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Author Topic: Blessing Paschal (Easter) Baskets  (Read 3039 times) Average Rating: 0
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LizaSymonenko
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« on: April 12, 2013, 12:44:48 PM »


You don't all do this?

I was amazed.  I thought all Orthodox Christians blessed baskets filled with yummy food at Pascha.

I was speaking with a Greek Orthodox man last week, and he told me they never do this....and was very interested in how and what and why we bless baskets.

We bless our baskets which are filled with a paska (round tall yeast bread - round = eternity; tall (yeast) = Christ "rose" from the dead); salt (Christians are the salt of the earth); red horseradish (bitterness of Christ's suffering); eggs (resurrection), sausages, ham, cheese(bounty of life)... 

This is the first non-Lenten food we eat.  The family actually shares the first of everything out of the basket before they eat anything else.  So, one egg will get peeled and split up between all the family, etc.  This usually happens when we all get home around 4 or 5 a.m.  Some families start at the basket in the hall right after the blessing, because they all go to their own homes for sleep and will gather again later in the afternoon....

For those who do, do you bless them indoors or out?  We used to have our blessed outside.  However, as our "blessing" usually takes place around 3 or 4 a.m. people were stumbling around in the dark and so we moved it indoors.  It's also safer in case of rain.  We are discussing doing it outdoors again this year.  We'll see how it goes.

For those who do bless your baskets indoors...do you do so "in" the church or in the church hall?   We only do it in the church hall...and in fact we don't allow anyone to bring their basket in to the church.  No meat in the church.  However, I've heard of churches actually blessing the baskets filled with meat, right in the church.  Does it really matter?  We've never allowed meat in the church...but, that just might be a small "t" tradition of our parish.



We once again bless baskets on St. Thomas Sunday.  Those get blessed inside the church after the panakhyda for the repose of all our loved ones.  However, these baskets contain no meat, only eggs, bread and candies.  These later get taken to the cemeteries, where the priest blesses the graves and the food gets shared with loved ones....at the grave site.  Thereby, rejoicing in the Resurrection with the living and the dead.



I'm interested in the various Paschal traditions we have.  Please share!!!!

Thanks for your input!

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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2013, 01:26:45 PM »

I think it's a beautiful custom, but in our parish, it seems as if only the Russians do it. I don't think the Greeks have this custom. We bless them in the church. We pick up a college student (originally from Ukraine, but now a new US citizen!) and take her to church with us on Sunday. Her grandmother sent me a beautiful embroidered basket cover to me and I plan to use it for the first time this year!
I once saw a lamb carved out of pure butter in someone's basket! And McDonald's Quarter Pounders!
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2013, 01:42:03 PM »

I think it's a beautiful custom, but in our parish, it seems as if only the Russians do it. I don't think the Greeks have this custom.

No, we don't. Neither in Greece, nor here. Before the Russians in the parish hived off, they didn't do it either, though they might now. The closest thing done in Greece, and that only in small communities, is a communal feast that lasts practically the whole of Easter Sunday, with whole spitroasted lambs, cauldrons of mageiritsa and hundreds of eggs, followed by live music and dancing until late at night.
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2013, 01:42:59 PM »

Romanians have this custom, and I'm so happy the OCA Church I'm part of now, also has it.
I've never done it, so this will be my first year and I can't wait! My priest said they bless the baskets in the hall and after that we all share a meal together.

My only concern is how am I suppose to resist the temptation of tasting all those goodies while I'm cooking them?? I am worried they won't come out good? Last year I asked a priest and he told me to pray and trust God everything will taste just fine.  Smiley But I failed and gave into temptation. I didn't really fast the entire time either. This year is different though. I didn't break the fast and I have more strength and feel much better, but I'm still worried to cook those dishes.





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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2013, 01:55:09 PM »

Romanians have this custom, and I'm so happy the OCA Church I'm part of now, also has it.
I've never done it, so this will be my first year and I can't wait! My priest said they bless the baskets in the hall and after that we all share a meal together.

My only concern is how am I suppose to resist the temptation of tasting all those goodies while I'm cooking them?? I am worried they won't come out good? Last year I asked a priest and he told me to pray and trust God everything will taste just fine.  Smiley But I failed and gave into temptation. I didn't really fast the entire time either. This year is different though. I didn't break the fast and I have more strength and feel much better, but I'm still worried to cook those dishes.

