USC Digital Folklore Archives / Earth cycle
Customs
Earth cycle
Folk Beliefs
Holidays
Legends
Myths
Narrative

La Befana

Informant: “So in Italy, there’s two things, so there’s La Befana, which is ‘The Witch’, kind of, I don’t remember exactly what it translates to, but it’s whatever the witch is. And then there’s Babbo Natale, and what that means is father Christmas. And so in northern Italy, this is kind of funny, in northern Italy the word Babbo, it’s kind of like saying daddy, but in the south part of Italy, it doesn’t mean daddy, it means like an idiot [laughs]. But that’s like saying ‘dad’ in northern Italy. So Babbo Natale, maybe that’s in the south now too, but mostly it was in the north, you know. And in the south, mostly they had La Befana. So the story was that on January 6th, which was the Epiphany, and they sort of matched it up so the kids in Sicily, they would get presents not from Babbo Natale, and they got presents not on Christmas day, but on January 6th which was when the three kings brought their gifts to Jesus. So La Befana would go around and she would give presents. So the story was that when the three Kings were going to Jerusalem to find the newborn baby Jesus, they stopped at La Befana’s house in order to ask for directions. When they left, they asked her to join them, but she said that she couldn’t because she had too much housework to do, but once they left she immediately knew she made the wrong decision, so she grabbed a bunch of small treats and went out looking for them, but she couldn’t find them, so she gave treats to every child she came across in hopes that one of them was the baby Jesus. So every year on the eve of the Epiphany, she goes out in search of Christ, and gives treats to all of the good children that she comes across. Though when [my sisters and I] were growing up, our parents wanted us to be American, so we didn’t have La Befana, we had Santa Claus [laughs].

Informant is a retired math teacher, and a mother of three. Her parents moved to the United States for the Italian island of Sicily, and she was born in the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. She still keeps in touch with her Sicilian relatives, and will periodically visit them.

Collector Analysis: This is an interesting variant on the Santa Claus story, or rather the ‘mysterious Christmas gift giver’ narrative. It almost seems like it has aspects of an urban legend scary story, as it almost seems like La Befana is ‘cursed to wander the Earth every year on the anniversary of [some event] because of the mistake she made’ which, in any other context, would seem exactly like the ending to some scary campfire story. However, she does it for benevolent reasons, so it’s all ok. It’s also curious to see how the informant’s parents tried to suppress her practicing of this particular bit of folklore in order to “Americanize” her and her siblings. It is also strange how an entity with as non malevolent of intentions as giving gifts to good children is given a name with such a negative connotation as ‘The Witch’.

Customs
Earth cycle
Foodways
Holidays

Feast of the Seven Fishes (La Vigilia)

Informant: “In Sicily, well in other places in Italy sometimes too, but really in Sicily, on the Eve of the big holidays, so like Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, you’re supposed to eat fish, but in particular on Christmas eve. It was called the Feast of the Seven Fishes, though I actually think in Sicily they called it La Vigilia, for The Vigil. The real tradition is that you’re supposed to make seven types of seafood. So in Sicily, my mom and dad they always did this, so they would start cooking a few days before Christmas Eve. When we were growing up in Los Angeles, we would go down to Redondo Beach and my mom would buy all these fishes very similar to the fishes they would have in Sicily, so she would make calamari, like deep fried calamari. Oh, and one of the things she would buy is called baccala, which is like a dry, salted cod. I’ve actually seen it in some Italian places in St. Paul, they sell it in what looks like a big bucket, and it looks like just dried fish, and so you have to soak it in water overnight, and then you have to drain the water, and then you have to soak it again, and so basically you’re reconstituting the fish. And I think a lot of times people in Sicily have that one because there are a lot of poor people, and that kind of fish was really cheap. And so [my mother] would do that whole thing day after day after day, and then she would make this sauce that she would put this fish in like this tomato sauce, and then she would bake it. So she did baccala, she did calamari, she always did octopus salad. She would never make the kind of fishes that [my family has] like salmon, I never had salmon growing up. She would make these things called sand dabs, they looked like a kind of flatfish and she’d fry them, and anchovies and sardines, and she’d make this pasta with fennel and tuna sometimes… But she had enough fish to feed an army, when there were only six of us, but that’s very typical though in Sicily…What other fish did she make… oh, eel! She would always make eel. And I would have continued this tradition, except that [my children] don’t eat as much fish, that’s why I sort of incorporated it into [my family's traditions], that’s why we always have fish on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so some years I would make stuffed salmon with crab and so on, but I found that [my family] just really liked crab, so that’s why we always have crab, and I figured, that was close enough.”

