Author Archive
Humor

Doctor Practical Jokes

Main Piece:

Interviewer: Did you have any jokes played on you while you were first being trained as a doctor?

Informant: Yeah, there was one that really stuck with me.  But when I was a resident and was on call, some of the more seasoned nurses and older doctors would page the interns with different codes.  Some are very serious like code blue, which is basically like a call for help for a more serious patient who may be dying.  But then there are other codes that are less serious, but interns have to respond to every call, so every page to them is important.

Interviewer: So what was the worst page you got?

Informant:  Well as a practical joke I was paged a “code brown”.  And of course, being an intern I rushed to the patient thinking that someone was dying or something really serious was going on.  But in reality a “code brown” was another way of saying a patient had pooped or needed their bed pans cleaned out.  So all the more seasoned doctors and nurses knew to avoid the code but paged interns with it as a joke.  So if you ever become a doctor, know your codes! And if you don’t know, ask before unless you want to have to clean up some unwanted waste.

Interviewer: Wow that’s actually really funny.  Were you mad about it when you found out?

Informant: I was annoyed when I found out, especially since I took it really seriously.  But after it happened and now looking back on it, I think it’s really funny and that’s why I wanted to share it. 

 

Background: The informant is now a full time practicing physician.  She knew about this piece of folklore because she experienced it in person and then passed it down to me.  To her it reflects one of the many hurdles she had to go through while being an intern and then a resident.  The practical joke was considered a rite of passage to her and now that she can pass it along, it’s even more meaningful.

Context: This interview took place over the phone while talking to my mom who referred me to a coworker who had told her this joke while they reminisced about internship.  Then I talked to the informant and she was able to share with me directly the story she had told my mother.

Analysis: This piece was really interesting to me because I have heard a lot about serious folklore for doctors and the things they go through but this one was pretty funny.  Even though this community is really rigorous and the process of becoming a doctor if often really hard, it shows that there is still jokes and folklore that is really meant to lighten the mood and poke fun at each other.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative

Mexican Boogieman

Interviewer: Do you have any legends or superstitions or stories of magic that you’ve been told or that runs in the family or any Mexican folklore?

 

Informant: So I’ve heard this story and variations of this story multiple times and from different people.  This one is the one I know best because it involves our family.  It is more of a story that exemplifies a belief of my great grandparents and some of the superstitions they had in Mexico before coming to the U.S. But basically it was told to me and my cousins to explain why my oldest aunt on my father’s side was not allowed to come around the family anymore. I think I was ten or eleven when I first heard it and my grandmother told it in Spanish but my dad would translate.  But it started back when my grandmother and grandfather lived in Brawley, Ca. which was close to the border in San Diego county.  And they lived in an old two story house and the boys would go to work with my grandfather and the girls would stay home.  But my oldest aunt was said to be very pretty and she wanted to leave home and was seeing this older man who was proposing to take her and run away together.  And my grandmother found out about him and her friends who had come from the same part of Mexico as her, told her that the man was from an old part of Mexico and they believed that this man was part of a family in which the devil came from. So my grandmother warned my aunt and told her to stay away from the man.  Until one day the boys and my grandfather had gotten home from work and my aunt was angry because my grandmother kept chasing off the man, and wouldn’t let my aunt see him. My grandmother kept calling him the Spanish equivalent of the boogieman or the devil, the “I Cucuy” but I forget the word now. But so my aunt went up to her room because she was angry and then a little bit later when they were getting ready for dinner they heard screaming and rustling in her room.  So my dad and my other aunt ran upstairs and my grandfather ran around the side of the house.  And when they got to the room my aunt was on the ground screaming and they looked on the window sill, the window was open, there were two hooves coming off of the sill.  My grandfather said there was a ladder on the outside of the house but no one there.  So after this happened the family left the house and they told my aunt that she couldn’t come with them because the bad energy or the bad magic would follow them.

 

Interviewer: So the hooves were said to belong to the devil?

 

Informant: There’s an old folk belief that the devil has a somewhat animal form and so it made sense that when my grandmother said the man was from a family associated with the devil that my father and aunt would see hooves.

 

Interviewer: So they never returned to that area?

 

Informant: No, they moved north and tried to distance themselves from the area as much as they could. They all firmly believe that this was some dark spirit magic.

 

Background: The informant, Joe Reyes, is a Mexican American 2nd generation in America. His family immigrated from a rural part of Mexico and migrated with the crops through California.  His father was one of seven children with both brothers and sisters.  He learned much of his folklore from his father who learned it from his father and so on.  Joe Reyes has a brother and a sister who were also told some of this folklore passed it down to their own families.

