu” is derived from the Sanskrit word sindhu, meaning “people of the Indus River.” It was a geographical term and was not used to describe people until the British used it in the 19th century to describe those Indians who were not Muslims, Jains, Sikhs, or Christians. Over the next millennium and a half, trade and migration spread religious teachings and practices throughout the subcontinent. Around 500 BCE a new set of writings, the Dharma


| 265

Shastras and Dharma Sutras, appeared, replacing the previous Vedic emphasis on animal sacrifice with that of temple worship and devotion. These elements were to persist into modern Hinduism. The period 500–1500 CE saw the emergence of the three major Hindu devotional traditions of Vaishnavism, Shaivism, and Shaktism, with the building of great temples dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva, and Devi (the mother goddess). Indian Hindu cultural influences also spread to much of Southeast Asia. The Hindu Renaissance of the 19th century saw a revitalization of Hindu ideas in the face of Western colonialism as well as the emergence of an Indian independence movement that eventually led to establishing India as an independent state in 1948. Throughout its history, Hinduism has accommodated itself to social and political developments, absorbing and in turn influencing elements of other religious traditions, including Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism, and developing regional forms. English translations of Hindu religious texts brought awareness of Hinduism to 19th-century America, where the first Hindu societies were formed around the turn of the 20th century. The 1960s saw a large influx of Indian immigrants into the United Kingdom, while in the United States Indian immigrants began to settle in large U.S. cities and build temples based on traditional patterns. Unlike in India, the U.S. temples were often dedicated to more than one deity. In the 1970s visiting Indian gurus founded popular movements, such as Transcendental Meditation and the International Krishna Consciousness Movement, that initially attracted hundreds of thousands of Western followers. While the Hindu devotional practice of yoga has become immensely popular in North America, it has been largely detached from its religious roots. Demographics The global population of Hindus is around 1 billion, or approximately 15 percent of the world’s people. The vast majority (93 percent) live in India, and with significant Hindu populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Bali, the Caribbean, and Fiji, over 99 percent live in the Asia-Pacific region (Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life 2012). Hinduism is the majority religion in India, Nepal, and Mauritius. The next largest regional population is in North America, followed by North Africa and the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Europe. The current U.S. Hindu population is between 1.5 million and 2 million, with the greatest number being in California, New York, Texas, and Florida (Melton and Jones 2011). The Pew religious landscape survey of 2012 estimated that Hindus formed 0.6 percent of the population (about 1.8 million), but Hindu organizations claim that the number is as high as 2.2 million. Apart from approximately 260 traditional Hindu temples, there are hundreds of association-based temples and meditation centers, with at least one in every state. Built in 2007, the Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Hindu mandir (temple) in Atlanta, Georgia, is the largest Hindu temple in the Western world.


| Hinduism Beliefs and Teachings Hinduism has many sacred texts written over the course of thousands of years. The oldest of these, and the foundation of Hindu philosophy, are the Vedas (meaning “knowledge”) dating from 6000 BCE, passed on at first by oral tradition and written down about 1500 BCE. They presented religion as an integral part of daily life and established the class system in which Brahmins emerged as powerful ritual specialists. The Upanishads (meaning “sit down near”) are later Sanskrit religious scriptures derived from the Vedas. Two epic stories, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, remain extremely popular in Indian culture and provide moral lessons on everyday living. The Dharma Shastras and Dharma Sutras were textbooks on sacred law, the most influential of which was the Laws of Manu, completed by about 100 CE. Principal Hindu beliefs relate to the concepts of dharma, samsara, karma, and moksha. Dharma refers to the idea of natural law that maintains the harmony of the universe and requires proper conduct and proper social relationships. Dharma is universal in that it applies to everyone, but it is also particular in that different people have different obligations and duties according to their age, gender, and social position. Hindus believe that every individual has a soul, the atman. When the body dies, the soul is reborn in another body in a cyclical process of reincarnation known as samsara. During their lifetime people accumulate karma by virtue of their actions (good or bad) that will affect their future reincarnations. To make spiritual progress, people must take responsibility for their own actions. The ultimate goal is to achieve moksha, or liberation from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, a state of perfection free from earthly sufferings. Customs and Social Practices A notable feature of Hindu society is the ancient caste system, which divides people into four classes or castes, each with hundreds of occupational family and regional subgroups called jati. Each caste has its own duties, responsibilities, and privileges (or lack thereof). Caste is a hierarchical concept that limits life choices, as one is born into a particular caste, and there is little social mobility. The Supreme Court of India ruled in 2007 that caste is inherited and cannot be changed. While caste barriers are less visible in modern urban centers, they remain as a political and social challenge to Hindu society. Upper castes regard lower castes as ritually unclean, and social barriers to marriage between castes remain. Hindus believe that all living beings are sacred and should be treated with respect; the cow, though, is an especially revered animal that is a symbol of motherhood and fertility. Cow calendars, carvings, and posters illustrate the animal’s symbolic representation of health and abundance. The Sanskrit word for cow, aghnaya, means “not to be killed,” and cows wander at will through villages and towns. Feeding cows brings great merit; prayers are offered for sick cows, and garlands are hung around the animals’ necks on festival days. Legislation in several Indian states bans the slaughter of cows, and there are even government-run homes for aged cows. The five products of the cow (pancagavya)—milk, curd, ghee, urine,


| 267

and dung—are used in worship and rituals. For example, during marriage ceremonies a ritual flame is kept burning with ghee. Cultural materialist scholars suggest that the economic value of the cow as a work animal and as a source of valuable by-products led to it being protected through religious edicts. Ritual and Ceremony Daily worship (puja) occurs in the home or at the temple. Most Hindu homes have a small shrine with an idol or image of their personal deity, to whom offerings such as water, fruit, flowers, and incense are made. Food offerings are a common part of home worship, public rituals, and ceremonies. Food offered to and sanctified by the gods is called prasada. Eating this blessed food is considered to bestow spiritual grace and good karma. Hindu religious holidays and celebrations vary between countries and ethnic groups and have different names, dates, meanings, and customs even in different regions of India. Hindu holidays are dated based on a lunisolar calendar, which means that their Gregorian dates vary somewhat year to year. A leap month is added every three years to keep in time with the seasons. There are numerous festivals linked to the agricultural calendar marking historic events and figures or for worship of particular deities. Some are Pan-Indian, while others are local. On festival days there may be great processions and pilgrimages to the shrine of the feted deity, and some Indian festivals are among the largest human gatherings on Earth. In additional to the numerous religious festivals, Hindus celebrate personal feast days including birthdays, weddings, and funerals.

Annapurna:The Kitchen Goddess Annapurna is an avatar of Parvati, the wife of Shiva. Anna is the Sanskrit word for food, while purna means “complete” or “full.” As the goddess of food and cooking, Annapurna has the power of feeding an unlimited number of people. She is usually depicted sitting on a throne or standing on a lotus with a bowl heaped with grain in one hand and a ladle in the other. In some images she is feeding Shiva, who has a begging bowl. Annapurna’s image or statue is commonly found in kitchens or restaurants. One legend tells how Brahma and Vishnu were worried about an insufficiency of food on Earth. They asked Shiva to help, and he summoned Annapurna, who provided food for all. In return Shiva granted moksha (enlightenment) to the residents of Kasi, where the goddess lived. In another story, Annapurna withdrew from the world after Shiva had declared that everything, including food, was an illusion. This caused hunger and great suffering on Earth, so the goddess reappeared at Kasi and distributed food to everyone. Shiva admitted that food was needed to nourish the body in which the higher self resides and accepted food from the goddess. Annapurna is beloved in villages in India and also is a major deity in Varanasi (formerly Kasi), the spiritual capital of India. Wasting food is said to be a sure way to make the goddess Annapurna angry.


| Hinduism Food Practices The Upanishads teach that when one’s food becomes pure, one’s being becomes pure. By the end of the first century CE, detailed dietary codes were established chiefly in a document called the Smriti Manu (Laws of Manu). Over 200 foods and food-related activities were forbidden as being unwholesome. This included specific prohibited foods, rules on who may have access to or receive food from whom, rituals that define food purity, and behaviors that compromise purity. Meat eating was not prohibited but was discouraged especially among the higher castes, as meat cannot be obtained without injuring a sentient being, an impediment to attaining heavenly bliss. This is the basis of the Hindu concept of ahimsa, or noninjury. Contemporary Hindu food habits are shaped by geography, economics, and social class as well as by religious preferences. A State of the Nation survey in 2006 found that only 31 percent of Indians were vegetarian, with another 9 percent consuming eggs. Even among the highest-caste Brahmins, only 55 percent reported being vegetarian. Meat and fish eating was more common in the coastal states. Some groups such as the Swaminarayan sect avoid animal products altogether and focus their diet on the purest sattvic foods that include milk, ghee, honey, fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, and grains. Devotees of Shakti continue the ancient Vedic practice of animal sacrifice, and animals are slaughtered at temples dedicated to the goddess. Meat is also consumed by members of the scheduled classes, the Dalits. Those Hindus who do eat meat will usually avoid beef, and the meat should be slaughtered by the jhatka method. They may also abstain from meat eating on holy days. Consumption of alcohol is not forbidden, though moderation is advised. Hospitality and moderation in eating are cardinal principles for Hindus. However, concepts of purity and pollution determine who may eat what with whom and who may accept what food from whom. Generally, high status is pure and low status is polluting. Eating with or accepting food from members of a lower class is polluting, as is accepting cooked food from a Christian or Muslim. Raw foods are considered to be hot and are therefore purer than cooked foods, which are cold. Brahmins who accept food cooked by a lower-caste person lose ritual purity and thus caste status; however, they may accept raw materials for a meal and also ghee and milk, for these are products of the sacred cow and cannot be polluted by touch. In northern India, foods are categorized as being pukka or kacca. Kacca foods are cooked without fat (rice, chapatis) or in water and are most vulnerable to impurity. Pukka foods are deepfried in ghee and are therefore insulated against impurities and pollution. Kacca food is used as ordinary family fare and as payment for servants and artisans. Wealthy families may keep two kitchens—one for Brahmins and one for nonBrahmins—with separate utensils and even separate cooks. Temple cooks are usually Brahmins. Generally it is important to maintain personal cleanliness and clean surroundings for preparing and serving food. The right hand is used for eating. Light meals are advised and should be thoroughly chewed. Moderation is enjoined.


| 269

The Threefold Division of Food The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most popular of Hindu scriptures. It is a discourse on daily conduct held between Lord Krishna and the archer, Arjuna, during a battle that forms part of the epic story the Mahabharata. Krishna classifies food into three groups: those of the quality of goodness, passion, and ignorance. Foods of the quality of goodness (sattvic) promote longevity, strength, good health, and happiness and are juicy, rich, and nourishing. They include milk, honey, ghee, butter, fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, and grains. Foods of the quality of passion (rajasic) are hot in both temperature and taste. They are pungent, bitter, and spicy and may bring misery, depression, and disease to the body, though they can be tolerated in times of passion. Foods of the quality of ignorance (tamasic) are stale, tasteless, decomposed, or left over by somebody else and induce lethargy and lack of self-control.They include meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, garlic, onions, and mushrooms.

Abstention from eating food is a much-praised virtue. There are different kinds of fasting involving variations in duration and in degree of food restraint. Some Hindus may fast for two or three days a week, during which time they may eat only pure sattvic foods such as milk, fruit, nuts, starchy roots, and vegetables. Fasts are associated with calendric, caste, family, and personal events as well as with religious celebrations. Traditional Indian cooking uses a lot of fat in the form of dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt and as ghee or oil used in frying as well as sugar in sweets. This is a concern for some Hindu populations living in the West, as diet plays an important part in preventing diabetes and other chronic diseases. See Also: Ayurveda; Caste System; Diwali; Durga Puja; Fasting in Hinduism; Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand; Hindu Festival Calendar; Holi; Laws of Manu; Maha Shivaratri; Sacred Cow; Vegetarianism

Further Reading “Hindu Demographics.” n.d. Hindu American Foundation, /hindu-demographics. Mann, Gurinder Singh, Paul David Numrich, and Raymond Brady Williams. 2001. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America. New York: Oxford University Press. Melton, J. G., and C. A. Jones. 2011. “Reflections on Hindu Demographics in America: An Initial Report on the First American Hindu Census.” Paper presented at the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics & Culture meeting, Washington, DC, April 7–10, Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2012. The Global Religious Landscape. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.


| Hola Mohalla Weisgrau, M. K. 2000. “Vedic and Hindu Traditions.” In Religion and Culture: An Anthro­ pological Focus, edited by Raymond Scupin, 225–248. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Yadav, Y., and S. Kumar. 2006. “The Food Habits of a Nation.” The Hindu, August 14.

Hola Mohalla Hola Mohalla (Hola Mahalla, Hola) is a colorful Sikh spring fair celebrating the historic warrior spirit of the Sikhs. It features horse-riding competitions, mock fights, and displays and demonstrations of swordsmanship and martial arts. The festival was established in the Punjabi city of Anandpur in 1680 by the Sikh spiritual leader Guru Gobind Singh as a Sikh alternative to the Hindu festival of Holi. Gobind Singh envisioned the festival as a time for Sikhs to exhibit their martial skills with demonstrations and competitions. The term hola is derived from the Sanskrit word halla, meaning “charge” (in a military context), while mohalla refers to a military procession. Hola Mohalla is a one-day holiday (Cole and Sambhi 2005) held on the first day of the lunar month of Chet, coinciding with or immediately following the Hindu festival of Holi, which usually falls in March in the Western calendar. At Anandpur, the birthplace of the festival, the festivities spread out over several days. Anandpur is where Guru Gobind Singh created the Khalsa Panth, the order of Sikhs devoted to living a spiritual life in keeping with the guru’s teachings. At that time in their history the Sikhs faced constant harassment from the Moghul rulers, and nurturing the means to defend the community was important. Hola Mohalla provided a means to practice and celebrate martial arts. Each year tens of thousands of people descend on Anandpur to celebrate Hola Mohalla in the foothills outside the city. Gurdwaras are brightly decorated, and there is an air of festivity. As in the Hindu festival of Holi, people may daub themselves with colored paints. A striking feature of the festival is the presence of hundreds of Nihangs, members of an ancient Sikh warrior order, who gather from all around the country to participate in a great procession. Clad in their distinctive blue clothes and carrying weapons, they put on gatkas (mock battles). In addition to the martial dimension, there are also poetry and music competitions and readings from the Guru Granth Sahib. Food is provided to visitors and tourists by volunteers operating large-scale field kitchens, or langars. There are no special foods associated with the festival; what is served is the customary cuisine of the region. Hola Mohalla is celebrated on a smaller scale in other gurdwaras around the world, with a focus on services and processions. See Also: Gurpurbs; Langar; Sikh Festival Calendar; Sikhism; Vaisakhi

Further Reading Cole, W. A., and P. S. Sambhi. 2005. A Popular Dictionary of Sikhism: Sikh Religion and Philosophy. London: RoutledgeCurzon.


| 271

Kaur Singh, N. G. 2011. Sikhism: An Introduction. London: New York: I. B. Tauris. Vyanst. 2015. Festivals of India 2: Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi, Sindhi & Other Festivals. Edited by B. Praful. n.p.: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Holi Holi, the spring Hindu festival of colors, is the second most important festival of India after Diwali. Holi is a fun-filled occasion of bonfires and parties, and there is no special puja (worship) component. People smear each other with colored powders or use spray guns or balloons filled with colored water. Holi is celebrated slightly differently from state to state and is especially popular in the city of Mathura in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, associated with the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna. Holi is an ancient festival whose name is derived from Holika, the evil demon sister of King Hiranyakashipu. Legend recounts that Holika tricked the king’s son into sitting on a burning pyre as punishment for worshipping Lord Vishnu instead of his father. Through the intervention of Vishnu the son was saved, and Holika was burned in his place. The Holi bonfire recalls the burning of Holika. Cooled bonfire ashes were traditionally applied to the forehead, and this in time gave way to the use of colored powder. In addition to celebrating the victory of good over evil, Holi is also associated with the divine love of Krishna and Radha. In agricultural terms it marks the arrival of spring. Holi falls on the last full moon day of the Hindu month of Phaguna, on the cusp of the transition from the cool season to the spring season. In the Western calendar it is usually in March. In most of India it is a one- or two-day festival. However, in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, which many consider to be historically where Holi started, there are preparatory celebrations for eight days leading up to Holi. On the night before Holi large bonfires are lit in public parks or at community centers or temples. Effigies of Holika are burned while people sing and dance around the bonfire. On Holi itself people daub each other with colored powder or douse friends and strangers alike with colored water from balloons or water guns. In the streets and public places no one is safe from a drenching. Synthetic colors have largely replaced traditional vegetable pigments, and powders are readily available from markets and online. Parades are popular, with bands, singing, and dancing. Holi is a time for forgiveness of grievances and making a fresh start. After the riot of color fights, people bathe, dress up, and visit with friends and family. Sweets and gifts may be exchanged, and greetings cards are sent. Food Practices Popular Holi delicacies include puran poli, malpua, and gujiyas, which are prepared in the home or are readily available from street vendors. Puran poli is a Maharashtrian flatbread made with a chickpea paste filling sweetened with jaggery (a kind of sugar,


| Holi

Gujiyas are a sweet pastry stuffed with milk solids and dried fruit and dipped in syrup, typically served during the Hindu festival of Holi. (Ajay Kampani/

often made from date sugars). Malpua is a North Indian pancake made from flour, milk, and cardamom that is fried in ghee, soaked in syrup, and served with pistachios and warm thickened milk. Gujiyas are deep-fried or baked pockets of dough stuffed with milk solids and dried fruit and dipped in syrup. Thandai is a cooling drink of sweetened water with nuts, seeds, and spices. At Holi it is commonly laced with bhang, made from cannabis extract, bhang being sacred to Shiva. Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make intoxicating sweetmeats. Regional Variations Holi is celebrated in Hindu communities throughout the world and has also been adopted by some non-Hindus as a reason for a good party. In the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra males compete to build human pyramids in a bid to break a pot containing buttermilk hung from a tree or building. This emulates the pranks of Lord Krishna, who liked to steal milk. While the men attempt to reach the pot, they are drenched with buckets of colored water by female onlookers. In the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh, lath mar Holi occurs a few days before actual Holi. In a playful reenactment of Lord Krishna’s teasing of his beloved Radha and her friends, men from Lord Krishna’s village, Nandgaon, visit Barsana— the home of Radha—and tease the women, who retaliate by beating them with


| 273

Thandai Thandai is a popular refreshing East Indian drink made with milk, almonds, and spices. There are many variations in ingredients and recipes. Bhang ki thandai is a variation that combines cannabis paste with the milk drink and is particularly associated with the religious festival of Holi. Equipment Needed 2-quart soup pot, fine wire strainer, cheesecloth, mixing spoon. Ingredients 1 tbsp almonds, chopped 1 tsp almond extract 1 tbsp watermelon seeds, peeled 1 tbsp poppy seeds 1 tbsp anise seeds 1 tsp peppercorns, crushed ½ cup rose petals, dried (available in Indian markets) ½ tbsp rose water (optional) 3 pints water 5 cardamom pods, crushed 1½ cups sugar 1 cup milk Method 1. Combine all ingredients except sugar and milk. Bring to boil. 2. Simmer 10 minutes. Add milk and sugar. Cool. 3. When cold strain through cheesecloth. Chill before serving.

lathi (long bamboo sticks). In West Bengal, icons of Radha and Krishna are paraded around the streets. Sikhs also celebrate with a three-day festival that they call Hola Mohalla. This involves shows of strength and mock battles. Holi is celebrated in cities across America, with the emphasis being on fun. Mass events are held in parks or on beaches, where colorful festivities include Bollywood music and food. New York puts on a large Holi celebration, with parades, fashion shows, and cultural performances. Holi has been culturally appropriated for other nonreligious purposes. In 2012 Color Run was founded in the United States as a for-profit group that organizes fun running events at which competitors pass through “color stations,” where they are sprayed with dyed cornstarch solution. The races are now held around the world.


| Hospital Food See Also: Diwali; Hindu Festival Calendar; Hinduism; Fasting in Hinduism; Feasting in Hinduism; Maha Shivaratri; Makar Sankranti; Navaratri; Prasad

Further Reading Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. “Holi.” n.d. Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Festivals: Origins, Sentiments & Rituals. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Hospital Food Hospitals provide services to hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis. Some may be at the hospital for a short time as emergency or day patients, while others stay overnight, for several days, or for longer periods of time. Hospitals also employ a wide range of staff to provide medical care, maintain the building and equipment, and manage the finances and operations of the institution. In addition, visitors come and go to see relatives and friends who are staying in the hospital. Food services to meet the needs of all of these groups, particularly for in-patients, are an integral part of modern hospitals. In medieval Europe, hospitals were founded by religious orders and were staffed by nuns. Patients received Bible readings, sermons, and prayers along with medical treatment. Islamic hospitals date from around 900 CE, with important early centers in Cairo, Baghdad, and Damascus. Medieval Islamic hospitals were largely secular and served Muslim and non-Muslim populations alike. Hospitals became more secular in the 19th century, but faith-based hospitals remain part of the contemporary scene. In some parts of the developing world, mission hospitals are an important part of health care provision. Globally, the Roman Catholic Church is the biggest provider of health care outside of government, administering over 5,500 hospitals worldwide as well as clinics and long-term care homes. Christian dogma urges Christians to care for the sick. Hospitals run by the Seventhday Adventist Church are found throughout the United States and in Central and South America, Asia, and the Pacific. The first American Jewish hospitals were founded in the mid-19th century. As well as offering culturally appropriate care to observant Jews, they were intended to provide medical education and practice opportunities for Jews. Mount Sinai hospital in Manhattan was the second Jewish hospital founded in the United States and is one of the biggest teaching hospitals in the country. No Islamic hospitals exist in the United States. Food and drink have been central to hospitals and asylums from medieval times to the present day. While the specific food and drink provided varied according to place and custom, they were was always important parts of attending to patients’ well-being. Patients who are staying overnight or longer in a hospital need to be fed.

Hospital Food

| 275

A variety of systems are employed to meet this need. For example, meals may be prepared fresh in hospital kitchens and delivered to wards; they may be prepared offsite using cook-chill technology so that the food is merely reheated at the hospital. Snacks may be prepared directly on the ward. Responsibility for food preparation may be under the direct control of hospital staff, or it may be contracted to commercial third-party providers. Typically, hospitals have a general patient menu that may offer a limited number of choices from which patients may select if they do not have special dietary requirements. Many patients do require special therapeutic modifications to their diet to meet health and medical needs. Examples include low-salt, gluten-free, and semisolid diets. Special menus may also be offered to patients with cultural or religious dietary restrictions. Being hospitalized is for many patients a stressful experience. Apart from coping with an injury or medical condition, they are placed in a situation where they have little control over daily routine, including meals. Meals become a focal point of the day, providing normality, comfort, and potentially a source of complaint and dissatisfaction with either quality or content. For religious adherents, being in a hospital may pose a challenge to meeting religious food requirements, especially in a multicultural society where there is no dominant norm. Hospitals may not provide meals that are explicitly designed to meet the needs of different religious groups; if they do provide meals, patients may not trust that the meals are properly prepared according to religious law. Family and friends may instead choose to bring food from home that does meet religious standards. Faith-operated hospitals are more likely to cater to religious dietary requirements. Menus in Seventh-day Adventist health care facilities focus on vegetarian meals, in accordance with church teachings, but may still offer some nonvegetarian choices. In Israel, hospitals employ kashrut supervisors to ensure that food meets religious standards. In North America it is more likely that a kosher meal is an optional menu choice. In response to community needs, hospital authorities may establish policies that make it easier for hospital patients to meet religious food requirements. The Scottish government publishes a handbook with specifications for catering and nutrition standards in Scottish hospitals. It includes a section on meeting the needs of religious and ethnic groups, which states that it is a requirement that hospitals have a protocol for the provision of any diets outside of the main menu. Guides to serving multicultural needs in hospitals and other health care settings have been produced by health, religious, and government authorities. These often include descriptions of dietary needs and restrictions and are deigned to educate and sensitize hospital staff to diverse cultural needs and preferences. Where halal and kosher choices are offered, they are often ordered from specialist food-service companies and delivered in sealed containers that only have to be reheated. Food-related issues other than meals may arise. Muslim patients who choose to fast during Ramadan may need accommodations for the time of day at which meals are served. Fasting may pose a challenge to patients with diabetes, which requires adjustments in hospital care and treatment routines. See Also: Halal Food; Kosher Marketplace; School Food


| Hospitality Further Reading Donnelley, R. R. 2008. Food in Hospitals. Edinburgh, UK: Scottish Government. Ehman, J. 2007. “Religious Diversity: Practical Points for Healthcare Providers.” Penn Medicine, April 20, Kirkwood, N. A. 2005. Hospital Handbook on Multiculturalism and Religion. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing.