Collector: Was the exact number of fishes significant?

Informant: “Well, so it was feast of the seven fishes, though sometime we’d do nine, eleven, thirteen, but it’s always an odd number. I’m not really sure why, but it was supposed to have something to do with luck, like you’re never supposed to do an even number. As for fish, I guess with Sicily being an island, it was really easy for people to just go out and catch fish, and so that’s why they had fish.”

Informant is a retired math teacher, and a mother of three. Her parents moved to the United States for the Italian island of Sicily, and she was born in the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. She still keeps in touch with her Sicilian relatives, and will periodically visit them.

Collector Analysis: This particular piece of folklore is interesting in that it shows how certain folk traditions can evolve when they are practiced in different contexts, in this case, how the amount and type of fish eaten changed when the informant was celebrating this tradition in different locations and with different people, and yet the tradition is still in many ways the same despite these changes. Also curious is the fact that in Sicilian culture, the number 13 is considered lucky, while the number 12 is considered unlucky, which is the opposite of many other European cultures.

Earth cycle
Folk Beliefs
Foodways

Czech New Years Herring

Informant: “When I was growing up, I remember every year my parents, my mother and father and I, we would always eat herring on New Years Eve. I remember it was supposed to bring good luck for the whole year. Specifically, you were supposed to get a can or jar of pickled herring, though it’s actually hard to find in the Northwest, though I still go out and buy some Herring, in fact this year, I happened to call my Aunt [M] who is also Czech, and we joked about how we had both gone out and made sure that we had our can of pickled herring for the New Year, and we laughed about the importance of, you know, getting our Herring.”

Collector: Was there any specific reason for the herring as opposed to any other sort of fish?

Informant: Well you know the Czech Republic, where this tradition originated from… actually I think it started in Bohemia, and then it became a Czech tradition… but both [of those countries] are landlocked and so fish tended to be hard to get because they had to transport it all the way from the sea coast. And herring was always a big deal, always a special thing because it was more expensive, and it showed how prosperous you were to be able to afford herring! And in order to keep the fish to stay fresh and task good after they transported it from the sea to inland, they would pickle it and preserve it. Actually, the other fish people ate a lot was carp, which is in the same family as goldfish, and wealthy people in the Czech republic would raise carp in ponds on their estate, so that was also a very special fish to eat because it was also a sign of wealth. Also, most [Czech people] were catholic, which meant that they had meatless Fridays, but you know they could still eat fish.

The informant is a 77 year old retired anthropologist living in Portland Oregon. Her grandparents immigrated to the United States from the Kingdom of Bohemia (in the modern day Czech Republic) in the 1890’s to escape the economic turmoil within the country in that time period. She was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and studied anthropology at Stanford University, during which time she became interested in learning more about the traditions of her heritage. She has on several occasions traveled to the Czech republic to visit relatives there.

Collector Analysis: This particular tradition is but one of many New Years traditions around the world. In this case, the consumption of Herring, an expensive fish at the time, was supposed to bring one good luck for the following year. One idea which the informant brought up was that by eating expensive herring on new years eve, it would alter your luck to make you more prosperous so that you could eat herring more often!

Earth cycle
Folk Beliefs
Protection

You Should Never Go Into the Sea in a Month with an ‘R’

Informant: “I don’t remember how to say it in Italian now, but I remember the saying translates to ‘You should never go into the sea in a month with an “R”‘. I remember learning this when I was studying in Florence my Junior year of college, I was in Florence from January to June, but right in the middle, right around March, so spring break time, I went down to Sicily with a bunch of my friends. And it was a lot warmer than in Florence, but it wasn’t super warm, and so all of my friends wanted to go in the ocean, and my relative really had a hard time with that [laughs] because they were like ‘oh no, you can’t go into the ocean, it’s march’, and I said ‘So what if it’s march?’ and they said ‘you can’t, it’s a month with an r.’ And it was sort of a big deal. And I think the origin of this comes from, you know Sicily is an island, and in the past when a lot of people were poor, they didn’t go to school, and they didn’t know how to swim, and maybe it’s different now, but in the past most Sicilians didn’t know how to swim. And so if you go into the ocean when it’s cold, you might get a cramp or something, and you’re more likely to drown, plus in those months it’s colder, so if you think about it, January is cold, March, April… And May is warm, so that’s ok, and June, July, August. And September is starts getting cooler, and October, November, December. My friends ended up swimming anyways, but my relatives thought they were crazy…”

Collector [a few weeks after initial interview]: I was reading the transcript of my interview with you, when I realized that the Italian word for January, ‘Gennaio’, does not have an ‘R’ in it, despite this being one of the months you mentioned. How does this impact your opinion of this saying?