Take heart, sister! I don't taste at all while I'm cooking (I've just got a weird "thing" about it  Grin) and no one's complained yet.
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2013, 02:11:40 PM »


I have to admit....the Saturday before Pascha is the hardest.  Because that IS when we start cooking and preparing, etc.  The house smells great!!!

...but, it's well worth the wait!  Cheesy
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2013, 02:26:39 PM »

u could just buy stuff the first year. put it in the basket still in its wrapper so you can't taste it.
or...
make some stuff that keeps on the thursday of holy week, straight after eating loads of beans and vegetables, so you will be too full and bloated to taste any of it!
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2013, 02:48:48 PM »

In Poland and Serbian this custom also exists, it's really beautiful to eat blessed food as the first one after all these days of fasting... And there is also a kind of competition which baskets looks better Wink

Once I've seen a picture of blessing of the baskets in Japan, maybe it's because Russians had found there the Orthodox Church

Edit: I'm attaching a picture of my basket from the last year. All the necessary stuff is inside, believe me. You can't notice it because of the size of the basket I had to put all the things like pyramid. But this year I want to use a bigger one and eventually put a bottle of wine inside  Grin
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 02:53:15 PM by Dominika » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2013, 02:53:59 PM »

u could just buy stuff the first year. put it in the basket still in its wrapper so you can't taste it.


Oh no. I can't do that. Unless I find a super nice Romanian to cook for me. Haha.
We have some very specific dishes we make and I want to preserve the traditions. Plus, the smell of it all brings back such beautiful memories from my childhood.
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« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2013, 03:41:43 PM »

I think that the Paschal common meal can happen only if there is a church hall and folks are able to get to the church and back safely. Another consideration may be the size of the congregation/church. So, in our Bulgarian Exarchate in Istanbul, we did not have a common meal at church after the Liturgy. The Church hall was too small, folks relied on public transportation, and such an event would have made us too visible and concentrated amongst the Muslim Turks that we lived. Therefore, the prudent and practical way to celebrate was at home, amongst family. I would love to hear if similar considerations affected our brothers and sisters in the Middle East.

That said, I like this custom that is practiced also in my current OCA parish. The only drawback for me is that my wife and I are approaching that age when physical issues (as well as grandchildren's needs) could affect our participation.
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2013, 03:54:05 PM »

At our parish we bless baskets in the hall after midnight Liturgy and everyone at least breaks an egg to eat before departing, but many stay to continue eating together as a parish.  Then regroup early afternoon for Agape Vespers and Paschal luncheon.  

I know that we have a few parishes that bless the paschal baskets in the nave of the church (such as Chicago Cathedral).  I myself bless baskets three times:  Holy Saturday after Basil Liturgy (I do that in the narthex, not the nave), after midnight (in the hall), and the next day after Vespers (in the hall again).    
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« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2013, 04:04:46 PM »

We bless our baskets which are filled with a paska (round tall yeast bread - round = eternity; tall (yeast) = Christ "rose" from the dead); salt (Christians are the salt of the earth); red horseradish (bitterness of Christ's suffering); eggs (resurrection), sausages, ham, cheese(bounty of life)...

We do not have cheese.

Quote
However, as our "blessing" usually takes place around 3 or 4 a.m.

At my parish blessings start after the Saturday Liturgy (about 9.00), they are performed continuously until 18.00 or something like that. There is also a blessing after the Paschal Liturgy.

Quote
For those who do, do you bless them indoors or out?  

Indoor, in the porch it depends.

Quote
We only do it in the church hall...and in fact we don't allow anyone to bring their basket in to the church.  No meat in the church.  However, I've heard of churches actually blessing the baskets filled with meat, right in the church.  Does it really matter?  We've never allowed meat in the church...but, that just might be a small "t" tradition of our parish.

No meat in church - heard that too. IMO it's not a t- but a Tradition that is ignored.

