Author Archive
Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

The Magic Potion

”The ingredients are: apple cider vinegar, lemon, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, honey, and hot water. About a class worth for whoever is taking it. You can use it for pretty much anything. Whenever I’m feeling sick I’ll use it; all the ingredients have really good properties, so one of them is bound to help with something. I always use it when I have the flu.”

“My mom would always tell me to drink apple cider vinegar with honey and hot water, for pretty much anything that was wrong with you. I never really liked it like that. One of my friends gave me this recipe. You’d think the extra ingredients would make it taste worse, but they actually make it a lot easier to drink.”

Home remedies are often a popular way of dealing with everyday maladies, especially those which science currently has no “cure” or treatment for. The informant stated that she uses the remedy for a wide variety of ills, with the expectation that one of the ingredients is bound to help somehow. She had originally gotten a variety of the “potion” from her mother; which is common with home remedies. As parents are often a primary source of information while growing up, people have a tendency to retain lessons or advice from them, even as they grow older.

The informant stated that she never enjoyed the taste of her Mom’s remedy, though she would still use it if she got sick. Eventually she heard of the alternate form from a friend; she stated that she liked the flavor of the new formula more, and now uses that as an alternate. This shows an interesting fluctuation in the phenomenon stated above. Though she respected and followed her Mom’s advice for the remedy, she was also willing to change the recipe slightly into one which suited her tastes better. This illustrates how folk remedies can change over time: ingredients can be added (or removed in some cases) in order to better fit the sensibilities or tastes of the new user.

Folk speech

Verbal Gratuity

“My dad always told me that when a customer at work says “Oh you’re a great waiter!”, they call it a ‘verbal gratuity’. Sometimes they actually do give a good tip, but my Dad says a lot of the time that compliment is the only tip they get. That’s why they also call it the ‘kiss of death’.”

An example of occupational folk speech, this piece illustrates the experience of working as a waiter in a restaurant. As they depend heavily on tips, the amount that a customer tips them can have a huge effect on the happiness and wellbeing of a waiter. I imagine an instance such as this, in which a customer seems satisfied with the service but still does not leave a tip, can be even more frustrating than it would be otherwise.

 

Riddle

Make something round

Informant places 5 sticks on the counter, all parallel to each other.

“Make something round from these sticks, only moving two of them.”

The informant takes the two outside sticks, and places them perpendicular to and above the 2nd and 5th sticks. This forms three letters, which together spell “TIT”.

“So when I was about 10 or so, I went out to visit my uncle. I always used to visit him during the summer. By this time, I was getting older and I had always had older brothers, so, ya know, I was starting to figure some things out. I guess my uncle picked up on this and wanted to initiate me into becoming a man or something. So I go to his house, and he asks if I want to hear a riddle. I say yes, so he lays out 5 sticks and asks him to make something round while only moving two. I consider myself smart, but I couldn’t figure it out. So he shows me, and he got so excited about it.”

This particular riddle seems to be something of a coming-of-age ritual, a way to initiate a young boy into becoming a teenager. This transition is often accompanied by increased interest in sex. This riddle seems to be a way to gradually push the subject over the liminal, and onto the path toward adulthood.

Humor

What’s the difference…

”What’s the difference between a waitress and a toilet?

A waitress only has to deal with one asshole at a time!”

“I originally heard this one from my Mom, she worked as a waitress and would even tell this joke to customers sometimes! It always makes me laugh, because it’s true!”

Jokes are often shared among those in the same occupation, often as a way of connecting about shared experience. In this instance, the joke seems to reference two integral parts of working as a waitress: the possibility of getting unruly or rude customers, and the need to balance multiple customers at once.

I found the fact that the informant’s Mom could even share this joke with customers interesting. The universal plight of the waitress is well known even to those outside the liminal, and as such the humor can be appreciated even by those to whom it is pointed at.

Digital
general

Not sure if…

3ep2

”I love the ‘thoughtful Fry’ meme. It’s from Futurama. I love the meme probably because it’s from Futurama, and I love Futurama. It’s one of the more memorable of the memes I have seen, and I like that it’s relatable. It also changes a lot and has a lot of different types. Memes are interesting for that reason, there’s always a new one coming out.”

Memes, as a newly minted product of internet culture, often deal with or reference certain aspects of contemporary popular culture. Futurama is, in many ways, a staple of modern young adult culture; it is something most young adults recognize easily and a large portion of them are dedicated fans. As a comedy series, it is easy to see why something from Futurama could be adapted into a meme. Memes often thrive by being relatable and relevant, and utilizing something from a show near-and-dear to the hearts of many a millennial is a recipe for success.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

El sordo no olle, pero compone

”El sordo no olle, pero compone.”

The deaf person doesn’t hear, but he composes.

“If someone isn’t really paying attention I guess, or they do something wrong so that it’s obvious they weren’t paying attention, people use this to call you out. My mom would use it a lot whenever we were being bad in general though.

