Author Archives: mooring

Boston College Football Cheer

Context: The informant is my brother in law (BC). He studied at Boston College and was a big fan of the football team. The following ritual is performed in the student section of the football stadium and both he and I have participated in it.

Main Text: BC: “At every home football game at BC it was a tradition or a ritual to throw someone up in the air every time the Eagles scored. You would throw the person up in the air, like they were crowd surfing, as many times as there were points up on the board for us. So if Boston College scored the first points with a touchdown, you’d throw the person up 7 times while everyone counts them out. It was a really fun thing we did but I’m not sure how it started, it’s probably been around for a while.”

Analysis: Football is a sport that’s full of traditions and camaraderie; teamwork and community are a huge part of the sport. This ritual at Boston College emulates the sense of community that both a college and a football team can create within a group of people. It is a great way to make the crowd feel like they are a part of the game and adds to the excitement of the Eagles scoring. I visited my sister and my now brother in law at Boston College when I was younger and I was lucky enough to be thrown up in the air when the Eagles scored. It is a memory I won’t soon forget.

New Orleans Haunted House

Context: The informant is my father (DM) who grew up in California. He told me about how his father, my grandfather, grew up in a haunted house when he was young. The house is located in New Orleans and was supposedly home to the pirate Jean Lafitte, who now haunts the house. The following excerpt is from a passage written about the house that my dad showed me.

Main Text: “Legends are many of this old Pirate House. One has it that a secret tunnel runs from a sub-cellar into the Gulf, and through this tunnel, pirates transferred their booty from ships to their strongholds beneath the house.”

“This old house at one time sheltered Jean Lafitte. It was more than a century ago that Lafitte, during the historic days of private terror along the Gulf Coast, captured and scuttled ships form almost every country.”

Analysis: This haunted house in New Orleans that my grandfather lived in interests me because a “pirate ghost” seems like a blend of two outdated beings. Pirates are a thing of the past and the belief that the ghost of Jean Lafitte still haunts this house in New Orleans pays homage to his historical significance and notoriety. My grandfather also supposedly searched for the tunnel underneath the house but was unable to find it. It is still important to note the presence of Jean Lafitte and his legacy in this location regardless of the factuality of him haunting the house.

Black Joy Parade

Context: The informant is my sister (LC) who lives in Oakland and has become an active participant in the community.

Main Text: “A celebration that I attended was this one in Oakland called ‘The Black Joy Parade’ in February. The celebration uses joy as a form of resistance to celebrate all the achievements and culture of the Black community, despite all the years of suffering and injustice. It’s this parade with cars, dancers, and different marching groups of black cultural groups. There are black entertainers and different artists who promote their work. It was an awesome experience and I really liked the idea that the black community was fighting their oppression through self-expression.”

Analysis: This celebration is interesting because it shows how the black community has created its own culture in the United States, undeterred by the oppression they have faced for centuries. By overcoming their disadvantages through joy, they change the narrative and empower themselves.

Filipino Money Dance

Context: The informant is my aunt and will be referred to as L.I. She is originally from Hawaii and is of Filipino descent. She grew up in Hawaii, but she now lives in San Diego with her husband (my uncle) and their two children. The following text describes the Filipino Money Dance which was performed at her wedding.

Main Text: “The money dance is a common tradition in Filipino culture and it is performed at weddings. The DJ will call out one line for men and one line for women, and they usually pass out pins. Then one by one people will approach the bride and groom to dance with them. After they dance they use the pins to pin money to the bride or groom as a sign of good fortune as they begin their journey as husband and wife.”

Analysis: It is common for people to give gifts or money to newlyweds to wish them good fortune or to help them start their new life together. This Filipino tradition turns this practice into a fun, engaging activity that expresses the relationship between the guest and the newlywed. It also reminds me of a Polynesian tradition where during graduations, the graduate is presented with a wreath of money that they wear around their neck. It is interesting how monumental life events are met with monetary gifts to help the person find success in this next phase in their life.

Hula

Context: The informant is my aunt and will be referred to as L.I. She is originally from Hawaii and is of Filipino descent. She grew up in Hawaii, which is where the Hula dance and its importance, but she now lives in San Diego with her husband (my uncle) and their two children.

Main Text: L.I: “No one speaks true Hawaiian anymore so the Hula is how Hawaiians communicate now, by portraying words in a visual dance form. The two main categories of Hula are Hula Auana and Hula Kahiko. The Auana is much more flowy and common now, it is usually accompanied by song, guitar, and a ukulele. Kahiko, on the other hand, is more like a slap dance like the Samoan Haka and is accompanied by chanting”.

