Sunday, 21 September 2008

Open House

When, if after moving into a new place you need a little fire to quickly get things in order, throw a housewarming party. It worked for me anyway. Not only did I host a party last Friday, but I welcomed my first out-of-town guest, a friend from Alabama. (So there was even more added pressure to find a place for my 50th pair of shoes.)

According to an etymological website, the origin of the word housewarming comes from the word huswermynge, first mentioned in an English monastic record from about 1150. Back then, it literally meant "heating a house." In 1577 it was believed to be first used metaphorically: "The Shomakers [shoe makers] of London, having builded a newe Hall, made a royall feast for theire frends, which they call their howse warming"

There was no royal feast at Pierce Avenue, just some kitsch food and a handful of friends. A recovering-addict of the dinner party (for which I have little time these days), it took a minute for me to get used to people in my house. Then I remembered how nice it was to hear the person across from me talking. Apparently, the gathering of people in homes is more historical than we realize. Before there were bars, people congregated at the homes of their friends to socialize, not just to party. Homes were the not the private places they represent today. The significance of an invitation into someone's home is a relatively new phenomenon; in the past, it was the only way to conduct business or simply find out about the weather.

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