Author Archive
Customs
general
Gestures
Kinesthetic
Old age
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Tomb visiting day in Taiwan

Background information:

My friend introduced me to a practice that he and his relatives often perform surrounding the celebration of his ancestors. He is of Taiwanese descent, as he was born in San Francisco, California and both of his parents were born in Taipei, Taiwan. His family moved to California since before he was born and have assimilated into the American lifestyle but still stay very true to their Taiwanese roots and take great pride in their Taiwanese culture.

 

Main piece:

My friend said that throughout his childhood and growing up, he would always celebrate his ancestors with his relatives. He explained that there is a special day in Taiwan where family members all get together and visit the tombs or graves of their ancestors. When they visit their ancestors, they do everything from pray to bring a large amount of food for both them as well as their ancestors to enjoy. He explained this as not being an event of sadness, but rather a celebration where family members are able to reconnect and bond over their unity in their family and eat traditional Taiwanese foods. He said that his family members come from all over Taiwan and therefore all of his family members travel to the location where their ancestors are buried, when they are celebrating this day, showing the importance that people place on this event and how crucial it is that everyone attends.

When I asked if there was any dish in particular that was popular for this event, he responded that fruit is very common to bring, along with other desserts such as red bean desserts and rice cakes, emphasizing that sweets are often preferred in his experience.

 

Personal thoughts:

Upon hearing this tradition, I felt that this was a fantastic way to celebrate relatives that have passed away because everyone in the family is joining in on this event, unifying the family a great deal. In addition to the unifying and memorable factors of this celebration, I feel that the great amounts of food definitely make this event even more successful, as I have always experienced that having food at events usually makes them vastly more successful and memorable.

Folk speech
general
Proverbs

Wise Quote about Business Leaders

Background information:

My dad, Anders, has been working in the realm of business since he was in his early twenties. He started working in Sweden at a tech company and then moved on to work at Hewlett-Packard when we moved to Silicon Valley in Palo Alto. Because he has been working for nearly thirty years in business, I consider him to be very experienced in corporate affairs, client interactions, and business endeavors, and know that he speaks from experience when he discusses business and management.

 

Main piece:

When I was talking to my dad, a saying that he often says truly caught my attention. Through working at various jobs throughout my life, my dad would always emphasize one saying in particular: “there is a difference between a manager and a leader—there are many managers but a few leaders”. This quote is applicable to anyone who is in the workforce as it clearly shows a divide between managers who are true leaders and are able to efficiently lead their employees and those managers that simply have the title of manager but are unable to lead. Through my dad’s experience working in various departments of business and interacting with numerous managers, as well as leading others himself, he perfectly sums up those with true management potential.

 

Personal thoughts:

Because I have seen my dad work very hard throughout my life, I know that he is extremely passionate about business and is very knowledgeable about the business world. When I was sharing my experiences with him about working various jobs, he constantly reiterated this saying, which I found a lot of comfort and sense in. I completely agree with this saying and feel that it amply sums up many frustrating experiences that individuals often face with their managers and coworkers in the workforce.

Folk Beliefs
general
Magic
Signs

Midsommar flowers under the pillow

Background information:

My grandmother was born in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, and has three sisters who are roughly the same age as her. Together, they have always been best friends and have supported each other through everything. My grandmother and her sisters all have grandchildren, and us grandchildren go out to our collectively shared summerhouse in the Swedish archipelago every summer. This summerhouse was built by my grandmother’s parents and has been in the family for a while, giving it immense sentimental value. The shared summerhouse is located roughly two hours outside of Stockholm, Sweden by a boat ride and is very peaceful as it is located on an island called Södra Träskö that is completely without cars or internet connection.

 

Main piece:

My grandmother and her sisters routinely told me when I was growing up that I needed to put seven different types of flowers under my pillow on the day of Midsommar’s eve. They said that by putting seven different types of flowers under my pillow before I went to bed on Midsommar’s eve, I would have a vivid and colorful dream about my future husband. In order for the dream to be as accurate as possible, they stated that the steps in this ritual needed to be completed correctly, and therefore there needed to be seven flowers, each of a different kind, and they needed to be completely under my pillow before I fell asleep in order for this dream to project the most realistic and accurate image of my future husband. This was a ritual that had been taught to my grandmother and her sisters by their mother.

