Author Archive
general
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Tusk

Tusk

Personal Background:

My mom works in admissions for a university. She grew up in Palos Verdes, California where her father was a dentist known throughout her entire community. She now lives in Huntington Beach with her family.

University Traditions:

When my mom was a junior at the University of Southern California, the band Fleetwood Mac came out with the song Tusk. What made this song so important for the university was that it was played with the Trojan marching band. The students who were there were able to see Fleetwood Mac perform this song during one of the many football games the university has. The marching band has been playing it ever since. It has become such a big part of the campus life that there is almost no sporting event where the band does not play it. What makes it so popular is the part in the middle where the students get to yell, “UCLA SUCKS!” With UCLA being the main rival of USC, it gives the team a lot of school spirit as they cheer for their team.

What makes this song so special to my mom is the fact that it was done by a band she absolutely loved at the time, and she loves that it is still being done today. When she goes to a USC football game nowadays, she is brought back to a time when she was watching the game with her sorority sisters as a student. She loves being able to see the new students keeping some of the old traditions the same as she remembers.

Analysis:

This is a tradition that has been around for about 30 years now, and it does not look like it will be ending anytime soon. USC has become its own culture, and each football game has  a festival like feeling. There are so many different traditions that are going on during game days, it seems as if USC is its own city.

To me, this song is a way to bring the alumni and students together. Most students do not listen to Fleetwood Mac, but they do listen to this song. It is a way to connect the two different generations.

Contagious
Customs
Folk Beliefs
Foodways
general
Holidays
Magic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Fish for New Year

Fish for New Year

Personal Background:

Roger is a sophomore at the University of Southern California studying Inernational Relations. He has grown up with mostly Taiwanese traditions. He is living in Los Angeles right now, but is originally from Huntington Beach, California. He lives with his mother, who was born in Taiwan. His mother and him speak Mandarin at home. As much as Roger loves living in California, he still follows certain traditions that make him closer to Taiwan.

 Tradition:

Chinese New Year is a very important time of the year  no matter where someone is in the world. People who are not even asian seem to be getting into it. There are a lot of different traditions and festivals that go on with this changing of the year, but there was one in particular Roger explained that I had never heard of before. Apparently, everyone participating in Chinese New Year must eat fish during this time of year, but one must not finish the fish.

The reason for this has to do with the Chinese character for fish in Mandarin.  It is very similar to that of wealth. When they eat it, it is as if they are eating some of their wealth. But they need to make sure they do not finish the fish, because if they eat it all they are eating all of their wealth. They leave pieces in hope for wealth for next year.

Even though this is something everyone does, and it is something people do to celebrate together, Roger does not believe it it actually gives wealth. He has been doing this for as long as he can remember, but he does not think of it as a tradition he is able to do with this family and friends during their celebrations.

Analysis:

This is a type of tradition that also brings in some folk beliefs as well. They ones who are eating the fish are hoping there is some form of magic from the fish, and they hope the power from it will rub off on them, giving them wealth. What makes it a tradition is the fact that it is an activity family and friends can do together. It links them to their past and to their ancestors who also did this same thing. The fact that is something that people need to do in order to get their wealth, makes it a tradition.

To me, this tradition is a way to bring family and friends together as they remember the past year and look forward to the new one. It is also a way to give people hope about their year. If someone has had a hard year, leaving the bits of fish may be exactly what they need in order to look forward to the next year. It is very similar in American new year. People want something to look forward to for the next year, so they kiss someone at midnight in hope of having love in the next year. Even though Chinese New Year and New Year in America are very different, there are some pieces that cross over between both cultures.

Life cycle
Old age

The Ghost of Grandma Badger

The Ghost of Grandma Badger

            Personal Background:

            My dad is a long shore man in the port in San Pedro, California. He currently lives in Huntington Beach, California, although he grew up in San Pedro. He has a mother who is Mexican and a father who is European, so he was able to experience two very different side when he was growing up.

            Seeing a Ghost:

When my dad lost his grandmother, he had a moment when he was walking in his house and he passed by her old room, and out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw her. It turned out it was just the television on a stand. It was a brown television on a brown stand, and he said, “The stand was about four eleven, and she was about four eleven. She also used to wear clothes that were that exact brown.”

