“It’s been a long hard winter. Work on the farm never seems to end. The last of the potatoes are starting to get soft and the lamp oil ran out a month ago. Seeding season is still weeks away. Today I look down that long driveway and I see a buggy turning in. Someone who’s lost or needs directions? Wait?! That looks like the Erdman Penners !? It is the Erdman Penners”!
And with this glorious sight, Hein bursts into the house and says, “Leina!….wie ha jast”! (we have guests!)
In a time long before time,….when very few people left the farm for weeks or even months, endless hard work was the order of every day. There were few phrases that were so joyous and welcomed as,…”wie ha yast”! (we have guests) It was a spontaneous occasion to take a break from ones worries and daily toiling. Jast showing up, provided fellowship to enjoy much-needed interaction with friends or family over faspa and offered a chance to catch up on the news of past months. Not only was it perfectly acceptable to show up unannounced, a surprise visit was very much longed for and looked forward to by all Mennonites. It was even extra special if they were jast from jant sied. It was a long journey to Rosenbach and you felt special that frintshoft (relatives) or friends would travel all that way to come for a visit.
“Break out the tweibach and jelli brout Leina! Wie ha jast!”
A group of Sommerfelder Mennonites visiting in Rosenbach (near Winkler), Manitoba, 1919. On the fenced porch is (L-R): Frank Enns, Isaac Wiens, and Rev. Wilhelm Friesen. Front row: Johann Braun, Maria (Bergmann) Braun, unidentified child, Katharina (Braun) Friesen, Katharina (Esau) Wiens, and Elizabeth (Esau) Enns. The woman on the far right and the children in the background are not identified.
Note: Jant sied – directly translated it means "the other side", known as the “west reserve” in southern Manitoba (or it was the "east reserve" in southern Manitoba if you were from the west side)
Tweibach: a regular bun with a “mini bun” on top. When baked looks like a hat of sorts. See image below.
Faspa: A light mid day lunch tradition of the Mennonites which consisted of tweibach, butter (lard was used if no butter was available) jam (usually rhubarb, strawberry or saskatoon berry jam), coffee and sometimes a few cold-cuts (ham or sausage). The more "deluxe "faspa was generally reserved for Sunday jast (guests) which may also include; cheese (usually Bothwell cheese or cheese curds) and pickles. If you really wanted to roll out the red carpet for faspa, you might also include raspberry or cherry preserves (see below).
You may be a Mennonite. Click on the pig below and take the test! Don't worry,.it's easy and you won't even have to take off your shoes!