Author Archives: Mark Winn


Original script/version:


Cinnamon Apple Salad -Mom


Karo light corn syrup



Cinnamon sticks

Imperial red hot cinnamon candies

Red food color

Peeled and cored apples

Combine in a large sauce pan.  Bring to boil and simmer until slightly thicken.  Place apples in simmering syrup a couple at a time.  Cook until apples are slightly softened and a nice red color.  Remove to a dish to cool.  Continue until all apples are cooked.  Refrigerate to chill.


Chopped celery

Chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)



Combine all ingredients.

To assemble:

Place lettuce leaf on plate.  Put chilled apple on lettuce.  Fill with filling mix.  Allow some to overflow onto lettuce.  Serve.

This is a neat appetizer that my family has done for years. My mother got the receipt from her mother when they lived in Los Angeles in the early 1960’s. My mother is the one who always makes the apples. The first part of the process, when all the apples need to be skinned, is often left to the kids to do. The whole process takes a long time and is often started early in the morning. Unlike the family chocolate pie receipt, these apples are only made at Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.

Tradition – Greek

Original script/version:

“At weddings, a tradition is to take the groom away from the reception and then put the bride in the center of a circle of dancing people, apparently. Then, the groom comes back to ‘rescue’ the bride (I kid you not)… and he has to “red-rover style” break through the circle.”

Allison said she witnessed this even first hand at her older brother’s wedding three years ago. Her family is Greek originally but she did not know about this tradition. She was surprised when it happened because she had not been instrumental in planning the wedding.

This wedding ceremony seems to coincide nicely with many other European wedding traditions that involve separating the bride and the groom. After the groom is separated, he has to come back, break through a wall of people, to then rescue his bride. This could symbolize how the two are now going to be combining their lives and the groom is responsible for the welfare of his wife. Breaking the chain of people could also be symbolic of “crossing the threshold” that is seen in other European wedding folklore.


Original script/version:

“Another was I was taught to get rid of the hiccups was to eat apple sauce or drink water from a cup while hanging upside down.”

“I must have gotten the hiccups often when I was younger because I have so many way for getting rid of them. Both of these suggestions came from my best friend. We were both 12 at the time, I think. We were hanging out at her house and I had a case of the hiccups. First she suggested eating apple sauce. I did, and it didn’t work. Then she suggested drinking water upside down. I don’t know if the water actually helped or I was so distracted by the whole process that I forgot about my hiccups. I have used apple sauce since then and it has stopped my hiccups.”

“I sometimes wonder if these techniques are successful only because of the placebo effect. Because I believe they will get rid of my hiccups, my hiccups stop.”

Eating foods is not a bad guess for stopping the hiccups. Because hiccups originate in the diaphragm, it is only logical that the first attempts to cure them would be directed at the chest. Drinking water inverted could be a way to change someone’s breathing pattern, or the more forceful swallowing action required to drink water upside down could also account for the effectiveness of this folklore remedy.


Original script/version:


“We call the game the Ammo Can game. What you do is, you take two old military ammunition cans, the rectangular box-like ones, and you set them 20 or 25 feet apart. Then you get a rope that’s about 30 feet long. Now one person stands on each of the ammo cans and each has an end of the rope. The point is to get the other person to fall off the ammo can. You have to be quick, by pulling and letting go, you can cause the other person of fall off and its really funny. “

“I became a river guide when I was 20, back in 1967. I’ve learned all sorts of things from other river guides and river runners. The whole community is really pretty close. I probably learned this game 25 years ago from another guide. I used to play this game all the time. When I would take big groups of 17-25 down the [Grand] Canyon, while the guides were setting up tents and cooking food, the guests would be down on the beach with a couple ammo boxes and some rope. It sounds easier than it is. When you get those ammo boxes set up in sand, they are already pretty unstable. It was popular because it was really quick and easy to set up, and everyone could play. You’d have 12 year olds playing adults, guys verses girls. Its really just a good group game.”

I actually played this game a little bit a few years ago. It is definitely a game that originated from the supplies on hand. When on a week long or multiple week long river trip, you don’t have the room to pack lots of games to entertain people. You do however have a lot of air-tight ammunition cans and a lot of rope. The neat thing about this game is as you raft passed other camp sites on a river, you can see other groups playing this game, sometimes with minor variations. A few times there have been drinking rules involved.

This game is also fitting for the rafting culture because it tends to be a more competitive crowd. There is also an element of outsmarting your opponent involved. Rafters tend to be every egotistical and think they are always the smartest. So while this game is not only a duel of strength and balance, but also a battle of wits.

Game – Colorado


The Rope Game.

Rope game. For the game, you need two 4-5 foot pieces of rope and two people.  First, you tie rope around the wrists of player one.  Rope should not be too tight on the wrist.  Then, tie rope to wrist of player #2 and then pass the rope through the arms of player #1 before tying to player #2’s other wrist.  Object is to get separated without removing the rope from the wrists.

To simplify the instructions, one person makes a big O with their arms. Then the second person makes another O, interlocked with the first person. Then both players have their wrists tied. Then they try and get separated without untying each other.

Peter says, “Like the Ammo box game, this is another game I learned from other commercial river guides in the 1970’s while guiding trips through the Grand Canyon. It was popular once again because of its quick, easy set up and minimal supplies needed. I don’t actually remember how to get untangled, I’m sure I could figure it out if I played around with it.”

This game is another example of the culture that has developed around the sport of white water rafting. Although the sport has changed quickly in the last several years, it has a long and colorful past on such rivers as the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, or the Snake River in Idaho.

This game would be played as camp was being set up or as post-dinner entertainment. Rafting is a very social sport and any activity that gets multiple people involved is usually popular.