Context: This interview took place during a weekend at home with the family.  Sitting in the living room on a Saturday night and asking about family history and folklore.  The informant first heard the narrative when he was around eleven or ten years old at a family gathering after he kept asking his father about his estranged aunt.  Upon starting the tale, other sisters of the informant’s father, had to leave because of the upsetting nature of the story.  The informant is not sure whether or not he believes it but his father’s family had the belief deeply engrained in them.

Analysis: This was the first time I had heard this story and I was deeply affected by it.  The story also was in line with much of the Mexican folklore surrounding the form and image of the devil. It was also interesting that my grandmother who was in the room understood the name of that was used to call the man and could recall it from stories and legends she had heard in her youth.  But this version is not a child’s tale and varies in structure as it pertains to my family.

 

 

Legends
Narrative

Alien Sightings

Interviewer: Do you know any legends, or experienced any ghosts or aliens or things you didn’t know how to explain or whether they were true or not?

 

Informant: Well this definitely happened to me but I don’t know what it was. It was not conventional like I don’t know how to explain it.  We were out by Coyote Creek, south of where we lived and before they built it up.  And we were just kind of pulled over and I always used to look up.  It was really quiet and there were no really big buildings around. And I looked up and I was like “what is that light” and I just saw this light moving.  But it wasn’t moving in a straight line.  It was moving in really jagged and really weird angles and that’s when it caught my eye.  Like I couldn’t figure out what it was.  And that’s when I said to the person I was with, “look!” And I pointed and it was way up there and it started doing these jagged movements.  But the thing that was the coolest was that at one point it stopped and it broke up into three lights and split off into three different directions.  And I told the person I was with not to forget because in fifty years it might mean something

 

Interviewer: At the time did you know what it was or did someone tell you what they thought it was?

 

Informant: I didn’t know what it was but I thought maybe it was a UFO.

 

Interviewer: And did you tell anybody?

 

Informant: Just the person I was with and then you. But this was before I was into sci fi and I was only about 17 at the time.  But years later I remember a report on the news and the person recalled how they saw the same thing, a single objects moving in odd jagged angles that conventional planes couldn’t and then the splitting off of three different lights and then it just disappeared.

 

Background: Maria Juarez-Reyes is the mother of the interviewer and a firm believer in the supernatural or in sci fi as a genre. This was her first in person encounter with something she could not explain and it influenced her love of sci fi.  Culturally, aliens are not something that are traditionally believed in, but is greatly influenced by popular culture.

Context: This interview took place during a weekend at home with family.  The informant first experienced this episode when she was around 17 and with her boyfriend at the time.  They were on a date in San Jose, California and she recounts the experience more than once.

Analysis: This account is considered to be a legend based on the time the story takes place and the debate about whether it is actually true or if aliens actually exist. To those who believe, the story always has validity but varies according to belief. The performance also adds to the believe-ability and the informant also said to experience chills while telling the story which added to the truth of the account.  Maria Juarez-Reyes firmly believes that she saw something unexplainable that could have been aliens but it is unknown.

 

 

Customs
Foodways
Holidays

Chinese New Year

Interviewer: Are there any cultural celebrations or holidays that you engage in?

 

Informant: Chinese New Year is a big part of my culture and it’s a big holiday that I usually spend with my family. We usually celebrate at my grandmother’s house and the first thing we do is exchange red envelopes. And my grandmother makes “long life noodles” and then “gold bars” which are actually spring rolls that symbolize money.  There are also eggs with oysters for fertility and then we have a Chinese candy to stand for a sweet life.

 

Interviewer: What do the red envelopes symbolize? And is there any part of the celebration that you directly do or a role that has been passed on to you?

 

Informant:  The red envelopes stand for good fortune and they are usually filled with cash money, and the elders of the family or the older generation like parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles hand out the envelopes.  And then my grandmother used to make spring rolls every year but now my sister and I are the ones who make them.

 

Interviewer: And how long does the celebration usually last?

 

Informant: We usually just celebrate one the actual day of Chinese New Year, or if it doesn’t fall on a weekend, then we celebrate on the Friday of the closest week.  My grandmother also gives everyone a stuffed animal of whatever animal or zodiac sign of that year.

 

Interviewer: And do you have a special meal or prayer or ritual?

