Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Magical Properties of a Giant Confederate Flag

“So, my uncle moved to Tennessee, and he lives down the road from this guy who has a giant confederate flag in front of his house. It covers his whole front porch. And they believe that it—like, if you pray to it—it will bring back the confederate soldiers… like Jesus raising the dead. And when you walk past it, I swear you can see a pair of eyes watching you from under it, but this guy doesn’t have a dog or anything.”

This story came from a classmate with whom I exchanged lore. Although it is short, it contains two clear, separate pieces of folklore. The first is an observation of a folk belief and ritual. Although likely embellished slightly by every teller, it essentially describes a kind of worship. The religious analogy “like Jesus raising the dead” draws a clear connection to the religious nature of the flag-worshiping practice, although it would technically be sacrilegious, it being a “false idol” and all.

The second piece of folklore is a contemporary legend. The sightings of the eyes imply a haunted nature of the flag, furthering its folk power. I could not get my informant to say for certain whether she had seen anything herself, but they way she told the story, it certainly seemed like a memorate. She personally experienced some sort of unusual sighting, which was then shaped by her knowledge of the worshippers and other people’s stories of also seeing glowing eyes, into a scary story.

Both pieces of folklore here clearly reflect a my informant’s uncle—and thus her, too, when she visits him—feeling like an outsider in Tennessee. These stories are fantastic exaggerations of the otherness of the locals around whom he now dwells, likely created to cope with his own sense of unwelcomeness.

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