USC Digital Folklore Archives / April, 2012
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Greek Orthodox Wedding Celebration

Christina Fiore

Los Angeles, California

April 22, 2012

Folklore Type: Tradition, Ritual

Informant Bio: Christina is my good friend. She is Greek and Italian. She is a nineteen year old Sophomore a double major in Archaeology and Italian at the University of Southern California. She has been to quite a few of her cousins’ weddings.

Context: We have talked about weddings before just because we have talked about my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding and differences between the different weddings she and I have been to. I have never been to a Greek Orthodox Wedding so I asked her to describe it to me.

Item: So yeah, so basically it’s a typical wedding you have the bride’s side and the groom’s side, such and such. The whole service is done in Greek unless you specifically ask for it otherwise. Except they say it in Greek and then English so you’re basically listening to it twice. And I don’t really know, I mean the service it’s like relatively long. The most important aspects, like they do some stuff with like incense. So there’s that but basically the most important part of a Greek wedding in terms of the service itself is they do this thing with crowns. And the crowns a really big deal so they are really decorative and they can be really pretty. You pick your own crowns they make all different kinds. There’s two crowns that are connected by these strings or whatever. The crowns are fuckin’ expensive. They place one on the bride’s head and one on the groom’s head. Then they walk around the altar like three times with candles and stuff. So that symbolizes their like first steps as a married couple. And then they do the typical like now you may kiss the bride cause you’re married. Blabbity blah. Other than that it’s a typical wedding. The father walks her down the aisle. There is a flower girl. The girls all walk down the aisle. The music is pretty common. Duh duh duh, duh duh duh duh. There is like a greek hymn. There’s two big candles and two medium size candles but I don’t know if that’s the norm or the minimum or something. They will also be super involved and like ornate-ish. Oh! Also there are these two god parents specifically god parents of the wedding. They are called the goombaro and goombara. Basically they take care a lot of the wedding stuff. My mom was my cousin’s god mother for the wedding and like my dad couldn’t be because he couldn’t stand on the altar cause he’s like not Greek. He was kinda exiled. Um, and like that person will hold the string I was talking about between the two crowns. And they do this thing where they switch the two crowns. They are like spiritual guidance person of the wedding. I think the crown switching is just another example that the couple are together. They also drink wine from the same cup or whatever. There are these things called favors which are like candy covered almonds. They are only for weddings and christenings. I don’t know if anyone actually eats them. They’re really hard. They are also really decorated. There aren’t a lot of places where you can get this done. Like there are specific places. And the godparents like pay for all that stuff. That’s why usually it’s a couple that offers to do that because it’s an expensive endeavor. It’s usually a morning or an afternoon wedding. Afterwards you have a reception. At the reception there’s not too much stuff that’s specifically Greek except the music. Once you’re there you pretty much go into traditional Greek party mode. You have the like circle dancing. The Zambekiko, its like slow. It’s called the drunken dance. It’s usually one or two people up at a time and everyone else circles and claps on their knees. There’s the typical plate breaking which doesn’t always happen. It’s really more of an in the moment thing. I have not been to that many things where that has happened. Oh, there is always, you know you are at a Greek party when the men always do this. Like they plan and come prepared with a ton of rolled up one dollar bills. Then when people are dancing they just throw the money. It’s not like a good luck thing. It’s just a celebratory thing. I don’t really know how to explain it. And pretty much always all that money that’s on the floor will pretty much go to the band or dj or whatever.

Informant Analysis: Um, well weddings are always a nice thing because typically Greek families are pretty large so when weddings happen everyone gets to get together where that wouldn’t normally happen. So that’s nice. The wedding is really religiously based. All the Greek party stuff is all about having a good time. It’s really like any normal Greek party not associated with a wedding.

Analysis: A Greek Orthodox Wedding is a religious and seriously joyous affair. It gets the whole, rather large, family involved. It is a time to celebrate. A major theme throughout the ceremony and the party is togetherness. Whether the togetherness is between the new husband and wife or the family in terms of working together to pay for it and put it all together. Even when the men throw the money it all gets put together to help pay for the music. Greek weddings really embody the importance of family and joy within a family that is important in Greek culture.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

Holidays
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Los Peces en el Rio

Pero mira como beben los peces en el rio (But look at how the fish in the river drink)

Pero mira como beben por ver a Dios nacido (But look at how they drink because they saw God’s birth)

Beben y beben y vuelven a beber, (they drink and drink and keep on drinking)

Pero mira como beben por ver a Dios nacer. (But look at how they drink because they saw God be born)

(God=jesus. this is a christmas song)

 

This is a song we sing at Christmas. The birth of God is the birth of Jesus.

