Author Archive
Legends

Honduran Family Legend

Legend- Honduras

 

Nationality- Honduras

Primary Language- Spanish

Occupation- Factory Worker

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 3/11/16

One night when it was raining, a few days after your uncle marisio was born, your grandmother heard a strong knocking on the door. Your grandpa was still out working so she was uncertain if she should open the door. The baby was sound asleep and the knocking did not sleep so she decided to go see who it was. When she looked out a window, she saw a tall man with a black hoodie and coat getting soaked outside right in front of the door. When she went around to ask who it was, the man said “Let me see you baby”. Your grandma became frightened and said “No!”. The man then said that if she did not let him see the baby, in 18 years she would pay severely. The man kept knocking harder and then Marisio began to cry. Your grandma made sure the door was locked and ran to comfort Marisio. He would not stop crying and the man would not stop knocking. After a few minutes your grandma heard a horse hooves walking around the house. After half an hour of circling the house with a horse, the noise was gone and the baby stopped crying. 18 years later, your brother became mentally ill and has never recovered since then.

The person who told me this story was my mother. She is from Honduras and currently resides in Los Angeles. She learned this story from my grandmother who told her because she says it actually happened to her. Her brother has been ill ever since he turned 18. She believes that a reason he is “sick” is because it has something to do with the devil. Either because of this event or another possible reason that has to do with witchcraft. This is important to her because it taught her how evil and powerful the devil is and to always confide in God because he is where all good resides. She also learned that she should not ever open the door to any stranger, to always look through the window first, because you never know ehn the devil may be knocking. To my mother, it is an answer to an unknow. When my family in Honduras did not know why or how this happened to Marisio, they simply blamed it on the devil and realized it was a sane answer. She has had several spiritual rituals performed on him but to no avail, making her think that it is too late and the devil it too powerful.

The context of the story was serious, mysterious, but calm. Her tone was not with an intent to be ominous or scary because that was not the point of the story. She told me in broad daylight, in our living room when i asked her how did my uncle get sick. Her objective was to tell a story and give me a lesson, not just to scare me.

When my mother first told me the story, I was frightened. I was only 10 years old and the thought of the devil almost coming in contact with my family was crazy. I made sure to never open the door unless I knew who it was or if it was safe to do so. It also made me fear the devil and what he could do. When I turned 13, my mother was so cautious because of what happened that she gave me pills that would smoothen out my puberty process. She believed that it may help me and prevent anything similar to what happened to Marisio happen to me. Of course back when I turned 13 i thought that her methods were unorthodox but i could not really debate against her since she was my mother. Nothing terrible happened to me but it made me realize how religion and faith could really affect someone’s thoughts. I realized that with a lack of knowledge, people can become very afraid of the unknown and turn to their religion or God for answers. In Honduran culture, people believe that the devil rides with a horse and has unbelievable power and that anyone who is sick or evil is under the control or influence of the devil. Stories like these increase their beliefs because sometimes they have nothing else to believe in.

 

Folk Beliefs

Never Coming Back Twice

Superstition

 

Primary Language- English

Name- Quinn Blades

Occupation- USC Student

Residence- Kansas City, Missouri

Date of Performance- 4/25/16

In my family, every time we leave the house, we never come back the same way twice. So if I leave the house, come back, leave again, there is no way in hell I can come back the same way if I forget another thing. If I ever do, it’s automatic bad luck and no one to reverse it. I saw my dad start this superstition ever since I could remember and it has stuck with me since.

Quinn is from Kansas City and his father is also born there, but the superstition was created from his own father. Quinn does not know why his father does it or why, but he does not that he will receive bad luck if he comes back the same way twice. He does not follow the tradition at USC but when ge gets home, the superstition sets in. It is also a nice way to think of his father who is many states away from him.

Once you leave your home, you can never come back the same way twice or else it is bad luck. It is very simple and serious to Quinn’s father.