 

Informant: We usually do a special meal and my mother’s whole side of the family comes to my grandmother’s house for dinner.

 

Interviewer: And that meal is the same as the noodles and the spring rolls and?

 

Informant: Yes, it’s the same just larger portions so that the whole family can eat.

 

Interviewer: Wow that sounds good! Thank you for sharing.

 

Background: The informant is a sophomore at Loyola Marymount University studying psychology.  She is half Chinese and half Caucasain and her grandparents on her mother’s side immigrated from China when they were young.  Her and her sister have been raised with many of the traditional Chinese holidays and often share their customs with friends.  For the informant, this piece was relating something that takes place every year and is often a way for her to spend time with extended family.  It is also a reflection of the Americanization of the holiday given the way her and her family celebrate.

 

Context:  This interview was done while in the car on the way to Disneyland to take part in the Chinese New year celebration theme.  She has been celebrating the holiday since birth and her family has also been celebrating the holiday both back in China and in the states.

 

Analysis: It was not the first time I had heard of the various traditions but the first time I understood their meanings and reflected on the importance for my friend’s culture. It is also fun to the different variations of the celebration and the added twist of giving out stuffed animals or engaging in other things.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

Cultural Joke

Interviewer: Do you know any folklore based on stereotypes or any jokes based on communities?

 

Informant: I know some jokes that I learned from my family.  I think one that would fit is a joke I heard from my mom.

 

Interviewer: How does it go?

 

Informant: Why do Mexicans make tamales for Christmas?

 

Interviewer: I don’t know, why?

 

Informant: So they can have something to unwrap.

 

Interviewer: That is actually really funny, I don’t think it would have the same meaning if I wasn’t Mexican.

 

Informant: Yeah I think it’s more relatable because my family has tamales for Christmas and it’s a big part of our celebration.

 

Interviewer: Yeah it was actually really funny and the first thing I thought about was how excited my dad gets around Christmas because he could honestly care less about the presents but loves tamales.

 

Informant: Yeah exactly.  If you weren’t Mexican it would be more like you thought it was funny because it fulfilled a stereotype but not because you actually understood the customs or the culture.

 

Interviewer: That’s so true! Thanks for sharing.

 

Background: The informant is a Junior at USC studying Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Change.  She is Mexican American and comes from a large family and extended family based in the greater Los Angeles area.  The informant is also the roommate of the interviewer and a close friend who shares many cultural traditions.

 

Context: This interview occurred during a lunch meal with friends where we discussed similar cultural practices.  The informant first heard this joke when at home with her family and then shared it with me.  She said her mother was the one to share the folklore and that she had heard it before from another within her community.

 

Analysis: At first this joke was really funny to me but then I thought about the cultural implications that went into creating the stereotype.  It was weird to see how other people thought about a given culture.  And it was interesting to analyze why it was funny to those within the group, and to me it was that people within the group are able to laugh because they are acknowledging but also counter acting the stereotype.

 

Foodways
Material

Family Gorditas

Interviewer: Is there any food or dishes that have been passed down through your family and that you share with others?

 

Informant: Well we do this thing every year for the past twelve years where we make Gorditas and my whole extended family is invited as a way for us to get together and celebrate being a family.

 

Interviewer: And when did the tradition start?

 

Informant: One of my uncles died and my family was more spread out so it was sort of a way to reconnect.

 

Interviewer: And who started it?

 

Informant: My mom started doing it because the uncle that died taught her how to make the dough for the gorditas and no one else knew how to do it.  So from then on each year we have a night at my house.

 

Interviewer: Has your mom passed down the skills to you?

 

Informant:  I know how to make them now after helping her for so many years but I don’t know the ingredients off the tops of my head just because she is always there to help me.  So I guess f my mom was older and she wanted was worried about the recipe getting forgotten, then she would right it is down but for now it’s more of something we do together.

 

Interviewer: And do other members of your family help?

 

Informant: Usually everyone does something to help.  My aunts, or my mom’s sisters, usually help assemble the gorditas or help with other food that they want to bring.  And my uncles usually take the time that the food is cooking to gossip and catch up. My youngers cousins and siblings usually all stay in the living room or something to just eat and play.  And then the middle kids or like the older kids around my age with help to do dishes and clean up.  So everyone pitches in in some way or another.

 

Interviewer: And does this happen the same time every year, like is it a set holiday?

 

Informant: No, it’s more of a healing thing.  Like the food and the coming together helps people feel better and we usually plan it around something happening in the family and the food helps us come to terms with how we heal and move on.