Quote
We once again bless baskets on St. Thomas Sunday.  Those get blessed inside the church after the panakhyda for the repose of all our loved ones.  However, these baskets contain no meat, only eggs, bread and candies.  These later get taken to the cemeteries, where the priest blesses the graves and the food gets shared with loved ones....at the grave site.  Thereby, rejoicing in the Resurrection with the living and the dead.

We don't do that. We use leftovers form the previous blessing.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 04:05:13 PM by Michał Kalina » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2013, 09:13:00 PM »

Uzhorod, Transcarpathian Ukraine, Pascal blessing 2011 outside of Cathedral of the Holy Cross...

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=apmMRyAdWV4&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DapmMRyAdWV4
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2013, 09:16:31 PM »

We do have the blessing of baskets, but I'm afraid my basket is all-American or reflect my English/Scottish/German heritage.  I put in my Pascha basket the foods that I have missed most during the fast.  I will have cheese in my basket, but it is more likely to be Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar or Kerrygold Dubliner cheeses and some Ben & Jerry's Creme Brule ice cream, as well as some meat.  With all due respect, I am neither Slavic, Greek, or of Arabic heritage.  My pascha basket is a reflection of my culture and ethnic heritage.  I have a traditional cover and a candle in my basket, but otherwise it would not be a traditional pascha basket.

Our baskets are blessed after the liturgy on Pascha morning down in the fellowship hall.  We have a couple of large tables in an L-shape where we set our baskets. Our priest seems to think that we need blessing more than our baskets and make sure he soaks us with holy water while in the process of blessing the baskets!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 09:19:04 PM by katherine 2001 » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2013, 10:38:07 PM »


I love getting soaked!  ...as I am usually with a camera in my hand, he purposefully avoids getting me wet, in case the camera gets doused....so, as he finishes up....I place the camera behind my back and run up to him, at which point he gives a good laugh and soaks me!  Cheesy

So, ice cream in your basket?  Doesn't it melt?
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2013, 02:50:16 PM »

I once saw a lamb carved out of pure butter in someone's basket!
You must not be from the Midwest. Those are common in Wisconsin grocery stores. Smiley

But, to the OP, yes, that's a Slavic custom. However, it's not uncommon for Greek churches to have basket blessings as well because of the influx of Slavs. Having said that, many Greek churches do have a large meal after the Liturgy.
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« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2013, 04:23:12 PM »

I recall a priest of the Greek Archdiocese in the 80's doing an article on how the blessing of baskets was originally inherited from the Greeks, the Slavs still do it, but the Greeks lost it in the Turkokratia. 
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« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2013, 05:14:52 PM »

I once saw a lamb carved out of pure butter in someone's basket!
You must not be from the Midwest. Those are common in Wisconsin grocery stores. Smiley

But, to the OP, yes, that's a Slavic custom. However, it's not uncommon for Greek churches to have basket blessings as well because of the influx of Slavs. Having said that, many Greek churches do have a large meal after the Liturgy.

They sell them in the midAtlantic region. We made nearly 200 to sell with paska (bread) a few weeks back.
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« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2013, 08:35:50 PM »

I was originally raised Roman Catholic in a Polish parish, and every year they blessed baskets on Holy Saturday afternoon..  The priest would to a neighborhood and all the family would go to the one house to get their baskets blessed. 
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« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2013, 09:14:01 PM »


I love getting soaked!  ...as I am usually with a camera in my hand, he purposefully avoids getting me wet, in case the camera gets doused....so, as he finishes up....I place the camera behind my back and run up to him, at which point he gives a good laugh and soaks me!  Cheesy

So, ice cream in your basket?  Doesn't it melt?

I put it in the freezer until we come downstairs and then I put the ice cream back into my basket before he blesses it!
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« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2013, 03:18:49 PM »

We do this at my Serbian parish. The Russians often have the traditional Russian things, but I read once an article that said what should be included in any ethnicity's basket, and encouraged people to make the Pascha Basket their own. My heritage is German, so our basket reflects that. It said to always include:

An Easter Bread, symbolic of the Eucharist (most cultures have a traditional one. I make the German osterzopf. Some people also think you should add wine for the same reason)
Some kind of cheese, to represent peace (I don't get the connection, lol, maybe because nothing is harmed in the making of cheese? We have a cheesecake-like cheese ball)
Some kind of meat, as a representation of the old sacrifices (we use bratwurst, some people use lamb)
Some kind of pork, to represent that we're no longer under the Old Law.
Salt, to represent all that salt traditionally represents
Butter, shaped like a lamb if possible, to represent the Lamb of God
Something bitter, to still recall the sorrow of our sins (we use sauerkraut and mustard. Lots of people use horseradish)
Red eggs, of course, to symbolize the Resurrection.
Candy and sweets, to represent the love of God and our joy in Him.

