Author Archive
Proverbs

Russian Proverb

“The thief who stole 4 kopecks is hung but the thief who stole 400 kopecks is praised.” Amina and her family are from Moscow. When she was growing up, her father used to say this to her often. She describes him as a funny man who does not take life too seriously. He would say this to Amina as comic advice in different situations. Mostly, when Amina was stressed in school, he would say this to encourage her to cheat.

Festival
general

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in China and Taiwan. The festival either comes from the legend of Qu Yuan or from the similar legend of Wu Zixu. Family’s make a wrapped food called Zongzi on this special holiday. While many remember the story, the main purpose of the holiday is to bring family together.

Folk Beliefs
general
Magic
Musical

Tamuke

She lived in Kyoto, Japan for three years, where she studied Shinto and learned the Japanese folk song “Tamuke”. This song is supposed to connect her to “the souls of the spirit realm”. Nani used to be able to play it on a Japanese flute, but does not remember how anymore, nor does she have a flute.

Myths
Narrative

Nani’s Myth

Nani considers herself a student of all religion, but agreed with the term “spirituality”. She said she believes “god is most of all in the coyote and the raven, they were here before us, they created us”. This reminded me of Native American mythology so I asked what she thought of it… she thinks it is “beautiful and full of great stories, but I don’t agree that the coyote is a trickster. I think the coyote loves us.”

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Magic
Protection

Garlic Bath

Taking a bath with garlic will purge your “dark energy and balance your spiritual karma. This can have physical and psychic effects” -Nani… She says she takes a garlic bath once a week. This practice is not based on any religion, but rather a “type of spirituality that isn’t associated with institutions”.

Folk Beliefs
Magic
Signs

Door Knocking Superstition

You must knock on doors to rooms nobody is in, so to not surprise the spirits when you enter. If you do, you can acquire a type of bad karma.

Folk medicine
Magic

Healing Magic

Nicolette’s grandma believed she was imbued with magical gifts. For generations, her matriline thought themselves to be types of witches. Nicolette often visits her grandma to be relieved of bad spirits when she was feeling upset or physically hurt.

Tales /märchen

Haunted House Tale

Nicolette’s parents are fascinated by ghosts and purposefully bought a house that is haunted by the ghost of a previous owner who hung herself in it. They say that they regularly experience “chills” or the feeling of a spirit passing through their bodies at the same time when they are in the same room.

Tales /märchen

Russian Ghost Story

A man was walking to the woods one day with his dog to collect potatoes. They waited all day but found nothing. At midnight, the two began walking back. But just as they were passing the cemetery, the man spots a figure in the distance wearing white rags. It stumbles towards him at first but quickly breaks into a sprint. As it gets closer the man can see that it is a corpse. He becomes terrified and freezes in place. Luckily, the dog jumps on the corpse just before it reaches the man and the two wrestle. The man, however, abandons his dog and runs home. He never hears from the dog again, except when he goes hunting in those same woods, he can hear the howl/bark of the dog in the distance. It sounds like it is in pain.

Amina’s father told her this story when she was a child, to scare her. He thought it was funny, but Amina remembers being frightened at the time. Many of her friends heard this story growing up as well.

Customs
Folk Beliefs

Russian Vodka Tradition

When drinking vodka with family, you can’t leave more than 60 seconds between taking the first and second shot.

Amina says that her family and friends followed this tradition for fun, without acknowledging symbolism.

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