I believe that the superstitions that people follow without knowing the reason are some of the most interesting. It can start a whole chain of followers simply because one person is doing it and others begin to follow due to family ties or friendship. Except some of these superstitions are followed in certain places because how else would you get into a place with one entrance. Of course some people follow the superstition no matter what such as Quinn’s father. He would rather just leave what he left than to go back twice.

 

Folk Beliefs
Myths

The fallen god that came

Myth

 

Primary Language- English

Secondary Language- Spanish

Occupation- UC Merced Student

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 4/23/16

 

In UC Merced, we live a few miles away from Central Valley that has an interesting myth. The myth of the fallen god that came. The fallen god came to the people of Merced saw that their agricultural skills were not great and decided to help them. He told them where to plant raisins and how. He said that if they would listen to him, the agriculture on the land would be magnificent by years end. After the people planted the raisins and waited for them to grow, the Central Valley became a rich land known for its amazing agriculture. No one knows why or how the raisins made the ground fertile for plantation but a lot of them seem to believe it was because of the fallen god that came.

Lucy is from Los Angeles, California but currently resides in UC Merced which is still in California but different from Los Angeles because of the community. She learned this myth while living in a new community and engaging with the traditions, legends, and myths around Merced. Most freshman students have learned the myth by living on campus or through their professors. The myth is special to her because it is a significant part of UC Merced history. She herself thought the myth was silly but it is what makes her a unique bobcat, which is a mascot of UC Merced.

The story is a deep and central part to UC Merced’s history. Many professors and room advisors get the students together, sometimes in a camp fire, and reminisce on the story. It is a great way to pass time and embrace the kids with some native folklore.

These types of myths are what can bring a community together. True or not, the myth may have served as a placebo effect for the community because when they believed their agriculture was definitely going to grow with flying colors, they worked harder and planted more than usual. This may have been the actual reason their agriculture improved. A promising community could have been laid through folklore. The belief created has been passed down for many years and fermented communities and students even today. Myths, the supposed reason for the start of the universe or planet, whether it is believed or not, there have been many instances such as the fallen god that are responsible for some communities we have today.

 

Folk Beliefs
Signs

Ears Ringing

Superstition

 

Primary Language- English

Occupation- USC Student

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 4/16/16

If your ears begin to ring, that means that someone is thinking about you. My mother once told me a story about how her ears kept constantly ringing one day, she did not know why but at the end of the day her friend had came to her house saying that she was trying to get in contact with her because she found an amazing job opportunity for her. Ever since then, she believes that when her ear rings, it is because someone is thinking about you.

Justin’s parents were born in America as well as him. He learned this story from his mother when Justin’s ear kept ringing one day. He does not believe it but he knows it well because his mother firmly has faith that when her earn rings, it is because someone is thinking of her. To Justin, it is just a way to remember his mother when he is in college so he like to tell or smile whenever he hears someone’s ears ring.

This short folklore is quite simple, does not matter when or where you are but when your ear rings, someone is thinking about you. Telling someone else about it is just like passing down information because those who believe in it have had personal experience with the ringing.

This folklore piece is interesting due to the fact that I have had my ear ring, but I never knew why or bothered to find out. So to hear a friend whose mother supposedly knows the reason is intriguing. Ear ringing meaning something more has been around for quite a long time. The common superstition is based on which ear rings. If the left ear rings, it means somebody is thinking positive thought about you, and if it rings on your right ear, then it means that somebody. This is the most common belief but there are multiple alterations such as when your left ear rings, a loved one is thinking about you. They are similar but slightly different.

 

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Signs

Bad comes in 3’s

Superstition

 

Primary Language- English

Occupation- USC Student

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 4/16/16

Everytime my family hears bad news, they believe it comes in three’s. The side of the family that usually believes that are the females like my sister, mom, and aunt. Say if somebody gets in a car crash that we know, my family then believes that three other bad things are going to happen. So after the crash, something like losing money, or even stubbing someone’s toe can happen and my family will believe it’s because three bad things was meant to happen. I don’t know why they stick to that superstition but it makes them feel at ease when they think they are ready for it.