Following that outline any culture can substitute traditional foods and do the Pascha basket. There's also always things that people have been craving and have given up. Ours will have Dr. Pepper in it, for example lol, and I've known them to include buffalo wings, ribs, or lasagna. You always stick a candle either in the cheese or the bread to be lit for the blessing. Last year, our first Pascha as a married couple, my wife cross-stitched a basket cover for us that we use.

We bless ours in the breezeway between the hall and the temple, and then everyone goes to a back room to share food and dig in. We get home around four or five usually.

I know the Greeks down the street share a common meal of lamb soup, but they don't do baskets. Some of them come to our parish to do baskets because they love the tradition.
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« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2013, 06:57:23 PM »

Last year a priest told me that he knows plenty of folks that include a pack of cigarettes at the bottom of their basket.  Just sayin'...   Wink
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« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2013, 02:14:40 PM »

Hi Happy Easter! <wave>
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« Reply #23 on: April 23, 2013, 01:40:42 AM »

Does anyone know the text of the blessing? Is there a separate blessing for individual items (e.g. a separate blessing for bread, eggs, meat, etc.), or is it just one blessing for any food item in the basket? There is a Russian church near me, and they are doing the blessing of baskets on Pascha. I would like to bring a loaf of bread to be blessed. Can it be any kind of bread, or does it have to be kulich? I was just thinking of a loaf of very fine French bread.
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« Reply #24 on: April 23, 2013, 02:20:02 AM »

We have normal bread.

To be frank, the traditional way was that all food eaten on Easter was blessed by priests. Only recently it has been limited for a handful of things in a tiny basket.
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« Reply #25 on: April 23, 2013, 09:34:01 AM »

Does anyone know the text of the blessing? Is there a separate blessing for individual items (e.g. a separate blessing for bread, eggs, meat, etc.), or is it just one blessing for any food item in the basket? There is a Russian church near me, and they are doing the blessing of baskets on Pascha. I would like to bring a loaf of bread to be blessed. Can it be any kind of bread, or does it have to be kulich? I was just thinking of a loaf of very fine French bread.

There is a text, I think that the foods are blessed together...as in " bless these Paschal foods, the meat, cheese, bread , eggs ,salt and all of the foods..." I have seen al sorts of food items over the years, not limited to only traditional ones..."
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« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2013, 09:44:41 AM »


Oh yes....I've seen all kinds of stuff in baskets.

Traditional, plus personal favorites.

I've also seen people place icons in their baskets.  I've always wondered if that was permissible....as the food is getting blessed, their stands an icon of the Mother of God next to the sausage and eggs. 

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« Reply #27 on: April 23, 2013, 10:00:40 AM »


Oh yes....I've seen all kinds of stuff in baskets.

Traditional, plus personal favorites.

I've also seen people place icons in their baskets.  I've always wondered if that was permissible....as the food is getting blessed, their stands an icon of the Mother of God next to the sausage and eggs.  



Why not? Don't you have icons in the kitchen or dining room?  Many embroidered basket covers outline an icon especially as you work westward into traditions from western Ukraine, Slovakia and southern Poland.
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« Reply #28 on: April 23, 2013, 10:09:08 AM »


Oh, I never said it wasn't okay.  I actually liked the idea and was wondering if I ought to put a little icon in my basket.

It's just that only a few people do it....and I wondered about it.

We have one lady who always puts icons with all things getting blessed.  When holy water is getting blessed, she'll put a bottle of water and next to it an icon.  When candles are getting blessed on the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, she'll stand an icon on the table next to the candles.

I've heard folks grumble about it....that's it's not a blessing of icons, but a blessing of candles, water, etc.

...that's why I wondered if it's okay. 


« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 10:11:15 AM by LizaSymonenko » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: April 23, 2013, 03:13:54 PM »

Does anyone know the text of the blessing? Is there a separate blessing for individual items (e.g. a separate blessing for bread, eggs, meat, etc.), or is it just one blessing for any food item in the basket? There is a Russian church near me, and they are doing the blessing of baskets on Pascha. I would like to bring a loaf of bread to be blessed. Can it be any kind of bread, or does it have to be kulich? I was just thinking of a loaf of very fine French bread.

It can be any type of bread. We, being of German heritage, make osterzopf, but a woman of Middle Eastern descent at our parish makes the Arabic bread, and I'm sure if we had an Italian family they'd make the Italian bread.

I'm pretty sure at ours Father says a blessing for meat, then one for dairy and cheese, and then a general Paschal blessing, but I could be wrong. It might be one long blessing.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2013, 03:16:40 PM by Joseph Hazen » Logged
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« Reply #30 on: April 23, 2013, 03:42:06 PM »

My memory was foggy, there are separate blessing prayers for the main categories of the Paschal foods. The linked articles provide some further explanations common to both the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Slavs who keep this tradition.  As I read these I could close my eyes and almost smell my mom's and  our own kitchen on Holy Saturday.    www.wirnowski.com/Carp/Pas_Basket.html

http://www.stsophiaukrainian.cc/resources/blessingpaschalfood/
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« Reply #31 on: April 23, 2013, 04:08:54 PM »


I love getting soaked!  ...as I am usually with a camera in my hand, he purposefully avoids getting me wet, in case the camera gets doused....so, as he finishes up....I place the camera behind my back and run up to him, at which point he gives a good laugh and soaks me!  Cheesy

So, ice cream in your basket?  Doesn't it melt?

I put it in the freezer until we come downstairs and then I put the ice cream back into my basket before he blesses it!

Ditto.  Put a few refrigerated items in the fridge in the hall during the service and then back into the basket before it gets blessed.

Btw, thou will all protest too much, but the Italian Colomobo Pasquale (Pascha bread) is vastly superior to every other Pascha bread - especially the chocolate version.  I have Russian friends who agree.  Unfortunately, the local Italian deli chain hasn't imported them for a couple of years now.
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« Reply #32 on: April 23, 2013, 07:24:09 PM »


I love getting soaked!  ...as I am usually with a camera in my hand, he purposefully avoids getting me wet, in case the camera gets doused....so, as he finishes up....I place the camera behind my back and run up to him, at which point he gives a good laugh and soaks me!  Cheesy

So, ice cream in your basket?  Doesn't it melt?

I put it in the freezer until we come downstairs and then I put the ice cream back into my basket before he blesses it!

Ditto.  Put a few refrigerated items in the fridge in the hall during the service and then back into the basket before it gets blessed.

Btw, thou will all protest too much, but the Italian Colomobo Pasquale (Pascha bread) is vastly superior to every other Pascha bread - especially the chocolate version.  I have Russian friends who agree.  Unfortunately, the local Italian deli chain hasn't imported them for a couple of years now.

.... you obviously have never tried Busia Anna's kulich. Anything made commercially pales into insignificance. Her sirnaya paskha is also indescribably delicious.  Smiley
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« Reply #33 on: April 23, 2013, 07:49:05 PM »

My memory was foggy, there are separate blessing prayers for the main categories of the Paschal foods. The linked articles provide some further explanations common to both the Orthodox and Greek Catholic Slavs who keep this tradition.  As I read these I could close my eyes and almost smell my mom's and  our own kitchen on Holy Saturday.    www.wirnowski.com/Carp/Pas_Basket.html

http://www.stsophiaukrainian.cc/resources/blessingpaschalfood/

Yes, it is three blessings: bread, meat, and the third says "this cheese, butter, eggs, and all other food here present"
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« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2013, 02:05:06 PM »

from my homeparish:

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« Reply #35 on: May 02, 2013, 10:24:57 AM »

My old parish (Antiochian) didn't do baskets, but had a large communal chicken and pizza meal after Liturgy.

My current one does baskets.  We always had the blessing in the Church  but this year it is being moved to the hall.  Now I might get ice cream, thanks for the tip!
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