Author Archive
Folk Beliefs

Brazilian Door Superstition

The following Brazilian superstition was performed over coffee on April 23rd, 2019.  In Brazil, it’s considered bad luck to unlock or open the door to someone else’s home. If you do, it’s said you’ll “never be invited back because your friendship will end”. The door must be opened or unlocked by the owner of the home. Growing up, children are told to “never unlock the door to someone else’s house if you like them”, because if you do you’ll become “enemies”.

The informant heard this from her father growing up, who heard it from his father. The superstition is used to stop children from getting into mischief and to instill a sense of boundaries.

Legends

Underwater Body at Oakwood Beach

The following urban legend was performed in the USC Village on April 12th, 2019. The informant grew up in Rocky River, Ohio, which is nearby Oakwood beach. At the end of the pier lays a large, sunken metal tube.  The legend was that earlier generations “used to swim through the tube and the someone got stuck and died inside. Kids would try and see but nobody wanted to swim through [the tube] because you wouldn’t make it without getting attacked by the dead person inside.”

The informant first heard of the tube-lore in fifth grade. “Everyone comes back to Rocky River so there was this 5th grade teacher who went to Rocky River High School. The teacher Mrs. Quigley told us “yeah there’s this tube and when we were younger people used to swim through all the time”. Somewhere in the middle of Mrs. Quigley growing up and the informant reaching 5th grade, someone supposedly died inside.

“The pier was very dangerous because there had been many piers that were built and then sunk. People would jump off but there was sunken cement surrounding the area”

The legend of the dead body underwater was probably a mix of scare tactics from adults to prevent their kids from jumping into the area full of sunken cement and the willingness of young kids to share scary stories.

Customs
Holidays

Czechoslovakian Christmas Chimney

The following Czechoslovakian Christmas tradition was performed in the USC Village on April 12th, 2019. Every Christmas eve, while the informant’s family eats dinner “there’s like this little wooden box that’s open at the top and decorated to look like a chimney, and we call it ‘the chimney.'”  Everyone has a ribbon with their name on it and “you pull your little gift out of the open chimney and it’s your first Christmas present of the year.” Gifts include items like notebooks, pencils, and “little treats to get excited for Christmas”. 

The chimney came from their Czechoslovakian neighbors (the Kysela family) who are “our best family friends and that started with their great grandma. They had done the chimney forever, was always a tradition of theirs and because we’re so close they made us a chimney.” This Christmas tradition combines the tradition of opening one gift the night before and the lore of Santa coming down from the chimney.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Legends

A Loira do Banheiro

The following Brazilian urban legend was performed over coffee on April 23rd, 2019. In Brazil, “we have the legend of A Loira do Banheiro, or Bathroom Blonde”. If you leave hair in the sink drain and say her name three times, “you summon a blonde that died a long time ago and she kills you.” The informant described her as “Bloody Mary but blonder.”

The legend is heard by children in school and from their parents, who use the legend to make their kids “clean up after themselves.” The informant was told by her mother that “her mom loved the legend because the sinks were always clean.”

It’s a fun spin on Bloody Mary and the use of fear to instill principals into children has been practiced for generations. “Anything to get kids to clean up after themselves!” 

For further writings on the adjacent Bloody Mary lore, please visit:

Dundes, Alan. “Bloody Mary in the Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety.” Western Folklore 57.2/3 (1998): 119-35. JSTOR. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1500216>.

 

Legends

Son of a Pink Dolphin

The following Brazilian urban legend was performed over coffee on April 23rd, 2019. According to the informant, in Brazil if you don’t know who the dad of a child is, “you say the dad is a pink dolphin, like the amazon pink dolphin.” The urban legend states that “every full moon the pink dolphin would hop out of the water and turn into a handsome man in an all white suit,” complete with a hat to “hide his blowhole.” He would then seduce women, impregnate them, and disappear back into the water “cuz he’s a dolphin.”

When asked where the informant first heard of this tale, she replied that it’s a very common legend in Brazil. “You hear it everywhere: children’s books and music are big ones.It was also a way for parents to gossip about “bastard” children in front of their own children. “That’s a pink dolphin kid”, meaning no one knows who the dad is. “I’ve always remembered it because it’s just so funny and random. It makes me laugh that my dad still uses it.”

This urban legend could exist as a way to explain absent fathers to children. The childlike details allow for widespread use in entertainment AND let parents speak in code about adult topics around children.

For more information on Brazilian Pink Dolphin beliefs, please visit:

Cravalho, Mark A. “Shameless Creatures: An Ethnozoology of the Amazon River Dolphin.” Ethnology, vol. 38, no. 1, 1999, pp. 47–58. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3774086.
Festival
Game
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Greek Orthodox Easter Egg Game

The following Greek Orthodox easter tradition was performed in New/North  on April 24th, 2019

According to the informant, the Greek orthodox church also has traditions involving eggs.

“There’s a game I love to play where we dye eggs red, which is meant to be the blood that Jesus sacrificed. Then you hit two eggs top top, bottom bottom and crack them against each other.” The game ends when an egg cracks, and the uncracked egg wins.

“ Whenever you do it you say “christós anésti“ which translates to “christ is risen”, and then other person says back “pragmatiká échei anévei” meaning “truly he has risen.” This game is fun for kids but also has serious meaning with the red dye symbolism. Children grow up learning about their faith because of the games attached, just as the informant did.

 

Customs
Festival
Rituals, festivals, holidays

A Nickel in Your Shoe: German Wedding Custom

The following German wedding custom was performed in the USC Village on April 12th, 2019. On the German side of the informant’s family, there was a wedding tradition passed through many generations. “In the shoe bride wore, a junior bridesmaid or flower girl would put a nickel in shoe. The nickel was passed through the family as good luck charm for a happy marriage and happy health.”

 

“My grandma on my mom’s side, her youngest brother was 16 years younger than her. So when Uncle Danny, my mom’s uncle but I call him uncle. When Danny got married my mom was in his wedding because she was perfect bridesmaids age. They had a daughter and when she was getting married, I was perfect age for flower girl. So it kept going back and forth that we were in each other’s weddings.”

 

The informant says she will always remember the tradition because it’s something “I’ve been apart of since I was a little girl and my journey with it is only half over until I get married one day”. This tradition is a wonderful way of keeping the family involved in every wedding. Everyone will get their time to shine and is made to feel important for two ceremonies.

 

Customs
Earth cycle
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Norwegian May Baskets

The following Norwegian tradition was performed in New/North: 

The informant’s mother is from Norway and grew up making May baskets, which are woven cones full of flowers and spring items that gets left on the doorstep of a neighbor on May’s Eve, or April 30th. It’s a play on the saying ‘April showers bring May flowers.’

“In Norway people weave their own baskets but that wouldn’t fly in Texas. But my mom did bring the tradition to Texas and got the whole block on board”

The informant remembers the excitement of putting together the baskets and picking what each would have inside. She hopes to continue the tradition with her family and bring the tradition to wherever she ends up. The baskets are a nice signifier that the rainy days are over and May will bring sunshine, flowers and positive vibes.

[geolocation]