He is someone who does not believe in ghosts, he thinks that it may have actually been his grandmother standing there for a second. They spent a lot of time together, and they even shared a room at one point with her. He says it seemed so real, even though it was just for a second. Now, whenever he goes to his parents’ house, he does not like being there alone. If he ever has to be there for any reason alone, he says he, “gets the hell out of there,” as fast as he can. They have rooms in the house that people do not use, so it makes him uncomfortable to be there.

Analysis:

To me, my dad saw thought he saw his grandma because he missed her. She had just died, and he had been very close to her. In a way I do believe him since he is my dad and he is someone I trust. From the etic view, it may seem strange, but to him it is not strange at all. It also shows how death affects people in America. It is something that is depressing, while in other parts of the world is not seen that way. Death can be something that makes people see and hear things they did not believe in before.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
general
Humor
Initiations
Magic
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Getting Good Grades at Cal State Fullerton

Getting Good Grades at Cal State Fullerton

Personal Background:

My brother is 22 years old and recently graduated from California State University Fullerton with a major in radio, TV, and film. He is now working for temporary tattoo company and has some small film jobs on the side. He is currently living in Los Angeles.

Tradition:

            While my brother was going to school in Fullerton, there was a tradition during finals week where all of the students would touch the butt of their Statue of David as good luck. During finals week every year, the students will line up to touch the statue that is in pieces in their quad. It is a way to connect with the rest of the student body as they go through a very stressful week. It is something funny that can help relieve some of the tension they might be feeling. It is also something everyone must do to really be considered a Titan.

My brother is not quite sure if doing this actually works, but he still did it the two years he was there. To him, it was better to be safe about it than to risk not doing it and not doing well on finals. He first heard about it when he was on a tour of the school. He said, “It seemed as though everyone knew they were supposed to do this, even without any sort of conversation about it.” It made him want to do it even more since it was a way he was able to get together with his fellow classmates who were going through the same crazy week as him.

Analysis:

This type of tradition is a folk belief. The students who attend this college have a belief that this works, yet it is not something that can be scientifically proven. By touching the butt of the fallen statue of David, it is funny way to get the students together, and it can also be a way for the students to “save their butts” and not fail their finals. It is more of a psychological superstition than ritual that will actually work. They think that the power that the statue of David has will rub off onto them and give them the power to do remember everything they learned that semester. There may even be luck involved when the students get their grades back. To me, it is a way the students try to get control when the only thing they can take control during study days is how much they study for their finals.

Childhood
general
Musical

There’s a Daisy on my Toe

There’s a Daisy on my Toe

Personal Background:

Jack is a sophomore at California State University, Long Beach and is studying aerospace engineering. He is part of the Air Force branch of ROTC and is from Huntington Beach, California. He has grown up in a family that is also from southern California, and he considers himself someone who has a lot of “American values.”

Folk Song:

            “There’s a Daisy on my toe/ It is not real, it does not grow./ It’s just a tattoo of a flower/ So I look good taking a shower/ It’s on the second toe of my left foot./ If you ask me it looks real good./ There’s a daisy on my toe/ It is not real, it does not grow.”

This is a song Jack learned when he was at Camp Shalom in the Santa Monica Mountain Institute in Santa Monica, California for his AP Environmental Science Class. This is a song that the camp counselor taught his group one day when they were on a hike so they could pass the time. It was a song only his hiking group knew, and when everyone would get together, his group would sing the song the other groups did not know. Even though it was only taught to his group, he calls them “The Sunshine Bears,” other people from other groups said they had heard the song at other camps.

To Jack, this song is a reminder of his friends, The Sunshine Bears, he had while he was at camp. He was able to have this connection with only his group, and it is something he is able to take with him. It brings him a sense of happiness that he had a great time at the camp, and he also loves the fact he was able to mock the other groups who did not know the song.

Analysis:

What makes “Daisy on my Toe” a folk song is the fact that it is not copyrighted. It is something that is made for young kids to sing and have fun with. It has a simple enough rhythm that is slow, and has very simple lyrics, making so anyone can learn it. It is the perfect for children. It is part of a culture that is surrounded by camp and young kids, yet they do not need to know anything about the song to enjoy it the most. To me, it was a way Jack was able to feel like a kid again, even though he was in high school. He was able to be weird and crazy in the Sunshine Bear group. A song about a daisy tattoo can have a much deeper connection that originally thought.

Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Material

Tamales and Mashed Potatoes

Tamales and Mashed Potatoes

Personal Background:

My mom works in admissions for a university. She grew up in Palos Verdes, California where her father was a dentist known throughout her entire community. She now lives in Huntington Beach with her family.

Tradition:

Growing up, it seemed completely normal for me to have mashed potatoes and tamales every Christmas, until I realized other people did not do this. So I decided to ask my mom why we did this odd mix of food. What happened is that the mashed potatoes represent her family who is Caucasian, while the tamales represent my dad’s family who is Mexican.

My mom got her recipe for the mashed potatoes from her mother, and it is known in the family as one of the best dishes on Christmas. She makes it for both her side of the family, as well as for my dad’s side of the family. The tamales are also with both sides of the family, but those are from a local restaurant, not hand made. Nothing we make has much religious meaning to it, but has a connection to the past.

To my mom, this disjointed menu is a way to bring the families together. It is a change in tradition for both of my parents, but my mom loves that they were able to make new traditions by still keeping some of their old ones. It has made for a different Christmas for both sides of the family, but part of becoming a new family is creating new traditions.

Analysis:

What makes this a tradition is because it is something that is actually happening and being completed. Every year, this family is physically making and eating this food.

To me, it has become a ritual with when the potatoes are made, and how they are made. Before my mom even starts making the potatoes, my sister and I sit and peel around 20, or more, potatoes. We have been doing it this way since my sister and I have been old enough to be trusted with the potato peelers. It is how the Mexican side of my family is able to have a really nice Christmas with the Caucasian side.

general
Humor
Riddle

Albacore Riddle

 

Albacore Riddle

Personal Background:

Lillian Tran is a 19 year old student at the University of California, Irvine studying journalism. She has grown up in a one hundred percent Vietnamese family, and is very proud of many traditions her family has.

Riddle:

There is one riddle she loves to tell since it is very difficult.

“A man who took a bite of an albacore sandwich, and then he started to cry. Why did he do that?”

The way this type of riddle works that the people who are answering it can only ask yes or no questions to the person who asked it. Through a series of questions, it turns out that the man is blind, and at one time, he was on a desert island with his friend and his wife. His friend had told him his wife had died and that they should eat the albacore they had. The man is crying because the albacore sandwich he is eating does not taste like the albacore he ate on island, meaning that he was not eating the albacore, but he was eating his wife, and he could not tell since he was blind.

Lillian first heard this riddle on Thanksgiving with her family. She had to sit at the kid’s table since she was younger. To pass the time, her cousins started telling her riddles. It scared her more than anything. She was afraid something like this could actually happen to her. It has made her afraid of albacore sandwiches ever since.

Analysis:

Riddles tend to not be very popular in the United States, and tend to be seen more for children. They really play on the power of words, and can have different meaning for different people. This is known as a “true riddle” since there are enough clues asked throughout that the person should be able to answer.

To me, this riddle is a way to stay connected with her family and to have a good time with her friends. It is a fun party trick to be able to come up with this riddle, and it can bring a conversation to the room. It is a way to get people in a room to converse when things get tense because everyone has to agree on questions to ask. Riddles are a fun way to play brain games and come up with games for everyone.

Childhood
Customs
Life cycle
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Touch Stones

 

Touch Stones

Personal Background:

Alaina is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She is originally from Washington, a small town about an hour away from Seattle. She has been a camp counselor for many years, and for many different age groups.

Camp Rituals:

Osprey Camp is a small independent camp in Washington. It is an educational camp that is meant for sixth graders, and it is a camp Alaina went to when she was in sixth grade. She has been a counselor for it for a few years noe. One thing she mentioned the campers did was have a friendship circle at the end of every week the students were there. A friendship circle is when the students sit in a circle and talk about the great things the other people did throughout the week. The last week of camp is special though because that was when they received their touch stones. Touch stones are something the couselors make for the campers when they come to the end of camp. It has been a tradition since Alaina has gone to camp there. Touch stones are basically little rocks made of clay that has the thumbprint in it. In the final friendship circle, the kids pass around their touch stones and the kids touch the part that has the print in it. It is a way to say goodbye and keep a memory of the camp.

