custom bound

5

This week’s material is titled Woman Suffrage and Politics. Signed and authored by Carrie Chapman Catt and published in New York in 1923, three years after the addition of the 19th amendment, this book discusses the intersection where women’s suffrage and American politics met. 

The book states that the movement was galvanized by two previous ones, dubbed “the man movement”, which attempted to evolve the control of governments in the favor of the people, and “the woman movement”, in which women wanted to be free of the patriarchal systems that law, religion, tradition, and customs bound them to. After these two were successful, suffrage was the obvious next step. 

Later, in the political realm, a surprising majority were in favor of both black men’s and white women’s suffrage, but the rhetoric was that both were not likely to be accepted if done at the same time. The black man was decided to be first, with the phrase “this is the negro’s hour” being the common response to women’s appeals.

“The woman’s hour will come.” Between the adoption of the 15th amendment (March 30, 1870), and 1910 were 40 tiresome years of suffragettes wishing, waiting, and hoping for their hour to come. Eventually, the women’s hour came in the form of referendum votes on a state-by-state basis. Some states took the referendum to the supreme court, hailing unconstitutionality, but grievances were thrown out one by one. Eventually the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, and remains in law today and forever. 

This reading was important to me because not only was it written by a woman who had to fight tirelessly for her rights, but also it came to me two days after there were two women on the ballot to be president of the United States. Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, the ability to bear witness to history is a phenomena to be cherished and celebrated. A meager 97 years ago, women could not vote. We sure have come a long way. 

Popular Albanian customs

Levirate - The old Testament practice of marrying the widow of one’s brother was known to the northern Albanian tribes. A man was bound by custom to marry the widow, not only of his brother, but of any male member of the household, with the exception of his father. The second wife was Alb. shemër, def. shemra, Gheg shemërk. This custom was linked to the vastly inferior social status accorded to women. Upon the death of her husband, a woman with no sons immediately lost what little status she had. If she did not manage to remarry, she would be returned to her father or forced to work as a servant for the family of her deceased husband. The idea of a woman living in her own, i.e unprotected by the gun-toting males, was inconceivable, and indeed is still considered by Albanians to be great tragedy.

Oaths - Since the cult of nature took a more prominent place in the imagination of the Albanians than theistic religions, oaths were often sworn on stones (q.v), on the earth and sky, Alb. për qiell e dhé, or on the sun and its rays, Alb. për atë diell, për këtë rreze drite, rathern than on god, Alb. për zotin.

Name day - Name day is an important family holiday among the Albanian Orthodox, during which the head of household and all male heirs commemorate their individual sainted namesakes on a specific day. It is more important than a birthday. Traditionally, the person observing his name day will prepare to take a holy communion in church, receive a blessed rose or carnation and later welcome relatives and friends to an open house. In some villages in southern Albania, the individual name day is eschewed, as in some Slavic countries. Instead, there is by oral custom one saint who is considered to be the patron of the whole household. On the feast of that saint, the family hosts a communal celebration for friends and fellow parishioners. Interestingly, no family member at birth is given the name of that saint since he belongs uniquely to all.

Maundy Thursday - On Maundy Thursday, Alb. e enjta e madhe ‘Great Thursday,’ ~ Rom. joia mare, the last Thursday (q.v) before easter (q.v), observed as a commemoration of the last supper, the Albanian orthodox of Macedonia boil and color eggs, at least one egg for each member of the family and one for a church icon. The eggs, usually colored blood red, are placed on the children’s best clothes, which are left outdoors for the night. The children put these clothes on the next morning once the sun rises.

(Taken from A Dictionary Of Albanian Religion, Mythology, And Folk Culture By Robert Elsie)