Informant: [short silence, then laughs] “Wow, you’re right! I can’t believe I never thought of that! Wow… that’s weird, I guess I had just always thought about it in English. Is that the only one? Wait… [Informant lists off all the months in Italian]. Yeah, so I guess that’s the only one that doesn’t work. All the other months that have ‘R’s in English also have ‘R’s in Italian except that one… Its so strange because I know when I was first told this, the person who told it to me said it in Italian. I guess maybe they just thought that they didn’t need to worry about January because it’s always so cold in January that no one would want to swim.”

Informant is a retired math teacher, and a mother of three. Her parents moved to the United States for the Italian island of Sicily, and she was born in the United States and grew up in Los Angeles. She still keeps in touch with her Sicilian relatives, and will periodically visit them.

Collector Analysis: Sicilians, living in a geographical area completely surrounded by water, would of course have a body of folklore concerned with when it is safe to go into the ocean, and when it is not. This saying serves as a mnemonic device to help remember when it is ok to swim in the ocean, and when it is unsafe to do so. For this reason, I would imagine that this originated more as a way to keep children safe from drowning in the ocean during the colder months in the winter as well as the late fall and early spring. Of course, this does not apply to anyone going out on the ocean, as most Sicilians would need to go out on the ocean year-round to support their livelihoods.

Customs
Earth cycle
Foodways
Holidays

Traditional Czech Christmas meals and cookies

*Collector Note: The Czech Republic, previously known as Czechoslovakia, which was a part of the Kingdom of Bohemia before that, was primarily a Catholic nation, and as of such the majority population would not eat meat on Fridays in keeping with their religious beliefs.

Informant: “Around Christmas time, people in the Czech Republic had a couple of special meals that they would prepare. One that I can think of were dumplings with different fruits inside of them that were usually served on meatless Fridays for supper. These dumplings were a big thing in Central European culture. They were normally served with cottage cheese and melted butter. They were sweet, but they were often served as main dishes like crepes. My grandmother made them a lot, and they were typically easy to make. They were just made out of Flour, water, and fruit. Otherwise, around Christmas, Czech people were big on fancy cookies and deserts. My grandmother and aunt used to make a couple dozen kinds of cookies for Christmas. One of the main ones were Kolacky, which were round pastries made with cream cheese, butter, flour, and fruit fillings like prunes or apricot. Sometimes we would make them with poppyseed. Other cookies we made were Angel Wings, which were sort of a combination of more traditional Czech cookies and other [Central European] culture. Vanilla or Walnut crescents were a big special one. We would make gingerbread cookies like gingersnaps. There was one type of Christmas Bread called Vanocka, which was a sweet bread formed like a big braid, which would have dried fruit, raisins, and orange slices inside of it. They usually had almonds in it as well. Czechs were always really great bakers”

The informant is a 77 year old retired anthropologist living in Portland Oregon. Her grandparents immigrated to the United States from the Kingdom of Bohemia (in the modern day Czech Republic) in the 1890’s to escape the economic turmoil within the country in that time period. She was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and studied anthropology at Stanford University, during which time she became interested in learning more about the traditions of her heritage. She has on several occasions traveled to the Czech republic to visit relatives there.

Collector Analysis: This is a pretty straightforward interpretation of a widely spread tradition of making special foods and desserts for the Christmas Season. As an interesting side note, one of the conditions that the informant had for sharing this story was that the collector could not post the actual recipes for any of the cookies beyond simply a list of the general ingredients, as the recipes are apparently a family secret. All of the cookies sampled by the collector were, in the collector’s opinion, delicious.

