Give the Gift of A Kitchen Witch
-By Angelique Duncan
This Thanksgiving as you plan the traditional meal you may want to include a Kitchen With to over see the preparations. A Kitchen Witch is a small poppet or doll that brings good luck to the kitchen. She makes sure pots don’t boil over, cookies don’t burn and gravies don’t lump.
The Kitchen Witch is a talisman who originates from Scandinavia and carried over to Europe and then to the United States. Usually taking on the appearance of the traditional Halloween witch, often with a large nose, hunched back and gnarled fingers wearing a simple dress made from cotton, a scarf on her head and sometimes a cloak.. She is usually small only a few inches, at largest about six inches. She rides a broom or sometimes a whisk, wooden spoon or spatula. More modern interpretations depict the Kitchen Witch as elderly, jovial and sweet faced and sometimes she has a youthful more traditionally attractive or sexy appearance.
She is often suspended from a string in a corner of the kitchen facing the room. On occasion the doll might sit on a shelf or windowsill. Tradition states that the most effective place for a Kitchen Witch is to fly is above the stove to so her magical protection is concentrated over the cooking area. She should face the entrance to the kitchen, to ward off any evil or ill intent from visitors to the home whose bad vibes might sabotage a meal.
Sometimes the doll is scented with essential oils or is stuffed with herbs that offer protection and aid in good cooking and help in domestic tranquility. Often a small note is attached to her dress or broom giving her mythology explaining the tradition or a handwritten spell to ensure her magical powers.
Pre Christianity, Kitchen Witches were prevalent in Scandinavian and German homes, given as gifts and passed down from generation to generation. It is recorded that the Kitchen Witch was once a common inventory of the kitchen and was quite common during in the late 1400’s in the United Kingdom. The tradition carried over to the North America. However the tradition faded as Puritan Christianity frowned upon the old folkways and anything associated with Pagan religion or witchcraft during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
The tradition quietly re emerged in the United States in the 1950’s and became popular again in the 1960’s and 70’s as a movement of freethinking was on the rise. Many began to research and practice the old Pagan religions and handmade folk-art was extremely popular during the era. Kitchen Witches were once again given as gifts to young newly weds and as housewarming gifts. They lost popularity again during the staunch religious political era of the 1980’s and early 90’s as all things Pagan were rejected. However Kitchen Witches have made a come back in the modern area partly from a more open and accepting environment to alternative beliefs, a longing for simpler times and the old ways in a world of technology, and a huge resurgence of handmade crafts and the popularity of folk-art.
There are companies that produce Kitchen Witches in popular styles as novelties, however to truly be an authentic Kitchen Witch, it is best to purchase a one that is handmade from an individual seller. This ensures the witch is crafted in the old way of care and concern for the craft. Also she will be unique in her character and her magic will be personal to the home where she will reside.
Consider introducing a Kitchen Witch into your home this fall before cooking your Thanksgiving feast, or giving one as a hostess gift to your friends or family. According to the tradition, not only will the Kitchen Witch bring good fortune to the home she presides over, the giver of the Kitchen Witch will receive good luck as well.
Angelique Duncan is proprietor of Twilight Faerie Nostalgic and Capricious Objects. Check out her artist page to find links to her shops and vintage inspired traditional holiday art. Visit again next month for more traditions and folklore.