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Monday, October 29, 2007

Name Day Celebrations

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Thomas Bellacci. Sometimes called Thomas of Florence, St. Thomas Bellacci is the patron saint of butchers.

In old European tradition, every day of the year is someone's name day. A nameday commemorates the feast of the saint whose name is given at baptism. The day of the saint's death is his real feastday. In some countries and religious orders, namedays are celebrated instead of birthdays. In more modern times, each first name is assigned to one day of the calendar and is not only based on religious traditions but could also include historical events or famous birthdays. This endearing custom is still remembered in Germany, Austria, Hungary and Ireland.

On a child's name day, Come for Dessert is a popular way to entertain. It is economical, festive and meaningful. The celebration leaves a lasting memory of time and essence.

I found this recipe for Gugelhupf in an Indiana cookbook titled Aspic and Old Lace published by The Northern Indiana Historical Society in celebration of its 120th anniversary. (© 1987) The cookbook offers a glimpse into the heritage of the St. Joseph River Valley Region of Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan not only with recipes but also with reflections of fashion and accessories such as hats, shoes and jewelry. It is a vintage culinary journey from the 1870's through the 1960's with narratives, advertisements, and photographs as well as the memories of those who contributed the many recipes. If you enjoy reading cookbooks and trying vintage recipes, you will like this book.

Gugelhupf
My husband's grandmother was 18 years old when she arrived in South Bend. She carried with her on the boat a large copper Turk's head mold used in making this special bread...Unfortunately, she left no directions for mixing, assuming that her descendants would be good cooks! Just follow the procedure for making any yeast cake or coffee cake.
4 cups flour
3 cakes yeast
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter
5 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
Directions: Grease a mold or tube pan. Sift the flour before measuring. Scald the milk; cool and pour over the yeast which has been crumbled to help it dissolve more uickly. Beat in 1 cup of flour to make a sponge; let this mixture rise until double in bulk in a warm place. Cream butter and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the salt and the sponge. Stir in the remaining flour and the raisins; beat until batter is smooth and elastic. The almonds may be mixed into the batter or spread into the bottom of the mold or tube pan with the dough placed on top of the almonds. Put in warm place and let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees 50-60 minutes.

Resources
1. Christian Name Day Celebrations
2. Celebrating A Name Day in Old Ireland
3. Greek Name Day Celebrations
4. Feast of St. Thomas Bellacci