Author Archive
Holidays

New Year

Interview:

 

“We do Christian and Buddhist things at the same time, we go to church on Christmas, then do New Year Sri Lankan stuff.”

 

What do you normally do for New Years?

 

“On New Year we eat sticky rice because it’s for good luck and then for New Year you pray to your elders and like kneel and pray.  I think that’s Sri Lankan.”

 

Background:

 

The informant was unaware of specifics to the New Year celebration, there were specific consistent features of the celebration for him.  When asked about the importance of the holiday to him, the informant states that it is an important family event.  While traditionally celebrated on April 13th or 14th, Aluth Avurudda, also known as Sinhalese New Year, is celebrated similarly to how the informant’s family traditionally celebrates.

 

Analysis:

It seems that among many cultures celebrate a form of celebration for the New Year.  They also seem to share similar ideas of the cleansing effect of the new year.  Many of the new year celebration involve rituals for the new year that are to bring good luck.

Holidays

Qing Ming Jie

Interview:

“Every year once a year, visit the graveyard of my grandparents.”

So was it like holiday kind of thing?

“Yeah, it was called qing ming jie.  Was for grandma, because grandma died really young.  We would visit and clean the graveyard, and do the incense, and at home we would pray and burn paper money.”

 

Background:

The holiday qing ming jie is a festival known as tomb-sweeping day.  Traditionally taking place on as the 15th day after the spring equinox.  Paper money is often burned to provide the deceased with the ability to be prosperous in the afterlife.   There is an incredible emphasis on the importance of family and ancestors in Taiwanese culture.

Analysis:

This reminds me similarly of countries like Japan who would do similar tasks to pay respects to their ancestors.  Sweeping the grave and leaving flowers were some of the tasks that were carried out.

 

Foodways
Proverbs

Birthday Noodles

Proverb:

“On your birthday you are supposed to eat noodles.  Really long, long noodles.  You almost choked on them.”

 

Background:

My mother told me this custom was passed through the family that was told to her by her family.  According to the folk lore, long noodles were indications of a person’s life span, therefore on the celebration of a birthday, the eating of long noodles represents the wish for the individual’s life to be long and prosperous.  While many no longer believe in the folklore anymore, the symbolism behind this custom becomes a wish of good health and prosperity.

Analysis:

While I distinctly remember that I actually choked on the noodles in this particular event, the retelling of this custom reminded me of the memories from the past.  It is interesting to see how superstitions and folklore can transform to represent something different.  In this example, it becomes a form of tradition that means wishes for a long life.

Holidays

Chinese New Year

Interview:

What holidays do you celebrate?

“We run this race during Chinese New Year called the firecracker race.  It takes place in Chinatown and there are many runs like kiddie runs and the 5k run or the 10k run.

Every year my family would go and run it and we would always have fun. After the race, by going by stands and getting free food and promotional things.  Then after that we would go to a sandwich store called Philippe’s.”

 Background:

The subject began running this race annually due to the fact her father and brother took part in the race every Chinese New Year.  Normally taking place on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month, Chinese New Year traditionally is known as the spring festival.  Each year is named after one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac of which each is named after.  Traditionally the holiday is celebrated cleaning the house to sweep away bad luck and red envelopes with money are often given from the adults to the children.

Analysis:

It is interesting to see how traditions evolve from one country to another.  Family traditions that change as a result to new environments resulting in unique ways of celebration.

Myths

The slender man

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 10.40.11 PM

Background:

Slender man, a supernatural creature that is often depicted as an incredibly tall humanoid wearing a suit, with a head possessing no features or face.  Inspiring many series such as the interactive web series Marble Hornets, the urban legend began as a creepypasta created on the Something Awful forums.  Creepypasta, or online horror legends or photographs, got their name from copypasta, which notes their tendency to be copy and pasted in blocks of text across various forums and social media websites across the internet.  This method of spreading information anonymously across the internet can be attributed to the popularization of this urban legend.  Although the story has been proved to be a fictional work with an original author that is identifiable, the story of slender man is seen to possess many traits of traditional folklore.  According to Professor Shira Chess of University of Georgia, the story of Slenderman provides collectivity, variability, and performance differences.  The story of slender man, is firstly, told by a collective.  While it began from one person, the story is told by many.  With many interpretations of Slenderman, it creates variation that shapes the legend.  Each unique story, adds to the creature known as Slenderman.  Often even when performing this folktale, the mediums will be different. They could be images like the original forum post, to text stories and movies, and even video games.

Analysis:

I believe this is representative of the collaborative nature of the internet.  A world where any one story or image can add on to the canon.  The course of slender man’s development is also reminiscent of many of the Lovecraftian stories.

Link to the CreepyPasta forum Entry: https://www.creepypasta.com/slenderman/

 

Myths

Pointing at the Moon

 Interview:

Are there any events of superstition that you heard?

 

“We were told not to point our fingers to the moon, or kids aren’t allowed to point fingers at the moon, in general, otherwise get punished by, like a god of the moon.

But particularly mentioned during the Mid-Autumn festival because you view the moon, and children tend to point to it.”

 

Background:

My father described this as something that his mother and other adults told him as he was growing up.  Some of the most common search results reveal that this is one of the traditional pieces of Hmong folklore.  The superstition goes, that if you point at the moon, the woman on the moon, known as Chang E, would come and cut the ear of the person who points at her.  While my father is from Taiwan, many other east Asian countries share this superstition.   While he told this story, he doesn’t believe in the superstition himself.

 

Analysis:

This story seemed a bit like the modern bloody Mary to me.  Often superstitions have a dual function to make children behave or teach morals but that doesn’t seem to be the motivation behind this superstition.  These stories fill me with a reckless curiosity to test the superstition to see if their promised curses really befall the performer.

