A potluck of pot pourri
Bob Middleton: Can someone help me with the origin of the words potluck or potlatch party? is it related to potpourri? what other words are used for a bring your own dish party? What countries/areas use potluck and potlatch?
C.Hall: I don't know if this is going to help you at all, but the Indians, specifically the B.C. Coast ones, used the term potlatch for one of their ceremonies. Potlatch was a ceremony that involved all the Indians exchanging their possessions with others in their tribe. This occured when something special was happening in that tribe (bringing in a new chief, building a house, etc.). So I'm not sure, but this term may be an origin because it involves bringing something from your house and giving it to someone else.
E.C. Muehleisen: Potlach is an Amerind phrase particulary used by the northeastern Indian tribes. It described a situation in which everyone brought something for the pot. Perhaps something akin to an old Irish stew. Appropriate on St. Pat's day.
Terry O'Connor: Indignantly, I must point out that an Irish stew is nothing like this. It comprises lamb (oh, all right then, mutton usually), onions, potatoes, parsley, thyme, water and seasonings. That's it. Note: no blasted barley, which foreigners often insist on using, and certainly no "potluck" gifts of whatever anyone had handy. There. I've got that off my chest.
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