Monthly Archives: May 2013

Chinese New Year and Moon Festival

“As for celebrations… we always celebrated Chinese New Year and Moon Festival by eating special food or having parties with family friends or relatives. I always looked forward to these holidays! For Chinese New Year we’d get our red envelopes full of money from each of our older relatives as long as we recited the phrase “xin nian kuaI le” or happy New Year to each of them (laughs), and I mean common its fucking money for saying a small phrase. And we’d either have a nice meal out or like we’d all make dumplings together. Hm, then Moon Festival was marked by moon cakes – we’d try out all these different types but my favorite was always red bean, you should have one if you haven’t had it before!! I guess these were pretty significant in my life because it brought our Chinese community together more and like gave me at least some reason to be proud of my ethnicity as a kid when I really didn’t understand what was going on or anything like that, that’s why it is like so significant to me.”

I think that big family celebrations where the whole family is involved allow family members to come together and explore different aspects they were not aware of before and little celebrations in which they get like money or such makes the smaller children want to participate and learn more about their culture as they grow up. It’s folklore used to bring families together.

Chinese as part of my culture

“There were definitely a ton of things about my ethnicity that influenced me so I don’t even know where to begin…I guess something that’s always been prevalent in my life is the actual Chinese language…I spoke it fluently as a kid but lost it as I grew up in school since my parents never really enforced it at home. They forced me for years to learn at Chinese school every Saturday morning, this happens to a lot of Chinese kids trust me, and I never really took it seriously until later when I realized how embarrassing it was that I couldn’t even talk to my relatives very well, it was so bad, yep bad times; but any who that also influenced me to take Chinese as a language in high school, not just for the “easy A” and all that you know? But because I actually felt like it was a huge part of my culture and like my heritage that I was missing and you know I kinda wanted it back, plus it sounds so cool huh?”

I feel like persons language is one of the most important aspects of their culture because it is through their language that they are able to communicate with other people who speak the same language. Therefore this form of folklore is important in being close with one’s own culture, this allows different people to find unifying factors with one another in the form of language so that they may be able to communicate and in this way pass on more folk stories.

Saint Nicholas Day

“Saint Nicholas Day which is before Christmas, I believe is the 13th of December, actually I can check that for you” (goes off to check), “December 6th sorry. And you lay your shoes outside and Saint Nicholas stuffs them with treats overnight.” “it was always a fun holiday to celebrate and it made me feel a lot more connected to my ancestral roots because it was something that my family did differently from other families, and it served as a reminder of my heritage…let me see, it also gave me a sense of pride in whom I was and who my family was, it made me feel like I was part of something more than just my family and just, just white as a race.”
“So like Christmas?” I asked
“Kind of its sort of like a prelude to Christmas, it was a delightful holiday it made my childhood fun, so the story of saint Nicholas is that there were three girls who needed money for various reasons and they came from a poor family, saint Nicholas heard of their plight and while they were drying their stockings one evening, he snuck over and filled their stockings with the money that they needed. And that is why we have Saint Nicholas Day to commemorate that act of kindness.”

I believe that this is a way that people kind of have a variation of Christmas in order to be able to adapt it to their own heritage and it would it some ways make them more united.  The way that different cultures manage to make variations of holidays in order to match them to their culture is interesting to hear about because it keeps their uniqueness there.  They are able to integrate their traditions and incorporate them into this type of folklore and that is a certain characteristic that many people manage to incorporate into their lives.

All the Trees

Dione Surdez Oliver was born in Santa Ana, California in 1969.  She moved to Crooks, South Dakota when she was four years old.  She grew up on her family’s small dairy farm.  At the age of eighteen she moved back to Southern California.  She worked in the music industry for some time as well as a legal assistant for a number of years.  In 2003 Dione decided to pursue her educational endeavors and began studying at Santa Monica Community College.  She transferred to the University of Southern California in the fall of 2006 and was granted the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund Scholarship.  In 2009 Dione graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative writing and a minor in Cultural Anthropology.  She graduated with honors and received the Order of Troy.  She currently resides in Manhattan Beach, California and where she is the director of CrossFit Zen and is working on entering the Masters of Professional Writing program at USC.

You know, you can’t see the forest for the trees.

