USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘dare’
Digital
Game
Humor

Spoon Full of Cinnamon

Context:
My friends and I were discussing the ongoing popularity of Internet challenges and where this all came from. It is clear that people do just about anything for some Internet fame. One of the earliest challenges that we could remember was the cinnamon challenge which we recalled to be happening at the end of our middle school experience. The challenge involves putting a tablespoon of cinnamon in your mouth and trying to swallow it without drinking anything and then posting a video of it on the Internet. It came to massive popularity in the early 2010‘s but quickly lost it after the realization of possible health problems.

Piece:
W: “remember when D—- and I did the cinnamon challenge?”
Me: “hahah yes! And you almost threw up”
W: “yeah that sh** made me sick, I can’t believe we even did that. Why?”
Me: “I don’t know, seemed like a good idea at the time I guess hahah, I’m pretty sure I recorded it.”
W: “where did that trend even come from, I swear Everyone and they mom did the cinnamon challenge.”
Me: “I saw it on YouTube, I think it was some kid I subscribed to.”
Wyatt: “I remember Miranda sings doing it.”

Discussion:
It was at this point that I realized that we had stumbled upon some folklore. Although just about everyone knows about this challenge I wondered who may not. We also mostly wondered where this originally started. Was it YouTube? Or was it somewhere else first? After some short investigating I discovered that the first documentation of the cinnamon challenge was in December 2001 but the idea made its way to YouTube in 2006. The massive popularity that we all remember was in January 2012 but only lasted about half the year then fell off again. I would consider this an American folklore for people born just before the start of the Internet age and after.

One of the earlier attempts:

Folk Beliefs
general
Legends

The Midnight Dare

Informant Background: The individual was born in Bangkok, Thailand. She grew up there and still has family in Thailand. She said her family origin is Chinese. Her family still performs a lot of Chinese traditions such as: Chinese New Year, Ancestry Day, etc. Being in Thailand her family also practice a lot of the Thai traditions. She does not speak Chinese but she does speak Thai and English. She currently lives in Los Angeles to go to school. She has been travelling back and forth between the United States and Thailand constantly throughout the years because her family still resides in Bangkok.

 

If you want to know who you were in your past life…You light a candle, turn off all the lights…And then at midnight you stared into the mirror…then your reflection will be what you looked like before this life. I tried this once with my sisters. We stayed up when we were in elementary school and went to our bathroom and looked at the mirror. We all ran away from the mirror before it’s midnight because we were all too scared.

The informant said that this is a dare many kids were told in school by their classmates in Bangkok. While growing up she was told about this game by her classmates at school and her older relatives. It is a dare usually done in groups and usually takes place in the bathroom. It was a test of courage among young children, and sometimes even adults. It is one of the sleepover dare or camp dare. Sometimes it is a dare told at school and then some individual try it at his/her own home. Most of the time the majority would run away before the clock strikes midnight from fear of the unknown. She said according to the dare some people who tried it and stayed passed the midnight mark said they saw shadows, silhouette of a person, or even blood dripping on the mirror.

This also becomes a belief among some people. The informant stated that she avoid looking into the mirror at midnight herself until this day just because of the dare. She said even though she did not stayed until midnight to see the alternate reflection the fear still lingers constantly.

 

 

This shows how fear plays a part in belief and how it interferes and shapes a person’s daily life routine. I think that this dare, similar to the concept of legend, is kept alive by certain “friend of a friend” memorate. An alternate reflection does not have to happen every time but if it happened to someone once in a while the story can continues. It is similar to the “Bloody Mary” dare that children do because both challenge the idea of fear. It is also a bonding experience for groups of people under scary unknown circumstance.

Turning off the lights while having the only one light as a single candle emphasizes this idea where many ghost stories are relating more to primitive objects rather than contemporary objects. Candles are barely used in everyday life and mostly used in religious and spiritual settings.

This dare also shows the fear and the unknown concept at the liminal period in a certain time line or cycle. In this case the liminality, or the in between state, is at mid night which is the in-between state of two days, night and morning.

Since Thailand is a Buddhist country, the majority of the people believe in reincarnation. So to be able to see your past life is to see who you were before, which is unknown. It challenges the concept of beliefs and fear of knowing what you’ve done before this life.

The fear around mirror and mirror reflection echoes in Western Traditions as well: a vampire has no reflection, ghost does not appear in the mirror, ghost only appears in mirror, etc. The idea of mirror as another realm or reflection as a parallel world is a common theme that resonates in many cultures.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Legends
Magic
Signs

Yes/No Pencil Ritual

Informant Background: The informant is originally from Hong Kong. She now lives permanently in the United States but travels back once a year to visit her relatives in Hong Kong. She speaks both Cantonese and English. Her family practices many of the Chinese traditions, folk-beliefs, and superstitions. She celebrates many of the Chinese holidays through cooking of special “holiday food.”

 

Many grade school children play this game with a pencil. You can only use pencil. No mechanical pencils or pen. So first you would write on a piece of paper: “yes” and “no.” Then you put the paper on the table and then put the pencil in the middle of the paper. There are usually four people at each corner of the table. Then you call on the spirit into the pencil…After that you can ask the spirit questions about your life…you know something like: does he like me, will we be together, how long will we be together, am I going to pass this test, etc… But you can be cursed to die if you ask about how the spirit died or who the spirit is. It is okay to ask about their past life but never ask for the name or how he/she became a spirit. Sometimes more specific things can be written on the paper for different situations…I heard some news in Chinese newspaper where people die from this game because they ask the question they shouldn’t.

The informant stated that she played with her friends in middle school in Hong Kong, though she said that many adults play this game as well. She said she did it when she played the game nothing happened but she and her friends got very scared that she tore the paper into many pieces, broke the pencil, and ran away from the room as fast as they could.

 

I think this game challenges the idea of beliefs and the origin of ghosts and spirits. As seen by many other ghost stories, spirits usually arises from untraditional death or improper burial. In this case it is taboo and deathly to find the origin of the spirit. This game also reflects how people are unsure about the status of their lives; also trying to find answer to unanswerable questions in life. Not being able to ask how the spirit came to be also reflects the unknown origin of how ghost came to be.

The use of the pencil shows how the idea of ghost is most of the time associated with objects with no modern technology; how they are paused in certain time period.

The paper and the pencil reflect the idea of contagious magic how an object can possess power after certain rituals. In this case the informant and her friends destroyed those objects because they perceived those objects as having power after the rituals performed.

This dare is also similar to the idea of children folklore where there are underlying meanings, in the case the fear of the unknown. Similar to how female children conduct their Bloody Mary dare in groups as a bonding experience, this dare has a similar underlying purpose. It is a group bonding experience under the shared fearful experience, or bonded under the same curse. Similar to the Bloody Mary dare, the truth value is not as significant as the actions performed.

The dare as a ritual then turned into a legend through unofficial and official storytelling. The news about death from this game is then a memorate for the legend and keeps the ritual as an existing and ongoing legend.

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