Azerbaijan International

Winter 2006 (14.4)
Page 18

Celebrating Spring
How to Grow "Samani" - Sprouted Wheat
by Kathleen Shryock

Photo Essay featuring Rachel and Lucas Shryock growing "Samani"

Most families share traditions. Perhaps it's a secret recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation or a holiday ritual that has become an annual event. For me, the most treasured traditions originated in my grandparent's garden where seeds were carefully planted in the springtime and tended throughout the summer.

Ultimately, the seeds matured into the main ingredients for my grandmother's culinary creations. Moist pumpkin bread, tangy rhubarb pie, or some other magical dish unfailingly served as the centerpiece for our family gatherings. Visible through the kitchen windows of the small white house, the garden was an appropriate backdrop. Like the garden, our family was always growing and changing, but we were firmly supported by our roots.

So when my husband Jim and I planned to have a family, it was only natural for us to look forward to the traditions that we would celebrate with our own children. In January 2001, we traveled to Baku to bring home our son Lucas (17 months) and our daughter Rachel (18 months).

They were warm bundles of energy that soaked up our love and brought wholeness to our hearts. Our parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and a host of cousins immediately embraced Rachel and Lucas as an important part of what we call our "Forever Family".

Left: Kathleen and Jim Shryock with Rachel and Lucas who were adopted from Baku in January 2001. The children were 17 and 18 months old at the time. Now they are seven years old.

As our family continues to evolve, we attempt to carry on familiar traditions that link us to our past. We also embrace new traditions that will become cherished memories for the future.

Recently, Jim and I started a new project that we believe will be especially meaningful to Rachel and Lucas. We've adopted one of the traditions that Azerbaijanis follow when they celebrate "Novruz" (First Day of Spring on March 21st).

The word Novruz (No-ruz) is Persian and means "New Day". In some countries, it is celebrated as the first day of the New Year like our January 1st.

To celebrate Novruz, we decided to grow a plate of sprouted seed or "Samani" (pronounced "sa-ma-NI" with the accent on the last syllable. The letter "a" rhymes with "a" in "fat cat").

At first, Rachel made us laugh by confusing the Azerbaijani word "samani" with the English word "salami", but as the wheat started to grow, she soon realized that we were not growing lunch meat.

For the "samani" to be ready for Novruz, you'll need to look at a calendar and count backwards from March 21. Give yourself 10-14 days for the seeds to grow. Start no later than March 10th. During the process of growing the "samani", Rachel and Lucas understood that they were celebrating a custom practiced in their birth country to welcome the arrival of the most important holiday of the year.

Throughout this project, Lucas often commented that the wheat was sprouting so fast that it seemed to be growing right before his eyes. The same seems to be true of my children.

They are learning, growing, and changing so quickly. As they grow, I hope that they will continue to appreciate the customs that have helped to define our family. In time, I hope they will embrace "samani" as a tradition that not only connects them to their own heritage in Azerbaijan but as a way to celebrate the universal hope symbolized by the arrival of Spring.

Read More by Kathleen Shryock
1."Preserving Adoption Memories," [Creating your child's own biographical storybook]. AI 10.3 (Autumn 2002).

2. "Celebrating Our Families: Second Reunion of Azerbaijan Adoptee Families" [Kansas City]. AI 11.3 (Autumn 2003).

3. "Embracing Our Adoptive Family" ["Are They Yours?" What to do when strangers ask too many personal questions]. AI 13.2 (Summer 2005).


Back to Index AI 14.4 (Winter 2006)

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