Hospitality Food sharing is an almost universal medium for expressing fellowship; it embodies values of hospitality, duty, giving, sacrifice, and compassion. Giving, receiving, and sharing food are gestures of friendship and symbols of trust and interdependency. The word “hospitality” is derived from the Latin hospitalitas, meaning “friendliness to a guest.” Hospitality in the form of food given to guests has been admired as a virtue throughout history. Hospitality originated in meeting the needs of travelers, particularly pilgrims; traditionally it was a kind of sanctuary, and the host’s responsibility was primarily for the safety of the guest. In medieval Spain, the route of the pilgrim’s way to St. James Compostela was lined with hospitals run by Catholic religious orders that provided food, shelter, and medical care to travelers. Subsequently the concept has broadened to embrace elements of both duty and pleasure. Hospitable motives include the pleasure of entertaining, a desire to please others or meet the needs of others, and allegiance to religious duties to be hospitable. Hospitality is given to one’s own circle of friends and acquaintances or to strangers; in the latter case it may be either Good Samaritan hospitality or provided as part of a business transaction, such as at a hotel. In Islam, hospitality is regarded as a sacred duty. The prophet Muhammad exalted the virtues of hospitality and commended believers to accept food that was offered, for to refuse such food was to refuse divine bounty and to neglect an opportunity to honor a noble act. So important was this principle of courteous acceptance of hospitality that it was to be followed even if it meant breaking a religious

Order of St. John Hospitals were originally charitable institutions that provided food and shelter for the needy. Later they became associated with caring for the sick and wounded.The Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitaller, was founded in the 11th century CE. It was associated with a hospital in Jerusalem dedicated to Saint John the Baptist that looked after sick and needy pilgrims visiting the Holy Land. The Order of St. John was revived in Britain in the 19th century and spread throughout the Commonwealth and to the United States. It is best known for running the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade.


| 277

fast. Nevertheless, Muhammad counseled that hospitality that extends beyond three days becomes charity. Hospitality was also an important way of mediating relationships and defusing potential conflict and war by treating would-be enemies as guests. In the Sufi tradition particularly, hospitality assumed tremendous and enduring importance as seen today in the form of feeding stations in Sufi centers and at Moulid (saint day) festivals. Major festivals attract hundreds of thousands of people and can last for two to three weeks. Sufi orders set up khidamets (hospitality stations) in public buildings, in tents, or simply on cloths spread on the ground. Food and drink are offered to passersby and must be accepted, as the food contains the baraka of the saint being honored and therefore confers spiritual blessing on the recipient. For the poor, these stations provide an additional opportunity for physical as well as spiritual nourishment. Baha’is embrace the importance of hospitality as a means to fostering fellowship and unity. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh specifies that the intercalary days preceding Nowruz are to be set aside for hospitality and giving gifts. Shoghi Effendi describes Nowruz itself as a feast of hospitality and rejoicing. The Baha’i Nineteen-Day Feast is a monthly community meeting that is held every 19 days, usually on the first day of each Baha’i month. The feast was originally a way of offering hospitality and bringing people together by sharing food; over time it developed to incorporate devotional, administrative, and social components. It follows the religious tradition of providing hospitality by feeding guests. Individuals and families may volunteer to provide refreshments for a feast on a rotating basis, or sometimes a potluck approach is adopted. The act of providing food is a form of service to the community, but Baha’is are careful to try to keep the food simple so that no one is embarrassed or made to feel awkward if they can’t afford to provide lavish food. Normative rules of hospitality and courtesy dictate that the guest accepts what is offered; this can create a dilemma if what is offered conflicts with other religious requirements, such as not drinking alcohol or only eating simple one-course meals. It can also conflict with modern health sensibilities. Serving a Hindu meal with reduced oil and spice to guests may be considered inhospitable and associated with not honoring the guests. If a Candomble temple serves too little food to the guests who attend their festivities, this is considered a lack of hospitality and a form of disrespect. Rules on who eats together and who gives food to and accepts food from whom are powerful markers of group identity based on exclusion of those who “don’t belong.” The open commensality of the Christian table, such as at a faith-run soup kitchen, marked by hospitality to all who come is a way of erasing those boundaries and providing a tangible expression of human connectedness. Similarly, the Sikh langar (communal kitchen) embodies ideals of service and hospitality and is open to all. In Shaker communities, sharing food three times a day became an important symbolic way of uniting the community, whether it was the large communal meals of past times or the small tables shared with guests today. The food hospitality offered at Shaker tables was also a way of attracting potential new members to the community. Hospitality and moderation in eating are cardinal


| Humanitarian Food Relief principles for Hindus. The Laws of Manu is one of oldest written religious, legal, and moral codes in the world. It deals with law, governance, and ethics but also accords importance to hospitality to guests. The unexpected guest is called the atithi, literally meaning “without a set calendar time.” The Upanishad scriptures enjoin that the guest be treated as God. This tradition of offering hospitality continues in Hindu households. In 2005 the Indian Ministry of Tourism adopted the slogan “Atithi devo bhava!” (The guest should be treated as god). Zoroastrians must dedicate themselves to following the creed of “good thoughts, good words, good deeds” and practice virtues of honesty, charity, and hospitality. The Japanese tea ceremony embodies Zen Buddhist virtues of hospitality and respect, inviting guests to relax in an atmosphere of tranquility and spiritual harmony. The word khlebosolny, derived from khleb (bread) and sol (salt), is a Russian term for “hospitable.” In folk custom in western Russia, visitors—especially those of rank—would be offered bread and salt as a sign of hospitality, and guests would bestow the wish “may salt and bread never leave your home.” Bishops and archbishops of the Russian Orthodox Church are presented with bread and salt on the occasion of parish visits. Some other orthodox churches also follow this tradition. See Also: Bread; Charity; Commensality; Langar; Laws of Manu; Nineteen-Day Feast; Sufi Islam; Tea Ceremony

Further Reading Campbell, C. 2003. Stations of the Banquet: Faith Foundations for Food Justice. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. Edelstein, S. 2011. Food, Cuisine, and Cultural Competency for Culinary, Hospitality and Nutrition Professionals. Mississauga, Ontario: Jones and Barlett. Pole, C. D. 1999. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. Seidel, K. n.d. “Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook and Art Gallery.” Superluminal, http:// Telfer, E. 1996. Food for Thought: Philosophy and Food. London: Routledge.

Humanitarian Food Relief Global food production is theoretically ample to provide every man, woman, and child in the world with the daily calories and nutrients they require to sustain life and health. Nevertheless, millions of people experience food shortages and hunger on a daily or periodic basis. The reasons behind this apparent paradox are complex; the major factors are inadequacies in the food supply and lack of entitlement of access to food that is available. Food supply problems may be due to environmental factors such as crop failure, climatic catastrophes such as droughts and floods that ravage a normally adequate food supply, or political and economic decisions

Humanitarian Food Relief

| 279

that undermine local food security. The policy of using land to grow so-called cash crops for the export market instead of subsistence crops for local consumption is one example. Conflict also disrupts food supplies by cutting off cities and towns from normal food channels and destroying or depopulating farmland. Lack of entitlements means that even when food is available, people are not able to get access to it because they do not have the economic means to purchase food or because social welfare supports are absent or inadequate. One response to hunger and famine, no matter what its cause, is humanitarian food relief. This can take the form of food aid or food assistance programs. Food relief may be targeted at specific disaster situations or be part of longer-term interventions in places where food insecurity and hunger are endemic. Food relief can be provided by domestic or foreign governments, through international aid agencies, or by private donors. The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Either actual food or cash to purchase food locally may be provided. Food aid has both benefits and disadvantages. It meets an immediate need to feed people but can also undermine local markets, and sometimes the food aid offered by foreign governments is tied to conditions or concessions that benefit the donor more than the recipient. Most of the major religions have or sponsor organizations that provide humanitarian food relief. Many also or instead focus on longer-term development programs that are intended to work with local populations to foster long-term food security. The “Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief” was developed and agreed upon by eight of the world’s largest disaster response agencies in the summer of 1994. Many aid organizations subscribe to the code that sets out 10 principles that all humanitarian actors should adhere to in their disaster response work. This includes a commitment that aid will not be used to further a particular religious or political standpoint. Baha’i Faith There is no Baha’i food relief organization as such, though individual Baha’i and Spiritual Assemblies may choose to support such efforts. In 1983, the World Centre of the Office of Social and Economic Development was established to support and promote learning about development in areas such as literacy, rural development, education, medicine, and agriculture. In the Baha’i perspective, assistance models based on foreign aid have not worked; instead, a capacity-building approach to rural development is promoted. Buddhism Founded in the United States in 2007, the Buddhist Global Relief has as its primary purpose combating chronic hunger and malnutrition. It provides emergency food aid in disaster situations and is involved in long-term food security strategies as well as advocating for an ecologically sustainable and just international food


| Humanitarian Food Relief system. Its organizational mission is informed by Buddha’s pronouncements that “hunger is the worst kind of illness” and “the gift of food is the gift of life.” Christianity There are numerous Christian organizations and agencies involved in food and other relief efforts around the world. The Christian response arises from biblical injunctions to be grateful for the bounty that God has provided and to share that bounty with others by protecting them from want and providing for those in need. The Mennonite Central Committee is a religious and social service agency devoted to both domestic and international humanitarian issues, such as food security and disaster relief. It sends food, people, and goods to areas recovering from war or natural disasters. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is an example of a partnership of 15 churches and church-based agencies that support international programs to provide food aid relief, reduce malnutrition, and enhance long-term food security. As well as engaging in direct projects, they also work to influence national and international policies with the goal of ending global hunger. Food for the Hungry is a U.S.-based Christian humanitarian organization with programs and operations in 20 countries. Hinduism For Hindus, the acts of giving (dana) and selfless service (seva) are important elements of dharma, or religious duty. Because Hinduism is not a centrally organized religion, there are few large-scale Hindu charities. However, some Hindu religious movements actively support food assistance efforts. A charitable program sponsored by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) called Food for Life provides free vegetarian food to those in need through school programs and food relief projects. ISKCON claims to be the largest charitable vegetarian food distributor in the world. Active in 60 countries, it serves millions of meals daily through free restaurants and mobile van services and provides food relief during natural disasters. The Bhaktivedanta Ashram is an example of a local relief effort. It operates a program that feeds over 6,000 needy children in the drought- and flood-afflicted areas of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, which are some of the poorest regions of India. Islam Islamic Relief Worldwide is an international organization involved in food projects that range from emergency feeding and food aid to tackling malnutrition to supporting sustainable food production. There are offices in countries around the world, including Islamic Relief USA based in Alexandria, Virginia. Jainism Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana, based in Pune, Maharashtra, provides volunteers and professional expertise to assist in earthquake and drought relief across India.

Hungry Ghosts

| 281

Judaism Disaster relief is one of the five focuses of action by the American Jewish World Service. The service attempts to transport aid quickly after a disaster and remain to help in recovery and rebuilding. The British-based World Jewish Relief has similar goals. Sikhism Khalsa Aid is an international nongovernmental organization with the mission of providing humanitarian aid in disaster areas and civil conflict zones around the world. The organization is based on the Sikh principle of recognizing the whole human race as one. One of its projects, LangarAid, extends the principle of serving free food (langar) at Sikh temples to providing meals to victims of natural disasters and conflict. See Also: Charity; Compassion; Langar; Social Justice and Food; Soup Kitchens and Food Banks

Further Reading “Bhaktivedanta Ashram Food Relief Program.” n.d. FoodRelief, http://www.foodrelief .org/bhaktivedanta-ashram-food-relief-program/. “Buddhist Global Relief.” n.d. Buddhist Global Relief, “Disaster Response.” n.d. Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana, “Emergency Relief.” n.d. Food for Life Global, “Food.” n.d. Mennonite Central Committee, “Food Aid.” n.d. Islamic Relief USA, “LangarAid: Feeding Humanity.” n.d. KhalsaAid, “Our Work.” n.d. Canadian Foodgrains Bank, “Our Work: Projects.” n.d. Food for the Hungry, “Responding to Disasters.” n.d. American Jewish World Service, -do/disaster-response/. “Responding to Disasters.” n.d. World Jewish Relief, /how-we-help/responding-to-emergencies. “World Food Programme.” n.d. United Nations,

Hungry Ghosts Hungry Ghosts is a Chinese festival observed by Chinese folk religionists, Buddhists, and Taoists alike. It differs from several other Chinese ancestor festivals in that it is not just personal relatives who are venerated but all the unhappy dead, who return to Earth and must be appeased. Buddhists call it Yulanpen, or Ullambana, while Taoists refer to it as Zhongyuan. It is celebrated throughout China, particularly in Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces. The Hungry Ghosts festival is a monthlong event in the seventh lunar month (ghost month) of the Chinese calendar. Ghost day is generally


| Hungry Ghosts celebrated on the 15th of the month, which is around mid-August in the Western calendar. The first and last days of ghost month are also marked with special customs. The origins of the Hungry Ghosts festival is unclear. It probably emerged from traditional Taoist and folk religion beliefs that predate Buddhism. Honoring the dead on a special day is a widespread practice not only in Asia but also around the world, as in Halloween in Europe and North America and the Day of the Dead in Mexico and Latin America. In Chinese culture and custom it is important to ensure that the deceased are looked after in their journey to the afterlife, for they are not dead but simply existing on a different plane. If their journey is not successful, they will come back to cause trouble for the living. Hungry ghosts are the distressed spirits of ancestors who were not properly cared for or of those who led selfish, greedy lives. At the beginning of ghost month they are released from Hell and allowed to visit the land of the living. To appease the ghosts, people offer them food and drink as well as faux paper currency known as “hell money.” The food and money are placed on family altars or on roadside stands, and it is not uncommon to see people burning hell money in the street. Roast pork, chicken, buns, bowls of rice, mandarin oranges, sweets, and wine are common offerings. They are placed on tables outside the house or platforms in public areas so the ghosts can help themselves. Food offerings are also made to Buddhist and Taoist monks, who conduct rituals such as throwing rice into the air, to appease the ghosts. On Hungry Ghosts day large banquets may be held at which there are lavish amounts of food and drink as well as loud musical entertainment. Empty seats are left for the ghosts to attend, and in some places the proceedings are watched over by brightly dressed effigies of Phor Thor Kong, the king of the underworld, sometimes accompanied by assistants. These demons may be bribed with paper money to persuade them to refrain from harming the living and to help smooth the way for dead ancestors. At the end of the celebration the effigies are burned. On the last day of ghost month, ancestral tablets that were put out for display on the first day are put away. People make and launch small paper boats carrying lit lanterns; when the lanterns go out, this signifies that the ghosts have returned to the world of the dead. Hungry Ghost festivals occur throughout Southeast Asia. In Hong Kong a highlight of the Hungry Ghost festival is the performance of Chinese operas on temporary stages erected in the streets. Members of the Hong Kong Chaozhou community, originally from Guangdong Province in mainland China, organize their own monthlong Hungry Ghost festivities in public spaces across the city. In Malaysia the festival is called Phor Thor. Giant fierce effigies of the king of Hades, Tai Su Yah, are popular attractions for locals and tourists alike. See Also: Confucianism; Day of the Dead; Feasting in Buddhism; Halloween; Taoism

Further Reading Teiser, S. F. 1988. The Ghost Festival in Medieval China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


| 283

“12 Things to Avoid on ‘Ghost Month.’” 2015. ABS-CBN News, August 14, http://www Xing, G. 2011. “Yulanpen Festival and Chinese Ancestor Worship.” Journal of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, Sri Lanka 9: 123–144.

Hutterites Scattered across the North American prairies are small colonies, or bruderhofs, where Hutterites maintain their Christian Anabaptist beliefs and simple way of communal life. Originating in Central Europe, their official name is the Hutterian Brethren. Colonies vary in size but average about 80 people or 15 families and are largely self-sufficient, though they do buy from and trade with local nonHutterites. While intensive raising of crops and livestock is the mainstay of Hutterite life, increasingly they are involved in manufacturing, producing a variety of goods such as furniture and machine parts in the colony or working for outside businesses. Grade schooling takes place in the colony, but some Hutterites go on to colleges, universities, or trade schools. Hutterites have a distinctive dress code that makes them readily identifiable. Men wear black trousers and suspenders and dark jackets or coats, while women wear blouses, ankle-length skirts or dresses, aprons, and a head covering, usually black, called a tiechl. Food, much of which is produced in the colony, reflects a Central and East European heritage and is simple, plentiful, and robust. Origins and Historical Development The Hutterites emerged from the religious turmoil of 16th-century Europe where, like other Anabaptists such as the Amish and Mennonites, they were persecuted. Under the leadership of Jakob Hutter, a community of believers from southern Austria and northern Italy sought refuge across Europe, first in Moravia, then in Hungary, Romania, and the Ukraine. In 1870 all Hutterites in the Ukraine migrated to North America, settling in what is now South Dakota. One-third of the new immigrants established colonies, while the rest took advantage of homesteading opportunities to set up individual homes. As German-speaking pacifists, Hutterites were poorly regarded as not contributing to the war effort of World War I. In 1918 with a promise from the Canadian government that they would be guaranteed religious freedom and exempted from military service in return for working the land, many Hutterites immigrated to Alberta and Manitoba, where they set up new colonies. There are about 45,000 Hutterites living in North America, of which 75 percent are in Canada; 462 colonies are located predominantly in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan and the states of South Dakota and Montana, with smaller numbers in Minnesota, North Dakota, Washington, and British Columbia.


| Hutterites Beliefs and Customs Hutterites believe that the Bible is the word of God. They subscribe to much of Christian doctrine but are distinguished by their practice of following the biblical example of Christ and his apostles in sharing all possessions in intentional community. As Anabaptists they practice adult baptism, believing that full membership in the church requires a deliberative commitment to God that cannot be made in childhood. Hutterite society is patriarchal, with men being accorded higher status than women, and division by gender and age is visible in church, school, and dining halls. Hutterites are pacifists and do not participate in military service. The collective society is seen to be more important than the individual, and Hutterites have largely succeeded in adapting to the modern world while maintaining their social cohesiveness. Each colony has an advisory board that oversees the day-to-day running of the community and consists of a minister, a colony manager, and a farm manager. Colony life is scheduled centrally, with prearranged times for worship, work, and meals. Work on the colony is unpaid, but all are provided with food, clothing, shelter, and other essentials. While individuals do have personal possessions, all property and resources (such as farm equipment) are owned collectively by the colony. Unlike the Amish, Hutterites embrace the use of electricity and modern technology such as phones, computers, and agricultural equipment so long as they serve the needs of the community and not just the needs of an individual. Social practices differ from colony to colony, with some endorsing leisure pursuits such as sports (though not organized), while others shun such activities. Choral music is important, and some colonies also allow musical instruments. A dialect called Hutterisch is spoken, while church sermons are in German. Some colonies allow outsiders to join, but this is very uncommon. Ritual and Ceremony A teenager’s 15th birthday is an eagerly anticipated and important transition from childhood to adult life and duties. There is no religious rite, but the occasion is publicly acknowledged by the colony schoolteacher, who provides advice and guidance in the teenager’s new status. Adult baptism takes place between the ages of 20 and 30 years, at which time the candidate takes baptismal vows and accepts the Apostles’ Creed to become a fully responsible member of the church. Only baptized Hutterites can marry. While men usually remain in the same colony for a lifetime, women typically move to a new colony when they marry. Marriage involves formal events over two weekends. The first, called hulba, is held on the bride-to-be’s colony. Family and friends, along with colony elders, gather to meet the groom, who formally asks for permission to wed. A supper is eaten, after which the whole colony is invited to join the gathering for an evening of singing. The wedding ceremony is held a week or two later at a Sunday morning service in the groom’s colony. It is followed by a midday wedding meal. Noodle soup and freshly baked buns are a must, and at the end of the wedding children may receive bags of candy and peanuts. Later in the afternoon there is another gathering, called huchzeit, involving singing and where snacks and desserts are served.


| 285

Food Practices Eating in the colony is a communal affair. Children ages 5 to 15 eat together at the Essenschuel. Once they are 15 they move to the Ess Stubm, the adult dining room. Here, men and women sit separately in a precise order determined by age and baptismal status. Breakfast, lunch, and supper are served buffet style, with everyone helping themselves. The tradition of first call (by means of a bell or intercom) summons elders, caregivers, and new mothers to eat 15 minutes before the rest of the colony members. In some colonies families also have home kitchens and can choose to eat alone. Women between the ages of 17 and 45 are responsible for food-related activities including gardening, preserving, and cooking. Older women are allowed to gradually shed these responsibilities. Each colony has a prestigious position of head cook who is assisted by a weekly roster of assistants to feed all the colony members. Following their designated cooking week, women contribute to baking bread, pastries, and cakes that are distributed to all community members on a weekly basis. There is also a cook who looks after special dietary needs. Hutterite cuisine is simple, robust, and often calorie-rich as befits a lifestyle based on manual labor. Nevertheless, the high sugar and fat diet may contribute to early childhood dental caries and other health problems in later life. Most food is produced in the colony, and traditional recipes are passed from generation to generation. Hutterite specialities include Schuten Pie (cottage cheese pie) and Feigen Kraplen (fig pockets), squares of dough filled with a sweetened mixture of figs, raisins, and apples. Maultosche (Big Cheek Soup) consists of ravioli-like pasta dough with a filling of minced and smoked meats, beaten egg, onions, spinach, and breadcrumbs simmered in a broth. There are no dietary laws to restrict food consumption, and neither do the Hutterites undertake religious fasts. See Also: Amish; Christianity; Mennonites

Further Reading “The Hutterites.” n.d. Hutterian Brethren, Kirkby, M. A. 2011. I Am Hutterite: The Fascinating True Story of a Young Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Heritage. Nashville: Thomas Nelson. Kirkby, M. A. 2014. Secrets of a Hutterite Kitchen. Toronto: Penguin Canada. Schroth, R., P. Dahl, M. Hague, and E. Kliewer. 2010. “Early Childhood Caries among Hutterite Preschool Children in Manitoba, Canada.” Rural Remote Health 10(4): 1535.

I Iftar As sunset approaches at the end of a day of Ramadan fasting, Muslims prepare to break their fast with a small meal known as iftar. This may be accompanied with readings from the Qur’an. Preparation of the iftar food is done during the day in homes, restaurants, and roadside stalls. While many families choose to share iftar at home, in some places the local mosque may organize a communal iftar buffet or meal. Restaurants also commonly offer iftar specials, along with food stalls set up exclusively during Ramadan. Following the example set by the prophet Muhammad, eating three dates is a popular way to break the fast, after which a full iftar meal is consumed. Favorite iftar dishes are found in different parts of the Muslim world. In Morocco it is normal to break the fast by eating harira, a tomato-based soup of lamb, lentils, and chickpeas, accompanied by cinnamon-flavored deep-fried and honey-dipped pastries known as grioush, along with lots of milky coffee. In

Men gathered for a communal iftar dinner near a mosque in Bur Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Iftar is the evening meal eaten at Ramadan to break the day’s fast. (Alexey Stiop/



| Interfaith Festival Calendar neighboring Algeria, a vegetable and lamb soup called shourba is served with khobz eddar, or house bread. Bourek is also popular on the Algerian iftar table; similar to an Asian spring roll or egg roll, bourek is a deep-fried phyllo pastry roll stuffed with minced beef and onions. In the Indonesian province of Aceh, a fermented rice porridge called beras tape is a common iftar choice. It is considered to be an acceptable food even though the fermentation process produces some alcohol, a substance normally prohibited in Islam. Kolak is an Indonesian dessert made from coconut milk and palm sugar with bananas or sweet potatoes and is served cold as an iftar snack. In Tajikistan, the Ramadan iftar commonly includes nishalada, a dessert made by boiling water and sugar to make a thick syrup, to which is added egg whites beaten with licorice water, lemon juice, vanilla, and anise. Nishalada is held to suppress hunger pangs and therefore help with fasting. Iranians also have a special Ramadan sweet called sulbiya. Doughnuts made from yogurt, flour, starch, and baking powder and colored yellow with saffron are deepfried and then dipped in a rosewater-flavored syrup. Spicy onion and lentil fritters known as piyaji are popular in Bangladesh, while in the Indian city of Hyderabad a spicy porridge of lamb, cracked wheat, and lentils called haleem is an iftar speciality. A vegetarian version is also produced by substituting vegetables and dried fruit for the meat. Iftar is an occasion for friends and family to visit; often guests are invited to share the iftar meal, including important people in the local community. In American History: Thomas Jefferson’s Iftar The U.S. State Department has hosted an annual iftar meal since 1996. However, the first state iftar is attributed to one of the American founding fathers and the third president of the United Sates, Thomas Jefferson. In 1805 Jefferson hosted a Tunisian envoy, Sidi Soliman Mellimellian, who was the first Muslim ambassador to visit the United States. The ambassador arrived during Ramadan, so Jefferson arranged for the usual midafternoon meal to be instead served exactly at sunset as a mark of respect for the ambassador’s religious requirements. See Also: Feasting in Islam; Hadith; Ramadan

Further Reading Heine, P. 2004. Food Culture in the Near East, Middle East and North Africa. Westport, CT: Greenwood. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood. “Thomas Jefferson’s Iftar.” n.d. U.S. Embassy, brief/2011/07/20110729153019kram0.3508199.html#axzz31Phmb83S.

Interfaith Festival Calendar Each year there are thousands of religious festivals and celebrations, and almost every day has some sort of religious observance somewhere in the world. This

Interfaith Festival Calendar

| 289

month-by-month calendar includes only a relative few of the most important religious occasions. Further details are given in entries throughout the work. Because some faiths use lunar or other calendars where dates are not fixed in the solar year, the festival month may vary in some instances. There may also be regional variations on the dates on which some festivals are celebrated. Some festivals last longer than one day; in this instance the start date is indicated. The calendar below is based on 2017 dates.

Interfaith Festival Calendar 2017 JANUARY 1 5 6 7 14 15 28 29 FEBRUARY 1 2 3 10 15 24 27 28 MARCH 1* 1 11* 11* 12 13 13 20 21 28

Ganjitsu Birth of Guru Gobind Singh Epiphany Christmas Day Makar Sakranti World Religion Day Chinese New Year Jashn-E Sadeh

Shinto Sikh Christian Orthodox Christian Hindu Baha’i Chinese Traditional Zoroastrian

Vasant Panchami Imbolc Setsubun Tu B’shevat Nirvana Day Maha Shivaratri Clean Monday Shrove Tuesday

Hindu Pagan Shinto Jewish Buddhist Hindu Orthodox Christian Christian

Lent Nineteen-Day Fast begins Fravardigan Purim Magha Puja Hola Mohalla Holi Ostara Noruz (New Year) Khordad Sal

Christian Baha’i Zoroastrianism Judaism Buddhist Sikh Hindu Pagan Zoroastrian / Baha’i Zoroastrian (continued)


| Interfaith Festival Calendar (continued) APRIL 5 5 10 10* 13 14 14 16 21 24 MAY 1 10 12 14 23 25 27* 29 30 31* JUNE 4 15 16 21 22 25* 25 JULY 1 9 9 11 13 23 31 AUGUST 1 6 6

Rama Navami Qingming Mahavira Jayanti Passover Songkran Holy Friday; Good Friday Vaisakhi Pascha; Easter Ridvan Lailat al Miraj

Hindu Traditional Chinese Jain Jewish Buddhist Orthodox Christian Christian Sikh Orthodox Christian; Christian Baha’i Islam

Beltaine Vesak Lailat al Barah’ah Lag B’Omer Declaration of the Bab Ascension Day Ramadan Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh Dragon Boat Festival Shavu’ot

Pagan Buddhist Islam Jewish Baha’i Christian Islam Baha’i Traditional Chinese Jewish

Pentecost / Whitsun Corpus Christi Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Summer Solstice (Litha) Lailat al Qadr Eid Al Fitr Ratha Yatra

Christian Christian (Catholic) Sikh Pagan Islam Islam Hindu

Jashn-E Tirgan Dharma Day Martyrdom of The Bab All Saints Obon Emperor Haile Selassi Birthday Tish’a B’av

Zoroastrian Buddhist Baha’i Orthodox Christian Buddhist Rastafari Jewish

Lammas Chokor Transfiguration

Christian Buddhist Christian

Interfaith Festival Calendar 15 15 23 25 26 SEPTEMBER 1* 1 5 9 14 20* 21 21 22 26 27 29* 30 OCTOBER 1 5 13 19 20 22 31 NOVEMBER 1 2 4 15 27 DECEMBER 1 3* 8 12* 21 25 26

Feast of the Assumption Krishna Janmashtami Dhul-Hijjah Ganesh Chathurthi Paryushan

Christian Hindu Islam Hindu Jain

Eid-al-Adha Installation of Guru Granth Hungry Ghosts Eid-al-Ghadir Elevation of the Cross Rosh Hashannah Al-Hijra (New Year) Navaratri Mabon Durga Puja Meskel Yom Kippur Dussehra

Islam Sikh Chinese Traditional Islam Orthodox Christian Jewish Islam Hindu Pagan Hindu Ethiopian Coptic Christian Jewish Hindu

Ashura Sukkot Simchat Torah Diwali Birth of the Bab Bahá’u’lláh birthday Samhain

Islam Jewish Jewish Hindu / Jain / Sikh Baha’i Baha’i Pagan

All Saints’ Day All Souls’ Day Guru Nanak Dev birthday Shichi-Go-San Ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Christian Christian Sikh Shinto Baha’i

Mawlid al-Nabi Advent Bodhi Day Hanukkah Yule Christmas Zaratosht Diso

Islam Christian Buddhist Jewish Pagan Christian Zoroastrian

*Indicates a holiday or observation of more than one day. Only the first day is given, and the observation often begins at sundown except for Christian holy days. See also other faith calendars to find more details.

| 291


| International Society for Krishna Consciousness See Also: Aztec Religion and Ritual; Baha’i Festival Calendar; Buddhist Festival Calendar; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar; Festivals; Hindu Festival Calendar; Islamic Festival Calendar; Jewish Festival Calendar; Sikh Festival Calendar; Zoroastrian Festival Calendar

Further Reading “Religious Festivals and Holidays.” n.d. BBC, Richards, E. G. 1998. Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History. Oxford: Oxford University Press. “2016 Religious Festivals.” n.d. The Inter Faith Network, /resources/2016-religious-festivals/january.