Digital
Humor

GilvaSunner (SilvaGunner)

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 10.41.28 PMBackground:

GilvaSunner, the original name of a YouTube account now known as SilvaGunner, is a Youtube account that poses as a music ripper of a similar name, who upload series of video game soundtrack remixes.  Originally, the name GilvaSunner belonged to a Youtube account that specialized in “video game rips” which are soundtracks taken directly from the video game.  After that channel was terminated for copyright infringement, a parody GilvaSunner account was created replacing the L in the original “GilvaSunner” name, with a capitalized I, and mimicked the original account, but instead of posting the video game rips that were promised, it uploaded a remixed version of the soundtrack.   Many of these remixed soundtracks consisted of humorous mash-ups or edits of songs, which is known as SoundClowns.  Many of these rips, eventually permeate across many social media sites, and even become notable memes.  One of these memes, involved the remix of the song “We are Number One”, from the children’s show Lazy Town, had an everlasting impact on a person’s life.  Due to the popularization of the original remix from SilvaGunner, it came to light that Stefan Karl, the actor who sang the song for the original series developed pancreatic cancer.  After Silvagunner linked the gofundme that would fund his treatment, on their twitter, the internet blew up, creating more remixes, while raising awareness for the gofundme.  On August 13, 2017, Stefan Karl shared the message on his gofundme, stating that he was officially free of cancer metastases.

Analysis:

This event is a symbol of the moving force behind the internet.  It represents the power of laughter and creativity on the platform the internet provides.

 

Link to Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9ecwl3FTG66jIKA9JRDtmg

 

Digital
Humor

SoundClowns

Screen Shot 2018-04-23 at 10.40.43 PM

Background:

The term “soundclown” denotes a genre of musical compositions on the music sharing website SoundCloud.  They are known for humorous mash-ups or edits of songs on the platform.  Many of the early popular remixes, included ones involving the main theme of the children’s show “Thomas the Tank Engine”.  “Under the Booty” by TDRloid was one of the first popular SoundClowns that would receive 2 million views within three years.  It was a mash-up of the song “Ms. New Booty” by Bubba Sparxxx and “Under the Sea” from the Little Mermaid which are starkly different musical compositions.  Some of the other remixes would include versions of songs that would replace vocals with air horns, mash-ups of strange pairings, or even other internet memes laced to the soundtracks.  Many of these eventually become popular memes and shared across social media, inspiring other remixes.  Notable examples of SoundClown creators include the artists within the SilvaGunner group and Cyranek.

Analysis:

The rise of Soundclowns represent the innovation that is brought together on the internet.  Through humor and music, they provide entertainment through creativity.

 

Link to TDRloid’s Remix https://soundcloud.com/tdrloid/under-the-booty

 

Folk Beliefs
Foodways

Zhong zi

Interview:

“We eat zhong zi (bamboo wrapped rice dumplings) with the rabbit jumping into the moon.

They were throwing young people into the river as human sacrifice, so a queen who thought it was inhumane, threw herself in instead, so people threw zhong zi into the river so the fish wouldn’t eat her body.

The moon goddesses took pity on her so they sent her into the heavens, where she worked with the mochi pounding moon bunnies.

It was called duan wu jie.

After that its counted as summer.  “

 

Background:

This story was passed down to my mother from her family.  Zhong zi is a traditional Chinese food made of sticky rice and different fillings, that is then wrapped with bamboo leaves.  They are traditionally eaten during Duanwu jie, also known as the Dragon boat festival.  This story that was told bears striking similarities to the legend of Duanwu jie.  The original story was about a highly esteemed poet who lived in the kingdom of Chu.  He was known for his patriotism and warned his king of a coming threat.  Because of jealous peers, he was slandered and his warning fell on deaf ears, resulting in the fall of his kingdom.  His grief ended with him throwing himself in the river.  Many people threw zhong zi into the river to also prevent his body from being eaten by fish.  The second part of the tale seems to have similarities to the Japanese and Korean mythology of rabbits that live on the moon who pound sticky rice cakes known as mochi.

Analysis:

Overall, this folk story seems like it was one that was passed down in specific local regions.  While it draws from the more popular existing mythologies, it has qualities unique to itself.     While some of these similarities may be from my mother combining the folk stories that she remembers, it shows the process in which folk stories evolve and change.

Tales /märchen

Ghostly Body Press

Interview:

“There was an Airbnb, short term rental house, in Hengchun where a grad student went there, and geology grad students frequently lived in this house to do their field study, and a few of them where they had feelings of pressure from ghosts.   Some felt like there were bodies laying on them, and they couldn’t move.  And it wasn’t just one.”

 

“And I had that experience before, where I couldn’t move but I was awake.  I figured it was something in my brain that my body hadn’t woken up yet but couldn’t move.  But it wasn’t the same experience.  It was rumors and stories from fellow grad students. In Taiwan it was called gui ya shen (ghost press body).”

 

Background:

According to my father, this was a common urban legend among the geology grad students.  This legend was told to him by upper classmen who also explained there was no known reason why the house was haunted. “Gui ya shen” is the term in Chinese culture that means sleep paralysis.  While my father has had his experience of sleep paralysis before, it seemed the case with the Airbnb, witnesses had felt like it was body pressure on them rather than not being able to move after falling asleep.

Analysis:

I thought the story was intriguing, because the experiences that had taken place were not explained easily with scientific knowledge.  While sleep paralysis requires that the victim was sleeping before it occurred, some reports of these events occurred for students while they were doing everyday tasks.   While the term “gui ya shen” does apply for sleep paralysis in Chinese culture, the symptoms that are listed do not match with the witness accounts from this Airbnb.

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