A Salty Gift - The Symbolism Around Giving Salt
Happy Holidays Salty Family!
It is the time of year where we partake in family and cultural traditions, and celebrate several holidays including Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and the arrival of the New Year. With many of these holidays, the tradition of giving gifts is a foundational part in their celebrations. In fact, giving gifts is a fundamental cultural act in most cultures regardless if there is a holiday or not. Sometimes it is customary to give a gift, like a hostess gift, while other time it is to symbolize a person’s affection toward another, expressing one's love. Giving a gift has even been classified as one of the love languages, where those who claim gift giving as a love language feel most valued and seen when receiving or giving a gift. Whether gift giving is tied with cultural or religious tribute, it is held as an important act between humans across the globe, where almost every culture partakes in the act.
During this holiday season we give gifts to family, friends, children, and even strangers. I don’t know about you, but I love giving gifts. I enjoy the process of searching or hand-making a gift that lets the person know they are important to me. I feel I am a detective during this time of year searching for that perfect gift that represents the person receiving the gift; a gift that will make them smile, feel seen and loved.
Although with most gift giving, the type of object given will vary and most of the time it is based on what that person desires. However, over the course of history there were certain gifts that were given for particular reasons as they held symbolism for the occasion. Salt being one of the most ubiquitous and highly demanded commodities of human culture held special meaning when given as a gift.
Salt use to be hard to come by, especially if one lived in-land and away from the sea. It was extremely valuable that salt at times was worth more than gold, and was often referred to as the “other white gold.” Because of its value and importance in human culture, to give salt was an important and special act.
To “give salt” meant many things. Most commonly the act of giving salt was done as a house warming gift. This act of giving salt as a house warming gift is seen in many cultures, but is most recognized from the Jewish tradition called “hachnasset orchim,” which means “welcoming the stranger.” The salt given, symbolizes the home as a sanctuary for new home owners. Another symbolism with giving salt as a house warming gift is to ensure their life and home is filled spice and flavor. Great for those newlyweds if you ask me!
Other symbolism around giving salt stem from its physical property of preservation. In some cultures, giving salt to a person meant the desire to preserve the relationship whether that be for friendship, family, or romance. It showed the person how much they meant to the one giving the salt, who desired the relationship to last forever. Other reasons salt has been given is for purification and protection against evil, or unwanted spirits. Salt is given to brides on their wedding day in some cultures to bless them with fertility. And as the year comes to an end, salt is given around this time of year as a gift to bring prosperity in the coming new year.
The symbolism around giving salt is endless and varies depending on what culture and region of the world the ideas around salt emerge. In fact, different cultures tend to have different reasons why salt is given based on their belief system around it. From Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe, and Asia salt has adapted to different belief systems. But one thing stood true across time and space, salt was (and still is) an important commodity to have, and even more special to give.
So, whether you are still shopping for gifts, have been given salt in the past, or have given salt to a person, remember that it is more than just a seasoning that enhances and adds flavor to your food, but has strong roots in cultural symbolism. Salt is more than just something we consume, but is a foundation to human life and culture and when given as a gift, we are telling someone that we truly care about them and how important they are in our lives!
So with each arrival of a package from Salty Jack’s ™, know that I value you and your support as you are opening it. I wish everyone of you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year! Many salty blessings and may the salt you buy and use bring you prosperity and protection in the New Year.
Until next time - keep it salty!
-Alyssa aka the Salt Woman