International Society for Krishna Consciousness The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as Hare Krishna, is a new religious movement within the Gaudiya Vaishnava Hindu tradition. Founded in 1966 in New York City by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, ISKCON promotes personal devotion to Krishna. The chant “Hare Hare, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare,” which is recited quietly or sung out loud accompanied by music, gives the movement its popular name. Male devotees dress in distinctive saffron or white robes and shave their heads except for a sikha, or topknot; women wear bright-colored saris. Most contemporary ISKCON members are congregationalists who dress and live as part of the mainstream community. Hare Krishnas are involved in social action, particularly food projects. Vegetarianism is part of personal practice and is promoted through cookbooks and ISKCON restaurants in 60 countries. The ISKCON symbol is a lotus that is incorporated in an official logo. Origins and Historical Development ISKCON was founded in 1966 by the Hindu spiritual leader A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896–1977). In 1965 Prabhuptada traveled to New York City to spread Krishna consciousness to the English-speaking world, and the following year he founded ISKCON. His ideas found a receptive audience in the counterculture hippie movement and attracted celebrities including George Harrison of the Beatles. Prabhupada established temples in New York and San Francisco and subsequently traveled throughout the United States and worldwide initiating disciples, building temples, and establishing farm communities. The Hare Krishnas first gained public attention through the activities of devotees dressed in distinctive saffron robes who chanted and handed out leaflets in public places. At the time of the Prabhupada’s death in 1977 he had initiated 5,000 devotees and established 100 temples and learning centers. The 1980s and 1990s saw a significant change in the

International Society for Krishna Consciousness

| 293

nature of ISKCON in the United States, with many temple-dwelling initiates moving into the community, where they adopted mainstream dress and lifestyles. Contemporary adherents are predominantly of South Asian descent. ISKCON has a presence in over 80 countries and is most active in India. Demographics Worldwide ISKON has 500 temples and community centers and claims a global membership in the millions. However, there are no reliable demographic statistics available. Difficulties in accurately estimating ISKCON followers include the definition used (whether only initiates, regular temple attendees, or a broader group of casual temple visitors are counted). A 2011 study on Hindu demographics in America listed membership statistics as reported by Hindu temples. Forty-seven ISKCON temples provided data, collectively reporting 75,000 members. It is likely that the numbers of nonmembers who visit temples and centers occasionally or embrace the tenets of Krishna consciousness in their personal lives are significantly higher. Beliefs and Teachings Hare Krishnas are monotheists who believe that Krishna was a manifestation of Vishnu, describing him as the “supreme personality of godhead.” Their goal is to achieve salvation through love for Krishna. They worship God through the practice of Bhakti Yoga and daily chanting of the Maha mantra (great mantra for deliverance): “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Krishna Krishna.” Hare Krishnas are led by gurus who claim descent from the 16th-century ascetic Caitanya. Scripture-based teachings are passed down from master to disciple. The Hindu scriptures called the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavat Purana are the central texts used by ISKCON. The Gita tells the story of the archer Arjuna and his encounter with Krishna when Krishna explains the nature of duty and devotion. Worship can take place at temples or in the home. ISKCON members are mostly congregationalist—that is, they live outside the temple. Home altars hold statues or images of Krishna and his consort Radha. Daily rituals involve awakening the deities, cleaning and feeding them, and then putting them to sleep. Hare Krishnas share mainstream Hindu beliefs in reincarnation and karma. Customs and Social Practices Hare Krishnas practice Bhakti Yoga (devotional yoga), which is one of the four main Hindu paths to enlightenment and is based on love of and service to Krishna. Activities include meditation, chanting, and studying devotional texts. They worship at temples. Full members live at the temples, where they are responsible for preparing food, leading worship, and maintaining the buildings. They are celibate but may marry. In the 1980s and 1990s many members moved out of the temples and became householders with families and jobs. They often provide financial


| International Society for Krishna Consciousness support to the temples. There are also noninitiated congregational members and casual visitors who attend temple services. Unlike other Hindu movements, ISKCON is a proselytizing organization. Members proclaim their beliefs publicly through music, dancing, and distribution of literature in public spaces and at festivals. They offer lectures and yoga classes. ISKCON runs or sponsors independent primary and secondary schools, including the Bhaktivedanta Montessori School in Gainesville, Florida. The Bhaktivedanta Hospital in Mumbai, India, offers all inpatients a “nutritious and pious” diet. No meat, onion, garlic, tea, or coffee is served, and where possible food is seasonal. The founder of ISKCON declared that no one within 10 miles of a temple should go hungry and directed his followers to begin serving food. A charitable program called Food for Life provides free vegetarian food to those in need through school programs and food relief projects. ISKCON claims to be the largest charitable vegetarian food distributor in the world. Active in 60 countries, it serves millions of meals daily through free restaurants and mobile van services and provides food relief during natural disasters. The largest Food for Life programs are in India, where the ISKCON Food Relief Foundation provides hot meals of rice, curry, sambhar, and buttermilk to 1.2 million schoolchildren in cities across India through a partnership with the Indian government’s “midday meal scheme.” In the United States there are several ISKCON intentional farm communities, such as Gita Nagari in Pennsylvania and New Talavan in Mississippi, that practice sustainable agriculture and organic gardening and run cow protection programs. Food Practices Hare Krishnas believe that cooking is a sacred art and pay careful attention to food preparation and consumption. ISKCON has sometimes been called “the kitchen religion.” Hare Krishnas are lacto-vegetarians and also eschew the use of alcohol and drugs, including caffeine. When food is prepared, a small portion is first offered to Krishna. It is believed that Krishna consumes the essence of the food, leaving the material substance, which is thereby sanctified. Sanctified food is called prasadam, and by eating it the devotee is brought into closer communion with Krishna through a shared meal. Vegetarianism is promoted to the wider world through cookbooks, cooking classes at temples, and the more than 100 Hare Krishna restaurants around the world. Hare Krishna devotees regularly give out prasadam to passersby in public places such as parks and on university campuses. On Sundays, ISKCON temples offer vegetarian meals to all comers. See Also: Ahimsa; Hinduism; Krishna; New Religious Movements; Prasad; Sacred Cow

Further Reading Dasa, B., K. Dasa, D. Dasa, and M. Goswami. 2006. The Higher Taste: A Guide to Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking and a Karma-Free Diet. Alachua, FL: Bhaktivedanta Book Trust.


| 295

“Food Relief Program.” n.d. ISKCON, Mann, Gurinder Singh, Paul David Numrich, and Raymond Brady Williams. 2001. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs in America. New York: Oxford University Press. Zeller, E. 2012. “Food Practices, Culture, and Social Dynamics in the Hare Krishna Movement.” In Handbook of New Religions and Cultural Production, edited by C. Cusack and A. Norman, 681–702. Leiden: Brill.

Islam Islam arose in the first half of the seventh century CE in the Arabian Peninsula and is based on the prophetic revelations of Muhammad. Followers of Islam are known as Muslims, and the name of their god is Allah. The holiest city of Islam is Mecca in modern-day Saudi Arabia. Muslims are guided by a belief in the infallible word of God as set down in the holy book of the Qur’an; further guidance is provided by the Hadith, the name given to the collected words and deeds of the prophet Muhammad. All aspects of religious life and social conduct are shaped by the faith. Food is an integral part of the Muslim way of life, reflected in food prohibitions, fasting requirements, and celebrations. Islam is the second-largest organized global religion, numbering over 1.5 billion followers and with a presence in almost every country in the world. Historically, Islam had no symbol; the crescent and star motif actually predates Islam and is not an acceptable symbol to many Muslims. The color green is commonly associated with Islam, and often the Arabic word for Allah is used as a symbol of the faith. Origins and Historical Development Muhammad was born in 570 CE in Mecca. As a young man he herded cattle and goats on the hills around the city and spent much time in quiet contemplation. One day while meditating in a cave on Mount Hira he was visited by the angel Gabriel, who commanded him to recite. Twice Muhammad protested that he was not able to recite, but the angel embraced him and revealed to him the first lines of the Qur’an. Angelic revelations continued throughout Muhammad’s lifetime and were written down to become the sacred text of Islam, the Qur’an. Muhammad began to preach the idea that life should be lived in submission to God, but the authorities saw this as a threat to their power, and Muhammad and his followers were forced to flee to Medina. The influence of his teachings continued to grow, and in 629 CE he returned to Mecca, where he became widely accepted as a messenger of God. After the death of Muhammad in 632 CE there was a struggle over leadership that gave rise to the two main sects of Islam. The faction that later became known as Shi’as or Shi’ites thought that ‘Ali, the grandson of the prophet, should succeed. Those who successfully argued that the leadership should pass to Abu Bakr, fatherin-law of and companion to the prophet, became known as Sunnis. Although both groups agree on the fundamentals of their faith, there are differences in opinion


| Islam and practice regarding Islamic conduct and how it should be regulated. Shi’a Islam emphasizes strict adherence to the teaching of the Qur’an and places authority in a hierarchy of spiritual leaders who interpret and rule on Islamic law. Sunni Muslims follow the sunna, or way of Islam, based on the words and deeds of Muhammad. Religious offices are nonhierarchical: an imam who is not ordained but instead is an elected or appointed community leader who leads prayers at a mosque. Sufi Islam, or Sufism, is often regarded as a mystical form of Islamic practice rather than as a distinct sect. The name “Sufi” is derived from the Arabic word for wool, which is traditionally what Muhammad wore and was copied by early Sufis. Sufism emerged as a counter to the growing worldliness of Muslims after the time of the prophet. It emphasizes the inner pursuit of love, obedience, and devotion to God, as Sufis strive to imitate the words and deeds of the prophet. There are hundreds of Sufi orders developed within different cultural contexts, so there is no one Sufi way. In addition, there are numerous other small sects and subsects that differ in degrees of orthodoxy and practice. All Muslims, regardless of sect, follow the teachings of the Qur’an and subscribe to the practices embodied in the pillars of Islam, and all are welcome to worship at any mosque. In the United States, the Nation of Islam was founded in the 1930s to advance the social and political interests of African Americans. It reached its peak of popularity and influence in the 1960s. Its members were known as Black Muslims, though the movement had little to do with Muslim orthodox belief. The movement fractured over both religious and political concerns, and many left to become part of the mainstream Muslim community. Demographics From its origins in Arabia, Islam spread through the Middle East, often in the wake of military conquest, expanding west into Africa, east to India, and north toward Eastern Europe. In 711 CE Muslim armies invaded southern Spain, establishing an empire that was to flourish for several centuries until the fall of Granada in 1492. Islam has since spread to all parts of the world and, with 1.6 billion followers, is currently the second largest of the world’s religions after Christianity. Approximately 60 percent of the world Muslim population lives in Asia and another 20 percent in North Africa and the Middle East. Islam is the majority religion in all but 3 of the 20 countries in the Middle East and North Africa, while the largest Muslim communities numerically are found in Indonesia, Pakistan, and India (Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life 2009). There are also significant Muslim populations in Europe, particularly in Russia and Germany. Between 87 and 90 percent of the total world Muslim population are Sunnis, with only 10–13 percent being Shi’as. No reliable figures are available for Sufis. Shi’as are the majority Muslim sect in Iran, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, and Iraq, with large populations also in India and Pakistan. According to the 2012 Global Religious Landscape report from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, there were an estimated 2.77 million Muslims (including immigrants, converts, and their children) living in the United States, of whom about one-third were born in America. In the


| 297

United States, the largest Muslim communities are in Texas, New York state, and California, though every state has at least one mosque. Beliefs and Teachings Islam is a monotheistic faith, meaning that Muslims believe in one god, whom they call Allah. The word “Islam” means submission or surrender to the will of Allah; Muslims believe that all of one’s actions in daily life are guided by and in the service of Allah. This guidance is codified in sharia, or Islamic law. Muslims accept the Judaic prophets, including Noah, Abraham, and Moses, and the Christian prophet Jesus as being previous divine messengers, but they view Muhammad as bringing Allah’s final revelation, and hence he is known as the Seal of the Prophets. Similarly, the Qur’an, which is viewed as infallible, is considered to have superseded the Hebrew and Christian Bibles. The six doctrines of Islam are belief in Allah, angels, the prophets, the holy books, a day of judgment, and predestination. Customs and Social Practices Muslims are guided in their daily lives by five major articles of faith that are known collectively as the Pillars of Islam: •

Shahadar—declaration of faith. Reciting the words “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His messenger” is the basic profession of belief in Islam. To become a Muslim, one must proclaim them aloud three times in front of witnesses. Salat—prayer. Devout Muslims must pray five times a day: at dawn, at noon, in the late afternoon, at sunset, and in the evening. In Islamic countries a public call to prayer echoes from the mosques, while elsewhere the times are communicated through community channels. Worship may take place as part of a congregation at a mosque, or individuals may use personal prayer mats at home or work, on which they kneel facing Mecca. Zakat—almsgiving. Almsgiving is a religious requirement of all Muslims. Zakat is a tax of 2.5 percent of income that is used to support the mosque and charitable activities such as community projects and events. Almsgiving may also include direct provision of food to the larger community. Sawm—fasting. Fasting is viewed as a spiritual exercise in obedience and self-discipline that focuses the believer on nonworldly matters. It is a concept that includes abstaining not only from food and drink but also from smoking, sexual intercourse, and gossip or malicious thoughts and deeds. Intent is important, and fasting that is observed in body but not in mind is not acceptable. Hajj—pilgrimage. All Muslims are encouraged to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Each year around 2 million pilgrims visit Mecca to pray and demonstrate their faith. Hajj extends from the 8th to the 12th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar, during which pilgrims make a ritual journey beginning and ending in Mecca.


| Islam Ritual and Ceremony Like most religions, Islam has rituals that mark life events such as birth, comingof-age, marriage, and death. Festivals celebrating key events in the history of the faith punctuate the Islamic year. More information on these topics can be found in separate entries. Food Laws and Practices Islamic law influences diet by prohibiting or restricting certain foods and by requiring fasting and feasting at certain times of the year. It also calls for moderation and reasonableness in all things and commends hospitality. The fundamental source of dietary law in Islam is the written word of the Qur’an. Because Muslims are exhorted to eat the good things that Allah has provided for them, dietary restrictions are relatively few. Although fasting is permitted and even required in some circumstances, asceticism is discouraged. The Qur’an does identify some food prohibitions, the main one being a prohibition on eating pork, and it also sets out laws governing animal slaughter. The Hadith contains many examples of what the prophet Muhammad said about food-related matters as well as what he himself ate and things that the prophet approved by virtue of them having been done in his presence. Muslims may seek to imitate the prophet by, for example, avoiding foods that afforded him displeasure but that he did not specifically forbid. Sometimes the Qur’an and the Hadith do not provide clear guidance on a particular issue, in which case Islamic authorities make rulings. There are several schools of Islamic jurisprudence that differ in their interpretation and application of religious law, including rulings on how food is categorized, though pork is forbidden by all. Food was strongly linked to hospitality in Arabic cultures, and Muhammad encouraged sharing food as a means of creating common bonds and sharing in common blessings. He encouraged believers to accept any food that was offered, for to refuse such food was to refuse divine bounty and to neglect an opportunity to honor a noble act. So important was this principle of courteous acceptance of hospitality that it was to be followed even if it meant breaking a religious fast. In the Sufi tradition particularly, hospitality assumed tremendous and enduring importance, as seen today in the form of feeding stations in Sufi centers and at mawlid (saint day) festivals. Under Islamic law, all human actions are allocated to one of the five categories: obligatory, recommended, permitted, disapproved, and prohibited. Food is usually divided into three categories. Halal foods are those that are permitted under the laws of Islam. (“Halal” means “lawful, permitted, or acceptable in the sight of God”). Haram means “unlawful” or “prohibited,” and haram foods are those that are forbidden in all circumstances. Mushbooh (makruh) foods are those that are ambivalent, or doubtful. For all Muslims, forbidden foods are that which dies naturally, blood, swine’s flesh, and that over which any name other than God’s has been invoked. Animals must be slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law by cutting the throat while pronouncing the words “Bismillah. Allahu Akbar” (In the name of


| 299

Allah. Allah is great). Also forbidden is meat of the ass; carnivorous animals such as the tiger, fox, dog, and leopard that kill prey by using their paws; and birds of prey. Alcohol is forbidden, along with other intoxicating substances that might impair one’s judgment or self-control. Islam, like other religions, includes proscriptions that recognize certain times of year or times of day as inappropriate for eating. Most commonly consumption is limited in some way, but on some occasions such restraint is expressly forbidden. Such times most often take the form of fasts or feasts. The major Islamic fast takes place during the month of Ramadan. There are also specific days when fasting is forbidden. While Muslims around the world are obliged to observe these dietary restrictions, actual foods eaten differ widely between countries according to availability, custom, and personal preferences. There are regional, social, familial, and individual variations too in the strictness with which food laws are adhered to. (Some Chinese Muslims, for example, openly consume pork.) Consequently, there is a wide range of everyday and traditional festive dishes to be found among Muslim communities, and Islamic families in North America celebrate religious holidays with foods from many parts of the Muslim world. Commonly a short prayer is said before a meal, and diners are required to wash their hands before and after eating. Only the right hand is used to touch and pass food, as the left hand is considered unclean. Some American Muslim families emulate Middle Eastern customs and serve food buffet style on the table or on a cloth laid on the floor. Usually everyone sits together and eats, but in some families and in public the custom of men and women eating separately is observed. Eating should not be rushed, and greedy behavior should be avoided. Traditionally, women are the meal providers, cooking communally as extended families or with neighbors. Living and social arrangements in North America make this less practical, and children and men may contribute to food preparation in single-family homes. For new immigrants, the extent to which women’s roles in food getting remain anchored in tradition or adapt to new realities depends as much on class and economic status as on religion. See Also: Animal Slaughter; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Food Certification, Islam; Halal Food; Haram Food; Islamic Festival Calendar; Mawlid al-Nabi; Qur’an, Food in the; Ramadan; Sacrifice; Sufi Islam

Further Reading “Al-Islam.Org.” n.d. Ahlul-Bayt Digital Islamic Library Project, Denny, Frederick Mathewson. 1994. An Introduction to Islam. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan. Hussaini, M. H. 1993. Islamic Dietary Concepts and Practice. Chicago: Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America. Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2009. Mapping the Global Muslim Population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2012. The Global Religious Landscape. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.


| Islamic Festival Calendar “The Pluralism Project.” n.d. Harvard University, Seidel, K. n.d. “Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook and Art Gallery.” Superluminal, http://

Islamic Festival Calendar The Islamic calendar (Hijra) began in 622 CE, the year that Muhammad fled from Mecca to Medina and is signified by “AH,” which stand for “After Hijra.” It is based on 12 lunar months of 29 days and is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar used in the West. So, while holiday dates are fixed in the Muslim calendar, they move around the year in the Gregorian calendar. The sighting of the moon determines the date when many holidays are celebrated, so the holiday date may be different in North America than in the Middle East. Holidays start at sunset on the previous day. Holiday dates are now commonly based on astronomical calculations rather than actual moon sightings and are posted on Internet sites along with

Islamic Calendar of Celebrations and Holy Days Gregorian date (2017)* December 1

Islamic date (AH 1438) 12 Rabi al-Awwal



Mawlid al-Nabi

Sunni celebration of the birthday of the prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. Shi’a celebration of the birthday of Muhammad. Marks the ascent of Muhammad to heaven, where he was told of the duty of Muslims to recite ritual prayers five times a day. On this night Muslims seek forgiveness for their sins and believe that their destiny is fixed for the coming year. Shi’a celebration of the birthday of Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi, the 12th and last imam. A month of fasting from sunrise to sunset for those who have reached the age of responsibility. Date of the revelation of the first verses of the Qur’an to the prophet Muhammad.

December 5 April 23

17 Rabi al-Awwal 27 Rajab

May 11

14 Shaban

Lailat al Bara’ah (Night of forgiveness)

May 12

16 Shaban

Birthday of the 12 Imam

May 27

1 Ramadan

Ramadan starts

June 21

26 Ramadan

Lailat al Qadr (Night of power)

Mawlid al-Nabi Lailat al Miraj (Night journey to heaven)

Islamic Festival Calendar June 25

1 Shawwal

Eid al-Fitr (Sweet Eid)

August 30– September 4 August 31

8–12 Dhu-al Hijra 9 Dhu-al Hijra

Days of the Hajj Waqf al Arafa

September 1–4

10/11 Dhul-al Hijra

Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)

September 10

18 Dhul-al Hijra

Eid-al-Ghadir (festival of the Pool)

September 21

1 Muharram


October 1

10 Muharram


| 301

Also known as the feast of fast breaking, it marks the end of Ramadan. Holy days when good deeds are particularly rewarded. Commemorates the revelation of the final verses of the Qur’an to the prophet Muhammad. Commemorates the prophet Abraham’s offering of his son as a sacrifice in obedience to God’s command. Shi’a Muslims celebrate this as the day the prophet Muhammad confirmed ‘Ali as his successor. Start of the Islamic new year. Marks the founding of the Islamic community following Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina in 632 CE. Sunni fast in imitation of the Jewish Passover. Shi’a mourning of the death of Husayn, grandson of the prophet Muhammad.

*The North American dates are based on those given by the Fiqh Council of North America.

applications to easily convert between the Islamic and Gregorian calendars. Friday is the Muslim holy day, and though Muslims may work on Friday, they are encouraged to attend a congregational prayer at a mosque. See Also: Ashura; Eid al-Adha; Feasting in Islam; Mawlid al-Nabi; Nowruz; Ramadan

Further Reading When Is—Religious and Civil Holidays around the World. -holidays.asp.