Justin has heard about this piece of superstition from his family. They have always warned him about the dangers of the threes. After on bad news arrives, he has to be ready for two others. He does not really believe in that superstition but his family really does. The superstition is still interesting to him because he thinks it is funny how strong their belief is.

Whenever you experience something bad, you should always be cautious of the two other bad things that will happen to you, at least according to Justin’s family. When Justin told the superstition, he thought it sounded ridiculous that his family believed it in so he laughed while telling it. Real or not, his family becomes very cautious once they hear or are stricken with bad news.

The mystical three’s have struck again. Bad news in three sounds like a lot of other folklore that so happens to also come in threes yet most people do not know why. It is believed that it is an ancient superstition and originated from the men’s genitalia for some reason. But the theory behind the three cycles brings up the idea that the cycle will end eventually. It just so happens that it will be after the third bad news. In other cultures, things come in fours and fives but many in America have been buried with the idea that everything comes in threes.

 

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Feast of 7 Fishes

Christmas Tradition

 

Primary Language- English

Occupation- USC Student

Residence- Virginia

Date of Performance- 4/15/16

At home, we have an italian tradition that we partake in each year during christmas eve. Everyone in our family has to eat 7 types of seafood in one day. We call it the Feast of 7 Fishes. I have done it almost my entire life and will continue to do it. I have always believed that if we do not eat the 7 types of seafood during christmas eve, it would be bad luck. I do not really know why but I just know that bad things will happen if we don’t do it one year.

Mark is from Virginia and has lived there his entire life. His great grandparents are from Italy but his parents are also from Virginia. His parents and grandparents have also partaken in this long tradition so naturally, he has too. Besides eating the delicious food, he likes it because its something special to his family and he would not do it a year, there would be bad luck and it would not feel right

When you partake in the tradition, it has to be during christmas eve and the entire family or members you are gathered with must be present. The family gives thanks, then feast on seven types of seafoods. The food is typically gathered very recently. If seven foods are not eaten or it is after christmas eve, many also believe it is bad luck.

I think this tradition is very interesting because a lot of cultures have different types of food they like to eat during the same day of the year. In my family, we typically eat tamales and posole for christmas eve, but we make so much that we end up eating them for another two weeks. We have no superstition along with it except that the food is just made during that time of year in excess because it is delicious and perfect for the time and vibe set. The feast that italian americans do during christmas eve is slightly different than the one in Italy. It originated from the celebration of the birth of jesus. The Feast of 7 Fishes is called the Vigil in Italy and was started in Southern Italy. This tradition also comes from not eating any meat before christmas eve which is lent in other traditions.

 

Legends

Flood Myth

Flood Myth- Korea

 

Primary Language- English

Secondary Language- Korean

Occupation- USC Student

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 4/10/16

Sometimes before bed, my mother used to tell me Korean myths. One that she told me was very short yet interesting, it was a flood myth. It was about a man named Namu Toryong who was son of the tree god and managed to survive the world’s biggest flood along with saving another young boy and all the animals of the world. After he saved the animals, he traveled to Mt. Baekdu where he met two girls that survived because the mountain was so tall. Toryong then had to prove to the girl’s guardian that he and the boy were worthy to marry them and have children. Toryong won the competition which meant he and the boy could marry. They were then the ones who restarted and began the next human race.

Jacob Hyun is from Los Angeles, United States but his parents are from South Korea. His mother used to tell him similar stories many times throughout his live. It was folklore he listened to before he slept which caused him to dream about them more. The folklore is also special to him because it reminds him of the time spent with his mother when life was more simple compared to being an adult in college. Myths such as these are losing their popularity in Korea but his memories for the myths will never fade.

Most people often love telling stories that are special to them. This piece of folklore is no exception. Hyun usually leaves the listener with awe when he tells the story because it is so strange yet deeply saturated in Korean culture. It is another myth that can be told anywhere at any place.