I found this proverb interesting, mainly because I couldn’t necessarily think of an equivalent one in English. The context in which it is used is one that I (and many others, I’m sure) am familiar with; I am curious to know why some cultures have a niche for this particular proverb and others don’t. The proverb appears to reference the composition of music, and implicates that composing music without having the ear to listen to it is a foolish venture at best.

 

Customs

Sana Sana

”Sana Sana, Colita de Rana”

“Heal Heal, butt of the frog”

“Whenever someone gets a boo-boo, you rub it and say the phrase. It’s supposed to make it feel better. I learned it from my family, mostly from the women (Mom, Grandma, Aunt). It wasn’t really something men in the family would do. It was done a lot more to my brother than it was to me, cause he was a baby and always cried. It actually does sound kind of ridiculous once you translate it *laughs out loud*”

Boo-boo’s are an inevitable part of the rowdy and rambunctious days of childhood. Scrapes, cuts, and bruises happen regularly, and most parents have their own ways of cheering (or toughening) their children up. This example I found interesting, as I had never heard it before. I laughed along with the informant and my roommate at the translation of the phrase. I would even contend that the ridiculousness of the phrase (and the humor resulting from it) may be the overall point of the custom; one of the best ways to distract anyone from pain is to make them laugh.

I also found the gender component of the custom interesting. There seems to be some sort of cultural stigma against men “babying” their children in this instance, something I can relate to from my own childhood.

general

PLUR

”PLUR stands for peace, love, unity, and respect. It originated in rave culture, probably in the 90’s. That was when everything started out, wearing beads to a rave I guess started as a way for people to hide their pills. PLUR is a belief, or a way of life (or way of rave, haha), it’s like a way you’re supposed to act at those kind of events. I probably learned it at my first rave, back in high school. Junior year or so. ’08 or ’07 I think. I guess some people change the order of the letters to what they think the most important parts are. A friend of mine says LURP instead, so love comes first, followed by unity and so on). PLUR isn’t really taken that seriously anymore, at least in mainstream rave cultures. Not many people know what it actually means anymore.”

Most large social events have a certain etiquette; a set of principals by which those attending these events can base their behavior. For raves and modern music festivals, PLUR is used as the overarching rule. In events like raves, which can have radically different social norms then one might see in everyday life, it is often important to establish some kind of mutually agreed-upon code of conduct.

Even though the controversy and negative attitude surrounding rave events may have subsided in recent years, the events are still subject to intense scrutiny.  PLUR may serve as both a unifying moral code to those attending the events, and a sort of response to the negative labels that were initially attached to rave events.

Folk Beliefs
general

Crystals

”There’s a lot of different rock formations from the Earth. I guess the crystals absorb energy from the earth and are supposed to have positive effects. I have a Himalayan pink salt crystal that’s supposed to clear out bad energy, make it drop down towards the floor. It’s supposedly good for allergies and things like that. Different crystals are supposed to affect your chakras. Blue crystals are for the throat chakra, and I think green are for the stomach. Quartz is supposed to amplify your existing characteristics. Tiger eye is supposed to help with lethargy.”

Many believe that crystals have metaphysical properties, and can aid in healing or even improve one’s spiritual wellbeing. The informant had her collection of crystals on hand as she spoke about them, and we examined each one in turn. Crystals are fascinating natural constructs to many people (my grandfather loved to collect and talk about them), and I find the idea that they can have some effect on a persons physical and mental state intriguing, to say the least. Some crystals do have the ability to emit electricity when put under pressure, so while I don’t necessarily know if I place full stock in their alleged abilities, I am also entirely open to entertaining the possibility.

Folk Beliefs
general

The 13th Zodiac

”I guess, because of the movement of the stars or something like that, the zodiacs should actually change over time. Which is why there’s supposed to be an extra zodiac in addition to the 12. I have heard that the 13th zodiac is supposed to be an evolved form of Scorpio, something that they move to at a certain level of knowledge. Scorpios are normally fiery, dark, and very sexual. They’re high energy and masculine. How my friend (who is a Scorpio) interpreted this evolution is that Scorpios will lose the negative aspects of these traits and become a better person because of it.”

Belief in the zodiac is something that has fluctuated over time. In recent years, the belief seems to have reemerged strongly. Like all folk beliefs, the iterations and nuances of the belief change over time as they feed into new generations. The above example illustrates how some have constructed an interpretation of the fabled “13th Zodiac”. In this particular instance, some have taken to modifying an existing zodiac to fill the role of the 13th Zodiac.

This modification of the existing Zodiac may be a result of modern culture, in which ideals like enlightenment and self-actualization are held strongly. The person from whom the informant learned about this belief was himself a Scorpio, and found this particular perspective meaningful. This could be born out of a desire to retain the positive traits associated with the sign, while leaving room to grow out of or improve upon the negative ones.

[geolocation]