Kolachy, a traditional Czech Christmas cookie

Kolachy, a traditional Czech Christmas cookie

Earth cycle
Folk Beliefs
Holidays
Legends
Narrative

Saint Wenceslaus

Informant: “Saint Wenceslaus was a big saint in the Czech Republic, there is this well known carol about him, though I can’t remember exactly how it goes. He was a bit like Saint Nicholas or Santa like we have in the U.S., except that he took care of people as opposed to giving gifts. The legend goes that Good King Wenceslaus was out walking in the snow and he found a poor person and gave him money, and how that what you’re supposed to do at Christmas is give money to help poor people. A bunch of legends built up around him, like the carol talks about how on this dark and stormy night, we was walking with his helper, and he told his helper to walk in his footsteps in the snow behind him, which was supposed to have a Christ-like connotation to it. An supposedly the whole kingdom under his reign was a wonderful golden age because they had this wonderful king who was a saint. A lot of Catholic churches in the Czech republic and also in places in the United States with a lot of Czech people would be called Saint Wenceslaus’s, or just Saint Wen’s. There is actually a big statue of him in the main square in Prague that is supposed to have the original king’s actual helmet on it!”

The informant is a 77 year old retired anthropologist living in Portland Oregon. Her grandparents immigrated to the United States from the Kingdom of Bohemia (in the modern day Czech Republic) in the 1890’s to escape the economic turmoil within the country in that time period. She was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and studied anthropology at Stanford University, during which time she became interested in learning more about the traditions of her heritage. She has on several occasions traveled to the Czech republic to visit relatives there.

Collector Analysis: This is an interesting legend, and provides an interesting counterpoint to the classic “Winter gift giving story”. Whereas most Christmas traditions involve giving gifts you your family and loved ones, the story of Saint Wenceslaus advocates giving to those people you don’t know who are in need, specifically the poor. Saint Wenceslaus is the Catholic patron saint of Bohemia, which is currently a region within the Czech Republic. This particular legend also shows the strong connection there was between the old European royalty and the Christian faith.

Customs
Earth cycle
Folk Beliefs
general
Legends
Rituals, festivals, holidays

La Befana

The legend: “In Italy theres this old woman called La Befana who has magical powers and she gives children gifts on January 5th. If you’re nice you get gifts but if you’re mean you get coal. January 5th is the Epiphany Day, I don’t know what it is but it’s some type of like God revelation or something.”

The informant is half-Italian (mom) and half-German (dad) and grew up in Belgium. She moved to the United States at 11 years old, and now resides in Canada where she attends a university. She heard this legend growing up from her mom and Nonna (her grandmother). I asked her if she ever believed in La Befana’s existence, and she said that she “did at one point because once Nonna brought it up and I was scared of her because she’s a scary old woman witch.” La Befana sounds like other gift-giving figures around the Winter Solstice, such as Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, etc. January 5th is just around Christmas, so it matches with other Winter Solstice celebrations. People already celebrated the Winter Solstice, before Christianity made it a Christian holiday, so it makes sense for Italy to have its own version of the celebration. It’s also just after New Year’s Day, which means that Epiphany Day also represents a celebration of new beginnings; good children can celebrate the past year by receiving gifts and going forward into the next year being good again. Bad children can reflect on their bad decisions in the past year in order to strive for better in the coming year. Although La Befana can be a benevolent figure, she is presented as an old witch, which scares children into being “good,” reflected by the informant’s fear of the witch.

Earth cycle
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Shoes for St. Nick

Informant: The evening of December 5th, we’ll leave out our shoes for St. Nick to come by and leave a present in. So when we wake up the morning of the 6th, we look at our shoes and know he was there! We’ve done that since before I can remember, but I think we got the shoes thing from my mom’s dad.

The informant is a student at the University of Southern California. She is originally from Florida, and has younger siblings who also participate in this pre-Christmas tradition. While she and her family also celebrate the more traditional December 25th Christmas, the informant insists that leaving shoes out on the front porch on the night of December 5th has always been a large part of her family’s Christmas festivities.

December 6th is, in western Christian countries, Saint Nicholas’ Day. In countries like Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, leaving shoes out to be filled with presents from St. Nick is a well-documented practice.

Citation: Carus, Louise. The Real St. Nicholas: Tales of Generosity and Hope from around the World. Wheaton, IL: Quest /Theosophical Pub. House, 2002. Print.

Earth cycle
Foodways
Material
Myths
Narrative

The Story Of Pili and Sina

The informant’s family originated in Samoa, his parents were born and raised there before traveling and moving into the United States. He takes many visits to Samoa and is very in touch with his Samoan heritage and culture. He shared some common folklore with me that he could think of off of the top of his head. 

