Author Archive
Folk speech

Hajj

Can be referred to in different ways: one for the pilgrimage made to mecca; and the second is someone that has gone to Mecca. When someone’s has finished the pilgrimage to Mecca they would know be called Hajj- and then whatever their first name was. It is kind of like a PHD for those that complete going to back to Bali. In order to go on the pilgrimage one must be cleanse and have no debts.

My informant is from a Lebanese family. She is a college student at the California State University Northridge. She is very close with her father, often helping him run the family store. We sat down at a coffee shop to talk about folklore from her family.

The interesting part of this piece is the similarity in how those that have completed the pilgrimage are seen in a very positive and elevated status. Mecca plays such a huge role in the culture that it has its own merits when visited.

Folk Beliefs
Myths

Jinn

My informant talked about the world of jinn. In Arab culture, but mostly from Islam there is mention of the jinn. They are kind of like ghosts that live in their own world. They are not necessarily bad. My informant described the jinn as just a spiritual being that existed in another world next to ours.

 

What I found interesting about this being is the definition my friend gave on what a jinn is. It was not what I had heard before. I had heard jinns being synonymous with genies. It was also interesting to see that these superstitions can be found within the pages of the Quran. (For another version of this spiritual being see “jinn de” in the USC Folklore Archives)

Humor

Jar of Butter

This is a joke told by my friends dad:

Uh… There is this guy, lets say his name was Ali Babah. So he …uhhh… he was planning, he has this … he had a cow or whatever you know. He was, he was trying to…. I mean, he had accumulated one jar of butter. He took him like maybe, one or two years to accumulate to make you know this big jar of butter. And he was hang it behind it. He was sitting down and ….. and he was planning out his life, you know his future. So he said “you know what, now is time since I have this big jar of butter I’m going plan on marriage now, you know. (Laughs) You know what I’m saying! So …. He was trying to like sort, you know, the wife and the kids he’s gonna have. He planning “ I’m gonna get a nice wife, pretty wife that she understands me. I understand her. And we gonna plan and having you know some kids. The first kids, if it’s a boy I’m gonna teach him very well, send him to school. And make him obedient to me. And if he listens to me, and if he’s going to be obedient I say ok. And if he isn’t” … He was carrying a stick and “im going to beat the shit out of him,!” he broke the jar of butter and it fell and everything fell… hahaha!

Humor
Proverbs

Salvadoran Proverb for Women

“Las muchachas anda tan caliente, que cuando se orinen haste el sacate agarra fuego.”

Translation: Young girls are so hot (horny), then when they pee even the grass catches fire

This proverb was told to my informant by his wife. It represents the stigma that comes with women having free sexuality. it is usually told to daughters as a warning.

 

My informant is a building engineer. He migrated to the United States form El Salvador when he was 16 years old. He grew up in a city in El Salvador. Lots of the folklore he has heard has come from his family.

What is interesting is that this proverb really attack female sexuality. There is this idea in Salvadoran and most Hispanic culture that there are only two women; saints (women that are pure and do not have sexual urges) and whores (women that give into their sexual urges).

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Protection
Signs

Blue Eyes = Evil Eyes

“People with blue eyes can give you evil eye.”

My informant heard this from her father. People with colored eyes have the power to do harm to you, even subconsciously. She laughs at this statement because her brothers have colored eyes. My informant is from a Lebanese family.

She is a college student at the California State University Northridge. She is very close with her father, often helping him run the family store. We sat down at a coffee shop to talk about folklore form her family.

What was interesting of this piece was that it sounded familiar to a belief form my culture. In Salvadoran culture we believe that people eyes and eyesight can cause “mal ojo” or evil eye. It reminds me of the notion of how the eyes are the windows of the souls. It would make sense that they would also be the seat of our energy.

Childhood
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Lizard Burial

My informant as a little boy would perform a ritual. The children of the village used to capture and kill a lizard. Then they would  perform a death ceremony. There was about 20 kids involved. They would bury the lizard and start praying.

“Ya hardon eska werka, mertak amya mabti’shd”, which translates to :

All you lizard, please portray good, because your wife is blind and cannot see at times.

They would have sticks and be beating it against the ground while saying the chant. Afterwards they would go home.There was nothing else to do so they created their own rituals.

My informant is an immigrant from Lebanon. He lived in a small town called Yaroun. Hid family was very poor and lived in a rural area. We shared the folklore over some food in his house.

The interesting part of this piece is the creativity children have. They created there own ritual in to keep from boredom. my informant at first did not want to tell this piece of folklore out of embarrassment but eventually gave in.

