Author Archive
Legends
Narrative

Haunted Photo Development

Informant Info: The informant is a 26-year-old female who was born in raised in Hickory, North Carolina. For the past 3 years, she has lived in Orlando, Florida and has worked for Walt Disney World as a Status Coordinator.

 

Interview Transcript:

 

Interviewer: Have you ever had anything strange happen to you, like stuff you can’t really explain?

 

Interviewee: We actually did have a “ghost” in the dark room in photography class in high school. they called it the boohag! (Laughter) Anytime something would go wrong with a print in the wash stage of developing, they blamed it on the ghost — Because you literally just let your print sit in the water and nothing should ever happen to it in that stage.

 

Interviewer: Do you have any idea where the story of the boohag comes from? Is there any background to it?

 

Interviewee: Mrs. Gow, the photography teacher, started it to scare students into not taking her class for an easy elective. She only wanted students that were dedicated to photography and art.

 

Interviewer: So it was completely made up? Or did you ever have any experiences with it personally?

 

Interviewee: Well, it happened to me and a friend in the smaller darkroom one time when we were by ourselves and we purposely ruined our prints by opening the door before they were done because there were these creepy knocks on the wall going back and forth and then there was a dragging noise from one wall to the next and it was literally the most terrifying thing. We opened the door into an intro to art class of all freshman with the most horrified looks on our faces and no one knew what was going on. To this day, I think the boohag was actually a real ghost.

 

Analysis:

This story has all the motifs that a typical ghost usually contains. The story is set in a darkroom, which is a room with no light and is usually quiet and isolated. It can be argued that the dark room is a liminal space. I find it interesting that she mentions the teacher completely made up the ghost, but then that she later had an experience of “creepy knocks” and “dragging.” Since the ghost is made up, it could just be old pipes or a rodent in the walls that scared her… or maybe there really is a ghost! It is also worth noting that there are other stories of a “boohag” ghost, such as the one documented here: http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/05/boo_hag.html, but the stories are radically different and likely don’t share any connection other than the name.

 

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Game
Magic

Soccer Streaks

Informant Info: The informant is a 26-year-old female who was born in raised in Hickory, North Carolina. For the past 3 years, she has lived in Orlando, Florida and has worked for Walt Disney World as a Status Coordinator. For the pas

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: I know you played soccer pretty much all of your life until you graduated college. Did you ever have any fun traditions associated with it?

 

Interviewee: For soccer in high school, we always gave everyone the option to dye a strip of red in the back of their hair (red was one of our school colors) right when the season started. It was like a team bonding thing we did, and it helped bring us closer together as a team (even though it was kinda dumb) because it was just something we all experienced together

 

Interviewer: Did you start the tradition, or was it already existing? Do you know if it still starts today?

 

Interviewee: Yeah, we started the tradition in my sophomore year, which was 2007. I’m pretty sure the team still does it, but I’m not fully certain. Either way, I think it was a good way to bring us together, show school spirit, and to intimidate the other team.

 

Analysis:

The informant became an active-bearer by starting this tradition among the team. I wouldn’t classify this as a superstition of luck, but rather a tradition to, as the informant said it best, “bring the team closer together.” If you can get along and be close with everyone on the team, then the team is more likely to succeed by sharing improved communication while on and off the field.

 

 

general

Family Roadtrips

Informant Info: The informant is a 20-year-old female who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother is Caucasian, and her father is Hispanic. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and works for Walt Disney World.

 

Interview Transcript:
Interviewer: Can you tell me about your favorite past time?

 

Interviewee: I think my favorite past time would have to be being in the car. Not sitting in traffic, but with people I love going on a spontaneous adventure.

 

Interviewer: Really? Where did this come from. Like why do you love driving or what are your favorite memories from it?

 