 

I think that this is an attempt to justify their religious identity. In actuality, it’s a bit of a logical fallacy, but they are trying to associate something that is not necessarily proven to be true (birth of god) with something that is constant and happens all the time, and they witness (the fish ‘drinking’ in the river). The artist Gipsy Kings recorded this, and were quite successful– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhSjqnKNgvo

general
Legends
Narrative

Guys falls off motorcycle at red light

This a common motorcycle story I’ve heard from several people, especially when I was first learning to ride a motorcycle, and it always happened to someone they knew. Someone was touring on a motorcycle, and when you ride a motorcycle, and you’re on the highway, your feet are on the footrests, because you don’t need your feet to balance when you’re riding fast. This guy was on this long trip, and gets off at the ramp, gets to the bottom of the ramp, puts the brake on, forgets to put his feet down, and the bike falls over to the side. He drove over a hundred miles on the highway to see a Bruce Springsteen concert without a problem. On the way home, he gets all the way back to his hometown, and gets off at the ramp. There’s a red light, so he stops his bike falls and he ends up in the hospital with a broken leg.

 

It’s a warning to not be complacent, ever, no matter how easy it is when you’re driving a motorcycle.

 

Motorcycling is inherently dangerous,a nd so I think that this story is some kind of way to regain control, and more importantly, to imply that tragic things that happen to people on motorcycles happen because of their own stupidity. It is an attempt to take out some of the unknown variables of motorcycling.

Folk Beliefs
Magic

Baby in Mirror

Pablo:

 

You shouldn’t put babies in front of the mirror.

 

They would get sick if you put them in front of the mirror.

 

I think that this is a distrust of technology. The same thing occurs in Feng Shui– it’s bad luck to put a mirror at the foot of your bed. I think it is a natural resistance to relatively new things, and the fear associated with seeing one’s reflection in a mirror.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Jewish Confirmation

Maddy Heyman

Los Angeles, California

April 24, 2012

Folklore Type: Ritual

Informant Bio: Maddy Heyman is one of my apartment mates and good friends. She is a twenty year old Sophomore and double major in Theatre and Narrative Studies at The University of Southern California. She is from St. Paul, Minnesota and has lived there her whole life. Maddy is a very active member of her theatre community back in St. Paul. She also has acted and directed shows at USC. Although she is thriving in college despite tearing her meniscus and finding out she has mild Crohn’s disease, she is very attached to her home, family, friends, and Theatre community in St. Paul. Maddy is Jewish.

Context: Maddy and I were in our dimly lit apartment late in the night around midnight when I asked her to share some theatre folklore knowing she is a Theatre major. After she told me the theatre ritual, she said there was another ritual they do with her form of Judaism that is also really important to her.

Item: A Jewish ritual more specific to my form of Judaism, er Reformed Jew, is confirmation at fifteen or sixteen. It’s not like Bar or Baht Mitzvahs. Then you become a Jewish adult in the community. Reformed Jews get that at thirteen you’re not old enough to decide you’re gonna be a Jew adult. With Confirmation, you take a year and really study what it means to be a Jew. We looked controversial issues like birth control, homosexuals, and stem cell research. At the end we wrote confessional statements. They allowed us to confirm our faith but like on our own terms which was super cool. You can be like I accept it but I believe this or I wanna think about it this way (hand gestures on each side). Also we learned a lot about other religions, and why we would want to be Jews. I really got to decide and realize, yes, I want to be Jewish and hopefully raise my kids Jewish. It culminates a year of learning. At the end it culminates into a service where we read our statements and then they get published in a program.

Informant Analysis: I don’t know when it started. Just know it started cause they knew thirteen was too young, and we needed the chance to experience more before we make the big decision.

Analysis: Maddy identifies with this ritual because as she said it really helped her learn about the important decision she was going to have to make and helped her make it. This ritual is a reaction to a ritual of the past. Instead of changing the ritual the Reformed Jews added a new one. It is an example of Religious ideas changing over time.

  Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

Festival

Houston Rodeo

Jonathan “Scotty” Miller

Houston, Texas

March 12, 2012

Folklore Type: Festival

Informant Bio: Bio: Scotty is my good friend from high school. He is a twenty year old Sophomore and Physics major at the University of Houston. He was born and has lived in Friendswood, Texas his whole life. Except now he lives in downtown Houston. Everyone in my group friends is smart, but we have labeled Scotty as the super smart one among the boys because his major sounds the hardest. It is however extremely debatable as to whether or not this is true. Scotty is one of the nicest and calmest people I have ever met. His house is the one we always go to hang out.

Context: None of my friends who are girls could go to the Rodeo with me during Spring Break. So, I asked Scotty to go with me and my parents. Afterwards, I asked him what he thought.

