Author Archive
general
Narrative

Story of Krampus

Luis is a 23 year old business major at USC. He grew up his entire life in Berlin, Germany and decided to come to the US for school. When he first came to USC, it was only his 4th time in the US. He tells the story of Krampus from when he was a kid and says he still gets nightmares from the image of it.

So like, what they do in Germany, December 6 is saint Nicholas right? instead of saint Nicholas, little gifts are still given kids but he has a partner in crime, his name is Krampus, and he punishes the naughty kids, and he has a big bag and broom, and if you’re naughty he hits you with the broom and puts you in the bag and carries you away. I always got the Krampus every year at the town festival and I hated it, I still have nightmares, he would always hit me with a broom as my parents watched and cheered because I was naughty”

I think his condensed version of Krampus is one that gives the whole gist of it from the sense of an average person growing up around the time. I especially like this because I never had experience with anyone named Krampus, I just had Santa Clause give me gifts, so this idea of Krampus is entirely new to me.

Humor

Texas Joke

Graham is a 21 year old music student at USC. Graham grew up in the South, specifically, Texas. Graham said that all throughout his schooling, many of the jokes he heard were racist jokes, specifically relating to African Americans. One joke in specific that he heard goes as follows

“A kid asks his grandfather‘hey why did you tip him so much’ grandfather says’ what do you mean grandson’ grandson says’ you tipped him 100 bucks grandfather, that’s a lot of money’ and he goes’ well you see jimmy, black folk, they gon’ need a lot more than 100 dollars”

Graham said he learned this joke from his schools, from other people saying it. I think this speaks to the idea that racism is still very prevalent within the US. Many people label the South especially to be “racist” because of their ties to Confederacy. Graham said he doesn’t repeat the joke, he just remembers hearing it when he was younger and that many people thought jokes like these were funny.

Game

Russian wood construction game

Alexander is a 20 year old student at USC. He is currently a freshman, and is old for his grade because he spent an extra year in Russia, where he grew up his entire life. He said life there was very different and while he is good at English, he still struggles slightly as he is very new to the country. When I asked him about any games that him and his friends would play he said:

“There is a game where you put several pieces of wood 30 feet away from you, and make small structure, another big wooden stick you have, and you are 30 feet away and you try to throw the stick so the wood construction breaks”

Alexander said he spent a lot of time outdoors with his friends, and that this was one of the most popular games he played. He described this game as a “Soviet” game and said that many people played it in their free time. He said he learned it from older boys whom he saw playing it. To me it sounds like a game that any child would just pick up and play naturally, but it sounds like more of a known game there, as he labeled it “Soviet” and said it was very popular.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Russian Fever medicine

Alexander is a 20 year old student at USC. He is currently a freshman, and is old for his grade because he spent an extra year in Russia, where he grew up his entire life. He said life there was very different and while he is good at English, he still struggles slightly as he is very new to the country. I asked him about any specific types of folk medicine that they used and this is his reply:

When people have fever or sore throat, they rub vodka on their chest and back, and eat garlic to prevent fevers.”

Alexander said this was a very normal thing to do, and that it actually helped him whenever he got sick. He said that it is a very normal thing for everyone to do. I have never heard of this method of folk medicine and so I was surprised when he told me. There is also a Russian stereotype in the US that all Russians use vodka for everything, so I think that this example is humorous, but fascinating nonetheless.

Foodways
Material

Brazilian Brigadeiro dessert

Ricardo is a 20 year old student at USC. Before USC, he lived in San Paolo, Brazil his entire life. He grew up with little to no American influence. One thing he spoke of that was very different was the food in Brazil. He spoke of his favorite dessert:

“Brigadeiro, it’s like a chocolate sweet with cream of milk and butter and sprinkles, my mom used to make them for me when I got good grades”

Ricardo said these were very special for him as he did not get these very often. He said his mom would specially make them for him as he said when he got good grades. She said she would also make them and bring them to big parties where families gathered. I think this dessert looks very good and I would definitely love to try it. I have never even heard of it.

brigadeiromordido

Musical

Brazilian Toad Song

Ricardo is a 20 year old student at USC. Before USC, he lived in San Paolo, Brazil his entire life. He grew up with little to no American influence. One thing he spoke of were songs that he learned when he was very young from his parents. One song in particular, the toad song goes as follows:

