Δευτέρα 18 Μαρτίου 2024

The custom of Halva and Haska

The usual halva in the form found throughout the Balkans and Turkey is a simple sweet. Its most common preparation involves baking semolina, which is then given a spherical shape and sweetened with either honey or "petimezi" syrup made from grape must.

For the Greeks, halva is one of their Lenten sweets, especially the version made with tahini and sold in the form of a cylinder or a parallelepiped. This type of halva is called Macedonian Halva. It is sold by its weight and is marketed plain, with chocolate or with nuts. Greeks like to eat Macedonian Halva with lemon juice and cinnamon, and often accompany it with a cool glass of retsina.

However, there are at least five or six variations of halva in Greece. Despite the fact that halva is found throughout Greece, it seems that the custom and perhaps the origin of halva is Turkish.

In some areas of Macedonia, however, it is also used as a toy, the well-known Haska.

Haska is played as follows: The father or mother ties a piece of halva with thread that is attached to the end of a stick about a meter long (usually the pie rolling pin) or earlier to the ceiling. As soon as the Clean Monday table is finished, all those sitting next to it wait their turn at the table with their hands folded back, so that they cannot use them, and their mouths open.

The father or mother takes the stick with the halva and circles it in front of everyone's mouth like a pendulum from the youngest to the oldest and begins to direct the piece into the open mouth of the one who is waiting to eat it. Whoever catches it is the winner.

In variations of Haska, a piece of bread, cheese or a boiled egg is tied to the end of the stick.

The custom has its roots in ancient Greece, haska from hasko(χασκα from the verb χάσκω )