I believe this myth is very interesting since it gives an answer to how the human race began. It shows a different side to other myths that explain how the world, universe, or stars became because in this story, the world already existed and it had almost died until Toryong saved the animals and the human race. Before the internet and many other things that challenged culture, many people still believed that myths like these could be possible and often worshipped the people in the stories. Except now the faith is disappearing as people are questioning how the story can even be possible. It goes to show that science and knowledge can undermine folklore even though a lot of medicine used in science is derived from folklore. It can go either way. Despite this fact, it’s amazing to see how Hyun still loves to tell the story even though he himself believes it probably is not true.

 

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Humor
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Ritual

 

Primary Language- Spanish

Occupation- Factory Worker

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 3/19/16

Every Time it is someone’s birthday, you have to sing Haaaappy Birthday to you, Haaaaappy Birthday to you, Haaaaapppy Birthday to Anthony, Happy Birthday to you. Ya queremos pastel! (Translation- We want cake now!) Shortly after you blow the candles, everyone chants, que lo muerda, que lo muerda (Translation- bite the cake) and when they go in for a bite, you grab the back of the person’s head and slam their head into the cake. After that, we start to cut pieces off the cake where the face did not touch and give a slice to everyone. In Honduras, it was the same tradition except we said feliz cumplanos which is just happy birthday but in spanish.

The happy birthday song alway brings a smile on anyone’s face because it is the time of the year where you celebrate the day you were born. Reina loves to go birthday parties and sing happy birthday, especially the recording of when their faces get plastered on the cake. She learned the song when she was in Honduras from her mother who would sing happy birthday to her along with her other relatives and bought a cake to eat as well. The song means a lot to her because in Honduras, they did not have the money to throw any parties but they had enough to buy a cake so to be able to do the same here and much more makes her feel happy and remember the celebrations she had with her mother.

When performing the happy birthday song, you must say it with a group a people while the birthday person sits in front of the birthday cake. While the candles are lit on the cake, before they blow it, you must sing the song, let them blow the candles, and tell them to bite the cake. Even if they do bite the cake, it’s tradition to just smash their face on the cake either way. Then everyone screams from laughter, takes pictures, and eats the cake that does not have any face on it.

I have had a lot of experience from this birthday celebration since my aunt Reina has celebrated almost every birthday with me. Her husband has usually been the one who bought the cake for us. I have also had an enormous amount of cake in my face. My mother also sings the same song and everyone does the same performance at any hispanic birthday party. It even happens for grown people because the tradition will most likely never change. There are a couple alterations such as saying cha cha cha after you say happy birthday in the song, but in our family, we just clap three times instead. One thing that will most likely never change is the fact that the birthday person must get cake on their face somehow. Finding the root for the tradition through history would be difficult, there is also no particular reason for why it happens. It is all in good fun and just keeps the party going. The face smashing also creates memories in which tons of pictures are taken. The singing is also very special because everyone can have a meaningful birthday celebration despite their income with the song and a cake. The photo uploaded is a picture of my last birthday party where my family and friends completely masked my face with cake. There is almost no chance of escaping so sometimes it is best to just take it in and laugh at it later. This long simple tradition will be maintained in my family for generations to come.

 

Legends

Santo Nino de Atoche- Mexican Legend

Legend- Mexico

 

Nationality- Mexico

Primary Language- Spanish

Occupation- Construction Worker

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 3/17/16

Santo Nino de Atoche

When i was a child, my dad was in a Mexican jail and our whole family was devastated. One day, I could not help myself, I had to be by myself and pray that my dad would be okay. I decided to go to a river and just think. I did not know when he was going to come out because my mother did not know either. As time passed, a kid walked by me. He looked younger than me and told me, your dad is going to be fine and is waiting for you home. The kid then walked away and fled to the village. I have never met him or seen him. I rushed back home wishing the kid was right and started to tear up as my father was home. I hugged him and told my mother that a boy told me my dad would be okay. She showed me a picture of a saint that looked just like him. I then realized that a saint had blessed us and guaranteed his safety.  She told me the that the saint’s name was Santo Nino de Atoche.