Informant…

“Loa of Fagaloa was the husband of an Afagaloa woman named Sinaletigae, a town that isn’t a town anymore in between Taga and Salailua in Savai’i. The couple made their home at Afagaloa and had four children there. The children were named Sinasamoa the only girl and three boys Pili, Fuialaeo and Maomao . Pili took on the form of a lizard and as he grew older he grew until he filled the house, causing his other siblings and parents to go find another house  to live in. Loa and his wife became so afraid at the size of their son Pili that they fled, and took their other three children with them. They went to Fagaloa where Loa was from. Sinasamoa brought the water bottle in which she always carried water to her brother Pili with her. It had been her job to give Pili water and the two brothers gave him food. They all still loved Pili and whenever they sat down to eat in remembrance of him they first threw a small portion of food and poured out some water from the water bottle of Pili. Pili missed his parents and brothers and sister and knowing that Fagaloa was the home of his father he took on the form of a human being again and looked for the District of Fagaloa, or the land of plenty. He got to Fagaloa and Pili asked about where his family was in the village and was told that they were out working on their plantation. He found his sister sitting alone on the family’s plantation. She did not recognize Pili’s human form. He begged his sister to go and tell the rest of the family that a visitor had arrived but Sina refused to go. Pili then asked her for a drink of water from the bottle she had with her. She again refused stating that the bottle was only for her brother Pili. Pili said “very well, this place will now be known as Vaitu’u” and the place is called by this name which means “water reserved or kept here.” The place was then looked upon as the ruling town of Fagaloa. Pili asked Sina to say why they had run away from Pili. Sina told him that Pili had gotten so big that they were afraid of him and Loa had made them to run away and go to his old home. They knew that Pili would follow them once he had taken on a human form. Pili told her, “I am Pili and I have come to you.” The rest of the family who were hiding in the bush came out and happiness reigned.

Sina grew into a very beautiful girl and the word of her beauty traveled around the world and was talked about. The King of Fiji head about Sina and he went to Samoa to see her. Loa told his daughter to become the wife of the King of Fiji but she would’t unless her brother Pili gave her permission. Pili told Sina to marry him because he believed that if children were born as the from the marriage power would come to Fagaloa. The wedding happened and the Fijians thought their King had found a beautiful wife. As they prepared to leave for Fiji, Pili heard of the plans and asked Sina to take him with her. He thought that if anything bad happened on the trip he would help. Sina didn’t want to tell her husband so she decided to hide Pili. She made a small basket and put Pili in his small lizard form in the basket to hide. The trip took longer than normal and all the food was gone. The Fijiians blamed it on Sina and said she was possessed by a Devil. When Sina heard what the Fijiians were saying about her she told Pili who told her not to worry about it and tell her husband to stop on a small Island. stopped at the island and the King was surprised. They would found plenty of food like taro, yams, bananas, pigs, fowls etc. They replenished their food supplies the canoes continued on the journey but day after day passed and Fiji wasn’t appearing. The food supply was low again and the people again became anxious. Pili who was the cause of all this trouble tapped with his tail on the basket in he was hiding in to get Sina’s attention. He told her to ask the King to again stop at an island. They found a small island and again found a lot of food. The Fijiians got more suspicious that Sina possessed a Devil because how else would she know to stop at the island and knew that they had an abundance of food on them. When Sina heard all this she was scared and when the King wanted to search her to find where the Devil was hiding she dropped the basket with Pili in it into the sea and this gave started to the saying “Pili a’au” which means swimming Pili in english. Back in Samoa Loa had a dream which showed that his son Pili had been treated badly, so he made his other two sons to launch their canoe and proceed to Fiji to search for Pili. The two brothers left on their trip and after a time came across Pili swimming in the sea. Pili asked them to take him to the Island named Pu’agagana leave him there and they could go back to Samoa. Tagaloalagi, Loa’s brother, predicted what would happen to Pili when he left with Sina. A some point later Tagaloalagi told two of his sons to go to Fiji to watch the group. The sons did as they were told and on their way stopped at the Island of Pu’agagana. As Tagaloalagi predicted, they found Pili sitting on a Pua tree. When Pili heard that they were going to Fiji he asked if they would take him to the King’s house. The oldest brother told him that there was not enough room in the canoe for another person and their father had forbidden them to take a third person. Pili said that he didn’t need a seat and he could be put in the bilge of the canoe and he could become very small. The brothers agreed and they got to one end of the town of Tuifiti. Pili immediately went into the forest and planted different foods with the help of the two brothers. Other than Sina, the King of Fiji had a wife from Fiji and this wife loved by her people. When famine was in the country the people brought food for the King by giving it to his Fijian wife hoping that love only her and hate his Samoan wife couldn’t present him with food. This worried Sina that it caused her to cry hysterically. Pili heard that Sina was sad and crawled into the town where the King lived and this started to the expression “Pili totolo” which in english means crawling Pili. He asked Sina to go inland with him and he would show her ways to keep her husband’s love. He told her not to worry because she had brothers who would assist her. Pili told her that all her troubles were because she was weak and threw him into the sea. Pili’s words hurt her heart and caused the tears to flow faster than ever and when he husband noticed her sadness he asked why? She said that her tears were only for her brother Pili in Samoa. She then went with Pili and saw the plantation Pili and the two brothers created for her  the whole plantation was full of food fit for the King. Pili told Sina that he would create a spring of hot water and also one of cold water so that she could cook and clean her food. A yam would also grow down to her doorstep so that she could reach out and break off pieces to cook. He also told her that she should always visit him by herself when she wanted anything and she must never tell her husband of Phili’s plansation. Sina was filled with joy and went back to the village where she found the springs both hot and cold. These springs still exist in Fiji today. Sina also found the yam and this yam was the origin of the saying used by Orators “O le Tuli matagau nei le ufi a Sina” which means in english “searching after the broken end of Sina’s yam.” The King continued to love Sina and he not his Fijian wife. Pili and his two friends returned to Samoa after his sister had given birth to two children; a daughter named Sinavaituu and a son named Latu-Tuifiti.”

