Author Archive
Legends
Narrative

Ancestor Mirror Ghost

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as BDV. I am marked as DG.

 

BDV: So my mom thinks that ghosts communicate to her, so after my dad’s mom passed away, and we…we were the ones to clean out her house and pack away her stuff and things like that. And my mom kept insisting that every time she passed this mirror, she would see something behind her, and she thought that it was my dad’s mom and we were like, “ok whatever.” And then coming back to our own house, the same thing would happen to the mirror in our living room, and she was like-it happened for a year for her until, like, the year anniversary of my grandma’s passing.

 

DG: And you heard that from your mom?

 

BDV: Yeah, from my mom. And she says that the same thing happens to other people in her family. Like, after her dad passed away, it happened to her eldest sister. And she thinks that since my grandma didn’t have any daughters-she only had my dad-that it, like, passed to her daughter-in-law, which is, like, my mom.”

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting outside of a coffee shop at the University of Southern California. The ghost sighting was seen at the house of the interviewee’s grandmother, as well as at the house of the interviewee.

 

Background:

 

The student was born and raised in Northern California. She is a sophomore at the University of Southern California. She is the fourth generation to grow up in America, but is Filipino. She speaks several languages, with English being her native language.

 

Analysis:

 

I’ve heard about stories like this. There seems to be a lot of folklore concerning mirrors and ghosts, leading me to believe that mirrors are a method of communication to the other side. For example, the Bloody Mary game is played in a mirror. I personally have heard folklore about not looking into a mirror in the dark or the spirits will replace your soul with theirs, leaving you trapped in the mirror. So to me, the idea of seeing the deceased behind you in the mirror seems entirely believable, and also incredibly terrifying.

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Filipino New Year

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as BDV. I am marked as DG.

 

BDV: Oh yeah, so my mom has a lot about New Years that were passed down to her by her mom. It’s really weird, um, one of them is that when the clock strikes midnight at the New Year, all your pockets have to be full, um, of coins, and they can’t be like dollar bills it has to be coins because its good luck. And another one that when the clocks strikes midnight, all the lights in your house have to be off. That one doesn’t make as much sense as the coins but…

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting outside of a coffee shop at the University of Southern California. The tradition itself was upheld at midnight every year on December 31st. The lights tradition would be held at your home, while the coin tradition could be held anywhere.

 

Background:

 

The student was born and raised in Northern California. She is a sophomore at the University of Southern California. She is the fourth generation to grow up in America, but is Filipino. She speaks several languages, with English being her native language.

 

Analysis:

 

I liked this tradition although I would have liked to have known more about what each tradition is supposed to bring. I would think that having coins means you’ll have a prosperous year ahead of you, but much like the interviewee, I’m unsure of what turning the lights out. I would assume it’s a superstition about luck. Although I have no such traditions in my own life, I’ve heard about other New Year’s traditions being enacted that symbolize luck or good fortune for the upcoming year. Although the New Year is a man-made construct, different cultures still create ideas about what brings luck for the upcoming period, and what heralds in the new year positively.

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Noche Buena

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as BDV. I am marked as DG.

 

BDV: Ok, so instead of, like, doing the whole ‘opening presents on Christmas day morning’ sort of thing, I guess its Pilipino tradition to sort of, um, so you go to mass the night before and it’s called Noche Buena-I don’t know if the mass is but I think the tradition itself is, the entire tradition is-and then you have, before mass you go to dinner as a family and then church, because most Filipino’s are Catholic….um, and after that is when you come home and open presents and it’s like 2:00 AM of the next morning rather than, like, ‘Christmas Day, Christmas Day’. And then, like, all the kids go out into the street and play with their presents in the middle of the night. It’s kind of odd…I’m not sure if anyone, other cultures do it but, yeah.

 

DG: Who did you learn this from, your parents?