Item: Smells, BBQ obviously. Sounds well Country music. Let me see… sort of carnivaly. The main event of course is things involving livestock like competitions and such. BBQ! BBQ is important because it involves the eating of livestock. Country music is around and rap is getting involved with it because of the younger generation bringing it in I guess. There is old school carnival rides, ferris wheels, tall things you fall from, sort of an old timey southern tradition. There’s a concert and stuff you can buy that goes with that. Cheap beer everywhere. Cotton candy. Something unique to the rodeo, you know where carnivals usually have the things you can win stuff? Only at the rodeo can you win a pick-up truck. The art show is pretty ok. Most of it is done by high school student. It ranges from stick figurey to masterfully done. It various from shop art to tapestries and what have you. It’s usually about boring cowboy things like cows and pigs and cowboy hats. It’s in the convention hall area. You also have the places where there’s abusing of the livestock. You walk around and poke them. Another area where you stare at them and they stare at you. Places you can buy southern attire, lots of cowboy hats, leather items, antler derivatives. Food on a stick. Smoked food on a stick. Deep fried Oreos that’s a pretty good tradition. Oh, people don’t normally wear cowboy hats, but they wear them to the rodeo. But people wear cowboy boots that’s more normal. Also people who don’t normally wear cowhide vests and stuff wear them. It’s really only once a year. You go or you don’t the week when it’s in town. There is only a certain time it’s around. It’s most often a family thing or a friend thing. Or I guess if you’re really enthusiastically country which probably means you’re redneck.

Informant Analysis: Usually a, it’s ah a cultural staple. It’s a moderately pleasant evening where you don’t have to worry about anything bad happening. It’s a safe event, and everyone knows what it is. It’s a thing that people do; it’s a tradition. It’s cool for people and important for other people. I don’t know it’s cool.

Analysis: The rodeo is not terribly important to Scotty. It is just something to do for him unlike other Texans where they feel a sense of pride. The Houston Rodeo has become a blend of old style rodeos and modern concerts and other events. The Rodeo is held at Reliant Stadium and Convention center where the Houston football team, the Texans, plays. There are rules for the competitions and an organized order to the rodeo. It is less local than the way rodeos started out. Rodeos used to be a way for farming communities, where farms and neighbors are really far apart from each other, to get together, compete, eat, get to know each other, and have fun. Now the rodeo is a mix of new and old.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

general
Humor

Comic Culture

Jonathan “Scotty” Miller

Houston, Texas

March 16, 2012

Folklore Type: Joke

Informant Bio: Scotty is my good friend from high school. He is a twenty year old Sophomore and Physics major at the University of Houston. Everyone in my group friends is smart, but we have labeled Scotty as the super smart one among the boys because his major sounds the hardest. It is however extremely debatable as to whether or not this is true. Scotty is one of the nicest and calmest people I have ever met. His house is the one we always go to hang out.

Context: There was a group of four of us at Scotty’s house playing the latest version of Super Mario. I asked my friend Isaac about gaming lore, and then I asked Scotty about Comic Book lore as he is our comic book expert.

Item: No one in comics stays dead. One of the old sort of comic thing was like… I think it was like. You know Captain America, right? Well he had this side-kick named Bucky, but he died. They would say no one in comics stays dead except Jason Todd, Bucky and Uncle Ben. Jason Todd is one of the old Robins, but he died. But then they brought Jason Todd. So it was no one stays dead in comics except Bucky and Uncle Ben. Then they brought back Bucky so it was just no one stays dead in comics but Uncle Ben.

Informant Analysis: I don’t know comics are just kind of like ridiculous. They aren’t really any hard rules you know?

Analysis: This is a way for comic book lovers to laugh at their medium of entertainment. It is also a way to connect to each other through their medium that is usually read solitarily. For Scotty and probably other it is also a way to deal with and point out the fact that there are no rules for what they love to read. It is a medium that one just has to roll with its punches and randomness.

 Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

general
Humor

Better Nerf Irelia

Isaac Dutton

Houston, Texas

March 16, 2012

Folklore Item: Phrase, Joke

Informant Bio: Isaac is my good friend from high school. He is a twenty year old Sophomore Computer Science major at the University of Houston. He is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but he moved to Houston at a fairly young age. He is very intellectual, calculating, cryptic, and sarcastic.

Context: Isaac and I are both gamers. He games more than I do though so I asked him what common gamer lore I was missing out on during Spring Break. This was when we were at our friend Scotty’s house playing the latest Super Mario for the Wii. There were four of us, Brandon, Isaac, Scotty, and myself.

 

Item:

A: Isaac is there gaming lore?

