[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Christmas Memories

Bill Fife wmfife at telus.net
Tue Jan 3 10:05:10 PST 2006

Hi Virginia,

You mention how important geese were to our ancestors.  My Grandmother, who 
came to Canada from Volhynia, always had a flock of geese on their little 
farm here.  These 'guard dogs' would let you know when anyone came on the 
property.  Not only were they noisy, they seemed to know those that were 
afraid of them and would chase them.  This included my non German wife who 
was afraid of the geese and would make me chase them away before she would 
get out of the car.

Grandmother made down covers for all her beds from the goose down and 
chicken down she collected each time grandfather killed a goose or chicken. 
She made a down feather pillow for each of her 15 grandchildren when they 
were young.  I slept on mine for close to 50 years before I had to replace 

There is little doubt that geese, and chickens, were an important part of 
the life of these people.  I do not recall grandfather fattening a goose 
before he butchered it for the table.  Geese contain a lot of fat and 
perhaps this is why.  I know that whenever a special occasion was coming in 
which chicken was to be served, grandfather would put a hen or two in a 
raised wire cage.  This was to keep them off the ground and away from the 
grass.  They would be feed only grain for a period of time and this would 
fatten them nicely for the table.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: <GVLESS at aol.com>
To: <ger-poland-volhynia at eclipse.sggee.org>
Sent: Monday, January 02, 2006 9:00 PM
Subject: Re: [Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Christmas Memories

> Thank you, Linda Pauling, for sharing the Christmas memories from Sierpc,
> RusPoland.  I had given up hope for some to be sent to our listserv after 
> my
> request before Christmas.  I did get a couple at my e-mail address that 
> told
> the story of having for Christmas dinner the family pet goose, and that 
> the
> children would not eat any of it.   Also the writer said that goose 
> grease was
> very important to use and especially for making pie crust.
> It seems goose was the meat for special days as that is something my 
> husband
> remembered from his childhood days growing up in Nebraska.  His  mother,
> having come from Volhynia, seemed to want to do what she was accustomed 
> to from
> her homeland over there.  The favorite of the family dinner was the 
> special
> stuffing that Mrs. Less created, something of bread crumbs, fruit and 
> nuts.
> After she had died the grown daughters, my husband's sisters, tried  to 
> make the
> same stuffing but just couldn't get the right flavor as they  remembered. 
> I
> guess our immigrant family members always cooked with the  "little bit of
> this, and little bit of that" habit.  So how could one  really know what 
> amount of
> spices were used, etc.  I seem to recall hearing  that geese were very
> important to the families in those years, especially for  the goose 
> feathers that
> were used for bedding.  On our ancestral tour of  Volhynia in 1993 we saw 
> in the
> villages lots of geese being raised by the  villagers even today.
> Now - if anyone has any memories that were told by your immigrant family
> members,  Christmas customs, traditions that still are carried on, I would 
> like
> to see more shared on this listserv.  I will collect all that I can  and
> prepare them for later use in the SGGEE Journal, probably for next holiday 
> season.
> So - please send something in,either to the listserv (as I can  copy them
> for later publication) or to me directly.  We need to know more  about our
> ancestors and this will be a special time of year to share stories  with 
> others.
> If you liked the last June SGGEE Journal with its collection  of stories 
> about
> life over there  I'm sure a special holiday edition next  year will be 
> just as
> well received.  So many of us do not have this  information.  You can help 
> by
> sharing what you know.
> Thank you (in advance) for your interest in doing this.
> Virginia Less
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