 

BDV: Mmhmm, my mom told me. ‘Cause, originally, like, since my dad is third generation, we are pretty Americanized so we usually wait ‘til the next morning, but ever since my dad left my family, and my mom has been reverting back to old culture. So now starting this year we’ve started doing this whole ‘Noche Buena’ thing.

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting outside of a coffee shop at the University of Southern California. The tradition itself was held within a church, and then at home, every Christmas season.

 

Background:

 

The student was born and raised in Northern California. She is a sophomore at the University of Southern California. She is the fourth generation to grow up in America, but is Filipino. She speaks several languages, with English being her native language.

 

Analysis:

 

I found this piece incredibly interesting because it’s similar to one that I’ve heard from my half-Swedish father, where they open the presents on Christmas Eve. However, they don’t go to mass first (at least in his version). The reason it was so interesting was because it showed me the different sorts of oicotypes for this item-different religions and cultures have the same tradition. Additionally, I found it interesting that the family of the interviewee really only started doing this tradition after a split in the family-this shows how folklore ties us back to our roots in a time we might need them.

Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic

Aloe Vera

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as AF. I am marked as DG.

 

AF: I know my grandma uses aloe vera on everything, like she grows it outside. But you know, I feel like, um, a lot of Hispanic people do that–they just put aloe vera on everything. Stuff like, well like for things like burns, or acne, or like anything on your skin-not like if you have a fever or something.

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting in the lobby of a dorm at the University of Southern California. The story itself was told to the interviewee by his grandmother, as they sat in their living room. He was asking her about folklore in order to feel more in touch with his roots.

 

Background:

 

The student is from Huntsville Alabama, but took a gap year in New York City, NY, before attending the University of Southern California as a School of Cinematic Arts major. They are a sophomore, and come from an Italian Hispanic background.

 

Analysis:

 

This is a homeopathic remedy that I myself have used in the past, so I can allude to the strong belief that it works well. In my case, I had used it for acne, as a more natural face wash. I liked how in the telling he added to the cultural background of the remedy, saying that many Hispanic families use aloe vera often. I also enjoyed seeing how this is a cross-generational tradition that was passed down. Additionally, aloe vera is used often by the majority of people for sunburns, but most people don’t tend to think about the other skin purposes of it, so it was interesting to see the cultural insight to more uses from AF’s perspective.

Legends
Narrative

La Llorona

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as AF. I am marked as DG.

 

AF: Um, well La Llorona is just this folktale, um, about this woman who…was jilted basically…uh and then, uh, well actually no she wasn’t jilted, her husband died… or something like that, uh, so she…hmm. Well ok, she was murdered. Ok, there are different versions of the story basically. So, um, in some of them she was jilted and killed herself and in some of them she was murdered and stuff like that, and basically she came back and was this, like, spirit who wandered amongst the streets at night… And if you’re, like, a lost kid at night, she’ll steal you away and maybe eat you…I don’t know…but definitely steal you away. Oh, and like an important thing is La Llorona cries, she’s this crying spirit, and you’ll hear her. Um, and yeah. I think maybe she, like, killed her kids.

 

DG: Who told you this?

 

AF: Oh, uh, my grandma actually, because I was asking her about folk stuff a couple years ago. She told me this story, um, yeah.

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting in the lobby of a dorm at the University of Southern California. The story itself was told to the interviewee by his grandmother, as they sat in their living room. He was asking her about folklore in order to feel more in touch with his roots.

 

Background:

 

The student is from Huntsville Alabama, but took a gap year in New York City, NY, before attending the University of Southern California as a School of Cinematic Arts major. They are a sophomore, and come from an Italian Hispanic background.

 

Analysis:

 

I had heard about this folklore story in one of my classes, so it was interesting to hear it from someone. This was true especially so since although I did learn one version, it was already easily jumbled up for me too, and I had learned it fairly recently. This shows how easy it can be for folklore to become changed, as the teller may forget, have pieces jumbled, or slightly change them. This also alludes to how the audience will keep the teller in check, if the teller goes too far from the version they know. This is what helps folklore remain folklore. In my case, I was a passive listener, so the folklore remained jumbled in the retelling for this archive post.