Personal thoughts:

I always thought this was a weird tradition, because I never believed that this was realistic and felt that there was no possible correlation between placing flowers under a pillow and dreaming about my future partner. My sister, who is much more of a romantic and dreamer than me, however, did this ritual every year and claimed that she got a sense of who she was going to marry. This, therefore, fueled her excitement and made her very happy for the future.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Magic
Narrative

MacGyver scavenger hunt tradition

Background information:

My grandmother was born in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden, and has three sisters who are roughly the same age as her. Together, they have always been best friends and have supported each other through everything. My grandmother and her sisters all have grandchildren, and us grandchildren go out to our collectively shared summerhouse in the Swedish archipelago every summer. This summerhouse was built by my grandmother’s parents and has been in the family for a while, giving it immense sentimental value. The shared summerhouse is located roughly two hours outside of Stockholm, Sweden by a boat ride and is very peaceful as it is located on an island called Södra Träskö that is completely without cars or internet connection.

 

Main piece:

Among other fantasies and games that my grandmother and her sisters created for the children visiting the summerhouse in the archipelago every summer, I vividly remember my grandmother’s creation of the MacGyver annual scavenger hunt. My grandmother and her sisters are amazing with children and therefore try to do everything to get their grandchildren to enjoy themselves when they are at the summerhouse. The MacGyver annual scavenger hunt around the summerhouse property was created by my grandmother as a way for the grandchildren to follow a scavenger hunt to ultimately attain a small toy prize in the end. She organized this scavenger hunt by placing various notes in different locations throughout the summerhouse property on the island of Södra Träskö with each note leading to the next. The final note therefore led to the small toy prize for the grandchildren, with my grandmother saying that MacGyver had created this scavenger hunt for the children which we all believed until we became older and realized that it was my grandmother all along.

 

Personal thoughts:

Ever since I was young, I looked forward to the MacGyver scavenger hunt which was held at our shared summerhouse every summer. This is a very informal event, with my grandmother organizing this for her grandchildren as well as her sister’s grandchildren. It is a very simple event but has a tremendously happy impact on the children and their feeling about the summerhouse.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Protection
Tales /märchen

Blåkulla

Background information:

My mother and father introduced me to this piece of folklore when I was younger. They were both born in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden and have been raised in the city suburbs by parents that were all from the inner city of Stockholm.

 

Main piece:

Literally translated, “Blåkulla” means “blue hill” in Swedish. This piece of folklore is about the location of Blåkulla and witches, and how these two are in relation to one another. Blåkulla is a place in Sweden where all of the witches in Sweden supposedly meet up to celebrate the Sabbath of the witches. To get to Blåkulla, these witches traveled on broomsticks, so in order for the witches to be unable to travel to Blåkulla, people often hide their broomsticks and all of the supplies that can make broomsticks. Essentially, my parents explained that the witches travel to Blåkulla three days prior to Easter, on the Thursday, and therefore, everyone does what they can to stop the witches from going to Blåkulla on this day. In addition to hiding brooms and supplies, Swedes traditionally create fires or make loud noises outside to scare the witches and prevent them from engaging in the witches’ Sabbath at Blåkulla.

 

Personal thoughts:

My family has never been religious so my parents taught me this tradition in regards to it being just that: a tradition and not an event that was celebrated in respect to Christianity and Easter. When I was younger, I was very interested in witchcraft and thought this was a very exciting time of the year, and therefore associated Blåkulla with Easter instead of focusing on Easter in regard to Christianity.

Customs
general
Gestures
Initiations
Kinesthetic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Graffiti Wall at Scripps College

Background information:

My sister, Jennifer, attends Scripps College and is graduating this year (2018). She is an English major and an Economics minor at the school and is greatly interested in literature, culture, and classic novels. Because Scripps College is a small, private, liberal arts college in the middle of the 5 Claremont Colleges Consortium, she has found that it has been a fantastic school for her to expand and learn about her interests and passion for literature. Due to her immense love for the school, she has been an active member in the college’s social life and learned about countless traditions that Scripps College engages in.

 

Main piece:

Walking around Scripps, my sister Jennifer, notes that one of her favorite locations is the Graffiti Wall located right in between the Toll Residence Hall and the Browning Residence Hall. She told me that this wall was something that she remembered all the way from her first tour of Scripps College as a prospective student. She remembers it so vividly because it is completely filled with past students’ names and she could not wait to be able to write her name on the wall upon graduation. Jennifer told me that seeing other students’ names and the year that they graduated was a huge inspiration to her because she often passed by it on her way to classes at Harvey Mudd College and saw how many women that had been in her place in the past. She said that the Graffiti Wall gave her a wholesome sense of history because she saw names from people that had graduated back in 1931, when the Graffiti Wall was started due to Scripps College’s first graduating class. Therefore, this wall gave her a very warm feeling and made her feel at home at Scripps and also felt like she was contributing to the traditions and history at Scripps College.