Alaina was able to actually make the touch stones the second year she was a camp counselor. She remembered enjoying it when she was camp, but seeing the kids react to them was even better than she remembered. She loved seeing the different groups of kids interacting with kids they might not have if they were not at camp. She also enjoyed being able to touch some of the stones of the kids who had been her cabin. For her, it was a way to prove that the barriers could be broken of the kids at this awkward age where changes are occurring with new schools, as well as new friends. Since the campers and counselors were not able to keep in contact after the camp ended, the touch stone was a good reminder of all the people at camp.

Analysis:

This is a perfect example of a ritual and well as a folk object. It has the repition, as well as focuses on a certain culture, which is the campers culture. It is not something people would be doing all the time, and it has a special meaning for the people who have gone through it. It is almost as a right of passage, or a coming of age for the kids. It is a positive way to end a camp and start a lot of new friendships with people they might not have originally been friends with. It gives them that physical stone as well that have after camp ends.

To me, it was a great way to have the piece after the kids left the camp. Having that physical folk object once the ritual was complete is something that the can keep and have fond memories of for the rest of their lives.

Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Legends

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

Personal Background:

Heidi is a freshman at the University of Southern California and is studying psychology. She has grown up in Los Angeles with a lot of Mexican/American influence. She really enjoyed being able to have part of the two different cultures come together.

Legend:

Heidi heard a lot of the legendary people who tend to haunt a lot of Mexican culture, but the one about Bloody Mary is the one she liked the most.

“When you are looking in the bathroom mirror, you say her name three times and she appears. The room has to be dark, and it has to be at night. She then comes out and kills you.”

This was all Heidi was able to remember. She did say she heard something about Bloody Mary being related to the Queen Mary. She thinks Mary might have been killed in a dark room while looking in a mirror, which is why she comes out of mirrors. She said she heard about this when she was watching TV when she was younger, and it just happened that everyone knew what she was while she was at school. It scared her terribly when she was younger, and still scares her today. She has never tried it, and says she will never try because she thinks it might be the one time Bloody Mary will appear.

Analysis:

This legend has been a big part of a lot of children horror. Bloody Mary could have been someone who existed at one time, but she has become a legend. She is a story told to young children as a way to scare them.

To me, this story has been told so many times I do not believe it anymore. My older brother used to try to scare me with in when I was younger by trying it. It did not work, so there was no need to believe it. Even if I think of if that way, it is something that keeps getting revised, and will keep changing for the new generations.

There are more versions at “Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary.” VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever. Ed. Jim Craddock. 2012 ed. Detroit: Gale, 2011. 602. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 2 May 2014.

Childhood
general
Legends

La Llorona

La Llorona

Personal Background:

Stephanie is a junior at the University of Southern California studying biology. She has grown up with a lot of Mexican influence, and has even spent some time in Mexico with her parents and grandparents. She is living in Los Angeles at the moment and is very happy with some of the Mexican influence L.A. has.

Legend

When Stephanie was growing up, she heard a lot of stories about La Llorona from her grandparents and friends. The story her grandparents told her is the one that is heard the most.

It begins with a woman whose husband has died. She ends up going crazy and drowns her children in a river. She ended up killing herself as well. Every night she wanders the streets looking for her children, and children in general.

In some other versions Stephanie has heard, La Llorona drowns her children in a bathtub for no reason. The ending is still the same with La Lloorna wandering the streets at night looking for children.
These stories were originally told to Stephanie when she was little as a way to keep her from staying out late at night. It was a scare tactic used by her parents, older siblings, as well as grandparents. She said they would say, “You better come inside or La Llorona is going to get you!” She would then come inside when she heard this. She has other friends who grew up in a very Hispanic culture who went through very similar events when they were younger. Stephanie is not sure if she still believes in La Llorona, but just in case there is possibility she does exist, she tries not to wander places alone at night.

Analysis:

This is a legend because of the possibility that it may or may not be true. Women have killed their children in the past. It is a legend that has become a ghost story. Parents use it as a way to scare their young kids into not staying out late.

To me, this is this is the type of story that people will continue to tell their kids in the future. It seems to work on little kids now, and if it was something that would have worked for me, I would want to use it in the future.

See other versions “La Llorona.” La Estrella de PanamáAug 10 2011. ProQuest. Web. 2 May 2014 .

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