 

Legends
Narrative

Pullman Hotel Tennis Ghost

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as TM. I am marked as DG.

 

TM: When I was working, um, at Pullman Hotel, and it’s in the uh Pullman neighborhood in Chicago, and it’s the hotel that housed people that used to visit the Pullman Palace Car Company and made railroad cars-really fancy ones. And so, uh, they had a factory in that neighborhood, and then they had a tower of houses…And so it was built in 1880, and it’s no longer used as a hotel, um, partly because there’s no way to get out if you’re on the top floor. Yeah, um, and I…was kind of manning the front desk for tourists to come in and walk around the old hotel and these three women walked in and one was kind of a little bit, you know, younger–not 20s but maybe 30s, and, um, then there were two women maybe a little bit older and they had like fanny packs on, you know, and kind of tourist looking… And, um, the younger one had on like a tennis skirt or something. It looked like she played tennis or something, um, it looked a little dated but not really so I talked to them…Um, it was mostly–it was the two older women who were talking to me, I guessed the other was their kid, and, um, it used to be a restaurant at the hotel-and it was fancy-which isn’t there anymore. Um, so they all kind of went off and the two of them went to do the tour where, um, you have your piece of paper and you walk around and take the tour on your own, and the other went off to the bathroom. And then the woman comes walking around the corner from the bathroom, kind of reaching into her pocket to, you know, maybe hand me a piece of paper, and then she just just disappeared. Just completely gone! She had a tennis skirt on, it was kind of 80s. It was kind of funny 80s, I thought it was kind of dated, but then I was like she’s kind of close to my age so like. I have no idea what that was about.

 

Apparently the hotel was supposed to be haunted and many people have had ghost experiences there.

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting in a hallway outside of a classroom on a university campus. The context of where the interviewee saw the ghost was in the front desk area of the old Pullman Hotel. Apparently, the hotel is a well-known haunted site, and most who have worked there have had sightings.

 

Background:

 

The interviewee is a professor at the University of Southern California. They are also a practicing archeologist. Originally from Chicago, IL, they now live in Los Angeles, CA, with their husband. The interviewee worked in Finance before pursuing a teaching degree.

 

Analysis:

 

I think this story held a lot of weight because I’ve had my fair share of ghost stories. I’ve also worked long hours in a retail setting, and know that feeling you get towards the end where you’re starting to imagine things. I think that made this story even better, because I could easily imagine the feeling of “Did I just see that??” Beyond that, many others have apparently seen ghosts at the Pullman Hotel, adding legitimacy to the legend. It also made me wonder what was on the paper–was it a message that the apparition was trying to tell TM, or was it just a recording ghost that does the same act in the same place forever?

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative
Signs

Mayan Jin

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as TM. I am marked as DG.

 

TM: So there’s the, uh, the Mayan Jin-a little different from the ones we talked about in class-but they [the Belizeans] believe that when you’re walking in the jungle and you trip for, like, no reason, or you hear a weird noise, or something–a twig snaps or something, whatever happens, it’s actually these Jin–they’re not evil creatures, um, that get in your way or make you fall or make you lose your way… But they [the Belizeans] believe that the Jin are actually pieces of um…liver from people who died, so their livers become animated after they die. And so their livers become animated and go out in the jungle and…cause everybody a bunch of trouble, and so I, I, I’ve probably heard that from about three different people I’ve talked to in Belize… So I don’t know if it’s outside of Belize, if that’s the story. Um I’m pretty sure I just tripped because I’m clumsy but I like to blame it on the Jin (laughs).

 

DG: Where did you hear it from?

