Author Archive
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Fair

The informant uses this response whenever someone says something isn’t fair.

“Fair is where you ride rides and eat hot dogs.”

She heard the phrase from her family and continues to use it. It is employes as a snarky response to someone who has said something that annoys her using the word “fair” playing on the two meanings of the word. There seems to be a common trope of folk responses to common statements and questions. I.e. “I’m hungry.” “Hi Hungry. I’m Bob.” or “What time is it?” “Time to get a watch.” I think people enjoy displaying their cleverness through these phrases.

Customs
Foodways
Material

Rice Etiquette

The informant learned this folk custom when traveling to Japan.

“Ok, so in Japan when you eat your sushi, you’re supposed to dip your fish first into the soy sauce, not the rice, because the rice is like white, and it’s supposed to be pure, when it goes into your mouth.”

She believes that it has a higher meaning for Japanese people but only practices it herself to be polite.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Material
Protection

Door Placement

The informant learned this piece of folklore from her mother about how to build a house in China.

“You shouldn’t buy a house with a front door and the back door directly across from each other, because um, they say all the money is going to come in and go straight out.”

I remember hearing something about this being a concept of Feng Shui. I do not know if this custom is directly related but they are certainly correlative.

Festival
Folk speech
general
Gestures
Humor
Kinesthetic
Material

Will Hack’s Broom

The informant is describing a piece of folklore from within the quidditch community. Quidditch is an increasingly popular sport among college students. It was originally based on the fictional sport from the harry potter novels adapted to exist without magic. The sport has now taken on a life of its own, having an official governing body in the International Quidditch Association. There is even an annual Wold Cup for the sport. This particular piece is about one of the people who runs the organization.

The Story:

So, I heard about Will Hack’s broom at the World Cup V in New York. And it was during the MSU UCLA game and, where we saw Will Hack illegally, uh, doing a lot of things illegally. And… he made a girl cry! And tackled her illegally, and was being a douchebag. The whole west had a chant going that said “Will Hack’s Broom.” And this is not a new thing. Apparently, the whole United States Quidditch League knows about it. So, and then after UCLA lost to Middlebury, a bunch of USC kids, we just what? reenacted his thing across the pitch. It was fun. Basically, instead of holding his broom upright between his legs like normally you’re supposed to do… upright? sideways? I don’t know. Normally! He has the broom dragging on the floor. Where he, it almost, he almost has it coming out of his legs. So it’s almost illegal. So I feel like it’s an ineffective way of playing quidditch. Especially since he’s one of the people who wrote the rulebook.

Will Hack

This has spawned many pieces of folklore that go with it. There is the gesture of dragging a broom which instantly identifies someone as a member of the quidditch community. There is also the chant which unifies someone as a member of the western region.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Clever Housewife

The informant is recounting a Chinese proverb from home. He does not remember where he heard it.

 

“The cleverest housewife cannot cook a meal without rice.”

He interprets it to mean that even a skillful person cannot achieve without the proper resources.

 

I find it interesting that the culture cannot envision a meal without rice. This speaks to just how intrinsic to the Chinese culture rice actually is.

Foodways
general
Holidays
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Cookie Rudolph

The informant related a holiday tradition.

Around Christmas time, the informant would make a family cookie recipe (itself not folklore since it has been written down for many years). However, the tradition of making the cookies is folklore. One year, she was inspired by watching the annual broadcast of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to make the cookies and liked the festive atmosphere that created. Thereafter, the making of the cookies was determined by the TV guide since it became traditional to make the “snowball cookies” only when Rudolph was on the TV. Eventually she purchased a VCR and was able to make the cookies on her own time. She still only makes them to Rudolph though, and only in the holiday. She has passed the tradition on to her husband and sun as well. She thereby contributed to the evolution of the tradition of baking cookies by adding another element to the ritual.

folk metaphor
Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Constant Drip

The informant is recounting a Chinese proverb from home. He does not remember where he heard it.

“Constant dripping wears away the stone.”

He interprets this to emphasize the importance of perseverance.

 

That this is a widespread proverb interesting is interesting due to the connection to the popular legend of Chinese water torture. As the legend has it, the Chinese would torture prisoners by slowly dripping water on their foreheads. This could be a literal interpretation of this proverb.

folk metaphor
Folk speech
general

Watermelons and Peas

The informant is recounting a Chinese proverb from home. He does not remember where he heard it.

“If you grow the watermelon, you will get the watermelon. If you grow the pea, you will get the pea.”

The informant says that this emphasizes the natural causal relationship of the universe.

I see the phrase as being  akin to the phrase “you asked for it” meaning that you shouldn’t be surprised by the result you get when you made designs on achieving that result.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Foodways
Material
Protection

Teapot Orientation

The informant is recounting a folk practice/superstition she learned while at a restaurant with a Chinese friend.

“It’s considered bad luck to have the teapot pointing at you.”

She doesn’t know why her friend believes this and does not believe it herself, though her best guess is just so that if it spilled, it would not spill on her.

 

Her explanation seems like a plausible reason behind the folklore but I wonder if there is a more spiritual reason commonly accepted.

Folk speech
Proverbs

Cart Proverb

The informant is recounting a Chinese proverb from home. He does not remember where he heard it.

The cart will find the way round the hill when it gets there.

He interprets to mean that you should not worry too much about the future.

 

This reminds me of the American saying: “You shouldn’t put the cart before the horse,” meaning you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself and think too far ahead. They have very similar meanings and both relate to carts. They could possibly be distant oicotypes of the same idea.

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