USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Family tradition’
Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Christmas Eve Fondue

Piece:

Interviewer: “Can you explain the fondue Christmas Eve tradition?”

Informant: “Yep! So, fondue goes way back when to me being a kid… and we did this at Christmas Eve with the Hardy family, and we called it ‘hunkso’ – I’m sure you’ve heard that – ‘hunkso meat’ or a ‘hunkso party’ and… I don’t know, we started the fondue tradition in the 70s and it is something that has carried with us ever since, and now we do cheese and it’s a lot more elaborate.”

Background:

The informant has grown up with this tradition as a part of her family since childhood. The piece is important because it is representative of Christmas Eve and family camaraderie during the holiday season.

Context:

The informant (my mother) and I discussed the tradition at our home kitchen table, but the tradition itself that she is describing is performed only on Christmas Eve with extended family.

Thoughts:

Given that I am an active participant in this tradition, hearing about its origins was very interesting to me because I was able to witness how it has evolved over time. The family no longer calls it ‘hunkso’ for whatever reason (this was actually the first time I had ever heard it referred to by this name, despite what my mother said during the interview) and we have expanded the tradition to include cheese fondue, shrimp, and chicken in addition to the original beef. This is the perfect tradition for a holiday meal because the fondue format forces the meal to progress very slowly since each person can only cook one or two bites of food at a time, meaning the time in between bites is spent enjoying the company of extended family.

Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Piece:

Interviewer: “What about the Thanksgiving tradition with pumpkin pie?”

Informant: “So the ingredients in pumpkin pie are largely consistent. Um, most pumpkin pies contain eggs and cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger and salt and pie crust. What you generally do is whisk it all together and bake it. Our family does not bake it at all, we instead use egg whites and all the same ingredients as well as the most important ingredient which is gelatin, which is used to make jello in many recipes. Also, we do not heat it up and it is served cold.”

Background:

The recipe for this pumpkin pie has been handed down for generations for use during Thanksgiving. It is important because it is the family’s signature Thanksgiving dish and pays homage to the ancestors who originated the tradition.

Context:

The informant (my mother) and I discussed this tradition at our home kitchen table, but the recipe itself is only used during Thanksgiving.

Thoughts:

Although normal pumpkin pie is a very common Thanksgiving tradition, this cold gelatinous variant introduces the family’s personal twist on the traditional recipe. Because of this unique identifier, participation in the tradition brings one closer to the heritage of the family and also provides a family bonding activity in the form of cooking the pies the day before Thanksgiving.

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Korean Thanksgiving Traditions

Main Piece: “In Korean thanksgiving we gather all the family and sit down and make own rice cakes, Songpyun, and translated in English, it is a half mooned shaped rice cake. In the middle of the rice cake there is something sweet… I can’t remember exactly what, but it is sweet. We make them and steam them, and then play game called Go Stop. It’s a gambling game that is like poker, where you pair the images and the card, and you bet on the game. One point is considered a dollar, and they get doubled and tripled very easily. One thanksgiving I earned 400 dollars from my uncle. Sometimes it can get a bit hot, because people lose a lot of money… but its all in good fun so we like it. The holiday lasts three days and everyone stays with family for the entirety of the holiday. It is a great chance to reconnect with cousins cause they live in different cities and different social positions. Because of this, we don’t get to see each other that much so it is a good chance to see everyone for at least a few days in the year. There are a lot of very diverse professions in the family, so it makes it even harder to see each other which is why it is good to reconnect with each other.”

 

Background: MP said that Korean families have become more nuclear recently, so there are less big families, and it is more or less smaller tight knit familial groups. MP also mentioned that Korean culture can be very individualistic when it comes to everyday things, and that because Korean people are very ambitious, they can be very judgmental. MP mentioned that a lot of his cousins were very jealous that he was able to study in the United States because it is viewed as a very prestigious opportunity, and they don’t have the money to be able to have that experience. MP mentioned that things of that nature can sometimes create more jealousy during the thanksgiving season, and as a result sometimes families would decide not to gather during the family holidays. When asked whether or not he thought this more of a contained thing with his family, MP responded that it is extremely common in South Korea to have this issue of jealousy, and as such sometimes it was seen as more of a pain to meet for Holidays.