Tradition – Latvian

“It is traditional to sing this one song at Latvian weddings, it is sort of their “song of the open road” if you will.  Also, Latvian weddings are usually three day celebrations.

The song (or “daina”) that my family sang at my brother Alex’s wedding was the first time I had heard it(I hadn’t been to any Latvian weddings before that).  It is called “??rbies, saule sudrabota, “. I don’t know an English translation for it, sorry.  As for the three day party that ensues, that is something that I first learned about also at my brother’s wedding, but as far as I am aware, that’s a very northern European thing to do; I think the Swedes are all about that. “  -Kate P.

The English translation of the title is Sun, Clothe Yourself in Silver. I couldn’t find the lyrics to the song, or the English translation, but it sounds as those it is almost a song wishing him good luck as he moves onto the next part of his life.

To address the three day wedding ceremony, in the International Folkloristics by Dundes, there is a chapter by Geza Roheim that talks about many interesting European wedding traditions. The ancient wedding festival could last for weeks so this seems to be a natural, modern evolution of those festivals.

To reference in text:

Straumanis, Alfreds. The Golden Steed: Seven Baltic Plays. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, 1979. Pg. 180


Original script/version:

“It has been a family tradition to open presents on Christmas Eve, and then open our Santa presents on Christmas day.”

Kate said she felt like this was definitely a European tradition that hailed from her mother’s side of the family (the Swiss side). She said her mother also practiced the same tradition while she was growing up.

There seem to be many, many varieties of celebrating Christmas and handling the unwrapping of presents. The reason for moving the present wrapping could be two fold. Some families may like to concentrate more on the religious aspect of Christmas during the day, so they more the more consumer oriented portion to the night before. It could also be a way to spread out the festivities.

Many of European wedding traditions mentioned in Alan Dundes International Folkoristics book had special rituals and celebrations on Christmas Eve.

For further reference in text, see:

Etzioni, Amitai. We Are What We Celebrate : Understanding Holidays and Rituals. New York: New York University Press, 2004. Pg. 135.



“Every Christmas eve, we eat crab as a family. Generally there are about 8 to 12 of us. So either me or your mom goes out and gets four-six Dungeness Crabs. We then clean them up, put all the legs in one bowl, and cut the bodies in half, and put them in another bowl. Then everyone gets half a body and a few legs. We use special tools to pick out the crab meat. When everyone has “cleaned” as much crab as they like, we all make crab salads. Mimi (my grandmother) makes Thousand Island dressing using mayonnaise, ketchup, and relish. Then you put the crab on your salad, put dressing over that, and have yourself a meal!”

My father carried on this tradition from his family. He has eaten crab for dinner for as long as he can remember. He doesn’t know why or how the special food of choice became crab. He moved around a lot, but never lived anywhere coastal. For much of his life he lived in southern California.

I think crab developed as more of a specialty food than anything else. My family has never eaten a lot of seafood, and the only time we ever eat crab is on Christmas Eve. I think this exclusivity makes it a specialty food, at least for our family.

I don’t think there is a lot of symbolic meaning behind the fact that it is crab. I think the reason why it became a tradition is because it is more of social activity. It takes 20 or 25 minutes to clean all the crab out of the body and legs, and creates a good social environment instead of just sitting down and eating.


Tradition: Gift opening

“Since I was young my family has had a tradition for opening presents on Christmas morning. Instead of having everyone just grab gifts willy-nilly, the youngest person in the family, which was my brother, would find one gift for everyone. Then each person would open their gift, while the others waited. When everyone had opened their gift for that “round,” the next youngest would go. And we would go through the whole family like that. Once my dad had gone, he went last because he was the oldest, we would start at the beginning again. We would just repeat this until all the presents were opened.

My mom says that her father learned the tradition from a fellow police officer while working with the Los Angeles Police Department. She says it was a way of slowing Christmas morning down, avoiding all the crazy and hectic rush for presents that can happen if there is no order. This tradition also allows for everyone to equally be involved, and not have the morning monopolized by excited little kids or overpowering adults.

She said this is one of the few Munkres (maiden name) traditions that she carried over to her own family. She likes it now because instead of people just grabbing all the presents with their name on it, everyone essentially gets to give their presents all over again.

I feel like this tradition would find its origins among the poorer social classes. If there are less presents under the Christmas tree, the parents would want to find every way possible to extend the enjoyment of Christmas morning. Although we are not necessarily poor nor was my mother’s family, it is still a way of remembering those that don’t have as much to give, while also creating a more family oriented atmosphere on Christmas.

Folk Medicine

Diet/ Folk Medicine

I was told that eating the “BRAT” diet when your stomach is upset would calm it down and help you feel better. The BRAT diet being: banana, rice, apple sauce, and tapioca.

When I asked Matt where he heard this, he said his mom had told him about it when he had an upset stomach one time. Matt says that whenever he his stomach is up set or he feels nauseous, he returns to the BRAT diet. He doesn’t eat all the foods suggested; apple sauce and tapioca are his favorites.

This is the sort of folk medicine that would be passed from mother to mother at a day care or other places where there are lots of small kids. Little kids generally like eating most of the BRAT diet, so when their stomach is upset it is easy to get them to eat. It is also convenient because all the foods are common foods found in most grocery stores so no special trips or prescriptions are necessary. Most of the foods can already be found in houses that have little children.

When I asked Matt if he knew other people that also ate a BRAT diet when not feeling well, he said he knew several people that ate several of the foods in the diet, but did not call it by the acronym B.R.A.T.

For further reference in texts, see:

Schmitt, Barton D. Your Child’s Health : The Parents’ One-Stop Reference Guide to: Symptoms, Emergencies, CommonIllnesses, Behavior Problems, and Healthy Development . New York: Bantam Books, 2005. Pg. 248-250.