Author Archive
general
Holidays

Give Me the Red Bag

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is CH.

This final superstition was given as an offhand remembrance that the student did not expect to tell me.

CH: Ok so on Chinese New Years, traditionally younger people like kids say this one saying to their parents or elders. Its gong xi fa cai/ hong bao na lai. And what that means roughly translated is “I wish you good luck and good fortune, now hand me the red bag” and the red bag has money in it. And it can be upwards of hundreds of dollars depending on how old the kid is.

Analysis: This once again shows the importance of red within the Chinese culture. Not only does it help protect them from evil doings, but it can also bring them fortune and wealth. However, it should be noted that they must pay their respects to their elders before receiving their gift, thus showing the importance of their family on their lives. It is also interesting that the older you get the more money you receive. It could possibly be to show the maturity of the person rewards them with more fortune.

Customs
general
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Signs

A Lucky Welcome

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is CH.

QB: Are there any everyday superstitions that your family follows?

CH: Ok…so, you see this a lot on Chinese New Year but it can be done everyday. But many people hang a…um…a red piece of paper diagonal that has the Chinese word “fu” that means fortune or good luck. But the word is usually hung upside down because the Chinese words upside sounds very similar to the Chinese word “arrive”. So if you hang it upside down it is similar to saying “good luck” or “good fortune arrives”. And those hang on doorways all the time.

Analysis: It is interesting that the student noted that the superstition can take place on either Chinese New Year or everyday. It is understood that just because a person decides to do this everyday, they are not considered more “superstitious” than another person. In fact it is very welcomed within the country.

general
Holidays

Out with the Old

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is VS.

It should be noted that this is a continuation of a prior interview.

VS: If you want to travel then you take an empty suitcase that you carry around the house or the block. And then we take 12 coins and throw them out of the house to get rid of debt or old stuff.

Analysis: These are quite literal things for the family to do on New Years. Following the idea of “out with the old and in with the new”, the student and their family seem to literally remove old belongings from their home in hopes that a new fortune can help them in the upcoming year.

general
Holidays

New Year, New Underwear

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is VS.

QB: That is great! Are there any special traditions you and your family do?

VS: For New Years you have to wear new underwear. There’s yellow, red, green, and white but they all have to be new. Yellow is for luck, Green is for money, Red is for love, and white is for health or fertility. You can just choose one color or wear one with all types of colors.

Analysis: Again we see that the underwear is a major factor with the New Year. While the colors stand for the common universal symbolism, it is interesting to note that the underwear MUST be new. One may assume that it is to bring in the new luck and fortune along with the year.

Folk medicine
general
Protection
Signs

Protection Against the Evil Eye

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is VS.

QB: Do you have any stories or superstitions that stick out to you at the moment?

VS: Well we do…like…if um…so for babies we put a little red bracelet to ward off the evil eye. But for adults if you have the evil eye…some symptoms are like fever. But its usually in kids because if someone stares at your kid long enough you get it. And the process to get rid of it for adults and kids is like an elder rubbing an egg all over your body to absorb the negative energy. Then they crack the egg in the water and if it floats then it means you had the evil eye but if it mixes you never had it.

Analysis: The most interesting fact is that the evil eye is mainly focused on children. While the student said it was possible for the adults to get it as well, the main focus for warding off the evil eye is with infants. Also it is interesting how to “test” if one has the evil eye. One may assume, however, that no matter what the egg does you are gratefully rid of the curse.

Folk Beliefs
general
Holidays
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Signs

Zodiac Superstition

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is CH.

 

QB: Are there any other superstitions you can tell me?

 

CH: For your Zodiac year…If its your Zodiac year it is thought you are more prone to dangers and misfortune…so…you have to wear red to ward away evils or evil things. A lot of people wear red bracelets or necklaces, but my family and I wear red underwear. It has to be, like, the duration is a whole year starting on Chinese New Year. Or it has to just have red on it?

 

QB: So you wear it for a whole year?

 

CH: Mhmmm…but its only every 12 years so its not that bad.

 

Analysis: The seems to be a little different from other traditions. While it follows the universal meaning of wearing red for protection, it is interesting that it only pertains to the students underwear. They seemed a little uncomfortable speaking about this certain ritual, but confirmed that each year they never failed to follow the rules.

general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Chinese New Year Fish Tradition

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interviewee is CH.

 

QB: So what was this superstition you were talking about?

 

CH: Um…its really simple actually. On Chinese New Years, we eat a whole steamed fish, including the head to symbolize the circle of life…I think it’s the circle of life.

 

Analysis: There are many rituals and superstitions for the Chinese New Year, many of which may seem bizarre to Americans. However, this one the student seemed eager to share and proud that the family utilized all of the fish on the evening. Even though it was to support the circle of life, the student seemed more impressed that they used all of the fish rather than the meaning.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Magic
Protection

Black Cat

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is JT.

 

QB: Any other superstitions your family follows?

 

JT: Yeah, it is super cheesy but the whole black cat crossing the road is pretty big with us too. One time I remember my mom and I literally went…like…15 minutes out of the way just because of one stupid cat. While I’m at school I don’t follow it, but whenever I am home it certainly happens.

 

Analysis: Even though the student doesn’t seem to take it seriously, it is interesting to note that the student still participates in the superstition with their family. They do admit to not doing it while out here at school, but the belief is so strong at home they continue the tradition.

Tales /märchen

Korean Cinderella

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is SH.

QB: Alright! Do you have anymore that you can remember?

SH: Yeah, there’s like a Korean Cinderella and its called “kunji patel” and its about these two girls and its exactly what you think when you think of Cinderella. The mother passes away and Kunji’s mom dies and she goes to the river to talk to her mom often. But her dad marries this horrible step mother and her step sister. And her step sister is just horrible to her and um Kunji is obviously very sweet. And she will go to the river to cry to her mom, and her mom gives her strength. And then she ends up going back to heaven with her mom.

Analysis: While it shares many traits with the popular Disney Cinderella, it takes a different route at the end. There are obvious symbolic messages as Kunji goes to the river, but the story also seems to show the importance of a girl and her mother’s relationship as the ending might suggest it was better for her to go than to stay.

Tales /märchen

Tigers and Crying Babies

The interview will be depicted by initials. The Interviewer is QB and the interview is SH.

QB: Do you know of any folklore that your family told you?

SH: Yes I do!

QB: Alright what is that?

SH: There was this story that my mom used to tell me all the time that, um, about a tiger who is looking for this boy. The tiger, like, goes through and finds this boy, and the story is about is about this tiger hearing this boy cry. So the tiger goes to the house to check on the boy and the thing that shuts him up is his mom saying, “If you keep crying then the tiger will come after you.” And then she feeds him sweet rice cakes and then he doesn’t cry anymore. But I don’t remember the entire story right now. But its actually really good.

Analysis: Even though the student did not remember the entire story, it is evident that the story still had a deep impact on them. The student mentioned that the story was told many years ago to them as a young child and the story was still very enjoyable by them. However, it is difficult to decipher the moral of the story or what it was for. Perhaps it was for the particular rice cakes the mother was feeding the child or a lesson of being a good child so that tigers would not find you and you would be rewarded with sweet rice cakes.

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