J Jainism Jainism is today one of the smallest of the world religions. Originating in northern India, where it was mentioned in texts as early as 1500 BCE, it influenced both the other great Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. The major Jain teacher was Mahavira (599–527 BCE). Jains do not worship a god but believe that humans are responsible for their actions on Earth and for their own spiritual development. Like Hindus and Buddhists, they believe in samsara (the endless cycle of birth, death, and rebirth) and strive to perfect the soul in order to achieve enlightenment. The central ethical principle of the faith may be summed up as “do no harm,” though it is sometimes expressed in a positive way as “love everything.” The air, earth, and water are thought to be home to millions of life forms, all of which have an equal interest in staying alive; humans are not privileged in this respect. As a result, Jains have strict codes of ethical conduct that are intended to help them avoid injuring any living thing. The consequences for diet are that Jains are strict vegetarians, as they do not wish to harm living plants or the creatures that live on them. The Jain commitment to nonviolence and ethical conduct has been influential on secular thinking and practices in the wider world. Origins and Historical Development Jains believe that the universe is without beginning or end and that their religion has always existed. Lord Rishabha (ca. 2000 BCE) established the foundations of Jain thought and practice, which were passed down through a series of tirthankaras, or great teachers. In 599 BCE a prince named Vardhaman was born to King Siddhartha in the northern area of India. Vardhaman became the last and greatest of the tirthankaras and was known as Mahavira, the great hero. The young Vardhaman renounced worldly goods and for 12 years pursued an ascetic life, enduring hunger, pain, derision, and torment in his quest for spiritual enlightenment. For the next 30 years until his death, he devoted himself to spreading his message and being a role model and leader for those seeking spiritual guidance. His followers called him a jina, meaning a conqueror or winner over passions, and became known as Jains. Early Jain teachings were transmitted orally, as the monks lived without possessions and had no means to make a written record. In the third century BCE a large group of Jain monks migrated to southern India to avoid a predicted long and 303


| Jainism harsh famine. On their return to the north they found that reforms had been enacted, including the collection of Jain teachings into 45 written texts. (The other was abolition of the requirement of nudity for monks.) This caused a split in the community between those who stayed and the wanderers who felt that Mahavira’s teachings had been perverted. This latter group became known as digambaras (sky-clad) and the others as svetambaras (white-clad). Today, digambara ascetics wear no clothes and possess only a broom made of fallen peacock feathers and a drinking gourd, while svetambaras dress in simple white clothes. Although overshadowed by Hinduism, Jainism persisted to the modern day with few further changes but until recently was little known outside of India. The first Jain teacher to travel outside of India was Shri Chitrabhanuji, who in 1970 visited Switzerland to speak at the Temple of Spiritual Understanding Summit Conference in Geneva. The following year he attended the conference again, this time held in the United States. Through these visits the Jain religion was shared with the world, and Jain meditation centers were established in the United States and Canada as well as in Kenya, Brazil, and the United Kingdom. Demographics Jainism is one of smallest of world religions, with an estimated population in 2010 of 5.3 million, the vast majority of whom live in communities throughout India (Johnson 2007). The largest Jain population outside of India is in the United States (85,356), closely followed by Kenya (78,352). In 2010 the United Kingdom and Canada were the only other countries with Jain populations over 10,000. The first Jain society in North America was formed in the Toronto area of Canada in 1974. In 1976 the Jain Center of America was founded in New York City, while the first Jain pilgrimage site outside of India was established in New Jersey in 1983. Jain centers and Jain temples can now be found throughout the United States. The Federation of Jain Associations in North America is an umbrella group for U.S. and Canadian local congregations whose purpose is to preserve and promote the Jain way of life. Beliefs and Teachings In Jain cosmology there is no beginning or end to the universe. Humans are fully responsible for their own conduct and for the perfection of their own souls through a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Like Hindus and Buddhists, Jains subscribe to the concept of karma, which means that one’s every action has consequences in later life or in future lives. Jains live in a way that will avoid attracting negative karma that will hinder their spiritual development. Three core ethical principles guide them in this. The first is ahimsa, which means nonviolence or more broadly noninjury. It applies to actions, words, and thoughts and affects every aspect of Jain life, from what they eat to what kind of work they do. The second principle is aparigrha, which means nonattachment to possessions and to people. Jains should live as simply as possible to avoid the burden of material possessions that


| 305

What Are Elephants Like? An elephant is brought into a village of blind people who are asked to describe the beast. One feels the trunk and says that the elephant is like a tree trunk, one feels the ear and says that the elephant is like a fan, one holds the leg and says that the elephant is like a pillar, one grasps the tail and says that the elephant is like a rope, and one touches the side of the animal and says that the elephant is like a wall. Each of the villagers is partially right, but no one holds the whole truth; no one really knows what the elephant looks like. Jain teachings say that one should not waste time criticizing the views of others as being wrong or incomplete but instead should strive for a fuller vision and understanding for oneself.

bind people to samsara. The third principle is anekantwad, which means openmindedness or a nonjudgmental attitude. The idea that truth is partial and that the same phenomenon can be seen from many sides is told in a Jain fable that has been retold many times in popular culture. Customs and Social Practices Jainism requires its followers to adopt a more rigorous way of life than that of most other religions. While extreme ascetic practices are expected of monks and nuns, ordinary people too must strive to meet Jain ideals as far as possible within the constraints of modern life. Monks and nuns take the five great vows, or mahavrada. These are nonviolence, refraining from lying or stealing, practicing chastity, and renouncing worldly possessions. Monastic life is very demanding, with much physical discomfort such as sleeping on the bare ground or floor, enduring extreme weather conditions without complaint, and fasting. Newly initiated monks and nuns often have their hair pulled out by the roots rather than being shaved. For food they are dependent on what is given by others. The Akaranga Sutra, a Jain scripture from the fourth or fifth century BC, provides extensive guidance to Jain monks and nuns on what is permissible when begging for food: Begging for a Bowl A monk or a nun on a begging-tour should not accept as alms whatever herbs they recognise, on examining them, as still whole, containing their source of life, not split longwise or broadwise, and still alive, fresh beans, living and not broken; for such food is impure and unacceptable. But when they recognise after examination that those herbs are no more whole, do not contain their source of life, are split longwise or broadwise, and no more alive, fresh beans, lifeless and broken, then they may accept them, if they get them; for they are pure and acceptable. A monk or a nun, entering the abode of a householder for the sake of alms, should after examining their alms-bowl, taking out any living beings, and wiping off the dust, circumspectly enter or leave the householder’s abode. The


| Jainism

A Jain monk is given food by the lay community at the Jain temple during the festival of Chaturmas at Ajmer, Rajasthan, India. Jain food laws are among the most restrictive of all religions, and monks are dependent on what is given to them. (Daniel J. Rao)

Kevalin says: This is the reason: Living beings, seeds or dust might fall into his bowl. Hence it has been said to the mendicant, &c., that he should after examining his alms-bowl, taking out any living beings, circumspectly enter or leave the householder’s abode. (Jaina Sutras, Part 1, 89, 169) Most Jains are not ascetics. They take the anuvrata, or five lesser vows, which echo the mahavrada but are less demanding and are suited to practical everyday life. The vow of nonviolence means that Jains are strict vegetarians and often avoid wearing animal products such as leather and silk. They are encouraged to avoid occupations that may involve the taking of life such as military service or agriculture. The vow of truthfulness requires Jains to be honest in all aspects of their lives, including business dealings. The vow of nonstealing means not cheating individuals or the state. The vow of chastity restricts sex to a marriage partner. The vow of nonpossession directs Jains to live simply, own only what they need, and use any surplus to benefit others. Three subsidiary vows known as gunavratas enjoin Jains to limit their travel so that the area on which their activities have a harmful impact is minimized, limit their demand on environmental resources, and avoid unnecessary sins, such as being inconsiderate or self-indulgent. Finally, four vows of instruction, the siksavratas, provide specific guidance on stillness, meditation, fasting, and charity. Self-control is an important virtue that may be demonstrated


| 307

by adopting physical poses for long periods or restricting eating to only once in 24 hours. There are prescribed fast days, but voluntary fasting is allowed anytime. Most Jains are not ascetics but may adopt a monkish regime for short periods of time or even give up all wealth and position to become a digambara monk. Jains commonly engage in philanthropy, donating money for temples and religious activities and supporting community life, in particular health, education, culture, and environment. Ritual and Ceremony Jains do not have a priesthood, for there is no personal god with whom relationships must be mediated. As a result, there is little ritual activity. Temples house statues or images of the tirthankaras, and Jains may visit them to bring offerings and to meditate on the example of these teachers through private worship. Major Jain festivals are Mahavira Jayanti, which celebrates the birth of Mahavira, and Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights that has significance to Jains as the day Mahavira achieved enlightenment. Kartak Purnima is an annual pilgrimage to Jain sites in India, while Kshamavanii is a day for seeking forgiveness from others for one’s mistakes, whether intended or not. Food Laws and Practices Because of their extreme regard for life, Jains have the strictest dietary practices of any religion. They avoid all food products that involve injury to any life; thus animals, including seafood, or products of animals are not eaten. To minimize injury to plants, Jains avoid eating root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, and garlic, as harvesting them means pulling up the plant and therefore killing it. Mushrooms are avoided, as they may harbor small living creatures that may be inadvertently eaten. Eating honey is prohibited as a form of violence against bees. No alcohol is permitted. Jains believe that the air, earth, and water are teeming with thousands of minuscule life forms. To avoid inhaling airborne organisms, Jain monks and nuns wear masks; they strain their drinking water through fine muslin and carry a brush to sweep the earth before sitting or lying down so as not to crush insects. Often Jains will not go out at night for fear that they may tread on insects they cannot see in the dark. In contemporary North America only a small percentage of Jains follow the Jain way of life by observing strict vegetarian practices and avoiding alcohol and the use of animal products. See Also: Ahimsa; Fasting in Jainism; Santhara; Vegetarianism

Further Reading “1500 City Based CEOs, Jain Businessmen to Lead Life of Jain Monk on August 15.” n.d. India Infoline New Service, -ceos-jain-businessmen-to-lead-life-of-jain-monk-on-15-august-4906773718_1.html.


| Jehovah’s Witnesses Jacobi, H. 1884. Jaina Sutras Part 1. Edited by F. M. Muller. Oxford, UK: Clarendon. “Jainworld.” n.d. Jainism Global Resource Center, Johnson, T. M., ed. 2007. World Christian Database. Leiden: Brill. Tobias, M. 1991. Life Force: The World of Jainism. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities.

Jehovah’s Witnesses Jehovah’s Witnesses is a Christian sect founded by Charles Taze Russell (1852– 1916) in the United States in the late 19th century. Russell was inspired by the Adventist movement and believed that Jesus had returned to Earth in 1874. Followers were originally called Bible Students, with the name Jehovah’s Witnesses being adopted in 1931, inspired by a biblical verse from the book of Isaiah. Preaching and publication of a magazine (now called The Watchtower) inspired the formation of congregations throughout the United States, and by the early 20th century the movement had an international presence. A 2014 report from the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization numbers the worldwide active participants (whom they call publishers) at just under 8 million in 239 lands; 1.2 million live in the United States (2014 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses). Because only active members are counted, church figures are an underestimate. According to secular estimates, there are about 1.9 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in the United States, accounting for approximately 0.8 percent of the U.S. adult population (U.S. Census Bureau 2012). Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the Bible as historical and literal truth and reject other Christian dogma, which they believe has deviated from the true word of God. They believe in a single god, called Jehovah, who created everything that exists. It is a millennial sect that believes that humanity is in the end of days, though it does not predict when the world will end. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that death is the end of existence and that there is no immortal soul; at the end of days only 144,000 people (the anointed) will be chosen to go to Heaven and live with Christ in the kingdom of God, while everyone else who is spiritually saved will be resurrected to live on Earth. Jehovah’s Witnesses keep themselves apart from mainstream society, do not participate in political elections, and refuse military service. Missionary work is an important part of practice, and church members go door-to-door in neighborhoods, “witnessing” the word of God and seeking to spread their beliefs by distributing literature and making converts. Jehovah’s Witness ethics lead them to value honesty and nonviolence and to uphold the sanctity of life. Based on biblical prohibitions on blood, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not permit blood transfusions. This has caused much controversy in the field of medical ethics. The only dietary restriction is to not eat meat that has not been properly drained of blood. While alcohol is permitted in moderation, drunkenness is frowned upon. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Easter or Christmas, which they believe are based on pagan customs. They point out that Jesus did not instruct his followers to celebrate his birthday.


| 309

They also do not celebrate secular occasions such as birthdays and national holidays. The only religious event marked is the annual Memorial of Christ’s Death, held on the anniversary of the biblical Last Supper according to the Hebrew lunar calendar. Only those who expect to be among the anointed partake of the bread and wine at the ceremony. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Christianity; Protestantism; Seventh-day Adventists

Further Reading Atwood, C. D., ed. 2010. Handbook of Denominations in the United States. 13th ed. Nashville: Abingdon. 2014 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses. 2014. New York: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York. U.S. Census Bureau. 2012. The 2012 Statistical Abstract: Self-Described Religious Identification of the Adult Population. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.

Jesus Born in humble circumstances in the town of Bethlehem in what is the modern-day state of Palestine, Jesus was the founding figure of Christianity, a faith that was to grow into the world’s largest religion. His name is derived from the Greek “Iesous,” which in turn comes from the Aramaic name “Joshua,” which means “Jehovah saves” or “salvation.” Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God sent to Earth to save the human race from death and sin. Jesus preached for only three years before he was arrested, put on trial, and sentenced to death by crucifixion. According to Christian belief, after three days he was resurrected and ascended into Heaven. His central message was to love God and love each other. While he was raised a Jew and would have followed Jewish dietary laws and customs, Jesus overturned the rules, declaring that all foods are clean and fit to eat (Mark 7:14–23). The Western calendar dates from the birth of Jesus, which is nominally 0 CE but which is thought by most scholars to be between 4 and 6 BCE. The gospels do not give a date for Jesus’s birth; December 25 was selected by Pope Julius I in the fourth century CE, probably in an effort to Christianize existing pagan celebrations. Scholars disagree about many of the events of Jesus’s life as reported in the first four books of the biblical New Testament known as the gospels (meaning “good news”). These were written by the apostles Matthew and John and two disciples, Mark and Luke, at different times after the death of Jesus, so they are not firsthand accounts of his life and differ in many details. Nevertheless, all four gospels tell essentially the same story of the birth of the infant Jesus: how his father, Joseph, and mother, Mary, traveled to Bethlehem to be counted in a census; how they found lodgings in a stable, where the infant was born; and how shepherds and “wise men from the east” came to the stable to witness the birth and acknowledge


| Jesus the newborn infant as a king. According to Christian tradition, Mary was a virgin, made pregnant by the Holy Spirit, and her son Jesus was the son of God. Jesus’s father was a carpenter, and it is likely that Jesus learned this trade as a young man. Little else is known about his early life. At age 12 he visited the temple in Jerusalem, where he declared that he was “in his father’s house.” Christians take this as an early sign of his divinity. At the age of 30, Jesus encountered John the Baptist and was baptized in the Jordan River. John identified Jesus as the promised messiah, savior of mankind. Jesus retreated to the wilderness, where he spent 40 days and nights fasting. Gathering his first followers or disciples, he began to preach about the kingdom of God and the concept of eternal salvation. Jesus taught that the life of the spirit was more important than the material world and exhorted his followers to give up their worldly possessions. Through his words and actions he challenged social norms and promoted egalitarian views and behaviors. He rejected the Jewish ideology of impurity, which in regard to food meant that he abrogated the Old Testament dietary laws that prohibited consumption of specific foodstuffs, and he shared his table with people of all classes and walks of life without prejudice. He used parables or teaching stories to teach people about spiritual things. During his travels in Galilee he became known as a healer and is reported to have performed many miracles. Ancient Judea was a mostly mountainous and arid land. Sheep and goats were the most common livestock, and both sea and freshwater fish were available. Cultivated crops included wheat, barley, and millet, while the principal fruit varieties were dates, figs, citrus fruits, and grapes that were used mostly for making wine. Olives supplied oil for cooking and lighting lamps as well as for offerings, and honey was used as a sweetener. There are few biblical mentions of Jesus eating. One regards fish: “And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them” (Luke 24:41–43). However,

Jesus Images in Food From time to time devout Christians report witnessing miraculous events involving Jesus, saints, or the Virgin Mary. The sites of such apparitions may become places of pilgrimage, such as Lourdes in France and Knock in Ireland. On a more mundane level, many people have claimed to have found images of Jesus in everyday foodstuffs.These include foods such as toast, tortillas, pizza, pancakes, and potato chips, where darkened areas resulting from cooking or scorching create a face-like pattern that looks more or less like common artistic depictions of Jesus. Even more fanciful portraits have been seen in ice cream and marmite. Images of Jesus on the cross have been found on apple stems or cut into the inside of potatoes. And Cheetos can be seen to represent just about anything. One woman was able to sell her pierogi with a picture of Jesus for $1,750. A commercial company now markets toasters that make toast with a Jesus image on every slice.

Jewish Festival Calendar

| 311

Jesus often compares himself to food in a metaphorical way: “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’” (John 6:35). According to biblical accounts, one time when Jesus had gone into the mountains to pray he was suffused by a blinding light, and in the presence of Old Testament prophets, the voice of God announced “This is my beloved son.” This event is known as the transfiguration. Jesus attracted the attention of the Roman authorities and was questioned by the Jews. He spoke of his own coming death and of his resurrection and later of how one of his followers would betray him. Following a meeting, possibly a Passover meal that came to be known as the Last Supper, Jesus was betrayed by one of his followers, Judas, who led the Roman soldiers to arrest him for heresy. Jesus was put on trial for blasphemy and was condemned to death by crucifixion on what is now called Good Friday. He was 33 years old. His body was placed in a cave but mysteriously disappeared. Three days later he appeared again, an event known as the resurrection, celebrated by Christians everywhere as Easter Sunday. See Also: Bible, Foods in the; Christianity; Christmas; Easter; Fish in Christian Symbolism; Last Supper; Miracles

Further Reading Colbert, D. 2002. What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great and Living Longer. Nashville: Nelson. MacDonald, N. 2008. What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. Neel, Douglas E., and Joel A. Pugh. 2012. The Food and Feasts of Jesus: Inside the World of First-Century Fare, with Menus and Recipes. Religion in the Modern World. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Jewish Festival Calendar The Jewish calendar is based on a lunar year but with a 13th month added every few years in order to maintain the seasonality of festivals. This month is known as Adar I and is added immediately before the regular month of Adar, which becomes known as Adar II. Historically, a new month began with two independent sightings of the new moon. A day may be added between the 8th and 9th month to prevent Rosh Hashanah from falling on a Sabbath day. Dates may vary slightly between Israel and North America. Jewish festivals begin at sunset on the previous day. In addition to high holidays, Jews observe a weekly day of rest known as the Sabbath, which lasts from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, during which no work should be carried out.


| Jewish Festival Calendar Event


September 21*–22

Judaic calendar (5778) 1–2 Tishri

Rosh Hashanah

September 24

3 Tishri

Fast of Gedaliah

September 30*

10 Tishri

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

October 5*–11

15–21 Tishri

October 12*

22 Tishri

Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles) Shmini Atzeret

October 13*

23 Tishri

Simchat Torah

December 13*–20

25 Kislev–2 Tevet

Hanukkah (Festival of Lights)

January 8* and December 23*

10 Tevet

Asarah B’Tevet

February 11

15 Shevat

Tu Bishvat

March 9

13 Adar II

Ta’anit Esther

March 12*

14 Adar II


April 11–18*

14–21 Nissan

Passover (Pesach)

May 14

18 Iyar

Lag B’Omer

A two-day holiday for the Jewish New Year. Start of a 10-day period of introspection and repentance. Minor fast day in memory of the assassination of Babylonian governor Gedaliah in the sixth century BCE. Holiest day of the Jewish Year. Believers ask for forgiveness for their sins and resolve to do better in the future. A nine-day harvest festival and thanksgiving celebration of the 40 years the Jews spent in the wilderness. The eighth day of assembly, this is an additional day after the end of Sukkot for the Jewish people to remain as special guests of the creator. Celebrates the end of the annual cycle of reading the Torah and the beginning of a new cycle. Commemorates rededication of the temple in Jerusalem after the historic victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Greeks in 165 BCE. Minor fast marking the beginning of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. Spring festival of trees, resembling U.S. Arbor Day A sunrise-to-sunset fast that emulates the historical fast of Queen Esther, who pleaded for the lives of the Israelites. Commemorates the biblical story of Queen Esther, who saved the Jews from death by the king’s evil adviser, Haman. Major celebration of the historical events surrounding the escape of the ancient Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Day of celebration on the 33rd day of counting the omer (a measure of grain) between Passover and Shavuot.

Gregorian Calendar (2017)

Jhatka May 31*–June 1

6 Sivan


July 11

17 Tammuz

Shiva Asar b’Tammuz

July 31–August 1

15 Av

Tisha B’Av

| 313

Originally an agricultural festival celebrating the wheat harvest and the first fruits of the season, it now commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. Fast day marking several historical events including Moses’s breaking of the tablets of the Ten Commandments. Fast commemorating the destruction of the first and second temples. Reading of the book of Lamentations.

*Holiday begins at sunset on the previous day.

See Also: Fasting in Judaism; Feasting in Judaism; Hanukkah; Passover; Rosh Hashanah; Sabbath; Shavuot; Yom Kippur

Further Reading Rich, T. n.d. “Judaism 101: Jewish Calendar.” Jew Faq, Steinberg, P. 2007a. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Fall Holidays; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot. edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. Steinberg, P. 2007b. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Spring and Summer Holidays; Passover, Shavuot, the Omer, Tisah B’Av. Edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society. Steinberg, P. 2007c. Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Winter Holidays; Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim. Edited by J. Greenstein Potter. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society.

Jhatka Jhatka, which comes from the Sanskrit word jhatiti, meaning “at once,” is a method of slaughter associated with both Sikh and Hindu customs. The method of delivering a rapid jerk or blow to the head is believed to produce the least amount of suffering for the animal. The animal is held or tied between two poles, and its head is cut off with a single stroke of a heavy blade. Unlike in Islam, there is no religious ritual that accompanies the killing. The modern Western slaughterhouse procedure that utilizes a bolt gun to deliver a single penetrative blow to the head is equivalent to jhatka. There has long been controversy over whether Sikhs are permitted to eat meat, particularly for amritdhari Sikhs (those who have been initiated into the order of the khalsa). In general meat eating is neither prohibited nor encouraged, and individual Sikhs can decide for themselves. Avoidance of beef in deference to Hindu neighbors was common in India and continues to be the meat most likely to be


| Judaism omitted from the diet. In the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book, there is a prohibition on eating meat from an animal slaughtered in the Muslim way. This is called kuttha meat. The first Sikh religious leader, Guru Nanak, felt that the Muslim method of slaughter was too slow and caused unnecessary suffering to the animal; he also thought that the ritualistic nature of the killing made it seem like a sacrifice to God when it was actually just a way of getting meat to feed oneself. Finally, Nanak objected to the ruling Muslims imposing their customs and practices on everyone. In 1980 a ruling from the highest Sikh religious authority, the Akal Takht, declared that meat was permitted to amritdhari Sikhs so long as it came from an animal not slaughtered according to Muslim ritual. Outside of India, where there are many butchers and retailers advertising and selling jhatka meat, the concept of jhatka is not very well known. See Also: Animal Slaughter; Halal Food; Kosher Marketplace; Sikhism

Further Reading “Jhatka—The Sikh Method of Slaughter vs Halal /Kosher.” 2013. YouTube, https://www Kaur Singh, N. G. 2011. Sikhism: An Introduction. London: New York: I. B. Tauris. Nakyinsige, K., Y. B. C. Man, and A. Q. Sazili. 2012. “Halal Authenticity Issues in Meat and Meat Products.” Meat Science 91(3): 207–214.

Judaism Judaism is one of the oldest of the world religions, having origins 4,000 years ago in the Middle East, and is the first of the monotheistic religions. Followers of Judaism are called Jews. Their holy scriptures are known as the Torah, which form the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament). Torah can also refer to the whole of the Hebrew Bible or more generally to all Jewish teachings and law. The long history of the Jews is fraught with conflict, oppression, and exile. In modern times they regained a country of their own with the formation of the State of Israel in 1948. Jewish places of worship are called synagogues, and religious authority is vested in rabbis, teachers of the Torah. Jewish food laws are among the strictest of all religions and are bound up with the question of Jewish identity. Foods associated with Jewishness reflect cultural rather than specifically religious origins. Jewish symbols include the five-pointed Star of David and the menorah. Origins and Historical Development In the Middle East of the second millennium BCE there was a wide variety of beliefs and customs, including the worship of many gods. As told in the biblical book


| 315

of Genesis, a leader named Abraham (Abram) claimed to have received a divine visitation in which he was directed to forsake pagan beliefs and follow the one true god. In return for Abraham’s promise of obedience, God declared his followers to be the chosen people whose descendants would be shown the promised land. Judaism as a defined religion was not established until 600 years later, when the prophet Moses led the Jews out of slavery in Egypt (ca. 1280 BCE). Moses renewed the covenant with God and received the Ten Commandments, which provided rules for ethical conduct. The Jews were at first united under powerful kings but were soon to experience political and economic struggles as empires rose and fell, leading to the first Jewish diaspora. With the rise to dominance of the Roman Empire in 70 CE and the destruction of the second temple in Jerusalem, the Jews were deprived of a central focus for religious life. They were eventually banned from Jerusalem, and many migrated to Europe. Over the ensuing centuries Jews received mixed treatment in Europe, sometimes being welcomed, sometimes tolerated, and oftentimes persecuted. In 1492 they were expelled from Spain and settled in other parts of Europe and North Africa. Sephardic Jews are descendants of those from Spain, Portugal, the Middle East, and North Africa. Ashkenazi Jews are of French, German, and Russian heritage and are the majority of Jews in North America. While holding to religious doctrine, the two groups developed distinct identities, including differing food habits. The colony of New Amsterdam (later to become New York) was the first Jewish North American settlement in 1654. In the early 19th century large numbers of Ashkenazi Jews from German-speaking Europe immigrated to North America, primarily for economic and political reasons. Another wave of immigration from Eastern Europe occurred on both sides of the turn of the 20th century. In 1917 a Jewish state governed by Britain was established in Palestine that attracted Jewish emigrants from around the world. During World War II European Jews were severely persecuted. Following World War II, the State of Israel was created as a Jewish homeland. Demographics Judaism is a small religion with around 14 million followers worldwide, accounting for only 0.2 percent of the global population (Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life 2012). Forty percent live in the State of Israel, the only country in which Judaism is the majority religion. The largest Jewish population (41.1 percent) is in the United States and numbers around 6.8 million, concentrated in the four states of New York, California, Florida, and New Jersey (Steinhardt Social Research Institute 2013). In North America Judaism is divided into three main movements, differing mostly in how literally they interpret the Bible. The most strictly observant are Orthodox Jews, who account for 10 percent of the U.S. Jewish population. While many have integrated into mainstream society, the Hasidim, whose menfolk are easily recognized by their distinctive black dress, wide-brimmed hats, and long beards, maintain a separation. Reform Judaism is the largest group in the United States, accounting for 35 percent of Jews. Reform Jews do not believe in the literal word of the Bible and are liberal in orientation.


| Judaism Conservative Jews (18 percent) are partway between traditional and Reform. They accept the divinity of Jewish scriptures but believe that law should adapt to modern life and cultural norms. About 1 in 5 U.S. Jews report being nonobservant or secular Jews; they maintain their Jewish identity and follow cultural traditions but do not adhere to religious law (Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project 2013). Beliefs and Teachings Jews believe in one god, whom they call Yahweh, who must be obeyed. Jews believe that they have a covenant with God. In return for his beneficence they uphold his laws and seek to be exemplars of ethical behavior in the world. Jews place an emphasis on action rather than merely on belief. The Torah contains the laws and teachings of God. Jewish religious scholars have interpreted and commented on the Torah, and this body of wisdom is written down in works called the Mishna and the Talmud. Jews accept the Christian Jesus as a prophet but do not believe that he was the son of God, as Christians claim. Customs and Social Practices Family and community are very important in Jewish life. The Sabbath, or seventh day (Saturday), is a holy day when observant Jews should undertake no work at all, including no food preparation. Three meals should be eaten, one of which should include challah, a rich braided egg bread. The Sabbath starts just before sunset on Friday and ends an hour after sunset on Saturday. At the commencement of the

The Ten Commandments According to the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 20:2–17), God appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai and gave him two stone tablets with rules to govern the conduct of the Israelites. The commandments are read in synagogues three times a year, once during the festival of Shavuot and twice during the complete reading aloud of the Torah:   1.   2.   3.   4.   5.   6.   7.   8.   9. 10.

