Author Archive
Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Family Christmas Recipe

While talking to my friend Clayton, I asked if he had any specific meals that he looked forward to on any holidays or occasions with his family. His response was about a meal that he has every year on Christmas eve.

Clayton elaborated on this and said that, “On Christmas every year we do something called the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ in Italy it is known as ‘The Vigil’. My grandparents came from Bologna, Italy. My grandparents home-make the seven seafood dishes every year and it is a similar recipe that their grandparents in Italy did every year on Christmas eve. It is one of my favorite meals, especially cause we only do this once a year, and this recipe has stayed similar across multiple generations”

 Background Info: Clayton is from Manhattan Beach, CA, but his grandparents are originally from Italy, and then moved to the states. Clayton knows of this traditional dish because he has been having this meal ever since he can remember on Christmas eve.

Context: Clayton told me about this tradition when I was talking to him before our class started, this was the first thing that he thought about when I asked him a question about if he had any traditional meals in his family.

Analysis: I had never heard about this type of meal, I have other friends who have roots in Italy and I asked them if they had heard of this and they said that they have. I guess it is a very common thing across many parts of central Italy. I think this is very interesting and reminded me of meals that I have on Hanukkah.

Customs
Game
general
Holidays
Humor
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Family tradition—Holidays

I talked to my neighbor in my apartment Greg, and asked if he had any traditions during holidays in his family. He told me about a tradition he does every year since he was young during St. Patrick’s Day.

 

Greg said that ever since he was young, “My family and I on St. Patrick’s Day will set up a leprechaun trap in our house and outside our lawn. It was something I did when I was younger but now I think we still do it to keep that feeling of being young in our family. Even when I am not home for the holiday my parents set up traps and send me photos.

 

Background Info: Greg’s family is part Irish, so he has always done a big celebration for St. Patrick’s Day. He says that this leprechaun trap is something he loved doing when he was little and now his family still does it for fun and to keep the tradition alive.

 

Context: Greg told me about this during dinner at our fraternity house on the topic of family holiday traditions. He also does a similar thing for Christmas (cookie as a trap to find Santa)

 

Analysis: I never really celebrated St. Patrick’s Day that much growing up so it was interesting to hear about this holiday tradition as well as other things that his family does for this March 17th event. I also thought it was funny and cool that his family still does this even though Greg and his brother are older now.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Initiations

Family/Life Cycle Tradition

 

I asked one of my roommates Kyle if there was anything that he could think of in the theme of things being passed down in his family. He immediately mentioned something that has been going on in his family for a long time

 

Kyle said that, “The oldest living male in the family gets my great-great grandfather’s gold pocket watch. When the person who has it passes away, the next male gets it. My grandpa has it right now, so when he dies my father will get it, and when he dies I will get the pocket watch. Its something that will continue to be a tradition in my family”

 

 

Background Info: Kyle said that this is a tradition started by his great-great grandfather who wanted to keep something special going along the life cycle of the male generations of the Messinger family. It is a small gold pocket watch that his great-great grandfather would always carry around since he was a child. Kyle thinks this is a very special tradition in his family and knows how important it is to keep the legacy going when it comes his time to own the watch.

 

Context: Kyle told me about this during dinner at our fraternity house.

 

Analysis: I think this is a very cool tradition in Kyle’s family. It reminds me of something that is done on my Mom’s side of the family—similar thing except it is a necklace that my grandmother wears that was given to her by her mother. I think having a family life cycle type tradition like this is very important to have.

Adulthood
Customs
general
Initiations
Life cycle

Jewelry as part of initiation

When talking to one of my roommates Braxton, I asked if he had any sort of initiation type things associated with his family.

 

Braxton said that, “Every man in my family on my dad’s side, including me and my brother, when they turn 16 get a necklace that has our family crest and a Swan on it.” (Pictured Below)

 

 

Background Info: Braxton is originally from Pittsburgh and now lives in Los Angeles. I always see him wearing this and never knew what it was, but Braxton made it clear to me that when a man in the family received this necklace he was “initiated” into the manhood club in the Swann family tree. It is something that goes back in many generations.

 

Context: I asked Braxton about this while talking to our class in a conversation about family initiations.

 

Analysis: I think this is a very cool way to integrate a sense of initiation and belonging to a group in a family, Braxton knew that he was going to get this necklace when he turned 16 so he had something to look forward to. I think I want to integrate something similar in my family and be the one to start it because I love this idea.Screen Shot 2018-04-10 at 3.05.24 PM

Customs
general
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Song/Initiation

I asked a fellow classmate if she had any songs that she knew of as a tradition in any parts of her life. She told me about a song that one had to learn in order to be initiated onto the theatre team at her high school. It was a variation of the song Lean on Me, with added words that acted as puns for each line end, they would do this before every show, and you had to know the song if you wanted to be in the show.

 

Greer said that the song went, “Lean on me (yeah)

When you’re not strong (weak)

And I’ll be your friend (high five) 

I’ll help you carry on 

for (five)

It won’t be long (short)

Til I’m gonna need (elbow)

Somebody to lean on”

 

Background Info: This short variation of Lean on Me was something that Greer had to learn to become initiated into her theatre program, and something that she had to teach grades below her. This was a comforting song that they sang before shows to cool their nerves and recognize that they all had each other’s backs during the show.

 

Context: I learned about this tradition while at coffee with Greer, we both shared stories about certain traditions, and songs that we were familiar with or were a part of throughout our lives.

 

Analysis: I thought this was interesting because it was both a song and a type of initiation. I think them adding small chants at the end of each line as puns brought people together in a fun way, and she said it was something that she looked forward to in each show. I personally don’t have any type of song or tradition similar to this so I thought it was very cool.

