USC Digital Folklore Archives / Adulthood
Adulthood
Customs
Initiations
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Groom’s Shoes

Collection: Indian wedding prank

During a discussion about Indian wedding customs, the informant described a common practical joke. There is a tradition in which the bride’s siblings steal the groom’s shoes. Consequently, the siblings set a price that the groom must pay in order to get his shoes back.

Context: This tradition is considered a practical joke as it is implemented at the expense of the groom. Practical jokes are especially apparent in weddings because the ceremony is a rite of passage.

 

Adulthood
Customs
Folk Beliefs
Initiations
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays

That Haldi Glow

Collection: Indian wedding substance – folk object

After a prior discussion about Indian weddings, the informant continued to describe the second day of the celebration.  In the morning of the second day, the couple is physically painted with haldi by the families. Haldi is also known as turmeric which contains cleansing qualities and produces a glowing effect on the skin.

Context/Interpretation:  The couple’s cleansing is both literal and symbolic. According to the informant, it is important for the couple to be cleansed by their families prior to the unification. The yellow haldi represents blessings, purification, and it is supposed to ward of evil beings.

 

Adulthood
Customs
Initiations
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Red in Indian Weddings

Collection:  Indian wedding – significance of red

A: “What is the significance of red in Indian weddings?”

B: “ Well red symbolizes a married woman, so the groom spreads red tika called Sindoor on the bride’s hairline…Oh! And the bride wear red.”

A: “A red dress?”

B: “It can be a saree, salwar suit, or whatever she wants.”

Context/Interpretation: While different colors take on different meanings and degrees of significance around the world, red is almost universally used in the development of womanhood. Marriage is a defining moment of adulthood, specifically womanhood, in many cultures. Therefore, the red in Indian weddings stays consistent with the red symbolism.

Annotated Bibliography:

SmarterTravel. “So THAT’S Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Green Hat In China.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 26 Jan. 2017.

According to the article, “Red is the most powerful of all colors in Indian culture and holds many important meanings.” In fact, red can convey fear, power, fertility, love, beauty, and more. More significantly, red is known to symbolize an Indian woman’s marriage through red henna, red sindoor, and her outfit.

 

Adulthood
Folk Dance
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Indian Dancing Ritual

Collection:  Indian wedding dances – groom’s side

During a discussion about Indian weddings, the informant mentioned that the groom is not allowed to see the bride before the ceremony. On the day of the ceremony, the groom and his family travel to the bride in an extravagant dancing parade which symbolizes him claiming her as his wife.

Context/Interpretation: Folk dancing is performed for various reasons, and in this case, the dance portrays a traditional action. Further, dancing at wedding is a pretty universal concept, however this dancing demonstration signifies a deeper meaning which the the initiation into marriage. This dance is rite of passage ritual.

 

Adulthood
Customs
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Quinceanera

I interviewed my informant, a young lady of Mexican descent, in the study lounge of the band office. Because of her upbringing in Mexican culture, she was able and eager to share a lot of folklore and folk traditions. At the top of her list was her experience with the tradition of Quinceaneras, which she learned from her family members. She watched her older cousins performing the event when she was younger, and she had one herself when she turned fifteen. The following is the information she shared with me during the interview:

 

According to my informant, a Quinceanera is a celebration of a young girl’s fifteenth birthday.

 

In the past, they were to show the village/town that this person is now ready to be wed/ now ready to meet suiters. Now it’s more of a celebration of coming into womanhood, and presenting her as such to family and friends

 

Girls wear bridal-like dresses. In modern Quinceaneras, girls wear colors that match the theme color of their party. My informant informed me that she wore a white dress because that was the main color of her party.

 

Quinceaneras also have a Court. The court is made up of seven couple with one main escort to dance with the Quinceanera [here the word is being used to describe the girl herself rather than the entire celebration].

 

At her party, when she enters the room, a waltz is performed with her court. And then she dances with the father/male figures in her family. Her father performs changing of the shoe, which is usually changing a ballet flat to a heal.