M.M.: “Is there a reason for there being two separate forms?”

L.I.: “The Kahiko is how they communicated in ancient times and the Auana is more modern and Americanized, its a lot more accepted. The hand motions within Hula dances are used to represent the words in a song or chant. For example, the fluid hand motions in the Auana can signify nature: the swaying of a tree in the breeze or a wave in the ocean.”

Analysis: Hula dances have always been an important part of Hawaiian culture, they are performed at all Luaus and weddings. I find it interesting how the Hula dance transformed in order to be more accessible and appealing to visitors from the United States. It demonstrates how the Hawaiian islands adopted to their new identity within the United States of America. The more fluid Auana form of Hula is very recognizable within the continental United States whereas the Kahiko is not.

Pele’s Curse

Context: The informant is my aunt and will be referred to as L.I. She is originally from Hawaii and is of Filipino descent. She grew up in Hawaii but she now lives in San Diego with her husband (my uncle) and their two children.

Main Text: “A well-known myth in Hawaii is Pele’s Curse. Pele is the Goddess fo volcanoes, fire, lightning, and wind. Pele’s curse says that any visitor who takes rock or sand away from the Hawaiian islands will suffer bad luck until they are returned.”

Analysis: Nature is very important to the people of Hawaii and they take great pride in the natural beauty of their homeland. Hawaii is a very popular tourist destination and it is possible this superstition developed to prevent visitors from altering the original landscape. There are many accounts of people mailing back volcanic rocks because they were met with misfortunes like divorce, debt, and death.

Leg of Lamb

Context: The informant is my uncle and he is identified as J.I. He was raised in the Bay Area by my grandparents alongside my mother. He is of Basque descent and takes great pride in Basque culture and his heritage.

Main Text: “One of our traditions was pretty much every other Sunday we would go visit our Basque grandparents Marie and Ernest in Livermore, but our grandmother originally immigrated from the Pyrenees. She would cook Leg of Lamb for us and stick cloves of garlic in the lamb for flavor and roast potatoes in the bottom of the pan. The skin on the potatoes would soak up the juice and taste so good. On my first trip to Europe, my friend and I found our way to my Basque relatives’ home. The cooking reminded me of my Grandmother’s”.

Analysis: The connection between my great grandmother’s cooking and the cooking of the relatives my uncle visited in Europe demonstrates the strong-rooted Basque culture in food. One of the main occupations of the Basque from ancient times was that they sheepherders, and thus lamb has always been a traditional main course.

He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Longest

Context: The informant is my uncle and he is identified as J.I. He was raised in the Bay Area by my grandparents alongside my mother. In the following quote gathered from a phone call I had with him, J.I reflects on the aphorism, “he who laughs last, laughs longest”; one that his father would often tell him in his adolescent years.

Main Text: “My father used to say ‘he who laughs last, laughs longest’. The way I looked at that is it’s not always about getting noticed or winning first, but how you come out in the end. This could be in a game, a job, in school, in any aspect of life. It can be tough sometimes when you are not winning or getting credit, but in the end, many times you come out on top by working hard and staying focused. This comes to mind in my life as I was never the biggest in high school; I didn’t start growing until junior year. But maybe two years later, I was out at a party, and by that point, I had grown and started working out. Some girls took notice of this and mentioned my arms, cause I had some guns at that point. So one of my old buddies, who was sort of the alpha, challenged me to an arm-wrestling match at the party, and I ended up beating him. And that’s what I’ll remember, it really captures the message behind the saying.”

Analysis: This proverb reminds people that everyone is bound to have some bad luck or not get their way in life, but what really matters is how you handle these situations and create your own fortune. My uncle’s story is a great example of how you can’t let immediate misfortunes get to you and how you ultimately have to look at the big picture. A similar anecdote is a tale of “the tortoise and the hare”, which also teaches that persistence and hard work can overcome superficial or immediate losses. The sweetest victory is the final one.

Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure

Context: The informant is my uncle and he is identified as J.I. He was raised in the Bay Area by my grandparents alongside my mother. In the following quote gathered from a phone call I had with him, J.I reflects on the aphorism, ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’; one that his father would often tell him in his adolescent years.

Main Text: “My dad had so many great expressions. I was always kind of impulsive, and I still am in some ways, but he always used to tell me ‘Act In Haste, Repent at Leisure’. It was his way of teaching me a lesson and warning me that making impulsive decisions could leave me with an unwanted result. Many times after making a rash decision I was like why did I do that, or why did I act so quick, because I’m stuck with it now, you know? And I think that this quote is really great when you look at life. You can always pull the trigger on something, but it’s usually best to marinate on an idea or big purchase so you don’t feel stuck with something later.”