 

Context of Performance: MP told me about his typical Thanksgiving while we were at my apartment discussing typical traditions and holidays in our respective cultures. He was very excited to talk about it, especially after hearing how it differed from my general experience with Thanksgiving and holidays in general.

 

Analysis: I found WP’s thanksgiving traditions to be extremely interesting, especially because while at first it seemed to mirror typical American thanksgivings, it quickly became apparent that there are some striking differences. The gathering of the family is obviously very similar to American Culture, and it would appear that in both cases there is an emphasis on making time for your family, and being thankful for the fact that you all have each other. However I do find it interesting that MP mentions how judgmental it can get during thanksgiving especially in regard to people’s school and work opportunities. I also found it very interesting that some years they would decide not to meet as a family because it is seen as more of a headache, than a fun time of the year. This must tie in to what MP was talking about with Korean culture being somewhat individualistic, and how even though familial bonds are important to an extent, the main thing is to do what is best for you. In America, we are definitely an individualistic culture, but those ideals almost always seem to take a backseat during holidays. In some ways it seems that in America we are trying to make up for a year’s worth of being selfish, by spending one or two holidays with families.

Foodways
Holidays
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Saint Patrick’s Day Food

Context & Analysis

My roommate (the subject) and I were sitting in our dorm room talking about how our families celebrated different holidays. The subject’s family is relatively large and extremely tight-knit, as reflected in the subjects emphasis on “we always always do [it]”. Most of her extended family live within an hour radius, and they value family gatherings. Though this is the case, the subject only celebrates St. Patrick’s day with her immediate family members. I thought it was interesting that the subject’s family celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, considering no one in their family is of Irish descent. Additionally, I thought it was interesting how the family doesn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day in a traditional sense (i.e. celebrating by drinking or gathering with extended family); instead, I believe the incorporation of images from the Dr. Seuss story, “Green Eggs and Ham”, reflects the nurturing and supportive environment of the family and the encouragement of uniqueness.

 

Main Piece

“On Saint Patrick’s Day—my family and I—we always make green eggs and ham, um, it’s not really specific to St. Patrick’s day, it’s a Dr. Seuss book, but, um, we have everything green for that breakfast. This year my dad even made the butter green so the bagels look really wonky [laughs], that was a little gross, but, um, we always always always do that, and if it’s not breakfast or we can’t be together for breakfast we’re together for, um, dinner or something, and we’ll like dye our Indian food green [laughs].”


 

Customs
Gestures
Kinesthetic

Ancestral Visits

Informant Info: The informant is a 21-year-old male who was born and raised in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His parents both moved to America from India when they were in their twenties. He is currently a student at USC studying Electrical Engineering.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Do your parents, being first generation immigrants, have any traditions or rituals that they’ve passed down to you?

 

Interviewee: Every time we go to India, we take the train down to my mother’s ancestral village, like where her parents and grandparents grew up. It’s really old and small… only like 20 or 30 people live there I think…so it’s really tiny. And everyone is old, I think the average age is like 80ish, not to be rude.  But it is really, really important to my mom, so we go every time.

 

Analysis:

This story represents the significance of ancestral history. Despite leaving India and coming to America, his mother’s ancestral home is still very important her. It is where she grew up with her parents, spent her childhood, and was taught all of the values and traditions that she still carries with her today. For her, she goes to pay her respects to her ancestors and her hometown, and by doing so, the informant is also learning about its importance.

Customs
general
Humor

Bonding through Media

Informant Info: The informant is a 21-year-old male who was born and raised in Chanhassen, Minnesota. His parents both moved to America from India when they were in their twenties. He is currently a student at USC studying Electrical Engineering.

 

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: Do you have any little family traditions among your family?

 

Interviewee: Every time I come back to Minnesota. I always watch the same episode of Top Gear with my brother. The same, single episode. It’s called the Vietnam special, in case you want to know. We’ve done it since I left for college, every time I come back. It’s such a stupid episode, but it’s just something we do together and I can’t stop it now.