 

This is followed by the presentation of the doll. There is a doll that looks like the Quinceanera. She has to present it to a younger female figure (a cousin, or sister). My informant gave her doll to her younger sister at her Quinceanera.

 

My informant also told me that a more recent Quinceanera tradition is the surprise dance. The girl being celebrated will choreograph a modern dance of some sort to entertain guests.

 

It is also expected that the Quinceanera greet every guest and thank them for coming to their party.

 

My information added that Quinceaneras are traditionally for catholic people. There is usually a mass beforehand where they honor the Virgin Mary because she’s the pinnacle of womanhood.

 

I asked my informant for the context of a Quinceanera. She admitted that most of what she shared is based on the American tradition. In the Mexican culture, the whole town would be invited, not just family and friends. The party is usually held anywhere people fit: a ranch, in a dance hall, etc. The entire party also functions as a display of wealth for the family.

 

Analysis

I have ever experienced a Quinceanera party, but I have a great idea of what it’s like based on my informants description. She obviously is well informed about the complexities of the tradition, and was able to explain it to me in a way that was easy to document. I feel that if I ever go to a Quinceanera in the future, I will be knowledgeable of what is happening and why it’s significant.

 

For more information on Quinceaneras (including who celebrates it, and rituals that are part of it), go to https://www.quinceanera-boutique.com/quinceaneratradition.htm

 

Adulthood
Initiations
Life cycle

Family Tattoo Tradition

Everybody in Nicolette’s family gets a tattoo of a bull when they are 18, because her last name is bull… but everybody’s bull tattoo is done in a different style that accurately reflects their personality.

Adulthood
Childhood
Customs
Game
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Senior Assassins

My friend was already aware of my folklore project. While getting coffee, we were happened to be telling stories about our experiences in high school. I realized this would be perfect for this assignment. GG is the informant, PH is myself. Another friend was sitting with us, who I did not collect folklore from, but she does talk during the following collection. She is CC. Both GG and CC are from Orange County, though they were from different cities and did not know each other before attending USC. Both of their high schools had the following tradition.

PH: Do you have any folklore about your school, like stories everyone would tell, or things everyone would do?

The informant then told me of a legend/superstition, which is documented separately.

GG: Do games count?

PH: Yes!

GG: Our high school, senior year we had senior assassins. [This was not a tradition that only happened during her senior year, but it was a tradition you had to be a senior to partake in.]

CC: Oh, we had that too!

PH: Okay, could you explain what that is?

GG: You didn’t have that?

PH: No.

GG: Basically, everyone who wants to be in it has to sign up and they get assigned someone they need to shoot with a water gun.

PH: Oh, yeah I’ve heard of that. I’ve seen it in TV shows actually.

GG: Yeah, and the last one standing gets money.

PH: Woah, what?

GG: Yeah, supposedly, but I never heard of anyone actually getting any money.

Adulthood
Folk Beliefs
Initiations
Life cycle
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Zeta Tau Alpha Belt/Sash

Title: The Zeta Tau Alpha Belt/Sash

Category: Ceremonial Object

Informant: Lisa L. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 58

Occupation: Housewife

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/8/18

Description:

The sash/belt is made by the member being intimated into the Panhellenic sorority Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA). The sash is composed of nine alternating ribbons in the ZTA colors: turquoise blue and steel grey. The sash is worn around the waist and over a white petticoat. The ZTA sash is only worn during two occasions of a woman’s life: ZTA initiation and the woman’s wedding day.

Context/Significance:

Zeta Tau Alpha is a Panhellenic social and philanthropic sorority. They are best known for founding the “Think Pink” breast cancer awareness campaign. The ZTA sash is hand made during a woman’s initiation ceremony and is worn over an all-white petticoat. After the woman is initiated into the sorority the woman will keep the sash in her possession until their wedding day. On their wedding day, the woman will wear the sash once more underneath her wedding gown and over the white petticoat (if applicable) beneath the dress’s fabric. The woman will generally make a point of letting the sorority sisters present at her wedding know that she is wearing it and show them prior to the ceremony.