You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make carved images (idols). You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet . . . [anything that is your neighbor’s].


| 317

Sabbath candles are lit in the home, and a glass of sweet wine is drunk to symbolize happiness. Usually families will attend a synagogue at some point during the Sabbath. Ritual and Ceremony Judaism is rich in ritual and ceremony, much of which recalls historical events in the faith and provides a strong sense of identity. This has been particularly important to a people who were for centuries scattered around the world and unable to maintain central organizational cohesion. Calendric festivals embody these remembrances, and highly structured ritual meals, such as the Passover seder meal, are rehearsals of Jewish history and identity. Jews celebrate rites of passage such as birthdays, coming-of-age, marriages, and funerals. Collective worship takes place at a synagogue, where services are held on the Sabbath. All Jewish ceremonies are performed by religious leaders called rabbis. Food Laws and Practices Judaism has some of the strictest and most elaborate of religious dietary requirements. The set of dietary rules is called kashrut, and it governs which animals can be eaten, how they are to be slaughtered, how long the meat can be stored, the parts of an animal that can be used, and how these parts must be prepared. It also stipulates what kind of fish and birds can be eaten and gives restrictions on what foods can be prepared and eaten together. Foods that are permitted under these rules are termed kosher (though the term “kosher” can also apply to other aspects of Jewish law). The Jewish dietary laws are spelled out in detail in the Torah, especially in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. At the center of the food laws is the concept of uncleanness or impurity, and to eat unclean foods is to defile the body that is God’s temple. The most prominent Jewish dietary prohibitions are those against eating pork or pork products and consuming blood. Explanations other than religious ones have been offered to explain the Jewish taboo on the pig. These include threats to health through parasitic infection and the ecological unsuitability of pig rearing in ancient Israel. Obeying the food laws is a strong marker of Jewish identity, though there is in practice a full spectrum of behaviors from strict adherence to dietary laxity up to and including the eating of pork. In a complex food market where there are thousands of processed foods with multiple ingredients, it can be difficult for an individual to determine if a product fits with kashrut rules. To assist Jews in identifying kosher foods, there are kashrut certification programs in which kosher symbols are placed on the packaging of manufactured foods. Jewish cuisine is a synthesis of diverse traditions, reflecting the influence of the historic geographic and cultural milieus in which Jews have lived. Thus, in North America it is heavily influenced by hearty Russian and German foods and dishes derived from the Ashkenazi legacy of Eastern Europe, where Jews adapted


| Judaism local dishes to meet their dietary laws—for example, by using chicken or chicken fat instead of pork. Fish was a common alternative, as it was reliably kosher. Archetypal Ashkenazi Jewish dishes include chicken soup, knishes and blintzes, falafel, and hummus. Rendered chicken fat, used for cooking, is called schmaltz. Knishes are dumplings filled with potato, onion, or cheese, while blintzes are thin crepes rolled with sweet or savory fillings and pan-fried. Gefilte fish (stuffed fish) is made by mincing fish with onions, carrots, and celery, binding the mixture with eggs and matzo flour and boiling. Challah is an egg bread eaten on the Sabbath and on special occasions, while matzo is unleavened bread prepared for Passover. Bagels, originating in Poland, have long been associated with Jewish cuisine. The high-gluten wheat dough is boiled before being baked, giving it a chewy texture. It is shaped like a doughnut with a hole in the middle and is traditionally topped with poppy seeds or sesame seeds and eaten with cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon). Many varieties of bagel are available in stores and bakeries throughout the United States. In modern Israel, Mediterranean influences persist in street foods such as falafel (deep-fried spicy chickpea balls served wrapped in pita bread), shawarma (shaved roasted meat) and sabikh, a pita sandwich filled with chopped hard-boiled eggs and fried eggplant. Foods associated with particular celebrations are discussed in other entries. See Also: Fasting in Judaism; Feasting in Judaism; Food Certification, Jewish; Hanukkah; Jewish Festival Calendar; Kashrut; Kosher Marketplace; Passover; Purim; Rites of Passage, Jewish; Rosh Hashanah; Shavuot

Further Reading Goldstein, D. 2005. “Will Matzoh Go Mainstream? Jewish Food in America.” In The Jewish Role in American Life: An Annual Review, Vol. 4, edited by B. Glassner and J. Schoenberg, 1–35. University of Southern California: Los Angeles. Greenspoon, L. J., R. Simkins, and G. Shapiro, eds. 2005. Food and Judaism. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press. Kittler, P., K. Sucher, and M. Nahikian-Nelms. 2012. Food and Culture. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. MacDonald, N. 2008. What Did the Ancient Israelites Eat? Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans. Pew Research Center Forum on Religion and Public Life. 2012. The Global Religious Landscape. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project. 2013. A Portrait of Jewish Americans. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Roden, C. 1996. The Book of Jewish Food: An Odyssey from Samarkand to New York. New York: Knopf. Steinhardt Social Research Institute. 2013. American Jewish Population Estimates: 2012. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University.

K Kashrut Judaism has some of the strictest and most elaborate of all religious dietary requirements. This set of complex dietary rules is called kashrut (or kashruth) and governs what animals can be eaten, how they are to be slaughtered, how long the meat can be stored, what parts of an animal can be used, and how these parts must be prepared. It also stipulates what kind of fish and birds can be eaten and places restrictions on what foods can be prepared and eaten together. Foods that are permitted under these rules are considered kosher (though the term “kosher” can also apply to other aspects of Jewish law). The term “kosher” is derived from the Hebrew word kasher, meaning “ritually clean or fit.” Foods that do not meet acceptable criteria are termed trayf or treif. The Jewish dietary laws are described in great detail in the Torah in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These biblical injunctions have been interpreted, elaborated, and added to by rabbis over the past 2,000 years. Prior to the Jewish exodus from Egypt all foods were seen as being fit for human consumption, but Leviticus and Deuteronomy introduce a classification of permitted and prohibited foods based on a concept of uncleanliness or imperfection. The elaborate dietary rules derive from some basic principles: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Only certain animals may be eaten. Permitted animals must be slaughtered following Jewish ritual. Blood and some parts of permitted animals may not be eaten. Separation of meat and dairy must be observed in the preparation and consumption of food.

Permitted and Prohibited Animals To be acceptable for consumption, an animal must conform to the norm for its kind. Only the beasts of the earth (land animals) that have cloven hooves and that also chew their cuds are permitted for consumption (Leviticus 11:3). Thus sheep, goats, and cattle are allowed but pigs are not, as they meet none of the above criteria. Camels are prohibited, because while they have cloven hooves they do not chew the cud, while hares are prohibited because they chew the cud but do not have cloven hooves. 319


| Kashrut

The Unclean Pig The most prominent Jewish dietary prohibition is that against eating pork and pork products. Explanations other than religious ones have been offered to explain the taboo. A popular explanation focuses on health and hygiene. The pig is a source of the intestinal parasite Trichinella spiralis, and consumption of uncooked pork can cause nausea and vomiting, muscular inflammation, and even kidney failure leading to death. Avoiding the consumption of pigs would thus have been a rational preventive health measure. The health hypothesis has been critically challenged, as it depends on a scientific understanding of disease processes not understood until the 19th century. Other animals not prohibited would also have been carriers of sickness-inducing parasites. Neither were there taboos against other potentially toxic foods such as some mushrooms. An ecological argument states that the land of ancient Israel was unsuitable for pig rearing, and a religiously sanctioned ban was imposed to ensure that resources and effort wouldn’t be wasted on pig rearing. Pig avoidance may also have been a means for Jews to create a separate identity from that of porkeating non-Jews. In the 2nd century BCE Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple of Solomon and ordered that swine were to be sacrificed there and that Jews were to eat the meat as an act of submission to the Syrians. When the rebel Maccabee army captured Jerusalem and reestablished the temple, pork avoidance became an assertion of opposition to pagan rule. Some scholars suggest that this gave prominence to what had been only one of a number of dietary taboos.

In the category of water animals, only fish with fins and scales are permitted, which excludes shellfish such as shrimp, lobsters, and clams. Prohibited birds include birds of prey that seize their prey with talons as well as some water birds. Geese, chicken, turkey, and duck are permitted. Rodents, reptiles, and most insects are prohibited. Among insects locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers are permitted, but other winged insects that go on all fours are not (Leviticus 11:22). Ritual Slaughter Animals that die of natural causes or are killed by other animals may not be eaten. Jews must also avoid blood, because according to biblical verses the life of the flesh is in the blood. “Moreover, you shall eat no blood whatever, whether of fowl or of animal, in any of your dwelling places. Whoever eats any blood, that person shall be cut off from his people” (Leviticus 7:26). The slaughter process is called schlechita and must be performed by a certified butcher, known as a shochet, who is versed in Jewish law. The throat of the animal is slit with a very sharp knife so that the blood is completely drained. The meat is then broiled or soaked and salted to ensure that all traces of blood are removed. This must be completed within 72 hours and before the meat is frozen. The slaughtered animal is examined for blemishes and imperfections and if found acceptable is given a seal


| 321

of approval. Animals that are diseased or eggs with blood spots are trayf and are forbidden. Parts of Permitted Animals That May Be Eaten The fatty tissue around internal organs of permitted animals is prohibited and must be removed. Also, the sciatic nerve and surrounding blood vessels must be removed. As this is quite difficult to do, usually only the forequarter of the animal is used. The rest of the meat may be sold to non-Jews. Rabbinic additions to the biblical laws decreed that milk from nonkosher animals is forbidden, as it has the same qualities as the animal from which it comes. Fruits and vegetables should be examined for insects and worms that might render them nonkosher. Preparation and Consumption of Food Even though it has been kosher approved, meat must be well cooked to ensure that no traces of blood remain. Other Jewish food laws require separation of foodstuffs. The mixing of meat and dairy in one meal is prohibited, based on a biblical commandment that “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk” (Deuteronomy 14:21). Rabbinical rulings extended the separation requirement to poultry. After eating meat, an observant Jew should wait three to six hours before consuming dairy products so that any remnants of meat fat have dissipated from the mouth. After eating dairy products, the mouth should be rinsed and cleansed with bread before eating meat; no elapse of time is required. The availability of nondairy products such as some margarines, edible oil creamers, and kosher cheese made without the animal enzyme rennet has made observance of this rule easier. Food that is neither meat nor dairy is called pareve and can be served any time with meat or dairy products. Pareve items are vegetables, fruits, salads, cereals, eggs, sugar, and permitted fish. Separation of meat and dairy also applies to pots, pans, plates, and utensils. The kosher or trayf status of a food is transmitted to the utensils it comes into contact with (only in the presence of heat), and therefore kosher households have two sets of these items that are kept separate. Some households may even have separate kitchens for meat and dairy preparation. Wine or grape juice prepared by non-Jews is prohibited, as they are viewed as products of idolatry because they were commonly used in ancient pagan worship. Beer is mostly kosher, but some beers do have grapes among their ingredients. The extent and way in which dietary rules are followed also varies between communities and within families. While Orthodox Jews are stricter in observance of kashrut, reform Jews view the dietary rules as being anachronistic. Twenty-two percent of American Jews report that they keep kosher in the home (Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project 2013), while a proportion of these would eat nonkosher food out of the home. To help Jews readily identify permitted foods, there is a kashrut certification program in which kosher symbols are placed on the packaging of manufactured foods. See Also: Food Certification, Jewish; Halal Food; Judaism; Kosher Marketplace


| Kava Further Reading Eliasi, J. R., and J. T. Dwyer. 2002. “Kosher and Halal: Religious Observances Affecting Dietary Intakes.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 102(7): 911–913. Greenspoon, L. J., R. Simkins, and G. Shapiro, eds. 2005. Food and Judaism. Omaha, NE: Creighton University Press. Harris, M. 1986. Good to Eat: Riddles of Food and Culture. London: Allen and Unwin. Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project. 2013. A Portrait of Jewish Americans. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Waxman, Ruth B. 1990. “Some Current Aspects of Kashrut: Law and Practice.” Judaism 39 (Fall): 389–493.

Kava Kava is the Pacific Islander name for the shrub Piper methysticum, which is part of the pepper family. A psychoactive extract made from its roots, also called kava, was and is used in religious and social ceremonies and is now used for mainly recreational purposes. Kava has been cultivated and used in the Pacific Islands, including Vanuatu, Fiji, New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, and Hawaii, for around 3,000 years. The physiologically active components of kava are alkaloids called kavalactones. The effects of drinking kava are numbness in the tongue and lips, muscle relaxation, and mild euphoria; it is also a soporific, causing sleepiness. Ritual preparation and consumption of kava was an important part of religious ceremonies. The root was cut into small pieces and chewed to soften it; the pulp was spit into a bowl and mixed with coconut water and then strained through coconut fibers. This method was later replaced by the technique of shredding and pounding the root and infusing with water to make a tea. Chiefs or elders traditionally offered kava to guests as a sign of welcome and hospitality. (Pope John Paul II and Hilary Clinton participated in kava ceremonies during visits to the Pacific, and the Samoan community in Utah invites state politicians to kava ceremonies.) The ritual is elaborate, with differentiated roles and a precise order of serving those present according to status. Kava was also drunk at formal occasions and religious ceremonies. Offering kava to the gods and drinking the kava invoked and enabled communication with ancestral spirits. Kava was also used for healing a variety of ailments, including rheumatism and menstrual disorders. Kava was used in divination, especially in determining the sex of an in utero baby. Western colonialists attempted to suppress the use of kava. However, the practice survived and continues into the present day. Present-day use of kava is more social than religious and remains mainly a male practice. Nakamals, or kava bars, are found throughout the Pacific islands. Some nakamals offer tourist entertainment. Kava has become a cash crop in Fiji and Vanuatu, serving an internal market and also being exported to international customers as either a drink or as a powder for use in herbal preparations.


| 323

Women on the Fijian island of Taveuni making kava, a traditional drink in the South Pacific, made of roots and water. Important in religious ritual, kava is now also used recreationally. (Gerd Kohlmus/

As Christianity spread among Pacific Islanders, kava became incorporated into Christian rituals, including being used in the Eucharist at Catholic Mass. Samoa and Tonga have substantial Mormon populations (15–18 percent). A large Polynesian diaspora community exists in Utah, particularly in Salt Lake City. Regular kava parties function as social evenings and a way of maintaining cultural roots. The Mormon Church is divided on the issue of kava drinking. The Mormon “Word of Wisdom” forbids members from consuming alcohol or any other “hot drinks.” Church authorities discourage members from drinking colas, kava, or any other stimulating beverage. Some Tongan Mormon leaders have refused to provide a “temple recommend” to kava users. (To be allowed to enter a temple, a member must be interviewed and demonstrate that he or she is obedient to church doctrine, including adhering to the Word of Wisdom, and receive a temple recommend.) Formal church authorities have distinguished between the cultural value of ceremonial kava consumption, which is tolerated, and recreational use, which is discouraged. See Also: Alcohol; Mormons


| Kellogg, John Harvey (1852–1943) Further Reading Griffin, G. 2007. “Kava, Not Java.” City Weekly, September 19, http://www.cityweekly .net/utah/kava-not-java/Content?oid=2131332. Lebot, V., M. Merlin, and L. Lindstrom. 1992. Kava: The Pacific Elixir. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. “2010 Census Brief, the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Population: 2010.” 2012. U.S. Census Bureau, May, -12.pdf. von Hoerschelmann, Dorothee. 1995. “The Religious Meaning of the Samoan Kava Ceremony.” Anthropos 90(1–3): 193–195.

Kellogg, John Harvey (1852–1943) John Harvey Kellogg was a physician, surgeon, and health food reformer who was part of the Seventh-day Adventist religious movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in America. His invention and commercialization of rolled flake grains was the antecedent to the modern breakfast cereal industry. Kellogg was born in 1852 in the town of Tyrone in Michigan, the 5th of 12 children. A few years later his family moved to Battle Creek, where his parents were involved with the Western Health Reform Institute, a health clinic operated by the recently established Seventh-day Adventist Church. As a young boy Kellogg worked as a print setter for the Adventist Review and read numerous articles on the importance of health written by the Adventist founder, Mrs. Ellen White. He also became acquainted with the dietary theories and practices of health reformer Sylvester Graham. After starting medical studies at the University of Michigan, Kellogg completed his degree at the prestigious Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York. During this time he became editor of the Health Reformer, an Adventist monthly tract that focused on health and diet and promised to reform “the false habits of life so prevalent at the present day.” He also wrote a book titled Natural Diet of Man in which he advocated vegetarianism. In 1876 he returned home to become medical director of the ailing Western Health Reform Institute, which he soon renamed Battle Creek Sanitarium, or the San. In promotional literature it was described as a place where people came to learn to stay well. Kellogg worked diligently, building the sanitarium’s reputation and attracting wealthy clients while also accepting charity cases. President William H. Taft, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Amelia Earhart, and Thomas Edison were among the hundreds of eminent guests, as was C. S. Post, who went on to found his own breakfast cereal company. The San offered a health regime that Kellogg called “biologic living” and included a whole-grain vegetarian diet; avoidance of alcohol, tea, coffee, and chocolate; fresh air and sunshine; daily exercise and good posture; and hydrotherapy (water treatments devised by Kellogg). He avidly promoted yogurt but discouraged consumption of other dairy products. In the absence of condiments and minimal

Kellogg, John Harvey (1852–1943)

| 325

use of sweet foods, the San diet was bland and unappealing. Kellogg and his wife Ella (who planned guest and staff meals) set up an experimental kitchen at the San with the goal of developing more palatable food products to fit the requirements of the dietary regime. The first product was a crumbled multigrain biscuit that Kellogg called granola, though he had to change the name, as there was an existing product called granula. By happy accident he and his younger brother, Will, discovered a way of preparing whole grains by boiling them and rolling the dried dough, which then flaked and could be baked to produce a crisp product that could be easily chewed. The baked wheat flakes proved to be very popular with guests at the San, so the brothers set up the Battle Creek Sanitarium Food Company in 1890 and established a flourishing mail-order business to sell the cereal flakes more widely. They also applied the same flaking and baking process to corn and rice. Because vegetarian diets were potentially low in protein, Kellogg experimented with developing protein-rich nut-based meat substitutes. Successful products included Nuttose (ground peanuts mixed with water and flour and then steamed to form firm meat-like cutlets) and Protose, made from peanuts and wheat gluten, as well as various nut butters, nut pâté, and malted nuts. Caramel Cereal Coffee, a granulated coffee substitute made from roasted bran and molasses, was another innovation. Ella Kellogg published a cookbook titled Science in the Kitchen: A Scientific Treatise on Food Substances and Their Dietetic Properties, Together with a Practical Explanation of the Principles of Healthful Cookery, and a Large Number of Original, Palatable, and Wholesome Recipes. She also set up a school of home economics and taught dietetics and cooking to nurses at the San.

Religious Cornflakes Corn flakes are one of the most popular breakfast cereals in the world. According to the Kellogg Company, over 128 billion bowls of cereal are eaten around the world each year. It is probable that most modern-day cereal eaters don’t associate their morning meal with religion, but corn flakes started life as a health food, suitable for the religiously inspired dietary regime of Seventh-day Adventist health reformer Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. On May 31, 1895, in partnership with his brother Will Keith, Kellogg filed a patent for “Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same”; patent #558,393 was granted on April 14, 1896. The first wheat flakes produced by the Kellogg brothers were called granose and were quickly followed in 1898 by toasted maize, or corn flakes. The Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company was incorporated in 1906 and expanded rapidly through advertising and marketing gimmicks: housewives were advised to wink at their grocer on Wednesday and get a free box of cornflakes. By 1909, over 1 million cases of cornflakes had been sold in the United States. Will made the product more appealing by using only the white corn kernels and adding malt extract as a sweetener; he fought his brother in a lawsuit to gain exclusive control over the use of the Kellogg name.The Kellogg Company was reincorporated in 1922, and to this day every packet of cereal carries the signature “W. K. Kellogg.”


| Kitab-i-Aqdas The San burned down in 1902, but Kellogg quickly rebuilt it as a luxurious spacious facility set in magnificent gardens and accommodating up to 1,250 guests at any one time. The sanitarium’s commercial success and its focus on catering to the affluent conflicted with the Adventist founder’s mission of serving the health and spiritual needs of the poor and needy. Kellogg’s relationship with the Seventh-day Adventist leaders deteriorated, and in 1907 he was disfellowshipped (expelled) from the church. The Adventists severed their connections with the sanitarium, leaving the brothers to manage it. John Kellogg was more interested in the medical aspects of the work and less a businessman than his brother, Will, who bought up most of the shares in the Toasted Corn Flake Company from the other sanitarium physicians. Will renamed the company after himself (W. K. Kellogg) and began to put his own signature on the cereal boxes. He also changed the nature of the product by adding sugar. The brothers became estranged, and years of legal battles ensued. Will prevailed and remained head of the W. K. Kellogg Company until his death in 1951. The Great Depression in the 1930s saw a huge decline in the fortunes of the sanitarium, as people could no longer afford the stays. In 1942 the sanitarium was sold to the U.S. government and was converted into an army hospital. The following year John Harvey Kellogg died at age 91. See Also: Graham, Sylvester; Seventh-day Adventists; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Carson, G. 1957. Cornflake Crusade. New York: Rinehart. Health Reform Institute. 1870. The Health Reformer, Vol. 5. Battle Creek, MI: Health Reform Institute. Kellogg, J. H. 1923. The Natural Diet of Man. Battle Creek, MI: Modern Medicine Publishing. Levenstein, H. 1988. Revolution at the Table: The Transformation of the American Diet. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Mowbray, S. 1992. The Food Fight: Truth, Myth and the Food-Health Connection. Toronto: Random House.

Kitab-i-Aqdas The Kitab-i-Aqdas (Most Holy Book) is the most important scripture of the Baha’i faith. It sets out the fundamental laws and ethical principles that guide the spiritual and social lives of Baha’is. Although it covers a wide range of topics including food, drink, and fasting, not all of its laws were meant to be applied straightaway; instead, they were meant to be introduced over time as the Baha’i community grew and matured. The Kitab-i-Aqdas was composed in about 1873 CE by Bahá’u’lláh, the founding prophet of the Baha’i faith, and was first published, in Arabic, in 1891. Although there have been unofficial translations available, it was not until 1993 that the Universal House of Justice (the highest governing institution of the Baha’i faith)


| 327

issued a fully authorized translation. It has three components. First, the divine revelations are the words of the prophet himself and are written down as 149 numbered paragraphs. Second, “Questions and Answers” are 107 questions posed to the prophet by a Baha’i follower, together with answers given by Bahá’u’lláh. Third, “Notes” from the Universal House of Justice comment on and help to explain the text. (The convention for citing these is K, Q, and N.) A synopsis and codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, prepared by Shoghi Effendi (great-grandson of the prophet), divides the book into six main themes: 1. 2. 3. 4.

The appointment of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the successor of Bahá’u’lláh. Anticipation of the institution of the Guardianship. The institution of the Universal House of Justice. Laws, ordinances, and exhortations. a. Prayer b. Fasting c. Laws of Personal Status d. Miscellaneous Laws, Ordinances and Exhortations 5. Specific admonitions, reproofs, and warnings. 6. Miscellaneous subjects. The Kitab-i-Aqdas begins by proclaiming that “[t]he first duty prescribed by God for His servants is recognition of Him who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His Laws, who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation” (K1). The second duty is to follow his ordinances and laws. Bahá’u’lláh then provides written directions on the future leadership and administration of the faith, naming ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as his successor and calling for the creation of the administrative institutions the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. He then deals with a wide range of concerns related to religious practice, personal status, social obligations, and ethical principles, including prayer, fasting, marriage and divorce, inheritance, burials, wills and testaments, education, and feasts, fasts, and eating habits. Bahá’u’lláh prohibits lying, theft, and murder and praises virtues such as courtesy, hospitality, and cleanliness. Some topics are dealt with at length, while others are only briefly mentioned. Statements in the Kitab-i-Aqdas are classed as either laws that must be obeyed or guidance that provides direction but is not obligatory. For example, there is a clear prohibition in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh of the consumption of alcoholic drinks. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas he states that “[i]t is inadmissible that man, who hath been endowed with reason, should consume that which stealeth it away. Nay, rather it behooveth him to comport himself in a manner

Eating Etiquette “Take heed lest, when partaking of food, ye plunge your hands into the contents of bowls and platters. Adopt ye such usages as are most in keeping with refinement” (Kitab-i-Aqdas, K46).


| Kosher Marketplace worthy of the human station, and not in accordance with the misdeeds of every heedless and wavering soul” (K119). The Kitab-i-Aqdas establishes the two “most great” festivals that should be observed by Baha’is. The first is Ridvan, which commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s declaration in 1863 of his prophetic mission. The second great festival is the celebration of the twin birthdays of Bahá’u’lláh and the Bab (the prophet’s predecessor), which fall on consecutive days. The Nineteen-Day Feast, a centerpiece of Baha’i community life, is also established: “Verily, it is enjoined upon you to offer a feast, once in every month, though only water be served, for God hath purposed to bind hearts together, albeit through both heavenly and material means” (K57). Fasting and fasts are mentioned 37 times in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. The entire last month of the Baha’i calendar year is designated for fasting, followed by celebration of the New Year. “O people of the world! We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period, and at its close have designated for you Naw-Ruz as a feast” (K16). The Kitab-i-Aqdas provides details of how the fast is to be carried out, who is obliged to follow it, and who is exempt. “Abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown, and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book” (K17). Leading up to the period of fasting, 4 or (in leap years) 5 days are added to the 361-day Baha’i calendar to keep it aligned with the solar year. These days are a time for charity, hospitality, and giving of gifts. “It behooveth the people of Baha, throughout these days, to provide good cheer for themselves, their kindred and, beyond them, the poor and needy” (K16). Baha’is believe that the Kitab-i-Aqdas replaces previous revelations such as the Christian Bible and the Muslim Qur’an. Besides the Kitab-i-Aqdas, sources of Baha’i law include other writings of Bahá’u’lláh and of his successors, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, as well as rulings from the Universal House of Justice. See Also: Baha’i Faith; Bible, Foods in the; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Fasting in the Baha’i Faith; Nineteen-Day Feast; Qur’an, Food in the

Further Reading Bahá’u’lláh. 1993. The Kitab-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. Wilmette, IL: Baha’i Publishing Trust. “Kitab-i-Aqdas.” n.d. Baha’i International Community Baha’i Reference Library, http:// Walbridge, J. 1996. Sacred Acts, Sacred Space, Sacred Time. Oxford, UK: George Ronald.

