USC Digital Folklore Archives / Childhood
Childhood
Customs
Musical

Las Mananitas

Las Mañanitas

Instead of the english birthday song, every time it was a kid’s birthday in my elementary school class we would sing Las Mañanitas before taking turns hitting a piñata. It’s a traditional mexican birthday song sung at parties. YOu usually replace “mi bien” with the person’s name.

 

Lyrics:

Estas son las mañanitas que cantaba el rey David.

Hoy por ser día de tu santo, te las cantamos a ti.

 

Despierta mi bien, despierta, mira que ya amaneció

ya los pajarillos cantan la luna ya se metió.

 

Qué linda está la mañana en que vengo a saludarte

venimos todos con gusto y placer a felicitarte.

 

El día en que tu naciste nacieron todas las flores

y en la pila del bautismo cantaron los ruiseñores.

 

Ya viene amaneciendo, ya la luz del día nos dio.

Levántate de mañana mira que ya amaneció.

Translation:

 

This is the morning song that King David used to sing.

Today being the day of your saint, we sing it to you.

 

Wake up my dearest, wake up, see now that the day has dawned

the sparrows are singing, the moon has finally set.

 

How lovely is this morning, when I come to greet you

we all come with joy and pleasure to congratulate you.

 

The very day you were born all the flowers first bloomed

and in the baptismal font all the nightingales sang.

 

The dawn has come my darling, and the sunlight is here for us.

Rise up and shine with the morning and you’ll see that here’s the dawn.

I do know of similar things before, as where I went to for middle school in San Antonio, Texas also had similar traditions where they sang long spanish birthday songs. Having never learnt Spanish however, I never knew what the lyrics meant.

Childhood
Folk Beliefs

Korean Tooth Tradition

Tradition as told by informant: I know that when the kids started losing teeth Luis (husband) would always have us throw it onto the roof. I know that’s a Korean thing, but I don’t know exactly the origin of it, but I do know there’s kids books that explain it.

Informant is a descendant of Irish immigrants who married a Korean man. She would often read about Korean folktales to her children and one of the stories included the tooth tradition. Apparently you have to sing a song or shout a request for the lost tooth to be replace by a mouse tooth. Mice are known to grow teeth for their entire lives so by singing or shouting this request it is supposed to bring the child good luck in growing straight teeth.

Childhood
general
Initiations
Legends
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Bloody Mary

“Ok. So when I was in elementary school, there was this myth that you went in the bathroom, turned off the light, spinned around three times fast, and looked in the mirror, chant Bloody Mary three times, you would see Bloody Mary. And Bloody Mary was this fictitious ghost.”

 

What did she do?

“She would just appear in the mirror. She was a scary ghost looking thing and she had red eyes.”

 

Did you ever do this ritual yourself?

“Yah.”

 

Did she appear to you?

“So here’s the thing. I think there is some biology behind this. If you spin around three times really fast and you look straight, your vision is all kind of blurry, so you do see some kind of image. And when all of the other younger girls were there, it was Bloody Mary! In actuality, it was an after image.”

 

Who told you this story?

“It was told amongst the little girls. Like they wanted to go to the bathroom and try this out. This was elementary school. Second or third grade. We should go do it now haha.”

 

What do you see as the significance?

“Looking back on it, it resembles my childhood and all of the imagination it used to have. It was a happy carefree time in my life with my friends, … and Bloody Mary haha.”

 

Analysis:

I agree with the informant that Bloody Mary usually marks a period in childhood because it is frequently performed by youths. The story represents the imagination and fear found in children and the eagerness to perform such rituals to become part of a group.

 

For another version of Bloody Mary, please visit: (note a similar mention of Bloody Mary’s distinct eyes)

http://anitasnotebook.com/2012/08/faces-in-the-mirror-the-true-story-behind-bloody-mary.html

Wirawan, Anita. “Faces In The Mirror: The True Story Behind Bloody Mary – Anita’s Notebook.” Anita’s Notebook. N.p., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

Adulthood
Childhood
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Life cycle
Narrative

Toots The Gaseous Ghost

Informant (L.P.) is an 18 year old student. I had heard her enthusiasm for telling ghost stories the week before, and this one stood out. L.P. works at a local novelty shop. This interview is conducted at my house one Saturday evening.

I ask about the ghost in her workplace, which she had mentioned during our previous encounter.

L.P.: “There’s a ghost called Toots because it farts a lot and people smell it all the time. It’s not mean, it just likes to fuck with people. They have a video of it knocking a whole stack of books off the shelf.”

I ask her to elaborate on Toots’ antics

L.P.: “I saw it knock a book on my coworker. The book hit her on the side of the head and she spilled her tea… Today it knocked over a bucket in an aisle when some guy was reading a book.”

I ask her if the ghost has any legend attached to it

L.P.: “It used to be a post office, so maybe somebody died in there I’m not sure.

I ask her if she’s has the video, but she says no, as she doesn’t have access to the work computer. As the youngest employee at Wacko, I’m assuming L.P. is going through a right of passage in learning the store’s occupational legend of Toots the gaseous ghost.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Flip Phone Accessories

Informant is a Facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Flip Phone Accessories

This particular post shows an early 2000’s cell phone with an excessive amount of Pokemon accessories. Such accessories were a fad in the days of the flip-phone. The Pokemon attached to the phone are from the years 1996 to 2006, highlighting the target audience of this meme page. By combining the retro mobile phone with an excessive amount of once-trendy, Pokemon themed folk objects, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Dixie Cup Ness

Informant is a facebook page that regularly posts memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on 1990’s & 2000’s American youth culture.