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My friend, Dione, told me this when I was complaining to her about how overwhelmed I was feeling one day.  I asked her what it meant and she told me I had to figure it out myself.  Well, after a lot of digging I realized that I truly cannot see the forest for the trees.  I get so overwhelmed about what is immediately around me and what I am dealing with immediately that I cannot visualize the big picture of it all; it takes me time to realize that this is just the small piece of a much bigger puzzle.  Since our conversation, I have been using this proverb and applying it to others around me.

Cow Tipping?

Dione Surdez Oliver was born in Santa Ana, California in 1969.  She moved to Crooks, South Dakota when she was four years old.  She grew up on her family’s small dairy farm.  At the age of eighteen she moved back to Southern California.  She worked in the music industry for some time as well as a legal assistant for a number of years.  In 2003 Dione decided to pursue her educational endeavors and began studying at Santa Monica Community College.  She transferred to the University of Southern California in the fall of 2006 and was granted the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund Scholarship.  In 2009 Dione graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative writing and a minor in Cultural Anthropology.  She graduated with honors and received the Order of Troy.  She currently resides in Manhattan Beach, California and where she is the director of CrossFit Zen and is working on entering the Masters of Professional Writing program at USC.

Cow Tipping?

“I have never in my life heard of cow tipping until I came to Southern California.  Funny, because I grew up on a dairy farm. (laughs)  So, they tell me that people go and tip a cow over as they are sleeping … STANDING UP! (chuckles, again)  This is the most ridiculous thing that I have ever heard.  And of course there are no video recordings of this happening because it is impossible.  And it is always some drunk schmuck saying they did it, as if you somehow become stronger when you are drunk.  Anyway, as the legend (holds up two fingers to make quotes) goes somebody sneaks up on a cow as they are sleeping standing up.  Problem number one, you cannot sneak up on a cow.  Trust me.  I tried it all the time on the farm and, let me tell you, it cannot be done.  Second, cows do not sleep standing up. Period.  So this super strong drunk dude supposedly pushes over said cow, in this vulnerable cow state, and the cow, startled, tips over.  So simple.  You simply push over a 1000+ pound animal by simply exerting the smallest amount of force with your tiny index finger.  What a crock of shit! (hysterical laughter follows) Californians, I tell you. (continues laughing)”

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I found this story to be particularly funny mainly because I have always heard of cow tipping but had no idea what it was.  And I agree that these stories always seem to revolve around really drunk men.  According to the Laws of Physics alone, this type of feat is literally impossible.  I wonder how is has gained so much popularity and has become so common.

The Elusive Jackalope

Dione Surdez Oliver was born in Santa Ana, California in 1969.  She moved to Crooks, South Dakota when she was four years old.  She grew up on her family’s small dairy farm.  At the age of eighteen she moved back to Southern California.  She worked in the music industry for some time as well as a legal assistant for a number of years.  In 2003 Dione decided to pursue her educational endeavors and began studying at Santa Monica Community College.  She transferred to the University of Southern California in the fall of 2006 and was granted the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund Scholarship.  In 2009 Dione graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative writing and a minor in Cultural Anthropology.  She graduated with honors and received the Order of Troy.  She currently resides in Manhattan Beach, California and where she is the director of CrossFit Zen and is working on entering the Masters of Professional Writing program at USC.

 

Informant:          Okay, so you know what the jackalope  is, right?

Me:                        The what?

I:                             Well, if you ever travel through the Midwest people will ask you if you have seen one.  Always say no, no matter what.

M:                          Got it.  But, for curiosity’s sake, what exactly is a jackalope?

I:                             It is supposed to be a creature that is half jack rabbit and half antelope, which is impossible.  People will try to convince you that they are real.  If you go to any bar or diner on the main road you will even see taxidermy jackalope.  Basically, it is a jackrabbit with antlers.  If you see one you are very lucky, as people are always trying to catch them and the animals themselves are incredibly elusive.  They just use it as a way to make fun of tourists who are unfamiliar with the creature.  (Informant holds up fingers to signify quotes around word creature.)  Either way, no matter how convincing they seem, do not believe the hype.  You will never be able to live it down if you fall for the joke.

M:                          Thanks for the heads up.