Analysis…

The Informant told me that this story was passed down to him by his mother and his mother’s mother probably told her. He had heard parts of it from his aunts or his friend’s mothers as well. In his culture this is an important myth and they will refer to it by the phrases that were derived from it like “Pili a’au” or swimming Pili. He wasn’t sure where it had originated but he figure “a really really really long time ago in Samoa.”

This myth kind of captures the traditional Samoan family. It shows how the family structure works and usually how the siblings would interact. It is just following one family, but it shows the closeness and the connection that the entire family might have including aunts uncles cousins; they are all a closely nit family. This myth gives its audience an inside look on a traditional Samoan family. The informant told me that in Samoa family is very important and those relationships are the relationships that they invest most of their time and energy into.

Myths are created by cultures around the world to explain how things of the world have come to be. The one that I am most familiar with is the story of Adam and Eve although the Bible isn’t considered a form of folklore, it is still a believe that many people have. This Samoan Myth has a man who takes on the form of a lizard that the people on the Fijian canoe think is an evil spirit, in the Bible the evil one or devil takes on the form of a serpent and I draw a connection here. Also the myth says that Pili made a plantation that was full of food and made a spring for his sister Sina which reminds me of the Garden of Eden. The point of making this connection shows that there are many similarities through the stories of how the world or whatever else has come to be. Usually there is an animal involved and that is interesting to me. This Myth also explores the closeness of family particularly the relationships that siblings have. I know for me I have the mentality that I can do and say whatever I want to my siblings no matter how mean but if anyone else were to do those exact same things I would go to war with that individual over my siblings. The relationship of siblings is really expressed and explored in this myth and shows just how far siblings will go for each other.

 

Earth cycle
Tales /märchen

Three moon Werewolf

According to my informant, his brothers and sisters used to tell him that werewolves existed. But there was a specific condition for them to appear. In fact, he said, there were supposedly three full moons, and on the third full moon, the werewolves would appear. When I asked him how he could tell when it happened, he recalled it had something to do with the lunar cycle and how he used to believe that there were three types of full moons, each of which appeared at different times of the year. That every time this moon appeared, it would be a different type of moon. But on the third full moon, the werewolves would appear. They looked like conventional werewolves, bipedal wolves that seemed human in quality.

Analysis

Looking at the origins of this story, it seems like my informant’s siblings used this story to scare him as a child. But the belief that strange things occur on a full moon isn’t an uncommon belief. As this article (http://www.jstor.org/stable/25226513) suggests, animals may tend to act stranger when the full moon approaches. Furthermore, on some supernatural websites, people believe that on the blue moon, which is what I assume my informant meant by third moon since he couldn’t recall what that actually meant, werewolves would appear due to the rarity of the occasion. I believe that this shows how earthly events can have an effect on our belief systems, and how something like the werewolf can be tied to it. Since people tend to be afraid of what they can’t understand, the blue moon makes the werewolf story even scarier.

[geolocation]