 

Personal thoughts:

When my sister told me about the impact that this Graffiti Wall made on her, I was very pleasantly surprised. I attended Scripps College for my freshman year of college and did not have the same connection to the wall, so it was nice to hear that she felt so connected to the school. I believe that since she enjoyed the curriculum at Scripps more than I did, this shaped her pride and desire to be featured on the Graffiti Wall upon her graduation. Now, she will make her mark and get a chance to sign the Graffiti Wall in May of 2018 when she graduates from this beautiful liberal arts college and will forever be a part of the history at Scripps College.

Customs
Foodways
general
Gestures
Kinesthetic
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Afternoon Tea at Scripps College

Background information:

My sister, Jennifer, attends Scripps College and is graduating this year (2018). She is an English major and an Economics minor at the school and is greatly interested in literature, culture, and classic novels. Because Scripps College is a small, private, liberal arts college in the middle of the 5 Claremont Colleges Consortium, she has found that it has been a fantastic school for her to expand and learn about her interests and passion for literature. Due to her immense love for the school, she has been an active member in the college’s social life and learned about countless traditions that Scripps College engages in.

 

Main piece:

My sister has very strong ties to Scripps College and takes great pride in the fact that she attends this beautiful liberal arts college. When asking her about any specific highlights during her time at Scripps College, she shared that she did not know about a specific tradition (afternoon tea) until she first started her freshman year back in 2014. My sister, Jennifer, has always been a huge romantic, enjoying classic authors such as Virginia Woolf and Jane Austen and also engaging in certain classic traditions that are not a focus in the modern day. Therefore, when Jennifer realized that Scripps College offered afternoon tea on the Wednesday of every week, she was extremely excited and told me that she instantly felt that Scripps College was the right college for her. Upon her first afternoon tea, she was able to interact with other students at Scripps, faculty members, and even students from the other four Claremont Colleges. She said that throughout the hectic life of a college student in the modern day, this weekly afternoon tea was destressing and gave her an opportunity to unwind, drink tea (which she loves), and discuss her interests with other students and staff. Thus, as she is a senior right now, she has been to countless afternoon tea meetings, and told me that these small weekly sessions were integral to her time at Scripps College. She said, “without afternoon tea, I would not have been able to meet some of my closest friends and could very well have been more stressed”, so it is evident that Scripps College’s afternoon tea had a greatly positive impact on both her mental health and introduced her to some of her best friends today.

 

Personal thoughts:

I love my sister very much and as such, it makes me ecstatic to hear about her happiness and pride in her college. I am beyond happy that she found ways to relieve her stress and also make friends in the process, and therefore know that Scripps College was truly a place that she was able to flourish. Minute features about the college, such as the weekly afternoon tea, could very well have been insignificant for other students, but was very important to her, so I believe that because of this, she will integrate afternoon tea into her daily life when she graduates from Scripps College this year, as a means to de-stress and relive this beautiful tradition.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Magic
Narrative

El Sombrerón (Colombia)

Background information:

My roommate is Colombian and is the first one in her family who was born in the United States since her relatives all live in Colombia except for her direct family. She actively engages in the Colombian culture, speaking Spanish with her family and celebrating Colombian events and traditions. Therefore, even though she was born in the United States, she holds onto her Colombian roots and treasures her Colombian culture as she believes that her Colombian roots are a large part of what shapes who she is.

 

Main piece:

When asking my roommate is there was any other type of folklore from her Colombian culture that stuck out to her, she excitedly told me about El Sombrerón. She said that El Sombrerón was a very big fear of hers when she was younger as she did not enjoy being alone or in dark places and feared that he would come and attack her. My roommate explained that El Sombrerón, literally translated to “man in a hat” was a man that wore all black and had two very scary black dogs and rode a black horse. She interrupted her own story by saying that she did not enjoy the color black when she was younger, so this made El Sombrerón even more off-putting to her. She explained that he was a figure that would haunt and run after individuals who were alone in dark areas. Additionally, she added that the moon was an important part of this legend because it provided the only light for individuals to briefly see what El Sombrerón looked like, which made appearances more believable as many supposedly saw a man in all black with two black dogs and a black horse chasing them when they felt that they had encountered El Sombrerón. She says that her aunt and uncle told her about this legend when she was very young and that she feels grateful to have never run into him but is still a bit afraid of him if she is walking alone at night.