 

Interviewer: That’s interesting because a lot of people have specific dishes to help them celebrate good things or like birthday and things like that but it makes sense that it could also be to comprehend and deal with more serious things as well.

 

Informant:  Yeah like it would seem off for me to eat the gorditas or prepare them other than in that context and with those people.  It’s kind of sacred now.

 

Background: The informant is a Junior at USC studying Non-Governmental Organizations and Social Change.  She is Mexican American and comes from a large family and extended family based in the greater Los Angeles area.  The informant is also the roommate of the interviewer and a close friend who shares many cultural traditions. This piece to her was very special and personal but also something she enjoys sharing with her friends because it provides a glimpse into her own family history.

 

Context: This interview occurred during a lunch meal with friends where we discussed similar cultural practices. However, the informant and interviewer happened to also be roommates earlier in the year and were able to experience the family tradition together.  The informant invited the interviewer to participate and engage in the gathering at her home and was able to witness first-hand the power of the food.

 

Analysis: For this piece, I was lucky enough to experience it in person and then interview the informant after the fact just to gain a better understanding of why and how the tradition came to be.  It was great to see similarities in the family gatherings that I have in my own home and them compare it to what I was witnessing.  Also to understand the meaning behind it after having already experienced it made it more special that she had invited me in the first place.  And it was important to see that food has many different aspects for those who create it, it is often wholly different to have something from a restaurant and then to have something homemade and the effect it has on the person consuming it.

 

Legends
Narrative

La Llorona Variation

Interviewer: Do you know of any cultural legends or tales that someone else told you or passed down to you?

 

Informant: I know about the Mexican folk tale or story.

 

Interviewer: Great, how does the story start?

 

Informant: Well this woman, fell in love with this man and wanted him to marry her.  But the man said that he didn’t want to marry her because she had kids, so she had to get rid of them.  So she took them to this river and either drowned them or just left them there and eventually they drowned on their own.  And then when she went back to the man she loved, he told her that it was too late and that he had found someone else to marry.  She was heartbroken and was crying as she went back to the river to look for her kids but they were gone.  From then on she cried for the rest of her time.  And apparently if a kid cries then La Llorona can hear the crying and thinks it’s the children she lost.

 

Interviewer: The version I have heard is that you aren’t supposed to wander to far from home or go to bodies of water, like rivers alone, or misbehave in general because then she would find you.  Have you heard different versions as well?

 

Informant: I hadn’t heard the part about wandering off but what I was told was that parents tell their children the story when they want them to stop crying.  Because that’s how La Llorona knows where you are, by the crying and her believing that it is her own children crying.  I guess it also makes sense if you are misbehaving but it loses the thing that identifies you to La Llorona.  It is almost like the crying is a siren call for her so I think it’s an important part of the telling of the story that the child listening also be crying.

 

Interviewer: Yeah that actually makes a lot of sense.  Did you believe the story when you first heard it?

 

Informant: I thought it was just creepy.  I don’t know if I necessarily believed it but it makes an impact.  I think logically you know it’s an old wives’ tale but at the same time it’s pretty weird.  Like it makes you think about where these stories started and what happened to start them.

 

Background: The informant is a junior at USC and has lived in Los Angeles her whole life.  She also has a large extended family who often get together to spend time catching up.  This piece was one that she had often overlooked but was unaware of the various versions of it.  For her the story was not used against her as a way to get her to behave, but mostly as a scary story.

Context: This interview took place during a dinner conversation about scary stories and other things we had learned about from our families.  The informant learned the legend from her mother who told her and her younger siblings.

Analysis: I had heard versions of this story for other people but never from my family.  My grandmother also knew about the story but didn’t tell me or my parents because she didn’t believe in it and didn’t want to spread it.  Which is interesting in the sense that even when some performers stop passing on folklore, that people will still learn the pieces whether through other performers or media or through projects. But after hearing the legend in full I think it was better that I learned it from friends because I think if my family or even my grandmother had told me I would have believed it more and been more afraid.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

German Märchen: Struwwelpeter

Interviewer: Do you know any German fairy tales or lullabies that you were told when you were younger or when you’ve visited Germany over the years?

 

Informant: My grandfather used to read out of this story book when I was little and it was compiled of German folktales that centered around this one character, Struwwel Peter.  It is like really well known in Germany and it follows this guy who is like supposed to teach children life lessons in the form of tales. They are more like warnings, like if you do “this” then “something” will happen to you I guess.

