USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘family’
Folk Beliefs
general

Dragon Dream

Folklore:

This is a true story when my informant’s mother was pregnant with him she didn’t tell his grandmother because she became pregnant out of wedlock. At the time his mother lived in the United States while his grandmother in South Korea. However one day out of the blue the grandmother calls his mother asking if anyone is pregnant or dead. As she had dreamed of a huge dragon which in Korean culture signifies that a huge event has happened. The grandmother had called asking because none of their relative in South Korea had anything significant happen to them, so the grandmother knew my informant’s mother was pregnant from a different country. She also had the same dream with a smaller dragon when his mother was pregnant with his younger brother.  

Background and Context:

The informant is a Korean American sophomore at USC. He was born and raised in Northern California but he lived in South Korea for six months right after highschool. I collected the folklore on a Wednesday night in a very casual setting. My informant learned this story when he was young from his parents. He believes this to be a true story.  

Final Thoughts:

I think this is one of the most interesting pieces of folklore I have collected because my informant completely believes it to be true and I find it very believable too. It is also interesting how the dragon can symbolize life or death two completely different aspects of life. What was also amusing was how the dragon in the dream changed sizes for the first born son vs the second born son. This is also a view into Korean culture as usually the first born sons birth is the biggest celebration for births.

 

Adulthood
Initiations
Life cycle

Family Tattoo Tradition

Everybody in Nicolette’s family gets a tattoo of a bull when they are 18, because her last name is bull… but everybody’s bull tattoo is done in a different style that accurately reflects their personality.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Signs

Ghost Hauntings as a Means of Familial Connections

BACKGROUND:

An individual from Saratoga, California passes down the folk belief of ghost hauntings, a belief that has been present in her family for numerous generations. The belief comes via a family legend that was passed down to her. According to the legend, a distant relative was living in New York. The relative’s mother was living in California. The night that the mother passed away, despite being on the other side of the country, the relative was woken up suddenly in the middle of the night to find that the rocker that her mother had sat in for years began to rock. Supposedly, this was due to the soul of her mother clinging to the closest link between her and her daughter as a sign that she had passed but was still with her. This legend was passed down from generation to generation. My source continues to pass it on to her kids. Being an agnostic family, the legend is often viewed as confirmation that even when family members pass, the soul of each and every family member is still connected.

 MY THOUGHTS:

Half of this country believes in ghosts. Being convinced of their existence is nothing new. What I found interesting about this interaction is that rather than the ghosts being a vengeful spirit or a means of torturing the mortal world, the belief in ghosts was a means of reassurance in the everlasting bond family. Typically, ghost stories are cautionary tales or legends retold to startle other people. This, however, was a legend filled with optimism that despite passing away, your loved ones will always be present, giving hope to a family that does not practice any religion or faith with an after life.

Proverbs

“Can’t never did anything…”

BACKGROUND:

A family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania follows the strict proverb of, “Can’t never did anything…” The proverb would be uttered any time someone would claim that there was something “I can’t do.” If someone expressed their inability to do something, the family would respond with, “Can’t never did anything…” The intention of the proverb had the same basic concept, that nothing will get accomplished by simply giving up. The expression behind it, however, would frequently change. In some instances, the response was expressed in a kind, encouraging tone with the intentions of lifting spirits. Other times, the response was expressed in a stern, denial of their claim that they can’t do something, with the intention of strictly rejecting any approval of that answer.

MY THOUGHTS:

I find it very interesting how many contexts there are in which this saying can be used. My source described how the saying was typically used as a means of shaming someone for giving up easily. While this may have seemed like something that was beneficial to the recipient of this saying, I can’t help but feel like this was more of an unsympathetic way of saying, “Your best isn’t good enough”. The way in which this story was told to me (tone of voice and facial expressions) told me she felt the same way.

Legends

Heddens vs. Heddings

BACKGROUND:

A woman in Sacramento, California recalls an old family legend about the origins of their last name. According to her, her great grandpa and his brother had a huge fight over their inheritance after their parents died. The farm was left to be split amongst the two of them. The conflict didn’t arise from property or money, but rather from who got to keep the mule. The dispute over the mule was so heated that my source’s great grandfather left his brother forever and changed his last name from Hedding to Hedden.

INTERVIEW:

My interview with my source, A, went as follows:

ME: So you mentioned that you have an interesting legend about how your name came into–like came to be.

A: Yes, when I was a little girl, my father used to tell me the funniest story about his grandpa and his brother. Apparently when their parents passed away, they were left their property, they lived on a farm. The money and land were divided but when it came to who gets the mule, my great grandfather and his brother could not agree. At the time their last name was Hedding. Well my great grandfather eventually gave in and let his brother, my great uncle, have the mule. Now I never actually met this great uncle because my great uncle because my great grandfather was so angry that he left the place, changed his last name to Hedden, and started a new family.

ME: Did they ever talk to each other again?

A: Never again.