Kosher Marketplace Jews have some of the strictest of all religious dietary laws, though only a minority adheres fully to them. Under the food laws, known as kashrut, only certain animals are acceptable, and these must be slaughtered and prepared in a way that conforms

Kosher Marketplace

| 329

to religious requirements. There are also rules about food combining: meat and dairy products should not be eaten in the same meal, and there should be a minimum period of time between eating them. Foods that are acceptable under kashrut laws are termed kosher. As people rely more on the global marketplace to meet food needs, they need to know if a food product or its ingredients are reliably kosher. There are over 3,000 organizations worldwide that provide a kosher certification service, with approved foods being identified by a distinctive kosher stamp on the label. The symbol is accompanied by a word or letter identifying the product as dairy (Dairy, D), meat (Meat, M), or neither (pareve). The letter “P” signals that the product is suitable for use at Passover, and the letter “F” indicates that it contains fish. The demand for kosher food is a specialty niche in the food market that was worth $12.5 billion in 2013. It is also a rapidly growing sector. This is despite the fact that only 10–15 percent of American Jews say they buy kosher, though many more Jews buy kosher for the holidays, particularly at Passover. Most of the market in fact consists of non-Jewish consumers. Industry estimates are that there are over 12 million kosher consumers in the United States and that 1 in 5 Americans regularly or occasionally buy kosher products because they are kosher. Consumers with food intolerances, allergies, or special dietary needs buy kosher products because, if pareve, they are reliably vegetarian or because they are dairy free or gluten free. The Orthodox Union, the world’s largest kosher certification organization, provides plant inspections and product reviews for the Gluten Free Certification Organization to ensure that gluten-free food production meets consistent sciencebased standards. Other consumers choose kosher foods because they are believed to be of a higher quality. Kosher food inspection is not a substitute for federal food safety inspection, but many consumers believe that the personal supervision of a masgiach (rabbi food inspector) adds an extra dimension of quality control. Muslims and Seventh-day Adventists may choose to purchase kosher foods to meet their religious requirements. This creates another huge market for kosher products. The pairing of the kosher label with appeals to “natural” products is another promotional avenue. There are over 11,000 kosher-producing companies and plants, and 195,000 kosher-certified packaged products are sold into the U.S. market. Some are mainstream foods such as Coca-Cola and Frito Lay’s classic potato chips that have been kosher certified. Coca-Cola does not place a kosher identifier on the label except at Passover, when it produces batches of the drink using sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup as the sweetener. This is because corn is unacceptable to Jews during Passover. The Coca-Cola containers are labeled “Kosher for Passover.” There are many other food products and food ingredients that meet kosher standards but do not bear the kosher symbol, as they have not been submitted for certification. It is estimated that 70 percent of the food ingredients produced and 40–50 percent of foods sold in the United States are kosher. Most large supermarket chains sell kosher products, often in a distinctive section or aisle, so they can be easily found. Albertson’s, one of the largest food and drug retailers in the United States, has a kosher section in all of its outlets and has introduced separate kosher delis, bakeries, and meat departments in some of its larger stores. An in-store masgiach monitors the food prepared


| Krishna

Kosherfest Kosherfest is the world’s largest business-to-business trade show dedicated to showcasing certified kosher products, ingredients, and processing and sterilizing equipment. It is held annually in New Jersey and is attended by thousands of kosher buyers representing retail grocers, hotels and restaurants, institutional food services, and food manufacturers. Kosherfest is open only to kosher business professionals, who have to show business cards and photo ID to be admitted. While the exhibitor’s hall is the main attraction, kosher chefs compete in a culinary challenge, and an award is presented to the mashgiach kosher supervisor of the year.

and sold in the store. The kosher sections are kept separate from the nonkosher counters and are locked at night to guard against cross-contamination of food or utensils. Kosher food is also available to order online through major retailers. About 40 percent of the world’s Jewish population, around 6.8 million, live in the United States. The largest Jewish populations, and therefore the largest kosher markets, are found in New York, California (particularly Los Angeles), Florida (Miami), and New Jersey. Kosher purchasers are a young, wealthier demographic and are willing to pay more for perceived superior quality. In response to market research that demonstrates consumer demand for more diversified products, manufacturers are expanding the kosher brand from traditional Jewish foods to mainstream products and also to popular ethnic cuisines. Products such as kosher guacamole, kosher Mexican ice cream, kosher sushi, and kosher pasta and pizza are readily available. See Also: Food Certification, Islam; Food Certification, Jewish; Halal Food; Judaism; Kashrut; Passover; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Gooch, M., C. Schmidt, G. Freid, and A. Felfel. 2011. Assessing the Opportunities and Challenges Facing Canada’s Specialty Food Industry. Guelph, Ontario: Value Chain Management Centre. “Kosher Statistics.” n.d. Lubicom Market Consulting, /statistics/. Kosher Today. “OU Kosher Certification.” n.d. Orthodox Union,

Krishna Krishna is considered to be the supreme Hindu deity and is one of the most beloved of Hindu gods. He is the eighth avatar (human incarnation) of Vishnu and in some


| 331

Hindu traditions is identified as svayam bhagavan (god himself). He is also known by many other names, including Govinda, meaning “protector of cows.” The name “Krishna” is derived from the Sanskrit word for “black,” but in Hindu scriptures it generally means “all attractive.” In iconography Krishna is frequently depicted as a child eating butter, as a young and handsome youth, as playing a flute, or as charioteer to the archer Arjuna. According to Hindu scriptures, Krishna was born in 3228 BCE in Mathura in northern India. He was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva and had been imprisoned by the king because of a prophecy that the eighth son would kill him. Krishna was smuggled out of prison to be raised in anonymity by his foster parents in a community of cowherds in the village of Vrindavana. In ninth-century CE Sanskrit texts known as the Puranas, Krishna is portrayed as a mischievous, carefree child. He roams the countryside playing his flute and leading raids on neighboring villages to steal his favorite foods of butter and milk. He flirts with and steals the hearts of the gopis, the cowherd girls, preeminent among whom is Radha, who was to become his consort. From time to time he does heroic deeds, saving the villagers from evil demons. When Krishna leaves to return to Mathura, the gopis are griefstricken; their expressions of intense devotion gave rise to the Bhakti path of Hindu worship in which unconditional love of the supreme lord is the path to achieving spiritual understanding. This form of Hindu devotion came to the United States in the 1960s in the form of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, whose adherents are known as Hare Krishnas. On his return to Mathura, Krishna killed King Kamsa and became a prince of the court. As told in the Bhagavad Gita, the 18th book of the Hindu epic the Mahabharata, Krishna provides counsel to the archer Arjuna as he is about to enter battle. He instructs Arjuna to calm his mind, focus on action, and not be concerned with mere worldly rewards. His advice, known as nishkam karma, or taking action without desire or attachment to outcome, remains central to Hindu spiritual practice. Krishna Jayanti, also called Janmashtam, falling in July or August, is a twoday celebration of the birth of Krishna. On the first day people fast while singing traditional Hindu songs. This goes on until midnight, when Krishna’s birth is signaled with the ringing of bells and the blowing of conch shells, after which food may be taken and celebrations begin. All temples with images of Krishna or Radha, particularly those in the region of Mathura and Vrindavan, host large celebrations. Sweets, milk products, and fruit are offered as gifts to Krishna. There is singing and dancing and an reenactment of stories from Krishna’s life. In an event called dahihandi, a large earthenware pot is filled with butter, curds, fruit, and honey and suspended with a rope up to 40 feet above the ground. Contestants build human pyramids to reach the pot, and whoever breaks the pot claims the contents along with a monetary prize. Sometimes the pots are filled with buttermilk, which spills out over the contestants who succeed in breaking it. This recalls Krishna’s childhood antics when he and his friends would form pyramids to steal pots of butter hanging from neighbors’ houses. Several other festivals are associated with Krishna. The annual Gopashtama fall festival celebrates the day when Krishna was allowed to herd cows for the first


| Krishna time. At Krishna temples herders may bring hundreds of garlanded and bejeweled cows to the temple precinct, where they are rewarded with sweets. Diwali celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the evil demon Narakasura. Holi is especially popular in the region of Mathura associated with the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna. A traditional prasad at Krishna shrines is mathadi, small wheat flour puris that are fried, soaked in sugar syrup, and then dried. Large thick rotis and largesize sweets are also common. Chhappen bhog, a selection of 56 different food items, is offered to Krishna on festive occasions. This recalls a legend in which Krishna went without his eight meals a day for seven days while he held up a mountain to A man at the top of a human pyramid breaks an save people from the wrath of earthenware pot and is showered by its contents Indra. during dahihandi festivities in Mumbai, India. Krishna spent his later years Dahihandi is a special feature of the two-day in the city of Dwarka. He was celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday. ( killed while meditating in the 10/Alamy Stock Photo) forest when a hunter mistook him for a deer. This day in 3102 BCE is taken to be the beginning of Kali Yuga, the last of the four epochs in the Hindu cosmological cycle. See Also: Diwali; Hinduism; Holi; Jesus; Muhammad; Prasad

Further Reading Fisher, M. P. 1999. Living Religions. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. Toomey, Paul Michael. 1994. Food from the Mouth of Krishna: Feasts and Festivals in a North Indian Pilgrimage Centre. Studies in Sociology and Social Anthropology. Delhi: Hindustan Publishing. Vanamali, M. 2012. The Complete Life of Krishna: Based on the Earliest Oral Traditions and the Sacred Scriptures. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.


| 333

Kwanzaa Kwanzaa is a nondenominational African American celebration established in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Ron Karenga of California State University, who also founded the organization, Us, that promotes the values embodied in Kwanzaa year-round. The name “Kwanzaa” comes from the Swahili matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest,” and builds on African harvest practices dating back as far as ancient Egypt. The festival lasts for seven days, between December 26 and January 1, and is celebrated by African Americans in the Americas and around the world. Each of the seven days is dedicated to one of seven traditional African communitarian values of unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. They are known as the seven principles of Kwanzaa. Originally devised as a way of expressing and celebrating African cultural identity, Kwanzaa has grown into a joyous celebration of life that is not aligned with any one religion. Kwanzaa draws from five elements of traditional PanAfrican first-fruit rituals. The first is called ingathering and is a time for family and community to come together. The second is reverence, when thanks are given to the creator for the bounty of the harvest. The third is commemoration, a time to remember the ancestors. The fourth is recommitment to ideals of personal and community life. The fifth is celebration of life in all its splendors. At the beginning of the Kwanzaa holiday, a table is covered with decorative African cloth and adorned with seven symbolic objects associated with the holiday. Mazao (crops) are the literal fruits of the harvest. Fruit, vegetables, and nuts are displayed in decorative baskets as a symbol of the rewards of productive communal labor. In Africa first fruits would have been an occasion for multiple generations of extended families to gather to celebrate the communal work of growing and bringing in the crops. The mkeka is a mat, made from straw or cloth, on which the mazao are arranged along with the other symbolic items. The kinara is a seven-branched candle holder in which are placed seven candles, the mishumaa saba, that represent the seven values of Kwanzaa. In the center is a black candle representing unity. It is lit on December 26, after which those gathered discuss the first principle, that of unity. To the left are three red candles, representing self-determination and creativity. The far left candle is lit along with the black one on December 27. To the right are three green candles representing purpose, responsibility, and faith. The far green candle is lit on December 28. Red and green candles are then alternately lit until all seven burn together until the end of the last day of Kwanzaa, when they are extinguished. Muhindi (ears of corn) are placed on the mkeka, one for each child in the family. If there are no children, then two ears of corn are placed as a reminder of the communal responsibility articulated in the Nigerian proverb that “[i]t takes a village to raise a child.” The kikombe cha umaja (unity cup) is used for communal drinking and pouring libations to the earth and ancestral spirits at the beginning of Kwanzaa and during the karamu (feast) on the sixth day. In modern practice separate cups may be used, similar to the way in which Christian Communion is


| Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa:Traditional Libation Statement For The Motherland cradle of civilization. For the ancestors and their indomitable spirit. For the elders from whom we can learn much. For our youth who represent the promise for tomorrow. For our people the original people. For our struggle and in remembrance of those who have struggled on our behalf. For Umoja the principle of unity which should guide us in all that we do. For the creator who provides all things great and small. Source: “Kwanzaa: Everything You Want to Know,” Our Heritage Magazine, http://ourheritagemagazine .com/our-heritage-magazine-online/kwanzaa/.

conducted. Families drink from the unity cup on the final day of Kwanzaa, before the candles are extinguished. Zawadi (gifts) are exchanged between family members and friends on the seventh day. Handmade items are encouraged, and children’s gifts always include a book and a symbol of African heritage. New Year’s Day, the last day of Kwanzaa, is promoted as a day for reflection and meditation. Two additional symbols of Kwanzaa are a poster displaying the seven principles and the bendera, a red, green, and black flag. Black represents the people, red symbolizes their struggle, and green is hope for the future. A karamu is held on December 31. This can be a family affair or may be held at a local church or community center for many guests, where it is accompanied by African drumming, music, and dancing. The karamu usually features traditional African dishes as well as African American dishes made with foods that Africans bought to the New World, such as peanuts, sweet potatoes, and collard greens. Stewed okra and tomatoes, cornbread, and spicy black-eyed peas are other common Kwanzaa dishes. During the feast the unity cup is filled with water or juice. An elder of the household pours liquid in four directions onto the earth or into a bowl filled with earth or with green vegetables while reciting the tamshi la tambiko, a libation statement to honor the ancestors and those who advanced the black American cause. While Kwanzaa is intended to be a stand-alone celebration, it is not uncommon for people to incorporate it with Christmas and New Year celebrations. See Also: African Indigenous Religions; Christmas; Festivals; First Fruits; New Year

Further Reading Harris, J. B. 1998. A Kwanzaa Keepsake: Celebrating the Holiday with New Traditions and Feasts. New York: Simon and Schuster. Karenga, M. 1997. Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Family, Community and Culture. Los Angeles: University of Sankore Press. “Kwanzaa: Everything You Want to Know.” n.d. Our Heritage Magazine, http://ourheri

Food, Feasts, and Faith

Food, Feasts, and Faith An Encyclopedia of Food Culture in World Religions Volume 2: L–Z

Paul Fieldhouse

Copyright © 2017 by ABC-CLIO, LLC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Fieldhouse, Paul, author. Title: Food, feasts, and faith : an encyclopedia of food culture in world   religions / Paul Fieldhouse. Description: Santa Barbara, California : ABC-CLIO, an Imprint of ABC-CLIO,   LLC, [2017] | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016036524 (print) | LCCN 2016055319 (ebook) |   ISBN 9781610694117 (set : acid-free paper) | ISBN 9781440846144   (volume 1 : acid-free paper) | ISBN 9781440846151 (volume 2 : acid-free   paper) | ISBN 9781610694124 (Ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Food—Religous aspects | Food habits—Encyclopedias. Classification: LCC BL65.F65 F54 2017 (print) | LCC BL65.F65 (ebook) |   DDC 204/.46—dc23 LC record available at ISBN: 978-1-61069-411-7 (set) 978-1-4408-4614-4 (vol. 1) 978-1-4408-4615-1 (vol. 2) EISBN: 978-1-61069-412-4 21 20 19 18 17  1 2 3 4 5 This book is also available as an eBook. ABC-CLIO An Imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC ABC-CLIO, LLC 130 Cremona Drive, P.O. Box 1911 Santa Barbara, California 93116-1911 This book is printed on acid-free paper Manufactured in the United States of America


List of Entries


Guide to Related Topics


List of Documents


Entries 1 Primary Documents


Recommended Resources


About the Author


Index 633


List of Entries

Charity Christian Diet Plans Christianity Christian Western Festival Calendar Christmas Christmas Drinks Church Suppers Coffee Cold Food Festival (Hanshi) Coming-of-Age Rituals Commensality Compassion Confucianism Cookbooks, Religious Coptic Feasts and Fasts Dates Day of the Dead Death Rituals and Ceremonies Diwali Durga Puja Easter Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar Eastern Orthodox Church Eggs Eid al-Adha Eid al-Fitr Epiphany Eucharist Fasting as a Religious Discipline Fasting in Buddhism Fasting in Christianity Fasting in Hinduism Fasting in Islam

Abraham Advent African Indigenous Religions Agape Feast Ahimsa Airline Food Alcohol All Saints’ Day All Souls’ Day Amish Ancient Mediterranean Religions Animal Slaughter Animism Annunciation, Feast of the Anorexia, Holy Asceticism Ashura Australian Aboriginal Religion Ayurveda Aztec Religion and Ritual Baha’i Faith Baha’i Faith and Alcohol Baha’i Festival Calendar Baptism Rituals Bar and Bat Mitzvah Bible, Foods in the Birth Rituals and Ceremonies Bread Breast-Feeding Buddhism Buddhist Festival Calendar Candomble Cannibalism Caste System vii


| List of Entries Fasting in Jainism Fasting in Judaism Fasting in the Baha’i Faith Feasting in Buddhism Feasting in Christianity Feasting in Hinduism Feasting in Islam Feasting in Judaism Festivals First Fruits Fish Fridays Fish in Christian Symbolism Food and Religious Identity Food as Religious Metaphor Food Certification, Islam Food Certification, Jewish Food Preparation Rituals, Religious Fruitarianism Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand (1889–1948) Ganesh Chaturthi Gender and Food Graham, Sylvester (1794–1851) Gurpurbs Guru Granth Sahib Guru Nanak Gutor Hadith Halal Food Halal Marketplace Halloween Hanukkah Haram Food Healing with Food Hindu Festival Calendar Hinduism Hola Mohalla Holi Hospital Food Hospitality Humanitarian Food Relief Hungry Ghosts Hutterites Iftar Interfaith Festival Calendar

International Society for Krishna Consciousness Islam Islamic Festival Calendar Jainism Jehovah’s Witnesses Jesus Jewish Festival Calendar Jhatka Judaism Kashrut Kava Kellogg, John Harvey (1852–1943) Kitab-i-Aqdas Kosher Marketplace Krishna Kwanzaa Langar Last Supper Laws of Manu Lent Losar Macrobiotics Maha Shivaratri Makar Sankranti Mardi Gras Marriage and Wedding Rituals Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist Marriage Ceremonies, Christian Marriage Ceremonies, Hindu Marriage Ceremonies, Jewish Marriage Ceremonies, Muslim Mawlid al-Nabi Mennonites Mindful Eating Miracles Moravians Mormons Moses Muhammad Mushbooh Nation of Islam Navaratri New Religious Movements New Year

Nine Emperor Gods Festival Nineteen-Day Feast North American Indigenous Religions Nowruz Nutritional Status, Religion and Paganism Passover Pig Avoidance Potlatch Prasad Protestantism Purim Qingming Festival Quakers Qur’an, Food in the Ramadan Rastafari Rice Rites of Passage Rites of Passage, Buddhist Rites of Passage, Christian Rites of Passage, Hindu Rites of Passage, Islam Rites of Passage, Jewish Rites of Passage, Shinto Rites of Passage, Sikh Rites of Passage, Zoroastrianism Roman Catholicism Rosh Hashanah Sabbath Sacraments Sacred Cow Sacred Time Sacrifice Salt, Religious Symbolism of Santeria

List of Entries

Santhara School Food Seder Meal Seventh-day Adventists Shakers Shavuot Shi’a Islam Shinto Siddartha Gautama (Buddha) Sikh Festival Calendar Sikhism Social Justice and Food Songkran Soup Kitchens and Food Banks Stewardship St. Lucia Day Feast St. Patrick’s Day Sufi Islam Sukkot Sumptuary Laws Taboos and Prohibitions Taoism Tea Ceremony Thanksgiving Vaisakhi Vegetarianism Vesak (Wesak) Vodun Water Wine Yom Kippur Zakat Zoroaster (Zarathustra) Zoroastrian Festival Calendar Zoroastrianism

| ix

Guide to Related Topics


Coffee Cookbooks, Religious Dates Eggs Fish in Christian Symbolism Food Certification, Islam Food Certification, Judaism Halal Food Halal Marketplace Haram Food Healing with Food Hospital Food Iftar Kava Kosher Marketplace Macrobiotics Mushbooh Nutritional Status, Religion and Prasad Rice Salt, Religious Symbolism of School Food Soup Kitchens and Food Banks Sumptuary Laws Water Wine

Cannibalism Caste System Fish Fridays Hospitality Potlatch Taboos and Prohibitions Tea Ceremony Feasts and Feast Days Agape Feast All Saints’ Day All Souls’ Day Annunciation, Feast of the Coptic Feasts and Fasts Epiphany Last Supper Nineteen-Day Feast Sabbath Seder Meal St. Lucia Day Feast St. Patrick’s Day Thanksgiving Food and Drink Airline Food Alcohol Ayurveda Bread Breast-Feeding Christmas Drinks Church Suppers

Individuals Abraham Gandhi, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand (1889–1948) Graham, Sylvester (1794–1851) Guru Nanak xi


| Guide to Related Topics Jesus Kellogg, John Harvey (1852–1943) Krishna Moses Muhammad Siddartha Gautama (Buddha) Zoroaster (Zarathustra)

Shakers Shi’a Islam Shinto Sikhism Sufi Islam Taoism Vodun

Religion or Belief

Religious Festivals and Seasons

African Indigenous Religions Amish Ancient Mediterranean Religions Animism Australian Aboriginal Religion Aztec Religion and Ritual Baha’i Faith Buddhism Candomble Christianity Confucianism Eastern Orthodox Church Hinduism Hutterites International Society for Krishna Con­­sciousness Islam Jainism Jehovah’s Witnesses Judaism Mennonites Miracles Moravians Mormons Nation of Islam New Religious Movements North American Indigenous Religions Paganism Protestantism Quakers Rastafari Roman Catholicism Santeria Seventh-day Adventists

Advent Ashura Baha’i Festival Calendar Buddhist Festival Calendar Christian Western Festival Calendar Christmas Cold Food Festival (Hanshi) Day of the Dead Diwali Durga Puja Easter Eastern Orthodox Christian Festival Calendar Eid al-Adha Eid al-Fitr Festivals Ganesh Chaturthi Gurpurbs Gutor Halloween Hanukkah Hindu Festival Calendar Hola Mohalla Holi Hungry Ghosts Interfaith Festival Calendar Islamic Festival Calendar Jewish Festival Calendar Kwanzaa Lent Losar Maha Shivaratri Makar Sankranti Mardi Gras Mawlid al-Nabi

Navaratri New Year Nine Emperor Gods Festival Nowruz Passover Purim Qingming Festival Ramadan Rosh Hashanah Sacred Time Shavuot Sikh Festival Calendar Songkran Sukkot Vaisakhi Vesak (Wesak) Yom Kippur Zoroastrian Festival Calendar Religious Practices Ahimsa Animal Slaughter Anorexia, Holy Asceticism Baha’i Faith and Alcohol Charity Christian Diet Plans Commensality Compassion Fasting as a Religious Discipline Fasting in Buddhism Fasting in Christianity Fasting in Hinduism Fasting in Islam Fasting in Jainism Fasting in Judaism Fasting in the Baha’i Faith Feasting in Buddhism Feasting in Christianity Feasting in Hinduism Feasting in Islam Feasting in Judaism First Fruits Food and Religious Identity

Guide to Related Topics

Fruitarianism Gender and Food Humanitarian Food Relief Jhatka Kashru Langar Mindful Eating Pig Avoidance Sacred Cow Sacrifice Santhara Social Justice and Food Stewardship Vegetarianism Zakat Rituals Baptism Rituals Bar and Bat Mitzvah Birth Rituals and Ceremonies Coming-of-Age Rituals Death Rituals and Ceremonies Eucharist Food Preparation Rituals, Religious Marriage and Wedding Rituals Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist Marriage Ceremonies, Christian Marriage Ceremonies, Hindu Marriage Ceremonies, Jewish Marriage Ceremonies, Muslim Rites of Passage Rites of Passage, Buddhist Rites of Passage, Christian Rites of Passage, Hindu Rites of Passage, Islam Rites of Passage, Jewish Rites of Passage, Shinto Rites of Passage, Sikh Rites of Passage, Zoroastrianism Sacraments Texts and Scriptures Bible, Foods in the

| xiii


| Guide to Related Topics Food as Religious Metaphor Guru Granth Sahib Hadith

Kitab-i-Aqdas Laws of Manu Qur’an, Food in the

List of Documents

  1. The Taittiriya Upanishad on Food (ca. 600 BCE)   2. The Analects: Confucius on Food (ca. 500 BCE)   3. The Sushruta Samhita: A Special Regimen during the Period of Gestation (ca. 500 BCE)   4. Jewish Food Laws from Leviticus in the Hebrew Bible (ca. 1400–400 BCE)   5. The Mahabharata on Killing Animals and Eating Meat (ca. 300 BCE–300 CE)   6. The Akaranga Sutra: Instructions to Monks and Nuns When Begging for Food (ca. 300 BCE)   7. Porphyry on Abstinence from Animal Food (ca. 270 CE)   8. Confucian Book of Rites (Li Ki) on Food and Food Habits (ca. 200 BCE)   9. The Manusmriti (200 BCE–200 CE) 10. The Vinaya Patika on Buddhist Requirements for Eating (ca. 100 BCE) 11. Biblical Origins of the Eucharist from the Book of Matthew (80–90 CE) 12. The Rule of St. Benedict on Food and Drink (530 CE) 13. The Holy Qur’an on Guidance for Food (610–632 CE) 14. Thomas Aquinas on Fasting: From the Summa Theologica (1265–1273) 15. Sumptuary Laws (1336) 16. An Aztec Emperor’s Feast, by Bernal Díaz del Castillo (1519) 17. Huldrych Zwingli on Freedom of Food Choice for Christians (1522) 18. The First Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts (1621) 19. Centennial Buckeye Cook Book (1876) 20. The Schenactady Patent (1883) 21. Food for the Million (1884) 22. Sabbath Food from Science in the Kitchen (1893) 23. Yoruba Death Rituals of West Africa (1894) 24. A Converted Fruitarian (1900) 25. Healing by “Material Means”: Food in the Baha’i Faith (1908) 26. Food Restrictions among the Kakadu Tribe of Australia (1914) 27. The Natural Diet of Man, on a Vegetarian and Whole-Grain Diet (1923)