 

Interviewer: Do you remember one of the stories or an example of the stories or lessons?

 

Informant: Well there was one that was told to me about Struwwelpeter when I was younger and it was that there were these children that were really young and still sucked on their thumbs.  And the parents or the group that was around them was trying to get them to stop or get them to grow up so basically Struwwelpeter turned into a “scissor man”.  I know it sounds really weird but that’s what it was about and it really freaked me out.  And the tale goes that if you were sucking your thumb then he would come and try to cut off your thumb as a punishment.  So he was basically like chasing kids who miss behaved or disobeyed their parents in some way.

 

Interviewer: Was it meant to be a scary story?

 

Informant: I don’t think so but German tales and stories really don’t mess around, like there is no beating around the bush with certain images or details. It’s all kind of very graphic and upfront.  But I didn’t really grasp how scary and graphic the stories were when I was little until I got older and thought about what they were actually saying and the concepts kind of started to freak me out.

 

Interviewer: Yeah just by you telling me the story I got freaked out and I can’t even imagine telling that to children but I guess different cultures and time frames use different folklore.

 

Informant: It was also really serious because my grandfather is really German and the rest of my cousins still live there so I knew he wasn’t messing around.

 

Interview: Well thanks for sharing!

 

Background: The informant is a sophomore in college student Linguistics with an emphasis in German.  Her extended family lives in Germany and she visits them every two to three years.  She has also spent time teaching English and learning German over the summer at a children’s day school in rural Germany.  To her, this piece is very characteristics of things she has learned and experienced through this particular culture.  Even upon this interview she asked first if I knew who the Grimms were and the stories they collected.  Tales for her are a signifying point.

 

Context: This interview took place while on visit to see the informant.  The informant first heard or experienced this piece from her grandfather who not only knew the tales by heart but had gotten her a book compiled of a collection of these stories that her family still has.

 

Analysis: This interview was extremely special because it was the first time I had asked someone for cultural products or folklore and they knew exactly what I meant.  It was also cool to see examples of things we had discussed in class and to meet someone who knew exactly what märchen were and the history of their culture, including the Grimms.  In hearing the piece I was also struck by the reality of it and the exclusion of filters for different audiences depending on age, but given the course, it makes sense that these tales would not be edited for children of the time if childhood was not an established concept.  The coming together of these different examples and theories is a really interesting process that has brought tangibility to the study of folklore.

 

Annotation: Documented versions of this piece can be found in Heinrich Hoffman’s book, Struwwelpeter: Merry Tales and Funny Pictures.

Hoffman, Heinrich. Struwwelpeter. G. Routledge & Sons, Ltd., 1909.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

German Märchen: Snow White

Interviewer: Do you know any German fairy tales or lullabies that you were told when you were younger or when you’ve visited Germany over the years?

 

Informant: I know a similar version to the Grimms of Snow White.  I think it’s really popular for people who are German or those who live in Germany to know stories that come from Grimms.  A lot of other stories are based of that collection.

 

Interviewer: Do you have one that sticks out for you?

 

Informant: Yeah there’s one called Sneewittchen which is German for Snow White or what we know as Snow White.

 

Interviewer: How does it go?

 

Informant: So there’s Snow White and the Evil Queen in the beginning and then Snow White escapes to live with the seven dwarves.  But after the Evil Queen asks the mirror, who’s the fairest of them all and it says Snow White, she sends the Huntsman out to go and kill Snow White.  But instead of killing her, he kills a boar and brings back the heart as a way to trick the Evil Queen into thinking that Snow White is dead.  So time goes by, and then the Evil Queen asks the mirror again who the is the fairest of them all and it says Snow White again.  That’s how the queen finds out that Snow White is still alive and decides to go out and look for her.  So when she finds her, she tricks her into eating the apple and she actually dies for a short time and they place her in a glass casket.  The Prince is out hunting in the woods, when he discovers Snow White in the glass and kisses her.  She comes back to life and as they are planning to get married, the Prince realizes that the Evil Queen is the one who was trying to kill her.  So he captures the Queen and forces her to wear these pair of burning hot shoes while she dances in front of the whole court.  And the Prince makes her dance until she is eventually consumed by the heat and essentially burned alive. The Queen dies and Snow White and the Prince get married and that’s the end.

 

Interviewer:  That is a very interesting version and a really awful way to die if you were the Queen.

 

Informant: Yeah, a lot of the stories that everyone knows, especially the Disney version don’t include those kinds of details but the earlier version aren’t as censured.

