USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘fortune’
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.

Customs
Earth cycle
Game
Holidays
Kinesthetic
Magic
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Peruvian New Years Tradition: Run the Suitcase Around the Block

AS is a USC game design major who’s family hails from Peru, she enjoys spreadsheets, Dungeons and Dragons, and spreadsheets about Dungeons and Dragons. AS grew up in Texas after her family moved there from Peru.
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AS: My family had a lot of traditions for New Years, I’ve heard a lot of people do this one though

AS: We fill like a like a suitcase of some sort and we run it around the block and that’s supposed to represent like good luck in traveling and like safe travels and all that stuff.

AS: So my mom makes me do it every year cuz you yeah gotta have that good luck

MW: Do you have any particular attachment to this?

AS: I mean I would still do it if I didn’t live in South Central LA and that’s dangerous

AS: I guess it’s it’s it’s kind of just like a superstitious thing to me

AS: Or it’s just like it’s a cute tradition that makes New Year’s feel different than what like normal people celebrate even it doesn’t have like a very deep impact I guess it also fills me with nostalgia for things you did as a kid so you feel like you should do it anyways.
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Analysis:
The symbolism of running around the block mimics the cyclical nature of the calendar year and separates it from the idea of linear time. The suitcase is also filled, meaning that the carrier takes home with them when they travel and provides a direct connection to home and family life. Likewise, the fact that you run around the block and return to the starting point sort of carries the message that no matter where you go you can always return home, this centers the importance of home even in a tradition that’s all about travel. The desire for safety also reveals anxieties about leaving the home. Travel to new places is scary, a journey into the unknown thus the hope for good luck works in combination with the carrying of the known with you and the promise of a safe return to that known space.

Folk speech

Syrian Good-will Phrase

“They say a lot, the phrase ʾIn shāʾ Allāh which is ‘If God wants to.’ A lot of Arabs say that. Like if somebody invites you over, ‘yeah, ʾIn shāʾ Allāh, if I can or if I have time,’ but in that case it’s translated to ‘If God presumes it to happen’ or ‘If He wants it to happen then it will happen.’”


Having been exposed to this phrase by way of his Arab Christian upbringing, the interlocutor is familiar with this expression but has never used it. He mentioned that the employment of this phrase usually occurs within the adult and elder community in Syria, specifically Muslims and Christians that follow faith through their everyday life.

ʾIn shāʾ Allāh is meant to express “God willing,” demonstrating the prominence of quotidian religious allusions in Syria. I have also experienced a similar religious allusion in my own family, especially among the elders of the Hispanic community as well. Usually, as a person is leaving the company of another, the adult would say “Vaya con Dios,” or “Go with God.” It remains a standard method of bidding someone a happy and fortunate farewell. There seems to be a common thread woven through both expressions, asserting a sense of hope and good wishes from a divine power that has control over the course of respective destinies. Through this, there is a sort of reliance on powers beyond the realm of humans, furthering the notion that the future is in the hands of a higher being and not necessarily in the control of those that are concerned with it.

Folk Beliefs
Magic

Fortune Teller

The following story is collected from my friend. She lived in Turkey for the most part of her life. Now she lives in the U.S.A. She talks about a mystical experience she had. This interview is done face-to-face. “A” refers to me, the collector. And “B” refers to the participant.

A: “Is there any interesting story you can tell me?”

B: “Last year, when I was walking around at the Beverly Center, a woman, with her daughter, approached to me and asked me if I have any problems in my life right now. At first, I thought she was crazy. But then she started talking about how the negative energy in my life affects my love life and academic life. Then she offered me to go to downstairs, so she can tell me more about my life. I thought she was a con artist, because she asked for money. But then she told me that, in her religion, there is usually no such things as dark magic, but she informed me that I am under the influence of a dark magic spelled by a woman, and that is the reason why everything in my life was unstable. She told me she can help me with it, but after she asked for more money, I just could not decide, and left her.”

A: “Did she tell you anything specific that is real?”

B: “She told me that, if there is something going well in my life, it will only lasts for a couple of days, like 10 to 15 days, but after that, everything just turns around and then it starts to go bad. She was right about this, my life is exactly how she explained it to me. Whenever a good thing happens, it does not last for too long.”

A: “Do you think she had mystical powers?”

B: “Yes I think she had some, but I don’t think everything she told me was true because of her mystical powers. If this is her job, I am sure she became good at understanding people quickly.”

I think it is interesting to see old traditions, like fortune telling, can be seen in very modern and urban places like Beverly Hills.

 

Folk Beliefs
Magic

Turkish Fortune Telling

Informant C is 20 year old and studies Journalism. She is half Turkish and speaks Turkish as well. Her mom is Turkish and is from the Eastern Turkey area, about 200 miles west of Syria. Her entire family is scattered over Turkey and have resided in Turkey for many generations. Many of them are involved in agriculture.

Fortune telling is actually a big deal in Turkey. They do it with Turkish coffee, which is really like fine ground black coffee and its very dark. You get in a little tiny cup and you have a saucer and you flip the cup over onto the saucer and all the little grounds trickle out of the cup and you can read the different things. My mom and my grandmother can do it really well, like everything my grandmother says comes true. She said that I’ll find a tall blonde guy whom I’ll really like, which is true, and then that there’s one class I’ll really like and one that I’ll have to work really hard in. And she said about water she said something you love like the ocean could turn dangerous for you but then it’ll come back and be really good for you. So me and my little brother were surfing over Presidents Day weekend and he actually got caught in a rip current which was kind of scary and luckily he got out but he’s like 14 so he’s pretty little. But then after all that happened we ended up having a really good day surfing and he actually just got his lifeguard certification which is really cool. And I kinda think a lot of it is made up but I don’t know I’m actually starting to believe in it a bit more. And my family really believes in it.

 

Analysis:

Informant C tells here of a traditional Turkish custom and folk belief that her family participates in. The fortune telling is an entertaining way to bring the community together and connect generations all over Turkey, while for many providing an insightful view into the future. H says she may have participated in the fortune telling just to bond with her grandmother and mother, but then she adds that she is starting to believe in it more.  For many, knowledge of the future is valuable, and something like the more chance based way the coffee grounds are running down the cup provide a good medium for this fortune telling.

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