 

TM: Well a few [people]… I heard it from one person when I fell down–I tripped over something out in the jungle. Ah the guide I was with said “Oh it must be one of the Jin’s”, and I was like, “Is that someone’s last name?” So he told me the story, and I thought he was just trying to make me feel better about tripping, but then I asked a couple more people about it. Um, two of my friends– the first one that told me about it was male–and the other two–he was probably around 40 to 50– and the two women I asked about it too were the same age range and they both had heard of it too so…

 

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting in a hallway outside of a classroom on a university campus. The context of the original Jin story was told while the interviewee was hiking in Belize, and later confirmed by two others.

 

Background:

 

The interviewee is a professor at the University of Southern California. They are also a practicing archeologist. Originally from Chicago, IL, they now live in Los Angeles, CA, with their husband. The interviewee worked in Finance before pursuing a teaching degree.

 

Analysis:

 

I thought this folklore item was great. First, just the idea of the interviewee thinking the guide had told her about the Jin in order to make her feel better about tripping was amusing. But also, much of the folklore I’ve collected has been passed down through family, so to see a folklore that TM saw from three different people, of different genders (although around the same age) was interesting. Additionally, this was the furthest piece of folklore I’ve collected. The woods are always full of warning folklore stories, so this one allowed for cultural and religious beliefs of the area to create the folklore.

Folk Beliefs
general
Material

Vietnamese Wedding Gifts

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as DD. I am marked as DG.

 

DD: “So it’s a little bit of folklore about this necklace, which is actually a folk object of mine. And, um, so in Vietnamese families there is a tradition of the…groom’s parents giving a gift to the bride, um, right before the wedding… And so this necklace is what my dad’s mom gave to my mom to commemorate their, um, wedding, and …. I, my mom never really wore it and it was kind of just put away because my mom just kind of has a lot of old jewelry she never wore. And I was looking through some of our old stuff because we were moving out my senior year after my grandma passed away, and my mom found it and asked if I wanted to keep it to, you know, remember my grandmother. And I remember–you know I haven’t taken it off, except maybe when im competing, or when I’m, like, going anywhere I might lose it. It…feels…well, like, similar to when you wear something and you don’t take it off, it feels weird. So, um, whenever I’m not wearing the necklace I feel myself reaching for my neck to go touch it. It does feel…it’s a nice reminder that, um, well in my family we have this belief that our ancestors never…it’s not that they really leave us, there is an afterlife and my grandmother is kind of watching us and if I ask for help she’ll be there for us.”

 

The piece is a small blue rectangular jade necklace, wrapped in silver.

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while sitting in the sun on a bench on a university campus. The giving of the gift was to be given before a marriage between two families, and the interviewee was given the necklace after the death of her grandmother.

 

Background:

 

The student was born and raised in Northern California. She is a sophomore at the University of Southern California. Although she was born in Northern California, her entire family is from Vietnam, and she is one of the first generation to be born in the United States.

 

Analysis:

 

What I like about this piece of folklore is that the giving of it was a folklore act, with the groom’s parents giving the bride a gift being a tradition. However, then the interviewee was later given the necklace to remember her grandmother. What I like then is that the necklace picks up a new form of folklore belief–the belief that her grandmother is able to watch over her, and then when she touches the necklace she knows that her grandmother is there. This then pulls upon two folklore categories: myths, with the afterlife, and superstition, with the belief that the touching of the item will speak to her grandmother, in a way. It’s a touching and warm folklore item.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Cinnamon Toast

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as AO. I am marked as DG.

 

AO: Ok so basically, um like when I was a kid, whenever I was sick my mom would make me cinnamon toast. And um like, I don’t know why but she swore it would make me feel better. So um literally any time I didn’t feel good or had a sore throat, especially for a sore throat, um, like she would make me this. And like it always seemed to work! Not really sure, um, like how it would, tbh [to be honest], but like, um it always felt like it did [laughs].

 

DG: And when did you learn this?

 

AO: …. Oh I must’ve been like maybe 5 when she first made it? Um like honestly I don’t even know I just know she made it a lot.

