USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Airplanes’
Customs
Folk Beliefs
Protection

Get on the plane with your right foot: travel superstition

Context:
AW sits with her daughter preparing for the second night of her Passover Seder, the room is bustling with activity as people get food prepared for AW’s many relatives. AW’s Daughter chimes in every so often to ask questions
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Performance:

M: You have a very particular travel superstition is that true?

AW: Yes, I have more than one, but yes

M: could you elaborate

AW: Ever since I got on the plane since I was a little girl my mother would remind us to start every new venture, not just the airplane…the first day of school, when I walked down the aisle…

[AW gets absorbed back into seat planning for the seder]

MW: Ohhh that’s why you tell me to do it on test days

AW: Exactly, every time you start something new you do it with your right foot, it’s good luck.

AW: The first time anyone in the history of our family did it, my grandmother got onto the ship that took her to America, she did it with her right foot and my mother reminded me, so I remind you.
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Meaning to the informant: AW: First of all it reminds me of my recently departed mother, and it’s kind of a talisman, like a rabbit’s foot. It can be a bit of a ritual. I’ve done it as long as I can remember.
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Analysis: The association between the right foot and luck is well documented and speaks to a general insecurity regarding new ventures. As one crosses a threshold into a new space, as AW did when she walked down the aisle, or any time she boards an aircraft. This step ensures that transition happens smoothly. Other examples of this can be throughout the archive as seen [here] and reflect an overarching anxiety about the unknown. In addition to providing luck the action adds a familiar element to an unfamiliar circumstance, a location with which the actor can situate themselves to provide comfort when encountering something new. For another example of travel superstition surrounding the right foot see Southbound (Paniker 174) a journal of Indian Literature

Paniker, Ayyappa, and Chitra Panikkar. “SOUTHBOUND.” Indian Literature, vol. 39, no. 4 (174), 1996, pp. 127–156. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23336198.

general
Legends
Narrative

La Llorona: A Hispanic Woman in White Tale

The Folklore:

E: What is the story that you wanted to tell me about?

A: What I’m about to tell you is the story of how a popular ghost phenomenon came to be.  So there was once this woman who had gotten so distraught at her husband’s infidelity that she drowned her children. Realizing what she had done, she began to be consumed by regret. Eventually the woman took her own life in the same manner in which she took her children’s.

E: There are a plethora of woman in white ghost stories worldwide, are there any qualities specific to La Llorona?

A: This is a woman in a white who hunts children. Children as seen as having a more keen sense for the supernatural. Also, if she’s got you as her target and you hear her sound far away that means she’s close. The same is applicable in the reversed case.

E: Typically in what context does the story get brought up?

A: Usually it’s brought up by children and family events or just in any social situation.

E: How did you first hear about this?

A: My cousins were actually the first people to tell me about this woman in white. Two of my cousins said as they were driving down a dark road one night when they were children out of the window they saw a woman very vividly, she was in a white dress standing on the side of the road. They asked their parents if they saw what the children had seen but they said that no idea what the children were even talking about.

Context:

This is the transcribed conversation I had with a friend of mine as we shared ghost stories from our cultures. My friend is of Latino origin. He grew up in Texas and was still very close to Mexican culture. 

Analysis:

This is an interesting twist on the woman in white story. Though her origin story has been seen before I don’t think I’ve heard of an instance in which the woman only hunted children. In addition I think the auditory component to the story adds symbolic meaning in the sense that danger can be anywhere. It’s a precautionary tale to instill within kids that yeah going out at night alone is maybe not the best idea.

 

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