Interviewee: One of my most cherished memories was the road trip my brother, best friend, and I took from San Antonio all the way to Fayetteville, North Carolina. It’s a 22-hour trip and I drove for 18 of them. We stopped in so many places along the way. Our first stop was in Houston to get coffee. I ended up drinking a total of 8 shots in a matter of minutes and I do not recommend that…but I was awake for the rest of the trip! Then we were in Louisiana when the sky decided to break and rain harder than I ever thought possible. Next thing you know my driver side windshield wiper flew off and straight into the bayou… Like…Great. We pull over as soon as we can and I switch from the passenger side to the driver side. We ended up in Gross Teet, Louisiana and the name to this day still makes me laugh. We got new ones and went on our way. Next stop was New Orleans, and boy! It did not disappoint. Beignets by the dozen and fortunes from the voodoo man were in store. After living my Tiana dreams we were on the road again. Next stop Pensacola. We stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel and we were on the way again. My brother drove the last four hours into North Carolina but before we crossed into the state we had to stop at south of the border: the most insane truck stop experience EVER. Once we got to North Carolina, I decided I wanted to keep going to Virginia Beach to see my maw and grandaddy and to this day I’m so happy I did. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d ever see my grandaddy and I hold that memory very close to my heart. After Virginia, we went back to North Carolina and I graduated high school and then traveled to the happiest place on earth (Disney World) and made some more really great memories, like meeting you!

 

Analysis:

This is not direct folklore, but it is an excellent example of story-telling. I was with the informant in person when she told me this story, and she gave a very active-performance. She was very excited, spoke with lots of arm movements, and loved being able to talk about her favorite past time. At a later time, off the record, she brought up how important road trips are to her, and how she wants to find a way to make road trips a family tradition in the future.

Folk Beliefs
Foodways
general
Homeopathic
Magic
Signs

Morning Rituals

Informant Info: The informant is a 20-year-old female who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother is Caucasian, and her father is Hispanic. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and works for Walt Disney World.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Do you have any rituals that you perform? Whether it’s a family tradition or something you have to do for luck or positivity – anything of the sorts?

 

Interviewee: Do morning routines count? Because they are something I take very seriously! It’s like you and coffee!

 

Interviewer: Sure, go ahead!

 

Interviewee: Morning routines are something I take very seriously. As an individual I like to think of myself as spontaneous and very outgoing but before I can do that I have to complete my morning routine. Very contradicting– I know!…. Spontaneity but orderly. It’s a good mix. So, at night I set two alarms. One 3 hours before I have to leave and one 2 hours to allow myself time to fully wake up. Once awake I turn on my shower to get it nice and hot. Then I brush my teeth and put my contacts in. Then I wash my face and take a shower. Once I’m dressed I call my mom while I make my lunch (I think she’s the most essential part to my morning routine). Then I’m off to work but before I go in I have to get Starbucks or some form of coffee. I don’t want to say I’m addicted, but I’m addicted. My day goes horribly wrong if I don’t have it in my system. Then I’m off to conquer my day and I do it all again the next.

 

Analysis:

This does not seem like a traditional ritual, but the informant’s morning ritual is a ritual nonetheless, just on an individual level. Parts of her ritual can also be classified as superstitions that she holds it extremely dear to her daily life. For instance, her belief that her day goes horribly wrong if she doesn’t have coffee is superstitious. There could be many reasons or coincidences as to why her day might be good or bad – not just whether or not she had coffee. (But as someone else who loves coffee, I completely understand where she is coming from).

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Magic

A Cheerleader’s Lucky Socks

Informant Info: The informant is a 20-year-old female who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother is Caucasian, and her father is Hispanic. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and works for Walt Disney World.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: I know that you were a cheerleader. When you were on the team, did you have any traditions or lucky items or phrases during games and competitions?

 

Interviewee: So, I was a competitive cheerleader for almost 10 years and at every single competition since I was 8 years old I always wore the same pair of socks. They were white with neon yellow stripes from American Eagle. I got in trouble every single time I wore them because they weren’t “in dress code” but I felt all the more confident in them. We didn’t win every competition when I had them on, but I threw all my skills and landed them. It was more of a superstition and comfort thing for me, but I like to believe they’re the reason we won many competitions (and not because we were actually good)

Analysis:

This superstition is common among sports participants. It is interesting that she acknowledges herself that she knows it is a superstition and that it served as comforting her, but still considers them as “lucky” socks. Yet, maybe the socks were indeed lucky, because by making her feel more comfortable, she was indeed more likely to perform more confidently.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Magic

Race-day Rituals

Informant Info: The informant is a 22-year-old male who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and comes from a Catholic family. He currently is a senior at USC and is very into half-marathon and marathon racing.

 

Interview Transcript:

 

Interviewer: I know you run a lot of races pretty often. Do you have any pre-race rituals or lucky items you contribute to your success?

 

Interviewee: Before my very first race I made a pesto pasta, with broccoli, onions, and peppers the night before. In the morning I always had a small bowl oatmeal a cup of coffee, and like 3 Glasses of water. I did really, really good, so I consider it my lucky meal and make it before every single race I run, and only before races. And I always wear the same socks when run my race and I only wear them when I race. Ummm….And what else?