The person who performed this legend was my uncle. He is from Mexico and had lived in Zacatecas for most of his life until he came to the United States. In his city, there are many legends, myths, and stories people share. This legend came directly from his own personal experience but Santo Nino de Atoche has been around for hundreds of years. Francisco had learned this story from his mother who had told him that Santo Nino de Atoche was a holy saint that was the child of Jesus. My uncle believes that he appears when people need miracles and pray to God. God is the one who hears their prayers and sends the saint to assist them in their time of need. His whole family has portraits and other objects that worship the saint but he never truly believed or submitted his entire faith until he saw him when his dad was in jail. Seeing him there made him believe that he was real and that if he ever needed his help again, all he would have to do was pray and a miracle would be possible.

When Francisco told me this story, you can easily determine that his feelings for the saint are strong. We were at the dining table eating some traditional Mexican pastelitos. He told me the story with a smile on his face and excitement of reliving one his beloved childhood memories. He even had a glass case which held the saint. He has owned it ever since he left Mexico and everywhere he has gone in the United States. His faith in the saint is undeniably real and immense. The passion he shows when telling the stories lingers on the listener and makes them feel that maybe what he is saying is totally real.

The legend of Santo Nino de Atoche is very interesting and highlights the fact that a lot of the Mexican people love miracles and works of jesus. Their faith to the saints is tremendous and they use this hope to keep moving and pushing forward. A lot of the Mexican people use this hope to get out of the country to have a better life like in California. The hope received by saints such as Santo Nino de Atoche propels them to take the risks believing he will protect them and make sure they make it. The story of the Nino de Atoche had originated in Spain during the 15th century and has traveled all the way to Mexico. Many of the people do not know its origin but they do know that the Saint had helped religiously devoted men escape prison when imprisoned for the wrong reasons. They have taken this story and embedded it into their culture and have their children believing it is a strong Mexican only belief. Francisco has passed on his story and belief to his son which also shares the belief that Santo Nino de Atoche can grant miracles and when in times of needs, he only has to pray for his help and all will be okay. When a faith withheld changes into a personal experience, the belief becomes stronger and can survive multiple generations.

Folk medicine
general
Humor
Proverbs

Sana Sana, colita de rana

Proverb

 

Nationality- Mexico

Primary Language- Spanish

Occupation- Construction Worker

Residence- Los Angeles, CA

Date of Performance- 3/17/16

 

Sana sana, colita de rana, si no sana hoy, sanera manana.

Translation- There there, ass of a frog, if it does not feel better today, it will tomorrow

This proverb was told by Francisco Garcia, he has heard it from hundreds of people in his city Zacatecas, Mexico. He typically heard it when he was a child and injured himself. A lot of times, they could not afford medicine or any treatment so his parents would just chant the proverb and he would believe he would feel better and stop crying. He knows that a lot of people from different cultures use the same proverb in order to let their child know that the pain and injury is not permanent because it will heal and feel better the next day. He first heard it when he was about 4 or 5 years old and has told it to other children as well as his own. If he ever comes in contact with a child that has  hurt himself, many times all it takes is saying the proverb and the child will cease to cry or feel hurt.

When Francisco had said the proverb, he says it with a smile on his face to let the listener who that he is smiling because he knows everything will be okay. You usually have to rub the spot that is in pain or their head and maybe say it multiple times if it really hurts until they stop sobbing or focusing on the pain.

Francisco is from Mexico and has heard it many times where he is from. I have heard it hundreds of times as well as a child when I would injure myself. My mother, auntie or any other close relative would chant the proverb to me and I felt that I was going to be okay despite the pain. My mother and auntie are from Honduras and they have heard it when they were children as well. The proverb has almost been to every Latin American Country and has spread to the United States. That is amazing since it is just one sentence that has been able to travel so far and serve as a placebo for many children. The chant has not changed much either since it is very simple and difficult to alter.

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