Did You Get Your Nose Greased Yet, B’y?

Happy Birthday!

No, it’s not my birthday and I’m not wishing for it to be. I’m remembering when we were all young and it was someone else’s birthday, and Dad is chasing him or her with a dab of butter. You might say “What in the dyins is she talking about?” It sounds like she might be on the whiskey today, and you’d be wrong.  I hate the stuff.  Just the smell of it turns me off! I’m just sitting here with nothing better to do. And reminiscing about that little act of playful fun my father had with us, when we didn’t think he was really that funny at all.

If we awoke in the morning and forgot that it was our birthday, watch out! For that grease soon reminded you that you had slid right out of the womb, into a noisy, boisterous breed of humans, fit for anything! It was usually a “sneak upon a person” act whereby all the others were sworn not to say a word. Getting the butter rubbed on one’s nose wasn’t exactly a barrel of fun!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough humiliation, legs were grabbed by several people and arms by some others and the birthday boy or girl was lifted up and down, touching the floor for the 10 years or 11 years or whatever age you were with one for good luck!Getting the bumps was done to each of us, when we were old enough to walk and ended when we could run faster or managed somehow to avoid  getting caught!

These were traditions in our family and I don’t really know how many families did the greasing and the bumping in the community of Pasadena.  I’m not sure if it was a St.Shotts tradition passed down from my Finlay side of the family or one that came from my Whiffin side.

To say that we enjoyed it would be a lie. We mostly tried our best to outrun or argue our way out of both acts of celebration, but all to no avail. You might as well close your mouth, pull back any stray hair and get it over as fast as you could! Everyone had a good laugh at the butter all over the nose and sometimes smeared on our cheeks!

For birthday parties in a family of eleven a child or adult was lucky to get a homemade cake with or without icing. Not many gifts were handed out back in the fifties, sixties and seventies! But it made no difference to us, as we figured we were not poor in all the ways that mattered. We had lots of friends, family and love, and that’s what sustained us. We grew up none the worse for having done without!

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About Newfoundland Traveller

I'm a Newfoundlander with a love of reading, writing and travelling. I've travelled around our province and lived in four provinces of Canada. I love a good book and a good blog. My family means the world to me, and some day I hope to travel to many countries of the world with my husband and sons' families.
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20 Responses to Did You Get Your Nose Greased Yet, B’y?

  1. Madeline Martin says:

    One saying in St. Shott’s when a new baby was born. “You will get your nose broke now.”

  2. Darlene says:

    We didin’t do the buttered nose thing on the prairies but we dii get the “royal bumps” I hated it and tried to hide.

  3. For our birthday cakes, coins and other small items, like buttons, were placed on the frosting between the layers. If you got the quarter, you were in luck. It’s a wonder we didn’t choke or break a tooth, but of course we were looking for them.

  4. Dor says:

    I never heard of greasing the nose for birthdays, but instead of the bumps, I remember there were “spankings” – not the kind that hurt though – one whomp for ever year. You do have some wonderful memories of family and fun and lots of love. Your post made me smile. 🙂

    • I always say that no one knows how another family really lives. Often others see the negative, and imagine a lot of it. They can never see it the way we remember it, or the way we experienced it. Yes, my dad had a belt hanging on a door, but it was there to be a deterrent to bad behavior. Straps were used in schools back then and I was once hit with a strap, by a female teacher. I like to see the good in things, and not live in the past. Remember the past but move on!

  5. Diane Tibert says:

    So that’s where the buttering of the nose came from: Newfoundland. My mom’s an Appleby from Lewin’s Cove, Burin, and we grew up getting out noses buttered. If my parents didn’t get me, one of my nine siblings would. I keep threatening to do it to my kids, but so far haven’t. Maybe this will be the year. 🙂

    Diane

    • One of my readers said something about doing it in Scotland, so I would say it goes back to the people who settled here many years ago. Some of my friends here in Newfoundland never heard of it before, so not everyone is familiar with it. Thanks for reading! I’m hoping to be in Burin in May or June, so may get to meet you. That’s if you still live close by.

      • Diane Tibert says:

        Mom moved to Halifax in 1945, when the war got over. She was only 17. She met Dad in 1949 and married him. She’s since lived in Nova Scotia. However, she’s been ‘home’ many times over the years and I’ve gone three times.

        Ah, a Scottish thing. That would explain why my father was in on it, too. His mother was a Scot from the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.

      • So many stories that we never hear about except when a nose buttering goes on!! Glad to hear from you, Diane. Imagine she married in 1949, the year of our confederation with Canada!

        >________________________________

  6. Dana Kinney says:

    I look back at the times when my Italian mother would get the butter ready( for the butter on the nose ) and let us have it on our birthday morning – ha ha. It was a fun time just to see how long it would take her before we would get it on the nose. Some times ma would miss and get you in the eye, ha ha.. None of my friends families did that on their birthdays so they thought we were rather strange!!!! Ha! Ha! All my Italian relatives did it with their children too. My mother always said,” it was for GOOD LUCK “.

    • We were never given an explanation of why we had to get our noses greased or why we had to get the bumps. We just tried to avoid it, but never could. I can’t remember when it finally stopped. Perhaps when we left for parts unknown. Nice to know we had good company with Italian families doing it too. I’ve always thought these traditions came over from Ireland or England.

  7. Dana Kinney says:

    The funny part when I was growing up I thought it was the Italians who started it. Everyone of my family – Aunts etc. did to their family members too. All my friends thought my family was rather strange Ha Ha . Oh yes you knew on your day you were going to get it but when ?????? Ha Ha You sure did get it and ti wasn’t just on the nose. If you moved it went in your eye, hair or some place on the face. HA HA

  8. Dana Kinney says:

    When you think back at it all – it was fun. Do people do any of that today. I know my daughter in law won’t let me do it to her. I use to do it to my granddaughter but she is in her teens and that just doesn’t go. HA HA She told me once that every time I did that to her on her birthday pimple on her nose. HA HA. When you had it done to you did it mean in your family, good luck too?????

  9. Dana Kinney says:

    Ha Ha – Sent from the iPad — it does make you wonder ha ha . My mother always said,” it meant GOOD LUCK “and so did the other relatives. As kids we use to think to ourselves good luck running a way from the butter but never could. Ha Ha. When you look up how the butter on the nose started it says it started in Canada?????? It did stop after my mother died. I still keep doing to my son (which is in his 40’s) but as for the grandchildren???

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