L Langar Every gurdwara (Sikh temple) has a langar where food is prepared and a space where it is served to congregants and visitors. Everyone sits together to share a vegetarian meal prepared by community volunteers. Langar means “guru’s free kitchen” and has also come to be used to describe the free food itself. It is open to all regardless of age, gender, religion, or caste. The institution of langar was begun by the first Sikh leader, Guru Nanak Dev (1469–1539 CE), as a means of challenging existing power structures and social inequities. No one was allowed to enter the presence of the guru before first eating a langar meal; this included powerful rulers such as the Moghul emperor Akhbar, who had to sit on the ground with people of all social levels. Guru Nanak’s reported last instructions were to keep the langar ever open, and the practice was continued by each of his successors. Even today little has changed in the form or purpose of langar, which embodies Sikh ideals of service and hospitality. Sharing food is a way of creating community, and by removing social and religious distinctions the langar offers the shared meal as a symbol of unity of humankind. Larger gurdwaras have open-air langars, and food is available throughout the day. On festival days they may serve up to 100,000 people. At smaller temples langar may be served only following daily or weekly services. Food is mostly donated to the gurdwara by community members, who also sign up to assist in food preparation and service. Monetary donations may be used to directly purchase supplies and equipment. Food is prepared in large iron woks called sarbloh karahee or in iron pots or steam kettles. In addition to following strict hygiene procedures, cooks recite verses from the Guru Granth Sahib while preparing the langar food. A small amount of each prepared dish is placed on a metal tray, which is taken to the darbar sahib (main hall), where the Guru Granth Sahib resides. A special prayer (ardas) is recited asking for God’s blessing. Each food item is then touched with a kirpan (sword), thereby transforming it into blessed food. The tray is taken back to the kitchen, and the food samples are mixed back into the main cooking pots to transfer their spiritual power to the whole dish. Langar cannot be eaten until after the ardas prayer is said. While Sikhs are not necessarily vegetarian (baptized Sikhs are more likely to be), food served in a langar is always vegetarian. This means that it is appropriate for anyone who comes, no matter what their religious dietary laws say about meat, and thus upholds the principles of equality. In North America Punjabi food is 335


| Last Supper usually served, though some congregations have opted to include more typical American fare. Langar meals offer a variety of typical Punjabi dishes such as dal, vegetable curries, roti, pickles, and popular sweets such as jelabi. Guests sit in rows on mats on the floor to eat and are served by sevadars, who are community volunteers, putting into practice the Sikh value of seva, or selfless service. Volunteers are responsible for all aspects of the langar, from food preparation to cleanup. Sevadars are careful not to touch individual plates with their hands or serving utensils. Guests are not allowed to refuse the food and are expected to eat everything, though they may ask for very small portions. In some langars, tables and chairs are provided either for the elderly and disabled or, in some instances, for everyone. This innovation has been rejected by most gurdwaras as a potential source of divisiveness and inequality. The hospitality of the langar may be extended beyond the gurdwara walls, with extra food being donated to local charities, food banks, or service organizations. In some North American cities, Sikh associations run mobile langars to serve hot food to the homeless. The langar remains a powerful symbol of Sikh identity and values and is a positive way of relating to the non-Sikh community. See Also: Charity; Hospitality; Sikhism

Further Reading Desjardins, M., and E. Desjardins. 2009. “Food That Builds Community: The Sikh Langar in Canada.” Cuizine: The Journal of Canadian Food Culture 1(2), http://www.erudit .org/revue/cuizine/2009/v1/n2/037851ar.html. Kaur Singh, N. G. 2011. Sikhism: An Inroduction. London: I. B. Tauris. Khalsa, S. n.d. “Sikh Gurdwara Langar Kitchen and Dining Hall Illustrated.” Sikhism,

Last Supper “Last Supper” is the name used to describe the final meal that the Christian prophet Jesus shared with his disciples on the evening prior to his death by crucifixion in about 30 CE. The day of the Last Supper is known as Maundy Thursday in the Western calendar and is followed by Good Friday. Jesus’s words and actions at this meal shaped the central ritual of the Christian church ever since, though the way in which they are interpreted varies somewhat between denominations. Accounts of the Last Supper come from the gospels and books of the New Testament that were written well after the event and vary in detail. Because there are no firsthand accounts, it is not known what was actually eaten at the Last Supper. Jesus practiced table fellowship, and probably the disciples would have regularly gathered to share food; unleavened bread with wine and water would have been customary fare. Some scholars associate the Last Supper, where Jesus offered his own body as the sacrifice, with the Jewish Passover meal. According to the scriptures Jesus broke

Last Supper

| 337

The Last Supper, painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1495, depicts the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples before his arrest and crucifixion. The original painting is in Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan, Italy. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

bread and handed it to the disciples, saying “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” He passed them a cup of wine with the same command: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23–25). The sharing of a meal of consecrated bread and wine became the Christian ritual of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, during which participants remember Jesus’s actions at the Last Supper. Some denominations, especially the Roman Catholic Church, believe that through divine grace the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. In the Gospel According to John, Jesus washed the feet of the disciples before sharing bread and wine at the Last Supper, a practice that was subsequently taken up by some Christian sects in the form of agape feasts or love feasts. At the Maundy Thursday Mass, Roman Catholics and some Anglicans, including Episcopalians, wash the feet of 12 congregants. The Last Supper has been depicted in innumerable works of art, the most famous of which is Leonardo da Vinci’s large mural, painted between 1495 and 1498, in the dining hall of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. See Also: Agape Feast; Christianity; Eastern Orthodox Church; Eucharist; Lent; Passover

Further Reading Feeley-Harnik, G. 1994. The Lord’s Table: The Meaning of Food in Early Judaism and Christianity. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institute.


| Laws of Manu Neel, Douglas E., and Joel A. Pugh. 2012. The Food and Feasts of Jesus: Inside the World of First-Century Fare, with Menus and Recipes. Religion in the Modern World. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. Symons, M. 1999. “From Agape to Eucharist: Jesus’ Meals and the Early Church.” Food and Foodways 8(1): 33–54.

Laws of Manu The Laws of Manu is one of oldest written religious, legal, and moral codes in the world. It is known by several names, including the Manusmriti, Manava Dharma Shastra, and the Law Code of Manu. Written in Sanskrit, it was compiled sometime in the two centuries before and after the start of the Common Era, though there is no agreement on exact dates. It brings together teachings from older Vedic traditions and is a cornerstone of understanding Hindu society. The actual author or authors are unknown, but it is believed in Hindu tradition to be the words of Brahma as written by the hand of Manu, the son of the creator and the first human. The overall purpose was to set out the rules and customs governing social roles and expected behavior of Hindu caste members. The book begins with a group of sages rousing Manu from contemplation and asking him to describe “the proper order of all social classes.” The Laws of Manu was compiled at a time of social and political change that threatened the privileged position of orthodox Brahmins. Some scholars see it as an attempt by Brahmin writers to maintain the rights and privileges of the Brahmin caste and to reestablish the alliance between Brahmin priests and Kshatriya rulers. The Laws of Manu aimed to uphold the social order by specifying what was proper and therefore expected from each caste. The idea of “proper conduct” was called dharma—the natural law that gives harmony and balance to the universe and that is still of central importance to Hindu life. It teaches that self-interest should be sacrificed in the interests of maintaining social order, in effect that people should accept their lot in life. The book includes laws governing all aspects of life, including dietary restrictions. Its 2,684 verses are divided into 12 chapters that deal with religious, social, and domestic life. Chapter 5 has 56 verses relating to food and food conduct, while other food references are found throughout the book. Diet Food is a fundamental part of the Hindu cosmos. It was created by God and is inseparable from life. The Laws of Manu contain abundant references to food, some of which are quite general and others of which are highly specific. They enumerate foods allowed and forbidden to twice-born men and rules for eating and avoiding meat. Over 200 foods and food-related activities are forbidden as being unwholesome. This includes specific prohibited foods, rules on who may have access to or


| 339

receive food from whom, rituals that define food purity, and behaviors that compromise purity. The laws lay the ethical foundation for vegetarianism, enjoining that “[m]eat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to [the attainment of] heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun [the use of] meat” (5.48). It is not only the eater who must beware of bad karma. “He who permits (the slaughter of an animal), he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells (meat), he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, (must all be considered as) the slayers (of the animal)” (5:51). Nevertheless, meat eating is not considered to be a sin but rather something from which it is better to abstain. Also, meat consumption is acceptable if it is part of a sacrifice to the gods. Other rules describe food hospitality, begging for food alms, and the permitted and prohibited interactions of castes around food—including instructions to Brahmins on how to regain purity after a polluting act. Although not the only source of wisdom on Hindu practice, the Laws of Manu had a profound and continuing influence over Hindu society. It was translated into English in 1794 and was used by British colonists to help them understand Indian society. The ancient laws still have a philosophical influence on Hindu society. The idea of correct conduct required by dharma infuses the social order. However, many statements in the Laws of Manu are not generally acceptable today, prejudiced as they are against women and lower social classes. See Also: Caste System; Hinduism; Sacred Cow; Sacrifice; Vegetarianism

Further Reading “Manu Samhita, the Laws of Manu.” n.d. The Gold Scales, Olivelle, P. 2009. The Law Code of Manu. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lent Lent is the name given to the 40 days preceding Easter Sunday. It is derived from an old English word, lencten, which means “spring” and describes the longer days following the end of winter. In the Christian church calendar it is called the Quadragesima, the Latin term for 40 days, and recalls the 40 days that Jesus is said to have spent in the wilderness before commencing his teaching ministry. By the second century after Jesus’s death, observing Lent by fasting had become an established custom. Lent is observed today in varying forms by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians and in the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other Protestant traditions. Falling in February or March, the dates of Lent vary from year to year as they are dependent on the date of Easter, which is itself a movable feast. They may also differ between Western and Eastern churches that use different calendars. Historically


| Lent Lent lasted for six weeks; however, Sundays were not counted as fast days, which reduced it to 36 days. Four days were added at the beginning to make up the 40-day period so that in the Western Christian church Lent now commences on Ash Wednesday, 4 days before the first Sunday of Lent. The Eastern Orthodox Church observation begins on the Monday before the first Sunday of Lent. For Christians, Lent is a time of repentance in preparation for marking the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, their savior. It is a time for both sadness and joy that is marked by prayer, abstinence, and acts of charity as Christians remember Jesus’s 40-day sojourn in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil as he fasted and prayed. Many of the individual days of Lent have a special significance. In the Western tradition the day before Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday. The word “shrove” is related to “shrive,” meaning “make confession or receive absolution,” which was the spiritual focus of this day. It was also the time for using up butter, eggs, and other rich foods in the house. It is known in various cultures as Pancake Day, Fat Tuesday, and Mardi Gras. On Ash Wednesday some Christians receive a smudge of ash on their foreheads from a priest who pronounces the words “Remember man, thou are dust and unto dust thou shalt return.” The Sunday before Easter is known as Palm Sunday when, the Bible says, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and his way was strewn with palm leaves; in some congregations palm or willow branches are waved during the Sunday service. The Thursday before Easter is called Maundy Thursday; historically on this day, penitents who had been excommunicated could seek readmittance to the body of the church. In Northern Europe they were called the “green ones” after the green sprigs they wore, and the day was known as Green Thursday. Only a meatless meal was allowed, and it was common for green vegetables such as spinach, green peas, or cabbage soup to be eaten. In the Eastern Orthodox Church on the last Sunday before Lent there is a church service where people bow to each other and ask each other’s forgiveness. On Easter eve there is a vigil from midnight until dawn; the congregation remains standing, anticipating the joyful shout “Christ has risen,” followed by the ringing of bells. Food and Fasting Lenten practices with regard to food have changed over time, though they have always involved some degree of abstinence. In the early church fasting was observed on Wednesdays and Fridays (the days of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ); this was extended to the entire six weeks of Lent. In the Middle Ages Lenten restrictions meant elimination of all animal flesh and products (meat and dairy) from the diet. However, those who could afford it could buy dispensations that allowed them to ignore the restrictions. In Spain drinking chocolate was served in some churches, as it was classified as a drink rather than a food. Notwithstanding local variations in practice, the basic Lenten fasting requirements remained virtually unchanged into the modern era. Following Vatican II in 1966, changes were made to church regulations that allowed Catholics to substitute other forms of penance in place of abstaining from meat except on Ash Wednesday


| 341

and Fridays during Lent, when the meat prohibition remained for all Catholics over the age of 14. For those over the age of majority (18 in the United States) up to age 60, fasting is required only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday; on these days only one full meal should be taken, and two smaller meals or snacks are permitted. Apart from the age criteria, those in ill health are exempted from fasting. The Church still recommends meat avoidance on all Fridays throughout the year, and in September 2011 the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales declared that this was reinstated as a requirement, though there was no obligation to eat fish instead. The fourth Sunday of Lent is called Mothering Sunday in England. It is not related to Mother’s Day in North America, although in modern times it is celebrated in a similar way, with children giving cards and gifts to their mothers. Since the Middle Ages Mothering Sunday was a day set aside for people to visit their mother church, usually a cathedral or abbey. Young people working as domestic servants away from home were given the day off so they could do this, and it became an occasion for a family reunion. Lenten fasting rules were relaxed on this day, and returning family members would bring cake as a gift. The traditional cake was the simnel cake, a heavy fruitcake with layers of marzipan (almond paste) on the top and in the middle. It is decorated with 11 marzipan balls, representing the disciples of Jesus (except for Judas), and often with sugar-paste violets. The name probably comes from the Latin word simila, a type of fine wheat flour used in baking. A more fanciful story recounts how a husband and wife, Simon and Nellie, couldn’t decide if their cake should be baked or boiled, so they did both, creating a “Sim-Nell” cake. Historical descriptions of simnel cake do show that it was both boiled and baked, and the production of a good moist cake was a test of cooking prowess. The Eastern Orthodox Church has maintained a stricter approach in Lenten observations. Current practice requires that no meat or fish be eaten after Meatfare Sunday, six weeks before Easter. A week later comes Cheesefare Sunday, following which dairy products are also restricted. In Greek folk tradition the last food consumed is a boiled egg, accompanied by the words “With an egg I close my mouth, with an egg I will open it again.” Eating a boiled egg following the Easter service breaks the fast. The first Monday of Lent, known as Clean Monday, is a time to spiritually cleanse oneself through prayer and fasting. In Greece Clean Monday is a public holiday, when picnics and kite flying are popular activities. As the fasting period begins, permitted foods include octopus, shrimp, and other shellfish. Taramosalata is a dip made from carp or cod roe, mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, and breadcrumbs. It is spread on unleavened bread called lagana that is baked only on Clean Monday. Monks and lay members who are able are encouraged to undertake a total fast for the first three days of Lent and on Good Friday, while others are asked to do their best. In strict practice, olive oil and wine are also avoided except on Saturdays and Sundays and are prohibited during the week preceding Easter. Olive oil was historically stored in casks lined with calf’s stomach, and was thus viewed as being contaminated through contact with an animal product. On Good Friday devout believers may begin a total fast that is broken after midnight service on Easter Saturday or after the Easter Sunday service.


| Losar One modern consequence of Lenten dietary requirements is a proliferation of recipes for meatless meals as well as other special Lenten dishes in cookbooks and church magazines and on recipe websites. See Also: Christianity; Christian Western Festival Calendar; Easter; Eastern Orthodox Church; Fasting in Christianity; Fish Fridays; Mardi Gras; Roman Catholicism

Further Reading Albala, K., and T. Eden, eds. 2011. Food and Faith in Christian Culture. New York: Columbia University Press. “Fasting and Fast-Free Seasons of the Church.” n.d. Orthodox Church of America, http:// Laftsidis, A. 2013. Lenten Cookbook. n.p.: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform. Mandell, C. 2005. When You Fast: Recipes for Lenten Seasons. Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimirs Seminary Press. Newall, V. 1971. An Egg at Easter. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Rees, C. 2011. Feast + Fast: Food for Lent and Easter. London: Darton, Longman and Todd.

Losar Losar is the name of the Tibetan New Year (lo means “new,” and sar means “year”) and is the most important festival in Tibet. It is also celebrated in the Kingdom of Bhutan and by Tibetan Buddhists worldwide. Losar takes place over the first three days of the first month of the lunar year, which is usually in February in the Western calendar. The holiday traditionally lasted for 15 days between the new moon and the full moon, but in modern times the first 3 days are the most important. Following immediately after Gutor, which ends the old year by banishing bad spirits, Losar is a time of purification and renewal, festivity and hospitality. As the old year draws to an end, houses are typically given a thorough cleaning, and good luck symbols may be drawn on the walls with white powder. A holiday atmosphere prevails, with feasting and family activities that set a positive tone for the year ahead. Colorful prayer flags are flown from hills and rooftops. The first day of Losar is often focused on family activities, while the second and third days include visits to friends and relatives and to temples. Losar grew out of a pre-Buddhist practice associated with the Bön religion, in which incense was offered to appease the deities. Later Losar became linked to the agricultural cycle, the appearance of peach blossoms being associated with the start the year. A fixed date for Losar was established in the 13th century and gradually became accepted as common practice. Food is an important part of Losar celebrations in both the form of religious offerings and for sharing with family and friends. Special festival foods include khapse, a deep-fried fritter that can be made in very elaborate shapes such as shells


| 343

Khapse, deep-fried fritters, are prepared during the celebration of Losar, the Tibetan New Year, in Lhasa, Tibet. Khapse are eaten as snacks and also used as shrine decorations. (Xinhua/Alamy Stock Photo)

and lotus flowers. A popular version is shaped a bit like an old-fashioned telephone and is known as “donkey ears.” While khapse can be made in the home, it takes expertise to produce the correct shapes; master chefs with special equipment may be hired to make the khapse, especially for institutional use. Traditionally, the first khapse to be fried is not eaten and instead is hung up in the kitchen for the 15 days of traditional Losar. As well as being a popular snack to be shared with friends and visitors, khapse is used as shrine decorations. Historically, tall stacks of a large thick braided version of khapse were placed in the Potala Palace (the traditional home of the Dalai Lama at Lhasa), where they were free for the taking. Another popular food is dresi droma, a sweet dish of rice, sugar, butter, raisins, and a small tuber known as a droma, usually colored yellow with saffron or turmeric. On the first morning of Losar, people typically rise early; dresi droma and tea are offered at the household shrine, after which they are consumed as the first meal of the day. Dressed in their new clothes, people visit temples to make offerings and wish friends and neighbors tashi delek (best wishes). A dumpling known as momo is a favorite snack; because of its closed shape it is not eaten on the first day of Losar when, symbolically, everything should be open to the world. In homes and temples, elaborate Losar shrines are set up. On the shrine are placed a Buddha statue, a scripture, and a stupa along with seven bowls containing water and, if desired, another seven bowls containing rice or other food. One or


| Losar more candles or butter lamps are added. A special box or bowl on the shrine contains chema, a mixture of roasted barley flour, butter, and sugar. Guests take a pinch of chema, which they nibble and then wave through the air three times, offering a blessing or goodwill wish. In rural areas particularly villagers may carry their chema bowl from home to home, exchanging good wishes and sharing food. Another striking feature of shrine decoration is colored butter sculptures, though wood or ceramic is sometimes used. A sheep’s head is particularly auspicious, as its name in Tibetan sounds similar to the phrase “beginning of the year.” A variety of food offerings are placed on the shrine according to local custom and family means. Making offerings is a way of accumulating spiritual merit and developing generosity of mind. Offerings include stacks of khapse decorated with dried yak cheese and other cookies or sweets. Displays of fresh and/or dried fruit are common, along with a brick of tea and either wine or a barley beer called chang. Thue, made of butter, dried cheese, and sugar, represents wishes for the health and fertility of yaks, which are the major source of milk and butter in Tibet. Buckwheat stalks symbolize wishes for a plentiful crop of the Tibetan staple cereal, while sprouted grains known as lo phu represent new life and hopes for a good harvest. White blessing scarves known as khata are draped over the shrine. Chotrul Duchen (or Chonga Choepa), the butter lamp festival, closely follows Losar on the 15th day of the first month. It commemorates Buddha’s display of a series of miracles to increase the devotion of his followers. Prior to the Chinese takeover of Tibet in the 1950s, formal Losar celebrations took place at the Potala Palace in Lhasa. On the first day of Losar monks gave thanks to Palden Lhamo, the goddess protector of Tibet. Abbots from the three major monasteries brought gifts of roasted barley cakes for the Dalai Lama, and there was an exchange of ritual greetings. Philosophical debates were held, and there was also cultural entertainment. On the second day clergy and ambassadors from foreign governments were hosted. The third day saw the start of general festivities. Today these celebrations are held at Dharmasala, the current home of the Dalai Lama in exile. At the Potala Palace there has been a gradual revival of Losar celebrations, and many people choose to visit at this time. See Also: Buddhism; Buddhist Festival Calendar; Gutor; New Year

Further Reading Davey, S. 2013. Around the World in 500 Festivals: The World’s Most Spectacular Celebrations. London: Kuperard. Kelly, E. E. 2007. Tibetan Cooking: Recipes for Daily Living, Celebration, and Ceremony. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood. “Your Insider’s Guide to Losar Eating.” 2012. YoWangdu, February 12, http://www

M Macrobiotics Coined by Aristotle in the fifth century BCE, the term “macrobiotics” is derived from the Greek makros (great) and bios (life) and thus means “the way of long life.” Macrobiotics involves a dietary regime calculated to produce prolonged physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, the principles of which can be traced to ancient Chinese medical practices. In the late 18th century an eminent German physician, Dr. Christoph Hufeland (1762–1836), championed macrobiotic principles in European medicine. He recommended a diet based on vegetables and grain. The popularity of macrobiotics today is largely due to Japanese-born George Ohsawa (1893–1966), who systemized the principles of what he called Zen macrobiotics into a dietary regime of 10 progressively more restricted levels that, he claimed, could overcome all bodily illness. With its focus on the concept of yinyang balance and its promise of increased longevity, macrobiotics recalls ancient Taoist approaches to diet. The 10 levels of the macrobiotic diet differ in the proportions of seven different food types they contain. These are cereal, vegetables, soups, animal foods, salads and fruits, desserts, and liquids. Apart from liquids, which are to be taken

Yin and Yang Characteristics Yin Yang Dark Light Cold Hot Soft Hard Earth Heaven Moist Dry Passive Active Hollow Solid Female Male Yin and yang qualities are not absolute. Something is more yin or more yang in relation to something else.



| Macrobiotics sparingly at every dietary level, food groups are progressively omitted as the strictness of the regime increases, in the reverse order of this list, until cereals and vegetables and ultimately only cereals (usually rice) comprise 100 percent of the diet. A central principle of the macrobiotic regime is the balancing of yin and yang energy. Yin and yang represent the opposing but complementary forces of the universe, which are also present within individuals. Foods are placed on a continuum ranging from extreme yin foods such as sugar, milk, and tropical fruits to extreme yang products such as meat, fish, and eggs. Within categories of foods such as dairy and meat, there are varying degrees of yin or yang. So too with individual foods: one carrot may be more yin than another. Differences in apparently identical foods arise because their degree of yin or yang is influenced by many factors external to the foodstuff itself. This includes where and how they are grown, the season of harvesting, the way they are stored, and the method of cooking. Macrobiotic practitioners choose between more or less yin or yang produce to achieve the health balance they seek. Whole-grain cereals and vegetables are in the center of the yin-yang continuum and are most appropriate in bringing about a harmonious condition in the body. Thus, they become an ever-larger proportion of the macrobiotic diet as one progresses to higher levels. Most macrobiotic eaters do not progress to the highest level but typically consume a diet consisting of about 30–50 percent whole grains, 20–30 percent vegetables, and 5–10 percent each of beans and lentils, miso soup, and condiments such as salty plums and seaweed. Other general dietary principles include treating food with respect, avoiding sugar and processed foods with artificial colors, preparing food by chopping it finely, and chewing food thoroughly. Students of Ohsawa spread his teachings across the United States, and today there are around 500 macrobiotic centers in the United States. Macrobiotics has followers from Zen Buddhist, Taoist, and New Age backgrounds, though they may have different philosophical approaches to the diet. Also, people experimenting with different forms of vegetarianism may try out macrobiotic diets as a form of self-expression. Macrobiotic foods and cookbooks are readily available in health food stores. While many health benefits are claimed for the diet, it is low in protein and several essential vitamins and minerals. Pure macrobiotic diets are deficient in several essential nutrients, and there have been cases of malnutrition, scurvy, and folic acid deficiency. See Also: Buddhism; Taoism; Vegetarianism

Further Reading Aihara, H. 1985. Basic Macrobiotics. Tokyo: Japan Publications. Brown, S. G. 2007. Modern-Day Macrobiotics: Transform Your Diet and Feed Your Body, Mind, and Spirit. London: Carroll and Brown. Frankle, R. T., and F. K. Heussenstamm. 1974. “Food Zealotry and Youth: New Dilemmas for Professionals.” American Journal of Public Health 64(1): 11–18.