Dixie Cup Ness

This particular post shows Ness, a character known from successful Nintendo game ‘Super Smash Bros Melee,’ with a retro Dixie cup print on his clothes. By combining the popular 2001 video game character with the distinct folk pattern of 2000’s school cafeteria cups, this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia.

Adulthood
Childhood
Digital
Humor
Life cycle

Supernintendo Chalmers

Informant is a Facebook page that posts only memes. As the page’s primary following is teens and young adults, most of their content is humor based on early 2000’s culture.

Supernintendo Chalmers

This particular post shows a Super Nintendo gaming console (1990), with a decal of Superintendent Chalmers of the popular TV show the Simpsons. The pun here is on the words ‘superindendent’ and ‘supernintendo.’ By combining the show known for its success in the 1990’s, with a 1990’s video game console , this satirical image is aimed to evoke nostalgia for people who grew up in this era.

Childhood
Riddle

Riddle: Foreheads

Main Piece: “There is a pool…no there is a clear pool…with no people in it. Twenty people jump in. And twenty four heads pop up. How is that possible? There are no people in the pool…wait delete that…the answer is twenty four heads pop up…how is that possible? And then I don’t really know how to tell you the answer…I do actually…the answer is: there is really…do CAPS for this… twenty four HEADS…that’s it….wait…yes that’s it”

Background Information: The informant is nine years old. He is a little socially awkward, so his speech may seem choppy. He heard this riddle in Idaho from his friends, Ruby and Sky. He likes this riddle because he says, “it’s challenging and it’s a good play on words.” The informant continues to tell this riddle to his friends at school.

Performance Context: The informant sat across from me at his dining room table.

My Thoughts: The informant seems to enjoy this riddle and want to share it with me because of the ways words can have multiple meanings. He notes the ways in which trickery through riddles challenges traditional notions of understanding language. His friends passed the folklore to him and now he passes it onto his friends as well. Once a receiver of the folklore, the informant is now the teller, using a verbal method transfer this piece of folklore.

Childhood
Folk speech
Gestures
Musical

Handgame: Miss Suzy

Main Piece: (sung) “Miss Suzy had a baby/ she named him Tiny Tim/ she put him in the bathtub/ to see if he could swim/ he drank up all the water/ he ate up all the soap/ he tried to eat the bathtub/ but it wouldn’t go down his throat (giggles)/ miss Suzy called the doctor/ miss Suzy called the nurse/ miss Suzy called the lady/ with the alligator purse….uhhhh…..oh yeah ok….measles said the doctor/ mumps said the nurse… haha that’s terrible… pizza said the lady/ with the alligator purse.”

Background: The informant initially learned this handgame on the playground in elementary school from her friends. The piece would be performed on the playground during recess or occasionally in the hallway. The informant finds the piece entertaining and humorous. She remembers learning the song and finding it all so random, making little sense. This piece is sung while playing a handgame, a repetitive motion between partners clapping their hands together. The informant says this is usually performed between two young girls. She says it was a popular song among the group of girls she atteneded elementary school with. The game would become more advanced as it would speed up and test who could keep up.

Performance Context: I sat across the informant in my living room as she told me the piece.

My Thoughts: This handgame seems to be utilized as a way of defining in-group versus out-group members (i.e. as the game advances, less and less participants are included). The rhyme itself, as the informant contends, does not completely make sense. Its lyrics are a bit morbid, but is sung in a child-like tune, and is best known in the context of an elementary school playground. The informant alludes to the ways in which childhood folklore can be somewhat explicit, exploring themes of adulthood (i.e. morbidity, illness, death). Although the lyrics of the handgame are somehwat grave, the informant was an innocent receiver and teller and enjoyed participating in the folklore.

Childhood
Riddle

Riddle: Shadow

Main Piece: “What follows you everywhere when you’re walking, sleeping, flying, jumping, falling….um…but stays still when you’re not moving? That part I kind of made up. [Pause]. The answer is: shadow. And that’s it.”

Background Information: River, a nine year old boy, heard this riddle from his friends Ruby and Sky in Idaho. His friends told him the riddle when they were hanging out together. When I asked him what he enjoyed about the riddle, he said he didn’t think it was funny, but he did think it was challenging.

Performance Context: River sat across from me at his dining room table. He was relaxed telling me this riddle and focused on his telling of the riddle.

My Thoughts: I, personally, appreciated this riddle as it is tricky with a satisfying answer. River told this riddle well- he paused in the appropriate place of the riddle, expecting an answer from the recipient (me). River is in 4th grade, so there is often time to tell stories to friends at recess, lunch, etc. According to River, riddles are commonly told on the playground. It’s almost as if the teller sits atop of the hierarchy of the playground, with the wisdom and power of the answer. River seems to only tell riddles to friends he trusts. Since he admits he’s not good at keeping secrets, he wouldn’t tell the riddle to anyone who might use it against him (i.e. someone who might claim ownership of the riddle). The riddle is pretty general- its answer doesn’t only appeal to a certain group or have any quips that are specific to one context. It’s broadness allows for inclusive understanding.

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