USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘cementary’
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Rituals, festivals, holidays

Tomb Sweeping Festival

Background:

This piece is a cultural tradition that the subject was introduced to through her family, and that she has done since her childhood.

Piece:

AQ: So… once a month—I mean not once a month, I think it’s once a year… um, I think a lot of Chinese families, what they do is they go to the cemetery.  I think that it’s called Tomb Sweeping Festival, and what happens is you go there and then um you kinda like bring food for your ancestors or whoever has passed away.  You bring incense sticks and you put them in the ground and then you also, um, lay out food for them to eat in their afterlife.  And there’s also like a huge trash can that we have, alright, and what we do is we usually burn a lot of money.  And then, ok it sounds very, like, Satanic but it’s not. But yeah, so you burn money, and it’s supposed to—I think they called it hell money, but I don’t really know—and then it’s supposed to also be for them in the afterlife, and then sometimes you also burn clothing, watches, cellphones, and whatever for them to use.

JM: So all this stuff you’re burning is for them to use?

AQ: Yeah, like, later on—wherever they are now.

JM: And you’ve done this?

AQ: Yeah, I do—like I, well I haven’t done it the past two years because of college, but I’ve done it every year.

Context:

This conversation was recorded during an in-person conversation with the subject, where I asked them if there were any special traditions or customs that their family followed.

Analysis:

The subject seems to have an interesting relationship with the piece of folklore that they are describing—it is evidently something that they are not completely confident about their knowledge of, yet it is still something that they participate in.  As a side note, what is called the ‘Tomb Sweeping Festival’ here seems to be most commonly referred to in English as ‘Tomb Sweeping Day’.  This folk custom does not seem to have any heavy spiritual associations for the subject, though it may have taken on new meanings as a yearly tradition that connects families to their cultural past, both literally through their ancestors and through the traditional practice of ancestor veneration..

For another version of this piece, see:

Song, Li. The Tomb-Sweeping Day. Paths International Ltd., 2015: Pg 138.

general
Legends
Narrative

La Llorona- Colombia

Informant (“M”) is a 52 year old woman from Bogota, Colombia. She moved to the United States in 1992, at the age of 30. She has two kids, a boy and a girl, who she raised in the United States. She has four siblings, two brothers and two sisters, she was the second born. She has a 102 year old Grandmother. Collection was over Skype.

Collector will be specified as “S”. Collector did not speak during this portion.

Transcript:

“M: A cousin always visit us, and he always scared us with a sort of story. He would use the crying woman or the Llorona… I remember he turned the lights off and everyone in the living room, we’d sit down in the living room, and he would repeat the same stories.

“Could you tell again the story of the Llorona?” [said by "M" and her siblings]

” …everyone needs to be quite, never look outside in the windows, she could be outside there.” [Said by the Cousin]

The story was of a woman tha…. Uh… let me see thinking about how is this story…. Yeah they say that the husband took the kids from her. Yeah, and she killed herself, and she appeared every night in the cemetery, and she crying “where are my kids, where are my kids?” and the more funny thing is, my cousin was so funny, he said: “I was drunk one day, I was crossing the cemetery”.

He wanted to take a shortcut, so he took the cemetery. And he said the short way was in the cemetery, and when he was passing he heard the voice say “where is my kids, where are my kids?” . He said he was so scared he peed in his pants, and he wasn’t anymore drunk, and he said he ran like a crazy. But the funniest thing is he peed in the pants, when he went in the house, and his in the blankets.

But he doesn’t know if that was real or not, because he was drunk.

That story start in the 18th century, they said that was the time that that happened, in the 18th century.

He told us a lot of stories, that is the one I remember more.

 

Analysis:

La Llorona is a myth that has heavily permeated Latin culture, being a very common piece of Folklore in these countries (Kirtley, 1960). La Llorona, or the cying woman, is referenced here with the assumption that the person collecting the folklore knows about her origins, and her ability to be interested as a generic sort of scare in a funny situation only serves to reinforce her ubiquity in Colombian culture. The covering of the windows showed that at the very least, she believe the story could have been true at the time it was being told to her. I should also note, “M”s explanation of her origin story was simply at my request, and did not reflect her original approach to the story (the portion directly after the ellipse).

 

 

 

Kirtley, B. F. (1960). ” La Llorona” and Related Themes. Western Folklore, 155-168.

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