 

Analysis:

This tradition is yet another tradition where the sole purpose is to help the family, or in this case brothers, bond. I wasn’t able to gather any context as to how the tradition started or if there was significance behind the tradition, other than the fact that the brother just really likes Top Gear.

 

general

Family Roadtrips

Informant Info: The informant is a 20-year-old female who was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother is Caucasian, and her father is Hispanic. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and works for Walt Disney World.

 

Interview Transcript:
Interviewer: Can you tell me about your favorite past time?

 

Interviewee: I think my favorite past time would have to be being in the car. Not sitting in traffic, but with people I love going on a spontaneous adventure.

 

Interviewer: Really? Where did this come from. Like why do you love driving or what are your favorite memories from it?

 

Interviewee: One of my most cherished memories was the road trip my brother, best friend, and I took from San Antonio all the way to Fayetteville, North Carolina. It’s a 22-hour trip and I drove for 18 of them. We stopped in so many places along the way. Our first stop was in Houston to get coffee. I ended up drinking a total of 8 shots in a matter of minutes and I do not recommend that…but I was awake for the rest of the trip! Then we were in Louisiana when the sky decided to break and rain harder than I ever thought possible. Next thing you know my driver side windshield wiper flew off and straight into the bayou… Like…Great. We pull over as soon as we can and I switch from the passenger side to the driver side. We ended up in Gross Teet, Louisiana and the name to this day still makes me laugh. We got new ones and went on our way. Next stop was New Orleans, and boy! It did not disappoint. Beignets by the dozen and fortunes from the voodoo man were in store. After living my Tiana dreams we were on the road again. Next stop Pensacola. We stopped for dinner at a Cracker Barrel and we were on the way again. My brother drove the last four hours into North Carolina but before we crossed into the state we had to stop at south of the border: the most insane truck stop experience EVER. Once we got to North Carolina, I decided I wanted to keep going to Virginia Beach to see my maw and grandaddy and to this day I’m so happy I did. I didn’t know that would be the last time I’d ever see my grandaddy and I hold that memory very close to my heart. After Virginia, we went back to North Carolina and I graduated high school and then traveled to the happiest place on earth (Disney World) and made some more really great memories, like meeting you!

 

Analysis:

This is not direct folklore, but it is an excellent example of story-telling. I was with the informant in person when she told me this story, and she gave a very active-performance. She was very excited, spoke with lots of arm movements, and loved being able to talk about her favorite past time. At a later time, off the record, she brought up how important road trips are to her, and how she wants to find a way to make road trips a family tradition in the future.

Childhood
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Cremer Family’s Passover Hazelnut Game

Background:  I had approached Hannah about telling me about her family Passover tradition that she had fleetingly mentioned at Shabbat Dinner at Hillel at the University of Southern California. She had talked about a hazelnut game for children during Passover that is unique to her family. Hannah goes to her grandparent’s house for the first night of Passover and celebrates the second night at her great-aunts house. She is from Illinois.

Context: I interviewed Hannah in the dining room of our sorority house, Delta Delta Delta. It was right after dinnertime so the dining room was full of people with coffee or tea chatting in the background of our conversation.

“Basically it’s kind of like marbles but we play with hazelnuts and my great-grandfather came up with it. We play with shelled hazelnuts. Everyone sits in a circle and you have your own little pile of hazelnuts which are like the ammo and in the center they spread them out, like a dozen or whatever, and then the kids all go around and take a turn throwing one of their hazelnuts from their personal pile at the ones in the center. If you hit one in the center then you get a quarter. Then as the game progresses there are stacks of quarters with a hazelnut on top that are in the center which are the jackpot pieces. When you hit the hazelnut off the stack of quarters, then you get the hazelnut plus the whole stack. So it’s pretty fun, I don’t know. You play it until you’re at bar or bat mitzvah age and then my grandpa is always the one that runs it all. His grandfather was the one that came up with the game. So we’ve been playing it for a really long time with the exact same hazelnuts. I don’t know how they’ve lasted this long, they’re 60 years old. It’s so gross. I was the only granddaughter until I was 12 so I always got some extra quarters tossed my way. It was always a fun game. When you’re a little kid, the Passover seder is so long to sit through. We would play the game right before dessert. So after the seder and dinner- it was something to look forward to. We always played on the basement floor of my grandparents house. It’s really bizarre. My great grandparents were born in Odessa, Russia. My grandparents were born here. My grandpa learned it from his father. I think it’s important to my grandpa that we keep playing this game. All the hazelnuts are the original hazelnuts, we don’t replace them with any new ones. My dad’s whole side of the family is Eastern-European and came to the US around the early 1900s. I didn’t know that other people didn’t play this game until I was pretty old. I truly had no idea, I thought everyone played this.”

