2013-01-03 / Columns

News & Reviews

By Edward F. Keller, D.D.S.
1732 Golf Drive Bismarck, ND 58503

Hospitality, Politeness and Respect

When I was a little boy on my Strasburg N.D. farm, in the 1920s and 1930s, hospitality, politeness and respect were a way of life with my German from Russia people. People, things religious and achievement were held in high regard.

When visitors came to my house, close to mealtime, Mother would say,“Hen ihr shun gesa?” (have you eaten), in our low German. When the company came from a distance she would say, “Ven ihr eba nacht bleiba?” (Do you want to stay overnight).

The German language contains “polite” forms. In addressing a person equal in age or younger, the word “du” for “you” is used. But in addressing parents, elders,uncles, aunts,priests or doctors,or any stranger,the polite form “ihr” for “you” is used.Children addressing adults,adults addressing older adults, all used the polite form“ihr” instead of “du,” for “you.” The Kleins,Hagels,andKrafts who frequented our house were all 10-15 years older than my mother, as were the five Bosch brothers and the Kelsches and the Horners at Sacred Heart Church. I heard plenty of “ihrs” when my mother talked with them. Also with many strange ladies she met in town.

Priests received in addition to the“ihr” a “Gelobt sei Jesus Chrishtus” (praised be Jesus Christ”) When a priest entered, people rose to their feet, on the street they gave a greeting and tipped their hats, even if the priest was a stranger. When Bishop Wherle visited our Sacred Heart country Church people knelt and kissed the ring on his finger, a large gold band with a red stone mounted on it.Rosaries,missals,candles, palm branches, pictures of Jesus and the saints and of Mary, holy water and crucifixes all were revered objects in my home. They were handled with care and respect and often kissed. Hospitality, politeness and respect… for age, achievement and any sacred objects and a state in life, were lessons taught by my wonderful German Russian ancestors.

Till next time.

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