 

Personal thoughts:

I thought that this was a very interesting legend because it immediately reminded me of the legend of the “headless horseman” often seen in the United States and other parts around the world. I shared a similar fear of the headless horseman when I was younger and could therefore understand her fear as a child. I thought the addition of two dogs into this legend was interesting because I have personally never been scared of dogs and feel that this makes the story a bit more bearable.

 

For another version of this legend, see the following Headless Horseman legend told by S.E. Schlosser:

Schlosser, S.E. “The Headless Horseman.” The Headless Horseman: From Ghost Stories at Americanfolklore.net, americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/07/the_headless_horseman.html.

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Protection

Trolls in Scandinavian Folklore

Background information:

My dad, Anders, has been working in the realm of business since he was in his early twenties. He started working in Sweden at a tech company and then moved on to work at Hewlett-Packard when we moved to Silicon Valley in Palo Alto. Aside from his very serious and demanding job, he absolutely loves trolls and what they represent in Scandinavian culture. I grew up having numerous trolls around the house, as he loved to decorate the house with tiny statues and décor.

 

Main piece:

When discussing my dad’s love for trolls, I asked him where he developed this high regard for trolls. He said that his grandmother, who lived in a country-town in Småland, Sweden, always told him that they were safe and doing well in life because the trolls around them always had their eyes open for danger and would therefore protect them from bad things that could happen. He added onto this, saying that he had a fantastic fantasy and creative mind growing up, and felt that these trolls that his grandmother had talked to him about were like his imaginary friends and were friendly spirits who just wanted everything to go well in the world and protect those living on their land. Therefore, my dad has really enjoyed collecting little statues of trolls throughout his life because he feels that he wants to pay a tribute to everything that the trolls do to make our daily lives better and also has these trolls around the house to protect our house from danger and to boost the positive energy in the house.

 

Personal thoughts:

Because I have grown up with my dad, I learned from a young age that trolls were very friendly creatures and were there to simply spread positivity and help. Thus, I never understood why some people regarded trolls as being evil or scary, but rather saw trolls as doing what they could to make the world a better place and felt relieved to have the support of the trolls when life took wrong turns. I thought it was funny how the movie, Frozen, included trolls because the film is set to be in Scandinavia and also showed the trolls to be helpful beings who were very knowledgeable about nature and cures, just as I have imagined them as well. I was therefore glad that a movie that has been shown all around the world was able to show trolls as being positive influences in the world instead of showing them as being evil or violent, as some often regard them.

 

For a version of how trolls are portrayed in the movie, Frozen, see the information about trolls listed on the Disney Wikia page:

 

“Trolls (Frozen).” Disney Wiki, disney.wikia.com/wiki/Trolls_(Frozen).

Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Holidays
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Nisse in Swedish Culture

Background information:

Like my dad, my mom also had legend characters that she believed in. Whenever Christmas rolled around, she would always talk about the “nisse”, (plural: “nissar”) and said that these tiny little helpers were part of what made Christmas the amazing and cozy event that it is.

 

Main piece:

My mother had very high respect for the “nissar” as she told us from a young age that they helped with the logistics and took care of a lot of work to prepare for Christmas. As such, she made sure to bring them to my sister’s and my attention every Christmas. She did this by saying that the “nissar” had dropped off small gifts in our Christmas stockings randomly throughout the Christmas season. There was no organization or special time that the “nissar” dropped off the gifts into our stockings, but I remember her telling me that the “nissar” would only drop off gifts if we had been respectful to the “nissar” and been friendly overall. Every Christmas, the “nissar” would visit and drop off small gifts in our stockings around three times total: sometimes they would visit more, other times they would visit less, it all depended on the year. As I grew older, I realized that my mom was the one that was putting the gifts in the stockings, but she was always adamant that she was just a messenger of the “nissar” and was helping them out.

 

Personal thoughts:

I really enjoyed this tradition and the legend of the “nisse” because it brought a lot of happiness and excitement to my Christmas experience when I was growing up. I remember talking to my American friends about the “nisse” when I was younger and although none of them could relate to me, they always thought that the “nisse” sounded amazing and very generous, which I regard them as being, as well. Because this was such a heartfelt and warm memory, I will be sure to share this tradition in the future.

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