 

Interviewer: Why would you contribute is like a lucky meal or socks.

 

Interviewee: I would say the socks… well I would say the meal is one that’s like where I feel like…decent. And then…. But all of them were like I just I want to kind of keep it… because a lot of changes and… No matter what changes in my life, whether I change my race, or I get a different this or that or whatever I want to keep some things the same and the meal is something I enjoy it and it makes me feel good and also, I’m like I did well the first time I did it. I did really well uhh or had like a good race and so after that I was like I don’t really want to change it or kinda looked back at my what I did, and I was like: What do I want to keep, what I want to change, and I decided I wanted to keep the meal. Ummm…and, so I would say really well, and I was like I’m going to keep this and hopefully somehow it contributes. And for the socks, they’ve been the same pair of socks that I’ve worn every time I set a PR. And whenever I don’t wear them, I seem to do worse. So better safe than sorry, you know?

 

Analysis:

In folklore, this idea of a “lucky item” can be fit into the genre of superstitions/folk beliefs. There is no way to prove that it’s the meal or socks that actually help him in his races, but to him, they consistently do. The informant mentions this himself by stating that he considers them as his lucky meal and lucky socks because he has done well every time. By doing so, he doesn’t explicitly call them lucky, but rather he seems afraid to risk changing them and not having the same performance. It could be a simple coincidence that his lucky socks just so happened to be the one’s he was wearing when he set his PR’s, but it could be further analyzed by seeing if the socks have better cushioning or compression that help him maintain his speed. In this particular case, the belief in luck seems minimalistic.

 

Folk speech
Humor
Proverbs

Nickname Mix-Up

Informant Info: The informant is a 22-year-old male who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and comes from a Catholic family. He currently is a senior at USC and is very into half-marathon and marathon racing.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Any major proverbs or inside jokes within your family?

 

Interviewee: My mom always calls me Pedros Diaz  um because… and that’s I mean when people are like “I don’t really get that”. But what happened was I was a kid…when I was like 10. We were in Costa Rica for like my dad’s vacation and we were learning Spanish and I was just not very good at it and the guy just kept quizzing me. He was like “Yeah, so you know like what is your name? How old are you?” And I just got confused at the time and he was like “How old are you? PEDRO! And he’s like “what’s your name?” DIAZ!! So, I my Spanish mixed up and then, so he was like “AH Pedro Diaz!!!” And then I guess my parents have just called me that ever since. And then other proverbs I would say umm my parents always said just like treat others like you want to be treated… Uhh so I know that’s a pretty common one. But one they definitely had me remember and whenever I strayed from that they would sit me down and say something like “Is that how you want someone to treat you in that sense” or something like that. I think those are great first steps words like developing like any sort of empathy. I just realized that while my parents are really good. Like if I did something like I said I’m their friend they would really speak out to be like how does that make you feel that you’re in their shoes. And so, I think very encouraging that through something like that phrase made me think about other people’s perspectives. So, I think it definitely I feel like I still do think about it on my way. But I feel like as a kid I probably thought about it more than many a lot of other kids. So, I would say them saying that definitely made me feel more empathetic as a kid.

 

Analysis:

This collection resembles an inside joke on a family level. The informant’s simple mistake in learning a new language turned into an inside joke when the Spanish tutor just went along with calling him “Pedro Diaz”. Instead of laughing at the moment and letting it fade into the past, his parents held on to the memory. It was a shared moment and serves as a joke within the family. Individuals outside of the family may not understand the meaning behind it, but to the informant and his family, the simple nickname holds a fond memory that brings laughter. When telling the story, he visibly and audibly got excited and cheerful when describing the context of the story. This will likely be a joke that will continue to be passed down within the family to his kids.

 

 

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

A Portland Christmas (Childhood)

Informant Info: The informant is a 22-year-old male who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and comes from a Catholic family. He currently is a senior at USC and is very into half-marathon and marathon racing.

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Growing up, did you have any big holiday traditions?