Proverbs

Lebanese Proverb

“Live for today, as if you’re going to live forever. Live for the year after, as if you’re going to die tomorrow morning.”

My informant is from a Lebanese family. She is a college student at the California State University Northridge. She is very close with her father, often helping him run the family store. We sat down at a coffee shop to talk about folklore from her family.

My informant explains that you have to live your life to the fullest. Don’t think of the year after. But when the times come, you must remember the year before. You have to live life to the fullest, while also preparing for the future. She heard this saying from her father.

When first listening to this proverb, it too me some time to understand what it was hinting at. I had to spend some time repeating it to myself to understand its meaning. This is an interesting take on living your life to the fullest. It kind of sound like it is cautioning people to live life to the fullest but at the same time make it meaningful.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Kitab – ekteb (Wedding Ritual)

Kitab- ekteb translates into “to write the book.” It is the agreement in the marriage. It happens in someones house, making it very home-oriented. It is when the Islamic priest, Sheik, comes. The family of the man needs to go to the family of  the woman and ask for permission from her father. They ceremony happens either  before the wedding ceremony or the day off. The groom and bride read from the Quran. This is to state that “this is the marriage.” After the ritual they are married under Islam.  Before the kitab-ekteb the groom is not allowed to touch the bride.

My informant is from a Lebanese family. She is a college student at the California State University Northridge. She is very close with her father, often helping him run the family store. We sat down at a coffee shop to talk about folklore from her family.

I found this interesting because it was different yet similar to the American wedding. The idea that a couple can be wed before the huge wedding ceremony is very interesting. It also hints that sometimes the wedding party is just to show off wealth. I also found it interesting that the ceremony took place in an intimate setting. It really showed how humble and sacred the marriage agreement is.

Magic

Born with a Spirit

My informant is the Lebanese father of my best friend. He grew up in the town of Yaroun, Lebanon before migrating to America. This story is a true story of an encounter his sister had in Lebanon.

My sister got married, and every time she delivered a baby they used to sometimes live one week, one month, one of them lived one year one time. And then they get sick, they get really sick. It was like a weird situation. the doctor checks on them and their face turned blue. They’re like suffocating. Like something is suffocating them. It is a true story, my sister. And they used to die. And when they used to take the kid to the hospital. The doctors were amazed. The doctor was one of the best doctors, got so like shocked that he couldn’t, that he didn’t know how diagnose them. He didn’t know what was wrong with them! And the end we found out that it was some bad spirit that was born with my sister. That she choked them to death. And so we didn’t know. There was one year where she had a boy like one year old and she delivered another boy and both of them died in the same week. I was like probably seven eight years old. At that age you remember. We were so sad. The oldest sister was very aware. Because the doctor said its not something medical. So automatically she knew it was something spiritual. So my sister what she did, even though she didn’t have a lot of money, she found money and went, she traveled all the way, we are next to Syrian and Iraq,. She went and she was looking and looking and traveled all through the Middle East. But at the end someone mentioned a lady. She lived closed to us, in the city called Teir.   So my sister wen to there and the lady opened. She gathers the evil spirits … she has the way to gather them. She gathers them and talks to them and after asking my sister what her name and the mother name. Once she knew what her name and the mother name they could locate, they know who she is. They told her exactly that she was born with a bad spirit that kills children, we call it erini, it’s like a partner. This women I don’t what she did, but she wrote part of the Koran to ward of the spirit.

I gathered this piece from my informant in his house while he served me food.

The interesting part of this folklore, is that every so often he would emphasize that this was a true story. It always interesting to hear a person’s personal story with the supernatural. It was also interesting to see that the idea of a supernatural force at work only came after other more “legit” means were exhausted.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Magic
Protection

Aya

Translates to “sentence”

It is a sentence to ward of evil found in the Quran. By combining certain sentences other, it can accomplish something, like spells. These sentences can be used for good or evil.

My informant is an immigrant from Lebanon. He lived in a small town called Yarun. Hid family was very poor and lived in a rural area. He had many brothers and sisters.

He states that a lady used ayas in order to help his sister get rid of an evil spirit that was born with her. Because the lady used these ayas to help his sister, this is why my informant believes in magic and in bad spirits.

I gathered this piece from my informant in his house while he served me food.

This piece was interesting because I had never heard about how the Quran could be used for magic. It also goes hand-in-hand with the belief that words have powers. This kind of reminded me of how certain religious pieces are used for different purposes.

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