“O sapo não limpa os pés dele, ele não limpa os pés dele porque ele não quer limpar seus pés, ele vive para baixo no lago, ele não limpa os pés dele porque ele não quer limpar seus pés”

In English this means:

“The toad does not clean his feet, he does not clean his feet because he does not want to clean his feet, he lives down on the lake, he does not clean his feet because he does not want to clean his feet”

Ricardo said he loved these lyrics and used to sing this song all the time when he was younger. He said he learned this song when he would go play outside as a kid and would refuse to take a shower, that is when his mom taught it to him. He said many of his friends knew it and they would sing it in school too. I personally think the lyrics are very weird, as there really isn’t a message to it either. It repeats one line for half of the entire song.

Folk speech

Northern vs Southern California “Hella” word

Will is a 20 year old kid from Carmel, California, which is in Northern California. He was born and raised in the same spot and never really travelled. He said that California being such a large state, there was quite the rivalry between Northern and Southern California. He even said there were some terms that only Northern California said. The specific term he talked about was a form of slang, the term is:

“Hella”

Will described that only Northern California’s use this term in sentences, and if one was to use it in Southern California it was “social suicide.” I asked him to use it in a sentence and he said “Oh, um, your shirt is hella red.” He said it is just used as a term to intensify something. I find it fascinating that there is a slang term that is allowed and used frequently in Northern California, but banned in Southern California. I just assumed it was a common slang term that everyone knew, being that I used it when I lived in Washington, so I find this California rivalry fascinating.

Foodways
general
Material

Canadian middle school food ritual

Tim Marino is a 20 year old engineering student at USC. He was born in Calgary, Alberta and had lived there his entire life. Tim grew up a victim of Canadian stereotypes, playing hockey and eating maple syrup. The maple syrup part was actually a big part of his life and his daily eating habits, as he said the maple syrup in Canada was plentiful.

“In middle school people would come out with trays of ice and would put maple syrup in it and put a stick in it, and would freeze them to make maple syrup popsicles.”

Tim said that this was a very popular thing to do in middle school, and that each new generation of kids would learn it from the older years in middle school and would do it themselves, and it became a very popular lunchtime snack. I find this interesting as for one it reinforces the maple syrup stereotype of Canada, and for two it is not something I have seen performed in the US.

Folk Beliefs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Hockey pregame ritual

Tim Marino is a 20 year old engineering student at USC. He was born in Calgary, Alberta and had lived there his entire life. Tim grew up a victim of Canadian stereotypes, playing hockey and eating maple syrup. Because he played hockey, I asked Tim if him or his team had any rituals they would do before games. Tim said:

“I played the position of goalie and I would tap the crossbar 3 times before the game started”

Tim said he did not know why he did this, simply that he felt it gave him better luck and that he could save more goals if he tapped the cross bar 3 times before every game. Whatever had worked for him in the past he stuck too. I think this also brings up the number 3 in a universal context. We talked a lot about how many things come in 3’s, and I find it fascinating that he tapped the goal post specifically 3 times and it was thought to bring him good luck.

 

Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Hockey pregame song

Tim Marino is a 20 year old engineering student at USC. He was born in Calgary, Alberta and had lived there his entire life. Tim grew up a victim of Canadian stereotypes, playing hockey and eating maple syrup. Because he played hockey, I asked Tim if him or his team had any rituals they would do before games. Tim said before every game they would sing the same song, and it goes as follows:

“There was a dirty bird (repeat), that had a dirty bill (repeat), that sat upon (repeat), my window sill (repeat), so I lured him in (repeat), with a piece of bread (repeat), SO I COULD SMASH (repeat), HIS FUCKING HEAD (repeat)”

Tim said they would sing this repeat after me song before every game as it would get him excited and get his blood boiling. Because it was an aggressive song, and because his entire team would get very into it, he said it would help them have more energy when they entered the game. I personally think the lyrics don’t matter as much as the team environment, with everyone chanting one thing in unison and yelling it as loud as they can. I just wonder why they chose these lyrics to sing.

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