 

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Proverbs

Proverb

When talking to my dad, I asked if he had any slogans that his dad or grandfather always would say to him. When I asked this question, he quickly responded with a proverb passed down to him from his father.

 

The proverb that was told to me was “Be free from the tyranny of second causes”

 

 

Background Info: My dad, and his dad, both are always telling me quotes, slogans, and things that they use to shape their everyday lives. This one in particular means that you cannot blame things that happen in your life on anything external from yourself, everything that happens is a result of what you’ve brought upon yourself.

 

Context: My dad told me this proverb while at our family Passover dinner.

 

Analysis: My dad always has proverbs to tell me for all struggles and aspects of my everyday life, this is one that I love a lot and something that he follows every day in his life. When you make a mistake, you have to accept that it was your wrong doing, and that you need to not blame anything but yourself for this, you can then take it step by step from there in figuring out the next steps of whatever situation you are in. This is a proverb that I will hold with me for the rest of my life.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Gestures
Holidays
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Family dinner tradition/ behavior at Holidays and all family gatherings

I asked a fellow classmate in my Marketing class if he had any family traditions or behaviors that are done at his family gatherings.

He told me that, “At almost all of our family dinners, especially ones during holidays, my whole family will say a huge grace, and every person (after my mom’s dad starts) will say a short piece adding to the grace. It becomes a collaborative grace giving everyone their own opportunity to add to the grace. Also for all of these family gatherings, all of the women in the family cook and prepare the table, and then all of the men clear the table and wash the dishes, put leftovers away, etc. It’s something we have always done in the Riggs family.

 Background Info: Tommy has family from Sicily, Italy, so what his grandparents brought from that area is the theme of respect and equal effort, which is why the women prep the meal and the men then do their part as well—they also brought over the idea of the big family grace Tommy told me.

Context: Tommy told me about this tradition during the end of our Marketing class after he thought about if he had more things to share with me about family traditions.

Analysis: I enjoyed listening to this tradition that Tommy’s family always does. He made me realize how important his family is to him which put a smile on my face. My family doesn’t say grace before meals, but I have been to meals and family gatherings where they do and I have grown to understand how important it is to the people that do it so listening to this tradition from Tommy was very cool to me.

Customs
Folk medicine
Material

Family remedy

I asked a fellow classmate in my Marketing class if he had any home remedies that he has picked up on for when he is sick, or wants to prevent getting sick.

 

Tommy said that his grandmother taught him that when he is sick he should, “Take a shot of apple cider vinegar mixed with lemon and honey, this usually helps your throat and helps prevent, I also take 1-2 wellness and vitamin C pills”

 

Background Info: Tommy is from Arizona, but his grandparents are from Sicily, Italy. He says that this remedy is something that his grandmother would always give him when he was little if he was showing any signs of being sick, even very minimal ones. It usually helps prevent his sickness and also provides health benefits.

 

Context: Tommy told me about this home remedy while on the way into our classroom when I asked him if he had anything to share.

 

Analysis: A personal remedy that my mom taught me is lemon water and honey which is kind of similar to Tommy’s, but not the apple cider vinegar. I am interested in trying this remedy now next time I feel that I am getting sick.

 

I decided to look up the benefits of apple cider vinegar because I had never heard about using this as a remedy before. For another version of the benefits of this product see:

 

https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/apple-cider-vinegar-benefits/

Customs
Folk Beliefs

Superstition

Kara is a close family friend, and I asked her if she had anything particular that she always does, or a superstition. What she told me was very interesting to me and I have never heard of before.

 

Kara told me that her superstition is “Before I go to bed I need to make sure that all of my clothes in my closet are color coordinated and color graduated, ranging from different shades of colors, as well as making sure that they align to primary colors vs secondary colors. It’s something that I always have done and whenever I sleep at home I can’t fall asleep until that is done”

 

Background Info: Kara has an artistic background, so this is why she thinks her obsession with colors and their organization has taken over as a major superstition in her lifetime. She even showed me some photos she had of a t shirt area of her closet where everything was color coordinated like she said.

 

Context: Kara told me about this at a family dinner party where friends came over.

 

Analysis: I have heard of some crazy superstitions but none like this that take a lot of time. I thought it was interesting how it wasn’t only that her clothes were color coordinated, but that they also aligned to the color wheel used in art.

Adulthood
Childhood
Foodways
general
Holidays
Life cycle
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Life Cycle/Celebration

I asked one of my good friends from school if he had any celebrations in his family that he was proud of and wanted to share. What he told me was very interesting and related to my family as well.

 

Jo said that, “My great grandpa was a German exile, and traveled to the east coast near New York and New Jersey area. That is where he primarily grew up. When he got older, he wanted to open a restaurant so he opened a steak house near where he grew up. His signature dish was the T-bone steak, and whenever he would eat it, he would grab the T-bone by the top of the bone and eat it with his hands, it was his way of celebrating the meal and celebrating life. He passed away a while back, but my whole extended family and I always go to eat at the steakhouse which is still there once a year. What we will do is order one T-bone, and pass it down the table for everyone to take a bite from it while holding the bone in their hands, it is our tradition of celebrating my great grandpa as well as celebrating being together in that moment at a family owned restaurant.”

 

Background Info: Jo’s family is from the New Jersey area, but his great grandpa is from Germany so he has ties to parts of the country. His family still owns the steak house and he still partakes in this tradition/celebration every year.

 

Context: Jo told me about this fascinating family celebration during lunch between classes.

 

Analysis: This was one of my favorite collections from my 20 that I gathered. I think that the celebration is cool to pass on, but I was very fascinated by the bigger meaning of the behavioral action of eating the T-bone with your hand, the meaning of celebrating life and freedom as done by the care free action of eating with your hands.

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