 

Background: The informant is a college student studying Linguistics with an emphasis in German.  She has a large extended family that still lives in Germany and she visits every two to three years.  She has also spent time in rural Germany teaching English at a children’s day school as well as learning to better her German.  This piece represents a lot of similar stories she heard as a child and was unaware until she was older that other children were learning the same stories in different ways.

Context: This interview took place when the informant was visiting with the interviewer.  For the informant, this piece is something that she not only heard when she was little but also studied again in school when taking an upper level German course.

 

Analysis: With this piece, the informant and I talked a lot about the history of the story and the role the Grimms played in distributing the stories that circulated a lot in German culture.  For the informant, the Grimms were almost a form of national pride and I found that really interesting.  Despite, that to an outsider like me, these stories seem gruesome and dark, to her it is an identifying mark of the history of her culture. It also brought to mind some ideas that we discussed around tourism and the way that the visited culture can be both proud and somewhat embarrassed by the things that make them stand out to other people and for me the Grimms tales seemed like a prime example for this informant.

 

Annotation: Other versions of this story and other like it can be found in

Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. Kinder- Und Hausmarchen. G. Weise, 1860.

Contagious
Magic
Protection

Chinese Jade

Interviewer: Do you have any cultural beliefs or superstitions?

 

Informant: Well in Chinese culture, jade is in a lot of the jewelry that we wear.  It is supposed to be worn for good luck and protection.  But the most common forms that jade comes in for a lot of people is in bracelets or necklaces. There are various colors that jade comes in is green, orange red and purple but green seems to be the most popular.  It is also really important that the jade is real and not just a fake or an imitation.  My mom has a jade necklace and a jade bracelet that she never takes off, never.  The jade is supposed to be for protection and also it channels one’s chi or energy.  And typically jade is really vibrant, but my mom’s jewelry becomes really dull when she wears it but my aunt had jewelry that she wears it doesn’t fade or go dull.  So it’s kind of weird because when my mom gets a new bracelet the old one will become vibrant again once she takes it off, so it’s almost like she’s using the magic in it, like she’s draining it.  I don’t know if that’s very common but I have only seen it happen to her.

 

Interviewer: Are there any times when the jade actually protects someone?

 

Informant:  Well I have heard this story that one of my grandmother’s friend was wearing a jade bracelet and she one day took a really bad fall.  And when she looked at her bracelet it had shattered but she walked away with no injuries.  It was also very important for my grandmother that when I went away to school, I had a jade bracelet to protect me.  So even if I don’t wear it I always have it with me somewhere.

 

Interviewer: so do you believe in its powers?

 

Informant: I think that growing up and being told that jade is protection and a source of good luck has made me believe in it.  But I also don’t believe in the tradition of having to wear it for it to protect me.  I don’t wear mine often, but I keep little pieces of jade everywhere.  Like in my car there is a piece hanging from the rear view window and in my wallet there are pieces of it.  But I don’t actually wear it most of the time because my taste in jewelry is just different but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in its power.  I think it would be very weird for me if my family members stopped wearing their jewelry or took off their jade.  It is also more of a practical choice because I am in a lot of science classes and they are often really careful about what we wear and I don’t want it to get damaged or get chemicals on it.  So I do believe in the tradition and the magic but I don’t practice it in the same ways that my elders do, and I should probably be doing it but I just haven’t recently.

 

Interviewer: Great thanks for sharing!

 

Background:  The informant is a Junior at USC studying human biology.  She is half Chinese and half Italian but spends more time with her Chinese family and has more beliefs and practices based on her Chinese ancestors.  For the informant, this piece became a form of self-reflection about her own beliefs and how she lives them out in her daily life.  It also served as a reminder of where she came from and the people who are supporting her while she is away.

 

Context: This interview was done during a discussion in a dorm room as the informant and interviewer are roommates.  The informant first experienced this belief and practice as a young child and was given her first piece of jade upon birth.  Though the informant is unsure where the belief originated, it is understood throughout most of China as a folk belief and has traveled with people who have immigrated to other parts of the world.

 

Analysis:  This belief is evident throughout a lot of mainstream culture and exemplified in many Chinese practitioners.  It was interesting to understand the meaning behind the practice and the stories that reinforce the belief. I have seen many people wear jade but it was more meaningful to learn about the power and strength of having this cultural symbol always with you.  In a way it made me related to my own pieces of jewelry that I do not take off and what they mean to me.

 

 

 

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