 

Interviewee: I would say my mom is the biggest proponent of like keeping the traditions strong in our family. I would also say that Christmas is definitely the one that has most traditions surrounding it. When I was a kid we had ones that would be like kind of like silly now. We would we all do the mass on Christmas Eve together to a Catholic Mass. Before that we always went off to a nice dinner. And at that point nice was Olive Garden for me. So that’s what I though was a nice dinner (laughter). That was a joy. But I think later on I realized that Olive Garden was not indeed a nice dinner, so we changed it up a little bit. But up until I was probably in like the seventh or eighth grade, I uh – We did that as a tradition. So, would go out, we’d have the same waitress at the Olive Garden and we’d have our same meals. I would always order the same thing you know like a fettuccine alfredo and a raspberry lemonade. I remember that very clearly. And then after that I would go to Mass. I think it used to be at 10:00. And then we come home, and we do our little rituals….we had a very set routine before we go to bed on Christmas Eve. We would come around, my mom would have the cookies that she would have out, uhh she’d bring a variety of cookies into the living room and then be laid and

we would each have one or two of those. And then we would read a book. So, we’d have like a massive stack of Christmas books in our living room. And you choose two to three for people to read and at that everyone would be getting pretty tired, so my mom would usually read it and we kind of like were falling asleep. But before that we actually would write a letter to Santa. So, one interesting thing about my parents is that they still will not openly admit that there is no Santa. So even though it’s all kind of like tongue and cheek at this point… Like it’s a bit silly that we still have to write a letter to Santa even though you know as the youngest I’m 22 years old and so that’s kind of like I would say had an example of like the emphasis my mom has on tradition. And so we always write a letter to Santa and maybe cookies and a beer at this point. Uh and so, in the morning, Santa has written back and has eaten the cookies and has drank some of the beer as well. But then in the evening what we do is we have the cookies then we have my mom read the story and then we write a letter to Santa and then we open one present. When I was a kid that was like what I really looked forward to and now as the presents dwindle underneath the tree…We’re like kind of like “Well I really don’t need to because that’d be opening like half of my presents under the tree!”

So we still most of that, I still have like that tradition of it. And then we go to bed. Usually right around midnight. When I was a kid I would always try and stay up as late as I could, as always, and try and listen for Santa coming in. And now I’m like just like a homebody. So I’m like already so exhausted and like “I’m going to sleep, I’ll get up in the morning” and then I would say like in the morning it always would be I would be the first one up. So I would be because I was young as I was usually the one to get up and like my brothers and sisters who are teenagers they would sleep in later. I would always get up and I would try and run to the kitchen and my parents would get up and grab me and not let them go in there quite yet because whenever we wanted to open our presents or see our stuff from Santa we would always have to be there together so I would just sit in parents room and I’d be like sitting from 6:30 to 8 just waiting for everyone to get up and it was the longest hour of my life. Eventually it’d get later and later the older we got.

Anyways, then we would go into the living room together and our presents from Santa wouldn’t be wrapped, they’d be in or by our stocking, so we’d go and see if we got what we wanted and them we went. Then all the other presents would be wrapped so we would do our Santa stuff at first and then my mom would start making breakfast and she’d made most of breakfast the day before. We have really big, really big breakfast with like a casserole and bacon and grapefruit and cinnamon rolls and stuff like that. And that’s something I always look forward to and it was like the calm before the storm of seeing what our Santa presents were and opening the wrapped presents. Instead of just going in and ripping them open, my mom always made sure we had always taken turns, or all had one at a time to open. Afterwards, she’d make sure you wrote thank you notes afterwards. When I was a kid, I was kind of impatient but now I appreciate it. So that was like when I was a kid and those were my habits and traditions. As I’ve gotten older, they’ve changed and adapted slightly but not by much.

Analysis:

The informant’s family Christmas seems to be a very traditional American and Catholic Christmas. On a religious level, it is one of the most important holidays, and he holds Christmas Mass to be very dear to him. On the other end of the spectrum, it seems extremely traditional in terms of it being a time that the family can be very close together. His family traditions of having a large Christmas eve dinner, opening one present at a time, and having a large meal on Christmas align with my own family’s traditions and shares similarities with many other Christmas collections.

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

A Portland Christmas (Adulthood)

Informant Info: The informant is a 22-year-old male who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and comes from a Catholic family. He currently is a senior at USC and is very into half-marathon and marathon racing.

Interview Transcript

Interviewer: As an adult, what are you Christmas traditions like now?

