It is 7am and I am in the kitchen at Waldeck Hutterite
Colony. It is Friday and they are making dinner buns. This is their routine. 20
kilograms (44 pounds) of flour become 20 dozen double dinner buns and I want to
be a part of the ritual. There is a proofing room but it is hardly needed as
the kitchen warms to the perfect temperature while the commercial oven readies.
The children are first to enjoy this treat. The women call
the school the instant the buns come out of the oven and the girls run to bring
back these soft pillowy delights and we all take a break to enjoy them while
they are hot.
Throughout Western Canada the farmscape is dotted with
Hutterite Colonies. Most often these are grain farms with livestock, chickens
and a garden. A few colonies are also into light manufacturing such as
metalworking or cabinet and furniture making.
I am a substitute teacher and regularly visit Waldeck
Colony, SK. I have enjoyed learning about their way of life. As I think about
Christmas I thought you might be interested to see into their lifestyle how
they celebrate the season.
First, I will give you a brief history. Jakob Hutter was the
founder of this religion in 1536. They believe in absolute pacifism and
practice community of goods. These goals have resulted in hundreds of years of
reestablishing in different countries seeking the freedom to practice their
beliefs. In the 18th and 19th centuries they settled in
North America. Today their population is around 43,000 in Canada.
There is a division of labour that is arbitrary by age.
Adulthood is reached at the age of 15. The boys and girls become men and women.
The men work in the farming operation Women start working in the kitchen and
are finished at age 45. After this they continue to contribute by working in
the garden, cleaning in the kitchen and by helping with the many tasks for the
There are 3 sects within the religion. The Schmiedeleut are
settled in Manitoba. Elsewhere in Western Canada we find the Dariusleut and
Lehreleut. You can distinguish one from the other by the size of the dots on
the women’s scarves called shawls.
I asked the children what they would like others to know
about their colony. Here is what they told me. We want people to know how nice
it is here. We have a wonderful garden, the crops and fields are very good and
we have 3 coulees. Lake Diefenbaker passes through one. We also want people to
know we are nice. We want people to know our name. We are Waldeck Colony! We
would also like to see some recipes and some pictures in the newspaper.
Hutterites are devoutly Christian and Christmas is
celebrated in its true sense. There is no excess of gifts and parties. There
are no elaborate Christmas light displays. It is simply a time to celebrate the
birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ, and life goes on as usual.
At Waldeck Colony, there are three consecutive days of
church worship beginning on December 25. The church is a simple building
without adornment. The altar is a simple table. There are rows of pews and a
few have cushions for the comfort of the elderly. Each church service is followed by the usual communal meal.
After dinner the children return for Sunday school.
Of course I am very interested in the meals so I asked the
ladies in the kitchen, what do you serve?
A tradition is to have a dinner of goose. Everyone is served
a goose leg with thigh. It is poached in water until tender and served simply
with potatoes and vegetables. All vegetables with the exception of garlic and
celery are from their garden. The younger women admit they prefer the stuffed
chicken dinner to goose. The elders appreciate goose.
Fruitcake is usually made but also may be purchased. Nutmeg
(Eggar), carrot and vanilla cookies are favourites.
Roasted chicken with stuffing is another traditional meal
during this time of quiet celebration. As we all do, they say they just eat too
much food over the Christmas season.
Christmas is also a time for visiting. They might visit
family at another colony or receive guests. There is a modest exchange of gifts
within the home.
I begged these recipes as the women wondered why I would
want recipes that serve 64 people. Initially I agreed and then thought about
all the churches and community groups who plan events such as fowl suppers.
Large recipes are hard to come by these days. They generously shared these two
favourites that caught my eye.
These cookies are made twice each year. They are always made
for Christmas and then once again during the year. I have been warned that if
they are not made properly they can be dry. Usually I find European cookies
much drier than ours.
10 1/2 lb sugar 4.8
5 lb margarine 2.25
5 tsp vanilla 25
10 lb raisins 4.5
16 lb flour 7.25
5 tsp salt 25
1/8 lb baking powder 90
1/8 lb cinnamon 90
1/4 lb baking soda 180
1 1/2 tsp allspice 8
1 1/2 tsp nutmeg 8
Simmer raisins in 10 cups (2.4 L) water for 7 minutes. Add
11 cups (2.6 L) cold water and cool well. In a separate bowl cream sugar and
margarine. Add eggs and vanilla. Add raisins with liquid. Mix flour with all
the dry ingredients and sift 3 times then sift into creamed mixture. Drop onto
cookie sheets and bake at 425F (220C).
This is a cake traditionally also served twice a year. It is
enjoyed at Easter and once during the harvest.
16 1/2 lb sugar
6 3/4 lb nuts 3
10 1/2 lb dates 4.7
22 1/2 lb four 10
6 lb butter 2.7
3/4 cup baking soda 180
3/4 cup baking powder 180
15 lb oranges 6.8
3/4 cup vinegar 200
3/4 cup vanilla 200
5 1/4 lb eggs 2.4
8 3/4 quarts milk 8.3
Grind oranges with peels and put aside 5 cups (1.2 L) for
the icing. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and the rest of the ingredients
except dates and flour. Mix the chopped dates with flour and add. Pour into
cake pans and bake at 350F (175C). When cooled make a butter icing with the
reserved orange added.