Personal Thoughts:

It is interesting to gather this sorority tradition from my mother since there is no record of ZTA ever being present on USC’s campus and very few of my friends would know about their traditions. Traditionally, as a member of a Panhellenic sorority, female members are required by secret oath to withhold all secrets and traditions of their respective sororities to death and never tell others of their secrets. Luckily, my mother and I do not hold these secrets between each other and she shared this story with me. I understand this ritual to be a “full circle” sort of deal from initiation (innocence) to marriage (maturity). She explained to me that this was a way for her to share her wedding with her “sisters” and still keep them close as she moved on to the next phase of her life.

Adulthood
Customs
Gestures
Holidays
Kinesthetic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Satin Donation Bag: Italian Wedding Tradition

Joanna Estrada is a special needs teacher living in Los Angeles, California. She is 60 years old and has three daughters. Joanna has lived in Southern California since birth, moving from Redondo Beach to Torrance in her mid-twenties. Her father was Irish and her mother was Italian; as such, she grew up surrounded by multiple cultures and was brought up in the Catholic tradition. In the excerpt below, Joanna describes a tradition that would take place during Italian wedding receptions. After the wedding ceremony, guests would congregate at the appropriate reception location and pass around a bag made from satin material. They would place money in the bag, and then present the donations to the newly wedded couple as a collective wedding gift:

Joanna: “It was customary to collect wedding donations during receptions. At all of the traditional Itaian weddings, someone would pass around a bag made of white satin. The guests would put as much money as they wanted… it could be a small donation of $5 or a big donation of $100 or more. They’d put it in the bag, and at the end of the reception, someone would present the bag to the couple. It was always fun to watch because it was kind of unexpected.”

Here, Joanna describes a folkloric wedding custom. Collecting money in a satin bag is both a folkloric gesture and ritual; it qualifies as a gesture because it is a widely recognized and encouraged practice that involves a specific action (i.e. collecting money in a specific type of bag); it also qualifies as a ritual because it takes place during weddings, which are largely considered to be special holidays. If one were to donate money (via satin bag) to a newly married during their reception, they would be demonstrating their familiarity with Italian wedding customs and taking part in a collective activity.

Adulthood
Foodways
general
Holidays
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Italian Wedding Soup

Joanna Estrada is a special needs teacher living in Los Angeles, California. She is 60 years old and has three daughters. Joanna has lived in Southern California since birth, moving from Redondo Beach to Torrance in her mid-twenties. Her father was Irish and her mother was Italian; as such, she grew up surrounded by multiple cultures and was brought up in the Catholic tradition. In the excerpt below, Joanna describes a type of soup that is prepared and served during Italian wedding receptions. The soup is served to everyone at the reception—including the newly married couple—and is a hallmark of Italian weddings.

Joanna: “Someone would make Italian wedding soup… It was usually the bride’s grandmother but anyone could make it… And they would make a huge amount of it to feed the entire wedding party and all of the guests.”

Isabella: “What was in the soup?”

Joanna: “It had tiny meatballs; those were always homemade, they had to be homemade. And the other main ingredient was egg pasta. It was a special type of pasta made from egg, just like it sounds. It was cut up into little pieces… never the full noodle, it was chopped up into small bits. Then there was a lot of Parmesan cheese. The more cheese, the better. And the base was chicken broth. It’s a traditional dish but I’ve seen it in the supermarket sold in cans. That’s obviously not authentic.”

Here, Joanna describes a traditional Italian soup that is prepared specifically for weddings. As Joanna notes above, the recipe has become so popular that soup companies (think Progresso or Campbells) have adopted it and started to mass-produce it. It is advertised in supermarkets as “Italian wedding soup,” which acknowledges the cultural origins of the soup and also attests to how popular it is amongst Italians.

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