 

DG: Do you know the recipe?

 

AO: Yeah! It was like, um first you toast the toast and then you. Oh wait no maybe you put butter on the bread first. And then I think um you maybe toast it. But you might put cinnamon on the butter before toasting it. Or not no I think that the cinnamon was put on after the bread and butter was toasted. Or was it brown sugar? No um like I swear it was cinnamon. Actually no there was brown sugar because that was my favorite part. Um, so yeah.

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while in the room of the interviewee. She was fixing up her room while I was sitting and listening to her folklore. This folk recipe was used in the context of sickness, most often made by the interviewee’s mother.

 

Background:

 

The interviewee was born in China but raised in Marietta, Georgia. She is a sophomore at the University of Southern California, studying Communication. Her mother and father are both from the United States, and have lived in Georgia for many years.

 

Analysis:

 

This folklore item is somewhat common in that most people tend to have a home remedy for when they get sick, passed down from their parents or grandparents. It’s also one of those folklore items where it must have worked at least occasionally, for the interviewee to keep believing in it. Although I personally don’t know if it works or not, I imagine that at the very least the treat of cinnamon and sugar would help cheer up any small child, leading them into a better mood during their cold.

Customs

Elf Magic Elves

Main Piece:

 

The following was recorded from the Participant. They are marked as AO. I am marked as DG.

 

 

AO: Oh, when I was in umm…fourth grade maybe third grade, um, there were these things called Elf Magic Elves and everyone had them. I don’t know where like it started out or, um, who had the first one but anyways by the time we were in like fifth grade, every single person had one… but the concept of these elves were that if you sprinkled, um, snowflakes on them then they like–and the snowflakes came with the elves, then they would, like, come to life and move around your house or like bake food or make crafts or whatever, play pranks. Um and so everyone had this like these elves that would do things for them and they would come to school, um, they would like come to school with like books that their elves made, or um like fucking can I curse? Fucking um fuckiiiiiiing-that one had like 7 ‘i’s in it, you better put all of these in-fucking like food. So obviously these elves didn’t exist, they weren’t real but, um, all the parents were like really close and everyone that had them-well ok I guess I exaggerated when I said that everyone had them, um but basically only the popular bitches had them but they were the only ones we talked about-but all of their moms were suuuper close so they all like knew these elves and how to move them around and so they kind of did it as like a group thing. But like I found about these elves and me being the little twat I was [laughs] I wanted to be cool, I was like “Mom I want these elves” and like um my mom wasn’t, wasn’t cool she wasn’t a cool mom I wasn’t a cool kid so she didn’t like um she didn’t get in with the crowd so she didn’t know about these elves! But so she got these elves and then presented them to me in the box to which they were shipped to her in but in reality you were supposed to present them on the fireplace like open and like um with crackers or something like that, but she gave them to me in the box. But luckily my brother knew about this tradition so he like moved them around for me and stuff so I still got the experience.

 

Context:

 

The conversation was recorded while in the room of the interviewee. She was fixing up her room while I was sitting and listening to her folklore. This folklore item was a local tradition that lasted about two years in the neighborhood of Marietta. It was enacted by elementary school kids from the grades of 4th to 5th grade, at the time.

 

Background:

 

The interviewee was born in China but raised in Marietta, Georgia. She is a sophomore at the University of Southern California, studying Communication. Her mother and father are both from the United States, and have lived in Georgia for many years.

 

Analysis:

 

This folklore item is very interesting because it is not only one that is particular to a specific region, it was also carried out by one specific group: the popular children’s parents. It also left as quickly as it arrived. Additionally, the tale of the interviewee’s brother enacting the tradition that the parents were unaware of was heartwarming, as well as it being an example of how easily folklore can be lost when it is attempted by an outgroup. Therefore, this piece is actually a great example of a regional folk tradition, needing specific in-group knowledge.

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