I: (Laughter) Yes, yes there are. Like, oh something bad happened? Better nerf Irelia. Nerf is a term when the game developers rearrange the statistics to make the character less favorable. For example if someone has immense strength then they would lessen it. Irelia, she is a character is League of Legions that is ridiculously overpowered. It started as a problem and now is just a joke. You use it whenever. Whenever anything bad happens. In game, two characters, Ramos and Shen, are fighting in the jungle. Chogath just kills Shen, then you say Better nerf Irelia. Out of game… really it’s very wide open. Something falling on your foot. Box fell on your foot, better nerf Irelia. Or have two tests the same day? Better nerf Irelia.

 

Informant Analysis: It is funny (confused look and shoulder shrug)?

Analysis: Gamers tend to be nerds, and a little solitary. Not many RPG’s or Role Playing Games have multi-player options so RPG-ers like Isaac and I tend to play alone. The commonality of the issue and joke of League of Legions is a way that more solitary gamers can come together. It is also very rare for programmers to make such large changes which is partially what makes the story behind this joke so unique.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

Childhood
general
Humor
Narrative

Children’s Chinese Restaurant Chant

Ruchika Tanna

Los Angeles, California

April 25, 2012

Folklore Type: Childhood Chant

Informant Bio: Ruchika is my friend and fellow Archaeology major. Ruchika is a Sophomore at the University of Southern California. She has moved around her whole life. She is Indian.

Context: We were both in Intro to Folklore and decided to meet before Maya Civilization, the other class we have together, and discuss some.

 

Item:

“I went to a Chinese restaurant to buy a loaf of bread, bread, bread,

He asked me what my name was, and this is what I said, said, said,

My name is eli pickleby, pickleby eli,

Wallah wallah whiskers

Chinese, Japanese, Indian chief!”

 

Informant Analysis: I think this is just nonsense that’s fun to say, no particular meaning, as far as I can see. Learned it from my sister when I was in elementary school. She learned it from her friends. We used to sing it all the time, not so much anymore. Only when we go to Chinese restaurants. Like we did last weekend!

Analysis: This is a variation of a hand game chant that I have also heard. It is slightly shorter, and Ruchika never did the hand game part. At first it was probably just funny for her, but now it is a connection specific to her sister and her. What is also interesting is that my version has more ethnicities than these three from Asia. Either one of us could have the adapted version, or both our versions are adaptations. This could childhood chant could be an example of how specific ethnicities change certain things unconsciously to be more relatable to their culture.

Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Indian Women Shoe Stealers

Ruchika Tanna

Los Angeles, California

April 25, 2012

Folklore Type: Ritual

Informant Bio: Ruchika is my friend and fellow Archaeology major. Ruchika is a Sophomore at the University of Southern California. She has moved around her whole life. She is Indian.

Context: We were both in Intro to Folklore and decided to meet before Maya Civilization, the other class we have together, and discuss some. She specifically mentioned the shoe stealing at weddings in a study session we were at for the Folklore midterm.

Item: Ok, um so I guess you would call this an initiation ritual of sorts. Not all parts of India do this. My family does it, but I know people in Gujarat do this too. That’s where my family’s from. Basically friends of the bride, like her cousins, sisters, those people try to get the groom’s shoes. Friends of the groom, on guys on that side are protective of them. This happens on the day of the wedding. Oh, and if the girls get the shoes then they (guys) have to pay all of them (girls). I don’t know why this only happens on the marriage day because Indian weddings are like super long. But if the girls aren’t able to get the shoes then the guys will make it easier. Like they put up a good fight and eventually give them over just to be nice and have a good relationship. It can get kinda crazy, like my female cousin got blacked once ‘cause she got tackled by a former football player. She fell and got hit on the head. I’ve heard horror stories of clothes getting torn. The last wedding we had a fight almost broke out. These things get pretty intense man. Oh, the guys don’t just give the girls the shoes. Like they will hide it in an easier spot. But if my side gets the shoes then we give it to the old ladies. ‘Cause you can’t tackle old ladies. It’s not just us. I’ve seen it in movies too. I kind of stay out of it on the sidelines.

Informant Analysis: I think it’s an exciting ritual. And it lets both sides interact. ‘Cause you know mostly they just stay on their own sides. It’s also exciting for the kids because it gives them something to do during. I’ve definitely seen cases though, where it does go too far.

Analysis: Ruchika is definitely onto something as far as it is something to distract the children. This ritual also has a lot to do with having a good relationship between the two families coming together. In Indian culture a marriage is also a partnership, particularly since arranged marriages are still fairly common. This ritual does not include the bride and groom in the camaraderie. They are just a means for the other people on both sides to meet and interact. The groom’s shoes are also pretty essential to walking and dancing, so it is important that they get back to him which forces his side to pay the girls and reach a truce between families.

 Alex Williams

Los Angeles, California

University of Southern California

ANTH 333m   Spring 2012

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