Author Archive
Folk Beliefs
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Magic
Protection

Red Ribbons on Fruit Trees

“My parents used to tie red ribbons on the fruit trees during an eclipse… it was I don’t know…  so that the trees wouldn’t die, supposedly like lunar events like would or an eclipse and stuff would mess with the harvest of that.”

My informant learned this practice from his parents who were practitioners of this themselves. We were discussing the color red and what it had to do with lunar eclipses. There seems to be a connection with lunar eclipses, pregnancy, and fruit. I believe that  fruit may symbolize a women’s fertility and that is why the red ribbon somehow protects the fruit from dying, just as the color red may protect an unborn baby from dying.

Folk Beliefs
Humor
Magic
Protection

Cheers

“When You cheers you have to make eye contact or you’ll have bad sex for seven years.”

My informant does not remember where she heard this superstition, but he does however practice this whenever he gives someone a “cheers” with a drink. She told me this superstition at a very casual party/dinner setting. This piece of folklore is humorous  and was probably told to make people look you in the eye for a “cheers” as a sign of respect. I do not think this superstition is true.

Proverbs

Two by Two

“My Grandmother always used to say, the things you do two by two will come back to you one by one”

This proverb was told to me by a friend of a relative of mine at a party. My informant learned this saying from her grandmother. My informant does not know the meaning of this proverb. I think this saying means that the things or decisions we make influenced by our friends and peers may come back to haunt us in the end. This saying reminds me of the Hindu concept of Karma and the saying,” What goes around, Comes back around.”

Gestation, birth, and infancy
Magic
Protection

Lunar Eclipse and a Red Towel

“During a lunar Eclipse, You’re supposed to put a red towel on your belly to protect the baby”

My informant learned this piece of folklore from his parents who were practitioners of this. My informant himself never tried it on his child and never knew why his parents did it. He shared this with me when the topic of pregnancy superstitions came up. This piece of folklore was very interesting to me and made sense because of all the connections that a lunar eclipse has to women, pregnancy and fertility that we learned in class. I also thought it was weird that the superstition says particularly a red towel. This reminded me of Vaz de Silva’s argument that the color red usually symbolizes women and fertility in folklore.

Folk Beliefs
Protection

UCLA Steps

There’s a big set of steps on campus, these stairs they’re called Jan’s steps and the myth or the legend is that you can’t step on the fourth step from the bottom and that every time you step on that step you’ll be in college for one more year.

My informant learned this piece of folklore through a sorority at the University of California Los Angeles. She told me this along with other superstitions and traditions about college while we and some friends were discussing it. She did not actively participate in this practice, it was just one superstition that she heard.

general

The LMU Fountain

I guess when it’s your birthday, you get dunked into the fountain, naked.

My informant learned this tradition from going to orientation at Loyola Marymount University. My informant has never experienced this tradition first hand and heard about it from other college students. This piece of folklore terrifying for me, as I learned it at an orientation myself. This made me not want to go to LMU and had a negative affect on me.

Folk Beliefs
general
Humor

Even Numbers

Umm.. I have a weird thing about even numbers because my birthday, my full birthday is completely odd numbers so I think… I think that’s why it has every single odd number possible and so I don’t like when the volume on my car is on an even number or I’ll add numbers if something’s like 34 I’ll add it to make it 7. I just can’t… I can’t… I don’t know…there’s something about even numbers that I’m not very comfortable with and also like both my parents’ birthdays are all odd numbers so it’s just not… I don’t do even numbers. They’re like too round, too even, too perfect, like I don’t like that you can divide them by 2. That’s weird.

I quite enjoyed this piece of folklore because I thought I was the only one that did this. This folklore connected us in that way. I too do not like even numbers because of my birthday (7/21). My informant practices this folk belief regularly and it  seemed to be quite important to her.

general
Humor

The UCLA toilet

Okay so it’s outside the psychology department, there’s a fountain but it’s a reverse fountain so instead of the water shooting up, the water drains down so it like spins and it goes down. If you stand in a certain area it’s right behind a tall building that has a bridge so if you look at it and the hole that goes down towards the back and so once it was built people realized that it looks like a toilet flushing.And they said that they found out the designer was a trojan.

My informant learned this piece of folklore through a sorority at UCLA. She experienced looking at this fountain and saw that it ended looked like a toilet. She told me this as we were discussing college traditions and rivalries. I found this piece of information funny. As a student at UCLA’s rival school it was nice to know that this rivalry goes way back and that the legacy of both schools live on. We also got to share a bond, even though we are from rival schools.

Proverbs
Tales /märchen

The Young Man with the Small House

Shir Attias: So there’s this young man and he has a family and he has four kids and they live in this tiny little hut, err like a house, it’s like a small house and the man has all these kids in this very small house and he’s crowded and unhappy that he lives in such a small house so he goes to the old wise man and he tells him like pray to God for me, I need your prayers so that God will give me a bigger house and the wise man says, “Okay but do this first” and he says, “ take two goats and put them in your house” and the wise, err the young man thinks he’s like batshit crazy but he’s like “okay” and he like takes the two goats and puts them in his house so then a week passes, the house didn’t get any bigger. He goes back to the wise man, he’s like “It’s not getting any bigger and now there’s goat shit everywhere” he’s like “okay now take five rabbits put them in the house” so he goes back and he puts the five rabbits in his house and nothing changes and it’s only getting more crowded and there’s all these bunnies running around, the kids are so excited with the bunnies, and na na na, and he goes back to the wise man and this continues and the wise man tells him to put three cows in his house and he puts the cows in his house and then he tells him to put, to bring in more kids and host a party for everyone and he keeps telling him to bring more and more and more into the house and eventually one day the young man goes to the old wise man and he’s like “MY HOUSE IS SO SMALL! WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOUR PRAYERS AREN’T WORKING?!” and he says, “Okay alright now take everything I told you to put in your house and take it all out. So he goes back and he takes out the goats and the rabbits and the cows and everything and then he looks and he goes “OH MY GOODNESS, MY HOUSE IS SO BIG!” and he goes to the wise man and he’s like “OH IT’S SUCH A BIG HOUSE, what have you done, it’s a miracle you have performed, your prayers have worked!” And the young man is happy with all his children and that’s the end of the story.

Shir learned this story from her grandfather, who used to tell this tale to her when she was little and would complain about having a small bedroom. Shir’s grandfather is from Israel which is where her grandfather likely learned the story in the first place. The purpose of the tale was to make the listener feel grateful for what they had no matter how small their living space was. Shir performed this story in our room while she and  a friend were sharing some Jewish folk tales with me. I thought this peace was interesting. It was very simple and easy to understand. I felt like the animals in the story could have been replaced with anything that took up space in the house, and the message still would have come across.

Childhood
Game

McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys

So we used to play with McDonald’s toys…HAMBURGLAR FOR YOUR LUIGI! And we used to like categorize them like, animals and… everyone got their own group and we would trade them. It was like picking teams for kickball but with like 70 fucking Mcdonald’s toys.

My informant used to play this childhood game with the toys she would get from the McDonald’s happy meals. She and her cousins would categorize them and trade them similar to pokemon cars, beanie babies etc. This game seemed to be quite important to my informant, talking about this particular game seemed to remind her of her childhood and the fond memories she had back then. I enjoyed listening and participating in this folk game.

[geolocation]