Analysis: This saying passed down to my uncle from my grandfather is one that reteaches a common lesson: that if you act fast and don’t like the end result, you’ll have plenty of time to regret it later. I think this piece of folklore is relevant to many adolescent boys and even grown men because it is often tempting to make what seems like a fun, short-term decision without considering all of the long-term ramifications. After researching, it seems that this saying is derived from the 17th century saying “marry in haste, repent at leisure”, which originated from the 1693 novel “The Old Batchelour” by William Congreve.

Advent Traditions

Context: The informant is my mother, identified as L.M., who was raised as a Catholic, and grew up with many traditions for each of the Christian holidays, some religious and some not. This is her description of the season of Advent and two of the traditions she followed with her family during her childhood.

Main Piece: I remember the coming of the Advent season each year, which begins on the Sunday closest to the beginning of December, and is viewed by the Catholic Church and many other Christian churches as a time to prepare and reflect on the religious meaning of Christmas. The Advent period includes the four Sundays before Christmas, plus all of the days in between and up to Christmas Day. Our church sermons during this season all focused on readings from the Bible about the preparation for the arrival of Jesus, and we also would sing special hymns during this period. The one I remember in particular is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Catholics, including our family, would fast and not eat meat on Fridays during this period, we used to have a lot of tuna fish sandwiches or fish sticks for dinner on those Fridays, which I wasn’t a fan of. As a child, I remember there being a huge Advent Wreath in our church up by the altar throughout the Advent season. The Advent Wreath was made of various types of evergreen branches, and had four large candles set in its branches, three of them were purple and one was pink. The wreath symbolizes life, and the circular shape of the wreath symbolizes eternity and the everlasting life of the soul. One of the four candles is lit on the first Sunday, and then on every other Sunday during Advent, one more of the candles is lit, so by the fourth Sunday before Christmas, all four are lit. The purple color for three of the candles represents the liturgical color of violet, which signifies a time for prayer and sacrifice, and the pink color for the other candle represents joy, as rose is the liturgical color for joy. The first candle lit is purple and represents hope. The second candle lit is also purple and represents faith. The third candle lit is the pink one which represents joy. And, the last purple candle lit symbolizes peace. We also used to make our own Advent Wreath for our home. My mother would make the wreath out of fresh evergreen branches and wire them into a circular shape, and then place the candles, three purple and one pink, into the wreath. We would keep it on our dinner table all throughout Advent, following the tradition of lighting each new candle on the appropriate Sunday. And, every night of the week, not just Sundays, the one, two, three, or four candles, depending on which week it was, would be lit before dinner and we’d have our dinner meal around the table with our candlelit Advent Wreath. The other Advent tradition I remember is that we would have an Advent calendar every December. This was basically a large free-standing form made out of heavy card stock paper and decorated with some overall Christmas motif, religious or non-religious, with doors numbered one through twenty-five. Every day in December, we would open the numbered door with the proper date, and inside each door there was a holiday scene of some sort, for example, a star, or a decorated Christmas tree, or an ornament, or a shepherd, or an angel, or Santa Claus, or holly, or a gingerbread boy, and on the 25th, we’d open the last door, which always had a traditional religious Nativity scene with Mary, Joseph and the Baby Jesus. Now, I still have something similar to an Advent calendar that I bring out every December, but it isn’t religious. It’s a small red table-top cabinet of drawers, and each is numbered 1-25. The number one drawer has a collapsible little artificial Christmas tree that I set up on the kitchen counter, the number two drawer has a garland of tiny red ornaments to string on the tree, and the remaining drawers up to twenty five have a variety of small and whimsical ornaments to hang on the tiny tree- a candy cane, holly and berries, a snowman face, a santa head, a red mitten, a tiny gift, a santa suit, all made from things like beads and felt, bells and tiny white styrofoam balls. I love opening each drawer day by day and decorating the tiny whimsical Christmas tree. It brings me back to all of the childhood memories of anticipating Christmas and the joy and magic of the holiday.”


Analysis: “Advent” is defined as the awaiting of the arrival of a notable person, event, or thing. Originally, advent calendars were created to count down the days until the arrival of Jesus Christ, as Christmas is his day of birth. However, it seems as if the religious importance of both advent calendars and Christmas has been somewhat lost. Christmas is now much more commercialized and seen as a time to eat sweets and receive and give gifts in American culture. Santa Claus is a much more prominent figure during Christmas than Jesus is now.