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It seems that the folk of this particular lore go to great lengths to convince others that the creature truly exists.  So much so that it seems that there may be some sort of truth to the story.  Some Sources cite this belief on an outbreak of rabbits what were infected with the Shope papilloma virus, which causes the growth of horn- and antler-like tumors in various places on the rabbit’s head and body.  The fact that this story has some semblance of truth speaks to the lengths that the locals go to trick the tourists.

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This lore can also be reviewed at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackalope

 

Shoemaker

Jayden Hamilton was born in San Bernardino, California in 2002.  He is a fifth grader at Preston Elementary School in Rialto, CA.  He currently runs track for the school.

Me:                        When you are playing games at recess, like tag, how do you know who is “it” first?

Informant:          We play Shoemaker.

M:                          What is that?

I:                             Everybody puts their feet in and we go around the circle singing the songs.  Whoever shoe we are on at the song takes their foot out.  The last foot in the circle is it.

M:                          Oh, okay.  I remember this when I was a kid.  Which one is your favorite song?

I:                             ummmm … Johnny.

M:                          How does it go?

I:                             Johnny ate a boogar and it taste like sugar.  Put it in a pot and it tastes like snot. (grins widely)

M:                          That sounds like something that any little boy would like. (smile)

The pot and the kettle

Christopher Jean was raised in Los Angeles, California.  He graduated high school in 2003 and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Loma Linda University in 2012.  He is Hatian and grew up in a devout Catholic household.  He currently resides in San Bernardino, with his wife Shirley.  He is a Physical Therapist Assistant.

Look at the pot calling the kettle black!

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An accurate interpretation of this would be, “How are you going to talk about his faults when you have the same ones!”

Unity Sand

Christopher Jean was raised in Los Angeles, California.  He graduated high school in 2003 and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Loma Linda University in 2012.  He is Hatian and grew up in a devout Catholic household.  He currently resides in San Bernardino, with his wife Shirley.  He is a Physical Therapist Assistant.

At our wedding, me and Shirley decided to do the Unity Sand … Now that I think about it, we did a lot of unity stuff.  The whole day was about us becoming one.  I guess that is kind of the point when you think about it and put it all into perspective. … so we had two jars of sand.  Each was our wedding colors.  So Shirley got the Coral colored sand and I got the dark brown colored sand.  When the pastor announced it, we made a big production of walking over, together, to a table that we had set up and decorated with a larger vase.  Together, we emptied the sand in our vases into the new, bigger vase.  It symbolized us being united.

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A Freudian interpretation of this would interpret the larger jar as symbolizing the children that they will create together as a result of this union.

Death Anniversary

Christopher Jean was raised in Los Angeles, California.  He graduated high school in 2003 and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Loma Linda University in 2012.  He is Hatian and grew up in a devout Catholic household.  He currently resides in San Bernardino, with his wife Shirley.  He is a Physical Therapist Assistant.

A few months ago my mom planned this huge celebration for my dad, who died five years ago.  We had never done this before, so I was a little confused, but it was important to her so I went along with it.  I spent a lot of weekends before going down to her house painting and paving the driveway and being a general handy man in preparation for this day.  My mom said it was important that everything look amazing for all of our family that would be coming in from out of town and that it has to look like everything was in the best shape.  On the day of the celebration we went to Mass, had a huge feast of all of his favorite dishes, and we had a lot of family over to enjoy this lavish display.

While I miss my dad and everything looked really nice, and tasted really good, I’m not really sure why she did this.  In all that I remember, we never did this for any other family member.  But, when I think about it, I think that this is her way of dealing with her own demons.  She was outright mean to my father when he was alive and she treated him like he was nothing … She treated him like shit for no reason.  He wasn’t a bad man, he wasn’t abusive, or anything like that.  But she talked down to him and just didn’t behave the way that a wife should, you know? … … … when I think of it like that it really makes me believe that she did all of this because she felt bad about how she treated him when he was alive so she had to make a big show of it with all the food and cleaning and stuff.  (shrugs)

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I do not know exactly why his mother decided to do this, or what her motivations were, but I did find that this is actually something that is observed in Catholicism.  It is called Requiem Masses.  They are used to celebrate the anniversary of someone’s death.  There are a lot of rituals and customs involved n this practice, but it is, in fact, a true ritual.

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Cited: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12776d.htm