Maha Shivaratri

| 347

Maha Shivaratri Shiva the creator and the destroyer is the most powerful god of the Hindu pantheon. In Sanskrit, Maha Shivaratri means the “great night of Shiva” and is a time for celebrations in holy sites all across India. It is an official holiday in many Indian states. On this night three significant events related to Shiva are said to have occurred. He performed the tandava nritya, a dramatic dance of creation, maintenance, and destruction, and he saved the world from destruction by holding the poisons of the universe in his throat, which turned blue, giving him the name Nila Kantha, meaning “blue-throated one.” Maha Shivratri also celebrates the marriage of Shiva to Parvati, the Hindu goddess of love and devotion. According to Hindu lore, Shiva sits, with Parvati, in perpetual meditation at the summit of Mount Kailash in the Tibetan Himalayas. Maha Shivaratri falls on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the Hindu month of Phalguna. This corresponds to February or March in the Gregorian calendar. On the day before Maha Shivratri, only one meal should be eaten. Some devotees observe the night before Maha Shivratri as an all-night vigil. During this vigil they chant a popular mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya” (adoration to Shiva), and participate in a bathing ritual called abhishek in which the symbol of Shiva, the lingam (a stone phallus-like shaft that is a sign of generative power) is bathed every three hours with the five sacred products of the cow: milk, sour milk, urine, butter, and dung. Then the panchamrut (five nectars), a mixture of milk, clarified butter, yogurt, honey, and sugar, are placed before the lingam. Offerings of flowers, leaves of the sacred bilva tree, and fruits are made to Shiva, and this prasaed (blessed food) is eaten by the devotees at daybreak. Those not observing the all-night vigil rise early and bathe, if possible in one of the holy rivers. They A Hindu devotee makes offerings on the eve of Maha put on clean clothes and then Shivaratri in Amritsar, India. Hindus mark the festival visit the temple, where they per- by fasting and offering prayers to Lord Shiva. form the Shiva abhishek in the (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)


| Maha Shivaratri hope of finding favor with Lord Shiva. A three-tiered platform representing Heaven, space, and Earth is built around a fire and on the heavenly tier are placed 11 urns decorated with bilva leaves, mango, and coconuts representing the head of the three-eyed Lord Shiva. Sincerely uttering the name of Shiva during Shivratri is believed to free one from all sins. The temples are often crowded with women, for whom Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious. Married women pray for the health and well-being of their husbands, while single women pray for a life partner as ideal as Lord Shiva. Maha Shivratri itself is a day of fasting. Some choose to undertake a strict fast with no food or water; they prepare for this the day before by taking a vow of commitment and asking for Lord Shiva’s blessing. The fast is broken after sunrise. However, many Hindus observe farar, which means refraining from certain foods rather than a complete fast. The restrictions are on meat, fish, eggs, grains, onions, garlic, and some spices. There is a fairly long list of farari (permitted) foods so that the amount of food consumed during this “fast” is not necessarily less than normal. Among farari foods are the following: • • • • • • •

Dairy products Fruits and nuts Vegetables: asparagus, beet, cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum, carrot, cassava, gourds, green chili, lettuce, okra, potato, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, tomato, yam Flour: morio (millet), rajgira (amaranth grain), singoda (Chinese water chestnut), tapioca Oils: peanut, coconut, cotton seed, olive, safflower, sesame seed, sunflower (not corn) Spices: All except fenugreek Coffee

Cookbooks and websites offer many farari recipes suitable for use on fasting days. The 2,000-year-old Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu in Nepal is one of the most important shrines to Shiva and attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims on Maha Shivratri. Non-Hindus are not allowed in the temple but can participate in the carnival-like atmosphere of dancing, music, and street vendors. Beginning on Shivaratri, the annual weeklong Mandi Shivaratri Fair is held in the town of Mandi in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. More than 200 local deities from 81 temples are “invited” to the festival and are carried there on the backs of villagers or in decorated chariots. The fair, which attracts large numbers of international visitors, features folk music and dancing, stalls with artisans, and food vendors. In most North American Hindu temples there is a shrine to Shiva, and in some, such as in Flint, Michigan, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Shiva has central prominence. Maha Shivratri celebrations are held in Hindu temples across North America. Ceremonies at the Ganesha temple in New York are similar to those described above. At the Sri Lakshmi temple in Boston, Shiva is depicted not as a lingam but instead in his form as a dancer, and throughout the day women of all ages come to perform dances and offer flowers to Shiva.

Makar Sankranti

| 349

See Also: Diwali; Fasting in Hinduism; Feasting in Hinduism; Hindu Festival Calendar; Hinduism; Holi; Makar Sankranti; Navaratri; Prasad

Further Reading Bhalla, P. P. 2012. Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs and Traditions. New Delhi: Hindoology Books. Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books. “Maha Shivratri.” n.d. Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, http://www “Maha Sivaratri All-Night Vigil.” n.d. The Hindu Temple Society of North America, https:// Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Rites and Rituals: Sentiments, Sacaments and Symbols. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith. Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Makar Sankranti Makar Sankranti is a popular festival celebrated in different ways throughout most of India. The festival is called Pongol in the southern region of Tamil Nadu and is known as Lohri to Punjabis and Sikhs. It is one of the few Hindu festivals that is celebrated on the same day each year. Makar Sankranti is believed to be the day on which the gods awaken from their sleep and is therefore an auspicious time for starting something new. It is a harvest festival, a time for reconciliation and fresh beginnings, and a time for almsgiving. Makar Sankranti is an ancient festival celebrating the winter solstice and the change of season. Sankranti means “movement,” and on this day the sun enters the zodiacal sign of Makara (Capricorn). Makar Sankranti thus literally means the “movement of the sun into Capricorn.” As a solar calendar event it always falls on January 14, in the Hindu month of Magha. As well as its astronomical significance, in southern regions it also ushers in the harvest season and is a time to give thanks for the earth, people, and animals who made the harvest possible. In Tamil Nadu cows are bathed and decorated with garlands of flowers and corn; their horns are painted and covered with shiny metal caps and hung with colored beads and bells. It is believed that one who dies on Makar Sankranti will attain moksha, or liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth. On this day many people bathe in the holy rivers, and Sadhus (religious ascetics) may visit homes to beg alms and have their alms bags filled with grain. They chant blessings for the well-being of the householder. Donations and charity (dan) are an important part of Hindu life, particularly on Makar Sankranti. As well as donating food and money to the poor and ascetics, people donate fodder to cattle. In Gujurat, kite flying is a popular festival pastime; the main city, Ahmedabad, hosts an international kite festival. Many fairs are held on Makar Sankranti, the largest and most famous of which is the Kumbh


| Makar Sankranti Mela that is held every third year beginning on Makar Sankranti. It is said to be the largest gathering of humanity, with 120 million people attending during the 55 days of the 2013 event to bathe in the sacred waters where the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers meet. Food Practices Dishes made with til (sesame) and jaggery feature prominently at Makar Sankranti. Til ladoos are small balls of roasted sesame seeds and crushed peanuts rolled in a caramelized mix of ghee and jaggery. In the Western state of Mahrashtra they are called tilgul and are exchanged as gifts of love and affection with the wish “Til-gul ghya ani gud gud bola” (Take this tilgul and speak sweet words). A puffed rice dish called Kurmure Chikki is another Maharashtrian tradition. Paatishaapi is a Bengali sweetmeat eaten only on this occasion; it is a pancake stuffed with khoya (milk solids), date jaggery, and coconut. Makara chaula is a specialty among the Oriya people of the eastern state of Odisha; is made from freshly harvested rice that is soaked, dried, and ground into a powder and mixed with coconut, sesame, banana, and sugarcane and spiced with pepper and ginger. Regional Variations The Tamil harvest festival of Pongol lasts three to four days; the second day is the most important and coincides with Makar Sankranti. Pongol means “boiling over” and symbolizes abundance. Pongol is also the name of the principal dish and can be prepared in many ways as either a savory or a sweet. Preparations for Pongol include spring cleaning and the harvesting of rice and sugarcane. The first day of Pongol focuses on the family. On the second day a pot of sweet rice is boiled outdoors in a new earthenware pot. The contents are allowed to spill over, symbolizing abundance. Cashews and raisins may be added to the rice, which is placed on a new banana leaf and offered to the sun god. The third day involves devotion to cattle, which are decorated and fed with pongol. In the Punjabi celebration of Lohri, children go door-to-door asking for sweets and money. In the evening huge bonfires are lit around which people gather to meet friends, sing, dance, and throw puffed wheat and popcorn into the fire as an offering to Agni, the sun god, whose blessings for future prosperity are sought. Offerings of til (sesame) brittle, peanuts, popcorn, and jaggery are shared among those present, along with the traditional Punjabi winter dish of flatbread and sarson da saag, a mustard leaf and spinach curry. See Also: Diwali; Fasting in Hinduism; Feasting in Hinduism; Hindu Festival Calendar; Hinduism; Holi; Maha Shivaratri; Navaratri; Prasad

Further Reading Gupta, S. M. 1991. Festivals, Fairs and Fasts of India. Columbia, MO: South Asia Books.

Mardi Gras

| 351

Mukundchandaras, S. 2010. Hindu Festivals: Origins, Sentiments & Rituals. Amdavad, India: Swaminarayan Aksharpith. “Pongol: The Harvest Festival of South India.” n.d. Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, Schmidt, A., and P. Fieldhouse. 2007. World Religions Cookbook. Westport, CT: Greenwood.

Mardi Gras Mardi Gras, a French term meaning “Fat Tuesday,” marks the end of the pre-Lenten festive season known as Carnival. The word “carnival” comes from the Latin carnem levare, meaning to take away meat (or perhaps carne vale, meaning “farewell to flesh”), and on Fat Tuesday households had to be cleared of all animal products prior to the six-week Lent fasting period. It may have evolved from festivities associated with a pre-Christian agricultural festival that occurred in the spring. Some have identified its origins in the Roman spring fertility feast of Lupercalia, which the Christian church absorbed and molded for its own purposes. In the Middle Ages in Catholic regions of Europe, Carnival was a time of social license, with ribald public revelry, excessive eating and drinking, dancing and games. Great processions were held, and a mock queen and king were crowned for the day. The costumes and masks of the Mardi Gras carnival feature demons and totemic animals. By dressing up, revelers could disguise themselves from evil spirits said to be abroad that night. The carnival of Venice was the most famous and was revived in modern times as a way of combining history, culture, and tourism. Mardi Gras falls on the last Tuesday before the beginning of Lent in the Western calendar. This is usually in March or April. However, Mardi Gras season is often more extensive, traditionally beginning immediately after Epiphany (Twelfth Night). In New Orleans parades start about three weeks before Fat Tuesday, and the weekend immediately prior is filled with parades of floats, marching bands, and masked and costumed dancers. Mardi Gras is a legal holiday in Louisiana. Mardi Gras was traditionally the day to use up all the fats, dairy products, and other rich products in the house before the austerities of Lent began. Fasts and feasts give each other meaning. Going without food for a while increases the joy of the feast to follow, while feasting can be a way of preparing for the fast to come. However, the religious aspects of Mardi Gras have been overshadowed by the carnival dimension. It is particularly associated now with the U.S. cities of New Orleans and Mobile as well as Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Venice in Italy, and Quebec in Canada. Each of these places has a significant Roman Catholic population. The carnival popular in the Americas comes from the European tradition, though it is a largely secular rather than religious celebration. French Canadian brothers and explorers Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville are credited with bringing the tradition of carnival to Louisiana. In 1699 during an expedition on behalf of the French Crown, they set up camp on the


| Mardi Gras Mississippi River near the location of modern-day New Orleans. The next day was Mardi Gras in France, so the brothers named the place Pointe du Mardi Gras. American Mardi Gras celebrations in the early 18th century revolved around French-style masked balls. They were banned by the Spanish colonizers but legalized again in the 1820s, along with masked street parades. In 1827 the antecedents of the modern carnival began, with horse riders, carriages, and masked dancers parading through the streets. The New Orleans festival has become a major tourist attraction. It features a number of krewes, organizations that create elaborate parade floats, with hundreds of riders accompanied by masked revelers, music, and dancing. Mobile, Alabama, has the second-largest Mardi Gras celebration, which includes the throwing of moon pies from the floats at the crowds. Galveston, Texas, and San Diego, California, also have large Mardi Gras events. The Canadian province of Quebec, which has a large French Canadian Catholic population, has what is said to be the biggest winter carnival in the world. It lasts for about two weeks in January and February and often though not always coincides with the beginning of Lent. It is celebrated with parades, a masked ball, winter sports, and snow sculpture competitions. Food at Mardi Gras The signature food of the New Orleans Mardi Gras is a dessert called king cake. Like the roscon de roi baked for Epiphany, king cake symbolizes the visit of three kings to witness the birth of the Christian prophet Jesus. Jambalaya, beans and rice, and gumbo are other popular local dishes. Gumbo is a strongly flavored meat or seafood stew that is thickened with either okra or filé powder. It originated from Creole culinary influences in early 18th-century Louisiana, and in 2004 it was declared the official state cuisine. Moon pies are small confections of marshmallow sandwiched between graham cracker cookies and covered in chocolate, which have also become a hallmark of the Mardi Gras celebration in Mobile, Alabama. They are produced by a commercial bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and thousands of them are thrown to the crowd from floats at Mobile Mardi Gras parades. Carnival has been celebrated in Brazil since 1641. Rio de Janeiro has the largest carnival in the world. Street food includes Western-style fast food but also Brazilian specialties such as espetinho, consisting of chunks of meat grilled on skewers, rolled in manioc flour, and topped with hot sauce. Feijoada is a popular pork and beans stew served over rice garnished with slices of orange. Carnival in Venice features fritelle, a doughnut-like fritter that may be plain or filled with cream. Beaver tails are fried and sugared dough pieces popular at the Quebec winter carnival, while fried doughnuts are also popular in Belgium. Known as smoutebollen, they are made from a beer-enriched dough; fruit such as raisins, apple, or pineapple can be dipped into the batter to make a fancier version. In the Belgium town of Binche, carnival is designated as a UNESCO cultural treasure. Masked paraders hurl blood oranges at the onlookers as a symbol of fertility. Carnival time in Malta is famous for prinjolata, a cake that looks like the culinary equivalent of a spatter painting. With a sponge cake core, it is smothered in cream, criss-crossed

Marriage and Wedding Rituals

| 353

Colorful Mardi Gras king cake. King cake is the signature dish of Mardi Gras, and thousands are consumed during the festival. (Rosemary Buffoni/

with melted chocolate, sprinkled with pine nuts, and topped with red and green glacé cherries. See Also: Christian Western Festival Calendar; Easter; Fasting as a Religious Discipline; Fasting in Christianity; Lent

Further Reading “Mardi Gras King Cakes.” n.d. Mardi Gras New Orleans, http://www.mardigrasnewor O’Neill, R. 2014. New Orleans Carnival Krewes: The History, Spirit and Secrets of Mardi Gras. Charleston, SC: History Press.

Marriage and Wedding Rituals Marriage is an almost universal rite of passage that combines social, economic, legal, and romantic elements in varying degrees. Marriage rituals have taken various forms over the course of history, and traditions and customs vary greatly among countries, religions, and cultures. Most share a few core principles and


| Marriage and Wedding Rituals practices, including the creation of a legal relationship with rights and responsibilities that is publicly witnessed and forms an institution within which children can be bought up and accorded social and legal rights. Marriage rituals act as a vehicle for the community to provide tangible material support for the economic prosperity of the couple, through gifts of goods or money, and provide a way to secure future good fortune, prosperity, and fertility through religious blessings and enactment of superstitions. During the marriage ceremony the couple is usually physically joined in some way, for example, by the holding of hands or the tying together of shawls or other garments. An exchange of rings is also a common token. The actual wedding ceremony may be preceded by a series of events that mark a progression from a promise of marriage to the marriage union. These can include engagement parties, wedding showers, and mixed or single-sex parties for the couple-to-be. For much of the world and until recently, arranged marriages were the norm, brokered by go-betweens, to form family alliances based on social class, property, and economic security. Formal marriage contracts and dowries provided the legal infrastructure onto which religious and social celebrations were layered. The idea of romantic marriage is fairly new, even in the West. Many religions regard marriage as a sacrament or “holy estate.” Vows are exchanged in the context of spiritual obligations to the divine as well as to one’s earthly partner. The institution of marriage is by nature a force of conservatism, but nevertheless its form is continually changing. In many contemporary societies, marriage is no longer restricted to a union between a man and a woman. A common element of weddings is a conspicuous display of wealth, with money spent on elegant costumes, gifts, and, above all, food. The scale is of course commensurate with the means, though often families and couples will save for many years to ensure that they can put on a lavish public event. The wedding feast is a central feature of marriage rituals. While modest events may be restricted to immediate family and friends, it is not uncommon for whole communities, hundreds of people, to be invited to share in celebrations that may last over several days. The food featured at weddings is usually the customary cuisine of the area but is more lavish and elaborate than everyday fare in both quality and quantity. Some couples may choose exotic menus that reinforce the notion that this is not a normal day. Foods may assume special meanings at weddings, such as the German hochzeitssuppe,

Boss of the House Russian newlyweds share a yeast sweetbread called karavai. The round bread is elaborately decorated with ears of wheat and two interlocking rings made from pastry or with pastry figurines. Without using their hands, the bride and bridegroom each take a bite of the bread; whoever takes the larger bite is said to be the head of the family. The remainder of the bread is shared among guests so they can share in the couple’s happiness. Traditionally the karavai could be baked only by a happily married woman and placed in the oven by a married man.

Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist

| 355

a rich beef and vegetable broth that symbolizes wealth and prosperity for the newly married couple. Decorative breads are a feature at wedding tables in many European traditions, including Greek prosforo, Ukrainian korovai, and Bulgarian pitka. In the latter case, the rising of the yeast bread symbolizes the forthcoming new family unit. As described elsewhere, wedding cake is an iconic presence, whether it be the tiered white-iced fruitcake of British tradition or the towering kransekake of Norway. Peruvian wedding cakes traditionally contain charms attached to ribbons. Single females each pull one of the ribbons, and whoever gets the ring charm is said to be the next to get married. Sweet food treats may be used as wedding favors to be given to guests, such as the Brazilian caramel-filled sponge cakes called bem casados (happily married) and the Jordan almonds given at Greek and Italian weddings. Rice is a widespread item that appears in wedding rituals as a symbol of prosperity or fertility. It may be sprinkled over the couple during a Hindu ceremony, scattered on the bed in Greece, or thrown at the couple as they leave the church (though the practice is now generally frowned on or forbidden in many churches for safety and environmental reasons). At a Guatemalan wedding reception, a ceramic bell containing grains of rice and flour is smashed to welcome the couple, while a Hindu bride arriving at her new home will tip over a copper pot containing rice to bring prosperity to the house. The extravagance associated with weddings can cause potential hardship for people of limited means. In medieval Europe, authorities passed sumptuary laws to restrict public displays of excess. A Pakistani Supreme Court ruling in 2015 directed that wedding feasts should be restricted to one main course only, though enforcement of this is challenging. See Also: Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist; Marriage Ceremonies, Christian; Marriage Ceremonies, Hindu; Marriage Ceremonies, Jewish; Marriage Ceremonies, Muslim; Rites of Passage

Further Reading Azeem, M. 2015. “Wedding Guests in the Capital to be Served One Dish.” Dawn, April 5. Charsley, S. R. 1992. Wedding Cakes and Cultural History. London and New York: Routledge. Monger, G. P. 2004. Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoons. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Sablock, R. 2006. “The Sikh Wedding.” The Scrivener, 20–23.

Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist Marriage is not considered a religious sacrament in Buddhism but instead is a social occasion. It is a personal choice made within the context of local social customs and expectations. Nevertheless, Buddhist teachings do offer some advice on marriage that focus on faithfulness, honesty, and mutual respect, and Buddhist


| Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist elements may be incorporated into a wedding ceremony. The duties of a husband and wife are described in the Buddhist text known as the Sigilovada Sutta: “Towards my wife I undertake to love and respect her, be kind and considerate, be faithful, delegate domestic management, provide gifts to please her” and “Towards my husband I undertake to perform my household duties efficiently, be hospitable to my in-laws and friends of my husband, be faithful, protect and invest our earnings, discharge my responsibilities lovingly and conscientiously.” Weddings commonly take place in homes or backyards or at a Buddhist temple licensed to hold them. Typically a monk does not conduct wedding ceremonies, but afterward the couple may visit a temple to receive a monk’s blessing, offering gifts of food, candles, or flowers. Buddhist weddings are usually simple affairs that follow local custom or personal preferences rather than any prescribed pattern. Buddhist elements may be incorporated, such as carrying a strand of 21 prayer beads that represent Buddha, the couple, and their family. The ceremony will include homage to Buddha and recitation of the three refuges and the five precepts of Buddhism. Monks may chant from Buddhist texts. Vows are exchanged, and there may also be an exchange of rings. Before or after the ceremony the bride and groom light candles and incense and make offerings of flowers, rice, and fruit at a shrine set up for the purpose. Feasts are common to weddings the world over, and in Buddhism it is no different. The style of feast and foods served will follow local custom, but there should always be an abundance of food as a sign of generosity. Leftovers may be sent home with guests or donated to local charities. In India, Buddhist wedding feasts are almost always vegetarian or vegan. In the West, a community hall or hotel may be rented for celebrations following the ceremony, while in Japan the reception may be held at a hot springs so everyone can enjoy several days of relaxation. A Japanese wedding meal may be simple or a formal kaiseki banquet in which multiple elegantly prepared courses are served in a set order. This is not a Buddhist practice specifically, although contemporary kaiseki may be influenced by traditional Buddhist temple cuisine. A Thai wedding feast typically includes foy thong, in which egg yolks and sugar syrup are used to make long golden threads that symbolize long-lasting love for the bride and groom. Another traditional wedding dish is thong yod (golden teardrop), which is made from rice flour, egg yolks, and sugar flavored with jasmine extract and symbolizes good fortune for the marriage. A traditional Thai wedding experience, as offered by specialist wedding destination planners, includes obtaining a civil marriage certificate, visiting a temple to receive blessings, releasing birds or fish to create merit for the marriage, and participating in a knot-tying ceremony. See Also: Buddhism; Marriage and Wedding Rituals; Rites of Passage, Buddhist

Further Reading Narada Thera, trans. 1996. “Sigalovada Sutta: The Discourse to Sigala, the Layperson’s Code of Discipline.” Access to Insight, .0.nara.html.

Marriage Ceremonies, Christian

| 357

“The Traditional Thai Wedding and the Role of Food in the Celebration.” n.d. ImportFood, Webb, L. S. 2000. Multicultural Cookbook of Life-Cycle Celebrations. Westport, CT: Oryx.

Marriage Ceremonies, Christian Most present-day Christian denominations have marriage ceremonies, though a marriage ceremony was not always a part of Christian ritual and was not formally required in the Western church until about the 16th century. Marriage is a sacrament in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches but not in Protestant churches. The form of the marriage service also varies between Protestant traditions, from the plain and simple to the elaborate. Modern Christian wedding customs vary between countries, ethnic groups, regions, and even families. Through most of Christian history marriage has been a union between one man and one woman. Attitudes about same-sex marriage differ among Christian denominations and sects. Traditionally the bride and groom are formally separated for a day before the wedding. The groom is not supposed to see the bride again until she appears in church. Often there is a single-sex celebration stag night for men or a hen party for women. On the day of the wedding the groom enters church with his best man and stands waiting in front of the altar. The familes and guests of the groom and bride sit on opposite sides of the church. The bride enters, usually to an accompaniment of music, with her father or guardian, who “gives her away” during the service that follows. Traditionally (though far from universally) the bride wears a white gown, which may have taken many weeks to be fitted and with high costs involved. Younger female relatives are often invited to act as bridesmaids, accompanying the bride into church. There is a religious dimension to the ceremony involving prayers and blessings and a legal ceremony where vows are exchanged. The bride and groom promise to take each other as their lawful wedded spouse “until death us do part.” The clergy then pronounces them “man and wife.” As the married couple leaves the church, guests may throw rice or colored paper dots known as confetti— though this has become frowned upon or forbidden in many churches because it causes an undue mess in the churchyard. Confetti comes from the Italian word for “little cakes” and continues an ancient tradition of showering the couple with wheat or rice. Protestant marriage can be a simple ceremony in a civil registry office or a formal elaborate ceremony in church. It may also be held at home or anywhere else that a minister agrees to. (In recent years marriages have been held in more and more unlikely places and circumstances, such as while skydiving.) A Roman Catholic wedding must take place in a church, though it may or may not include a Mass. The officiating priest gives instructions throughout the ceremony. After communion is given, the wedding register is signed, and the newly married couple is introduced to the congregation. An Eastern Orthodox wedding takes place in church


| Marriage Ceremonies, Christian and is a long and elaborate ceremony. The bride and groom are crowned, often with wreathes, showing that they are king and queen of their new home. They sip red wine jointly from a cup symbolizing their togetherness, and together they circle the altar three times, taking their first steps as a married couple led by the church. Rings are blessed and exchanged three times between the couple. A wedding feast usually follows Christian weddings. Depending on custom, preference, and economics this feast may be a simple affair with a few relatives and friends or an extravaganza with hundreds of guests. It may be hosted in the parents’ home or at a community hall or hotel banquet hall. Traditionally the bride’s parents pay for the reception, but often the couple themselves pay or share in the cost. Some couples spend thousands of dollars on a wedding. Nearly always the food at a wedding feast will be more elaborate than everyday fare. If the wedding is catered, the bride and her family will have selected a suitable menu from fare offered by the caterer. Two near universals are champagne and wedding cake. At the reception there are speeches from the best man and the bride’s father, and toasts of champagne are offered to wish the couple well. The groom also makes a speech. Wedding cake is traditionally in English heritage a dense fruitcake covered in marzipan and then icing and with three tiers to it. The top tier is known as the christening cake and is saved for the baptism of the first child. The cake may take a month to prepare, as it requires aging with brandy or rum so that the flavors develop. In the United States, the wedding cake is traditionally a white cake with white frosting and can range from an elaborate multitier structure to a more simple two- or even one-layer cake, and different flavors are popular now. At the wedding feast, the bride and groom together cut the cake; slices are given to guests to take home. After the formal meal there is commonly music, dancing, drinking, and general merrymaking. Special foods feature in the wedding customs of many countries and cultures. In Cyprus bread appears in several guises. Prosforo is baked and taken to the church for use in the wedding ceremony. Glistarkes is a braided breadstick covered in sesame seeds that accompanies wedding invitations or welcomes guests to the reception. Koulouria, a bread ring brushed with egg glaze and coated with sesame seeds, is used as a table decoration. Pasteli is a sesame and honey crisp that is often served at Greek celebrations, including weddings; in ancient Greece sesame and honey were symbols of fertility. On the island of Rhodes, pasteli is sent along with wedding invitations. German wedding menus might begin with hochzeitsuppe (wedding soup), a clear chicken broth soup containing noodles, asparagus tips, and meatballs and garnished with baked egg custard called eierstich. A croquembouche is a conical tower of profiteroles that may make an appearance as a dessert on a French wedding menu. At Brazilian wedding feasts a very popular favor to send home with guests is bem casados, which is Portuguese for “happily married.” It is made from two small sponge cakes with a filling of caramel sauce. The bem casados is wrapped in crepe paper and tied with a bow. Amish wedding ceremonies are held in the home of the couple getting married. The furniture is rearranged for the banquet; men and women sit separately, and the food is prepared and served by women from the community.

Marriage Ceremonies, Hindu

| 359

Guests, sometimes numbering 300–400, may be fed in successive sittings, and the newlyweds remain seated, facing the guests, until everyone has eaten. See Also: Amish; Christianity; Marriage Ceremonies, Buddhist; Marriage Ceremonies, Muslim; Rites of Passage, Christian

Further Reading Charsley, S. R. 1992. Wedding Cakes and Cultural History. London and New York: Routledge. Henisch, B. A. 1984. Cakes and Characters: An English Christmas Tradition. London: Prospect Books. Monger, G. P. 2004. Marriage Customs of the World: From Henna to Honeymoons. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. Roy, A. S. 2005. Marriage Customs and Ceremonies in World Religions. Bloomington, IN: Trafford.

Marriage Ceremonies, Hindu Marriage (vivah) is the most important of the Hindu rites of passage. Marriage is a union of bodies, hearts, minds, and spirits and is a religious relationship in which the couple is regarded as equals. Arranged marriages are common and focus on social, economic, and caste relationships rather than on romantic love. In rural areas it is usual to marry outside of one’s village but within one’s caste. Weddings are occasions for great cel