Reflection: I am Jewish and grew up in Los Angeles going to Jewish day school. I have never heard of a tradition like this one, from my friends or family.

Childhood
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Cremer Family’s Passover Afikomen Tradition

Background: I had approached Hannah about telling me about her family Passover tradition that she had fleetingly mentioned at Shabbat Dinner at Hillel at the University of Southern California. She had talked about a hazelnut game for children during Passover that is unique to her family. Hannah goes to her grandparent’s house for the first night of Passover and celebrates the second night at her great-aunt’s house. She is from Illinois.

Context: I interviewed Hannah in the dining room of our sorority house, Delta Delta Delta. It was right after dinner so the dining room was full of people with coffee or tea chatting in the background of our conversation. After Hannah shared her family tradition of the hazelnut game (published under the title “The Cremer Family’s Passover Hazelnut Game”) I asked her if her family has any other family traditions for Passover. She then shared the tradition of individual afikomen.

“We all have our own afikomen. I don’t know when it… as long as I can remember there is always an afikomen for everyone to find. So like all the grandchildren have their own. Currently there are 9 different afikomen hidden with our names on them. They’re wrapped and we always get a $2 bill. That’s our gift for finding the afikomen. It’s wrapped in a napkin that has your name on it. My grandpa gives us $2 bills as the prize. I’m not sure who started this tradition. I doubt that it comes from my great grandfather. My grandparents hide the afikomen for us to find before we all come to dinner. If you find someone else’s you’re expected to put it back where you found it or pretend like you didn’t see it.”

Foodways
general
Holidays

Hanish Family Gefilte Fish Tradition

Background: Lila is my best friend from high school. She has a tradition with her dad, Jon, and her younger sister, Sydney, to hand make apple pies for Thanksgiving together. They also have a tradition of making gefilte fish together for Passover in the springtime.

 

Context: I called Lila over FaceTime because she attends Drexel University in Philadelphia. I recorded our conversation and transcribed it below. She described this gefilte fish tradition in succession to her family’s pie tradition, published under the title “Hanish Family Pie Tradition”.

 

“So I feel like it’s pretty similar to our apple pie thing for our family. Every year my family hosts the Passover seder. We do all the cooking. It’s been a tradition for as long as I can remember that we make the gefilte fish with my dad. I feel like my dad really values having these little traditions with us that he can count on even as we get older. The apple pies and the gefilte fish. It’s honestly super disgusting and I hate it, but it’s just something we do every year so I’ve learned to deal with it. This one we have friends over for less, because friends don’t often want to rub their different fishes together with their bare hands, you know? There is something satisfying about it in a certain way.. that makes me sound so weird and creepy wow.”

 

I then asked Lila if she could elaborate on what gefilte fish is. This was her response.


“It’s like a traditional Passover, Jewish food. It’s Ashkenazi, I think. It looks like a matzah ball but it tastes like fishy fish. When we first started I think my dad got the different types of fish. But now he goes to a butcher that gives him the combination of the fish. We only make it for passover. We would NEVER make it any other time of year. That’s just gross and weird. My mom will do most of the other cooking for the seder, but this is the thing that the three of us take care of. It’s always on the first night, never second night, always first night. This tradition originated with my dad, I know he didn’t do this with his family growing up.”

 

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