MY THOUGHTS:

I really wish my source had some living relatives who I could ask more about this legend. I think the whole concept of a dispute restructuring an entire family (especially over something as simple as a mule) is incredibly interesting. My source did, however, show me some genealogical records that show that the last name did, in fact, change from Hedding to Hedden at that point in the family tree. Whether this was the reason for the change is up for debate.

general

Ghost Hauntings in India

BACKGROUND:

An individual in Los Gatos, California recounts her familial folk belief in ghosts while living in India. According to her, when a family member passes, the whole extended family sleeps in one room for about a week after the passing due to the fear of the ghost of the departed returning to haunt individual family members. She tells a family legend of her grandfather’s experience with ghosts. According to him, when his mother passed the family all slept in the same room as per their beliefs. While sleeping, with a gust of wind, the door opened and the ghost of his mother appeared before her widowed husband. When the father saw her, other family members awoke, screamed, and the ghost fled from the house.

INTERVIEW:

My interview with my source, A, went as follows:

ME: Could you tell me about what the beliefs are towards ghosts in India?

A: So when someone passes away they’re always afraid that the ghost is going to return. So they would all sleep in the same room for the first, you know, week after the death.

ME: Was there ever an instance in which a ghost returned?

A: When my grandfather was 8 years old… his mother died. So they’re all sleeping in the same room and they said one of the doors opened, there was a gust of wind, and she came in. She came in to see my grandfather. And my grandfather saw her, and she… like other family members woke up and saw her, they screamed, and she ran away.

ME: Did she ever come back?

A: I don’t know, I just know she visited them that one time.

MY THOUGHTS:

I find it interesting that this belief and fear of returning spirits is fended off not via a religious figure, but through the bond and support of family. While the recounted legend is quite compelling, I’m more interested in the bonding experience this belief provides for the family. The passing of a loved one is an extremely traumatic experience. The idea that the only way to prevent a spirit from returning is through the family banding together is a good way to help cope with the depression of losing a family member.

folk metaphor
Folk speech

“Get your hair on straight.”

My friend and classmate Pauline shared the following explanation of a piece of folk speech that, as far as she knows, exists only within her extended family.

“…According to my parents, like, my uncle was the first one who started saying it, but I know my parents say it too. But when we’re like, trying to leave the house–and my mom is like, famous for being terrible at leaving the house like, when we need to leave the house she’s like, ‘oh but let’s do the dishes right now’ or whatever like, always makes a big fuss about not being ready to leave–so whenever we’re about to leave the house like, my dad usually says ‘alright, get your hair on straight!’ And like that’s the, it’s not a–it’s like an idiomatic phrase. So like, it’s not like a proverb ’cause it has no greater meaning. But apparently it’s like, my uncle started saying it, and I don’t know why my uncle started saying it–he’s not like a funny guy or anything–but um, my dad says it to like make fun of the fact that like, any reason we’re not leaving the house is like, pointless. Like you don’t need to get your hair on straight ’cause that’s impossible. So it’s like, there’s literally nothing left to do, like let’s please leave the house right now.”

This piece of folk speech, although minor in size and in greater significance, is significant to Pauline because it is unique to her family and evocative of the humor she shares with her parents.

I find this phrase funny, and I think its meaning could be divined by people outside of Pauline’s family, so I wonder whether a variant of it has emerged and been used in any other contexts.

Customs
Festival
Foodways
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Ferias De Cali

Cities are important to the location, each city has its own party, they call it ferias, the feria de Cali just happens to be during Christmas time , the carnivals are in Barranquilla Carnival. These carnivals are huge festivals in which the Colombian people showcase different sets of parades and a lot of other different stands just to show off their different type of foods or even toys for the kids to have fun with.These carnivals last for many weeks sometimes in order to celebrate through the time change of the seasons.Alex is a Colombian native who immigrated here when he was just a little boy. His family left Columbia in response to all the violence that was emitting from Pablo Escobar’s reign of terror. In order to keep his family traditions alive, his parents constantly told him about the vast events and beauty of his homeland and people

Customs

Celebrating Selana

Selena Quintanilla was a Mexican artist who turned really famous in the United States. Her music was with Latin Culture, but sadly, she was killed by her manager. It is a common thing to throw parties and even just watch her movies and music on her birthday to remember how she prevailed as a WOMAN singer in the American culture. She is celebrated as one of the stepping stones for Hispanics/Latinos in the music industry in America.

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Juan is a Mexican-American from Mexico city. He works demolition, but is super into his religion of being a Jehovah Witness. He has been passing down his traditions to his kids, just how they were passed down to him by his dad and grandpa

Customs
Foodways
Material

Food Preparation

Every time food is prepared, there are always a variety of spices available. The mexican-cuisine culture surrounds that taste. A common tradition of Juan is too have habaneros ready at hand for every meal. This has been a tradition between his dad, and grandpa, and so forth, mostly the males of the family, in which they would spice up their food to extraordinary levels. He says it comes as a way to show that food is fought for, and the spiciness not only adds taste, but also shows that the literal sweat and tears are needed to have food on the table.

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Juan is a Mexican-American from Mexico city. He works demolition, but is super into his religion of being a Jehovah Witness. He has been passing down his traditions to his kids, just how they were passed down to him by his dad and grandpa.

[geolocation]