Where we’ve changed our Christmas Eve traditions a little bit as we’ve gotten older is about when I got to high school. There’s a place called the Downtown Chapel or St. Andre Bassett that has become like our parish… So, I’m a Catholic so Christmas is primarily a Catholic holiday for us not necessarily or whatever like an Amish holiday. So, we would go and that became our parish. But they are in downtown Portland, so they are a really big resource for people experiencing homelessness. So, they had a lot of like programs on like every day of the week. On Fridays they had soup kitchens. All that stuff. So, it’s like that’s like the mission of the of the church more so than normal church that we used to belong to. We made our tradition started for me in fifth grade and in making it like our full tradition when I was like maybe in eighth grade or ninth grade is that we would go down on Christmas Eve during the day and you would serve a t a Christmas party. So, they had like a Christmas party where they host like over 200 or 300 people who were experiencing homelessness in Portland and they have all this food and coffee and they have like different Christmas movies playing and they have chances to make like gingerbread houses and all the really, really, fun Christmas related things and just an opportunity for them to get out of the cold. And so that’s what we’ve now been doing every single year since like middle school and since then I look forward to Christmas a lot more because it reminds me a little bit more of like how fortunate I am and also like the chance that I can still interact in my parish even when I’m coming home from college. And so we do that and then after that we go to watch downtown at this place called Dan and Louise which is like a chowder… A clam chowder spot. And it’s like actually not particularly good food. Like I think it’s fine but like it’s more become tradition so its not like we can stray away from it even if we wanted to. And then we all go get a picture with Santa. Now literally I’m 22 and the youngest and my brother is almost 30 and we still get pictures with Santa. It is ridiculous, but we are not able to sway my mom in that sense.

And usually it’s like I would say that Christmas is one time that my family is coming and spread throughout the country and it’s hard to try and find time where we can all be together. But my mom made a really, really, really, big effort to kind of make sure that we’re all together on Christmas which is something that I appreciate more and more as I get older. So, I think that having some normalcy of most of the traditions that now seem kind of arbitrary or like silly or like things like I’d be fine changing if it wasn’t the tradition. I think for her and it provides a sense of security and family comfort. So that’s kind of like what I interpret as our traditions for Christmas but definitely one of our most tradition laden holidays.

Analysis:

It is interesting to see how the informant’s Christmas traditions have evolved as he was growing up. The context behind this collection refers back to a previous collection of his Christmas traditions as a kid, and how they have changed as he has gotten older. It’s interesting to examine how he looks most forward to volunteering and serving the community on Christmas now, whereas a kid he seemed to only look forward to the presents.  This seems to be primarily influenced by his mom, who he mentioned held traditions to be extremely important.

Holidays
Humor
Rituals, festivals, holidays

A Texan Christmas

Informant Info: The informant is a 20-year-old female who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother is Caucasian, and her father is Hispanic. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and works for Walt Disney World.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Do you have any major holidays that you celebrate? How do you celebrate it?

 

Interviewee: My family has celebrated Christmas the same every year since my brother was born almost 25 years ago. We start Christmas Eve as you would any holiday by prepping “dinner” for around 3 o’clock. We all get in our Sunday best and eat Christmas Eve dinner as a family. After dinner, dessert, and a lot of laughs we sit in the living room reminiscing old Christmas memories. My personal favorite is the one my Grandaddy used to tell about how ecstatic I was to receive a hot wheels toy at a mere 3 years old. After story time we each open a few presents which are the same every year. We start with our matching Christmas jammies and we all change into them immediately. Then my grandma hands us each three boxes. One has pistachios (And uhh..I don’t know the origin of that one). One has a check. And the last has an ornament she found earlier in the year that reminds her of us. After we hang our ornaments on the tree we write our letter to Santa. Each sibling alternates writing it each year and since there’s 4 of us we get a pretty decent break! Last we set out milk and gingerbread cookies for Santa and hang up our stocking, including ones for our fur babies. Then we all go to sleep and wake up not so bright and early Christmas morning!

 

 

Analysis:

Within this one family, there are several interesting pieces of folklore, that I was unfortunately not able to fully get out of the informant. Her family seems to hold on to old traditions and memories, yet the origin is unclear. She says that her family has been doing this for at least 25 years. By the sounds of it, many of the traditions, such as the matching pajamas or the pistachios, fall into the genre of practical jokes. She claims that she loves everything about her Christmas and plans on doing the same thing for her kids, once she has a family of her own. In addition, this tradition seems to share similarities on a macro level, such as a large family dinner on Christmas Eve, writing letters to Santa (a common folk tradition), hanging ornaments, and leaving out milk and cookies.

 

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