USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘frog’
Childhood

Heal, Heal, Butt of a Frog

“Sana Sana Culo de rana. Si no sana hoy sanara manana.”

(Heal, heal, butt of a frog, if it doesn’t heal today, it’ll heal tomorrow.)

 

Interviewer: What is being performed?

 

Informant: Ritual Song by Steph Elmir (Genre: Childhood)

 

Interviewer: What is the background information about the performance? Why do you know or like this piece? Where or who did you learn it from?

 

Informant: It’s a nursery rhyme in Spanish, I love it because it is used after someone is hurt. My mom taught me this in Miami. It’s silly and makes children laugh.

 

Interviewer: What country and what region of that country are you from?

 

Informant: USA- Miami

 

Interviewer: Do you belong to a specific religious or social sub group that tells this story?

 

Informant: Catholic/ Hinduran/Lebanese Descent

 

Interviewer: Where did you first hear the story?

 

Informant: My mom. My home.

 

Interviewer: What do you think the origins of this story might be?

 

Informant: Frogs have magical qualities in Latino Culture and are considered good luck.

 

Interviewer: What does it mean to you?

 

Informant: It makes me feel safe. It reminds me of home and a good relationship with my mom.

 

Context of the performance- Conversation with classmate before class

 

Thoughts about the piece-  Relating childhood folkways is an emotional experience for most students living far from home. Mothers in many cultures use song to comfort their children. Here is a video of the song in Spanish, featuring Kermit the frog. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw14B0sclFw

Is it culito (ass) or colita (butt)? That seems to depend on which country you are from: http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/colita-vs-culito/

 

 

Narrative
Tales /märchen

The Beaver, the Duck, and the Frog

The interviewer’s comments are denoted through initials GM, while the interviewee’s responses are denoted by a PO.

PO: “One time my Grandma told me this funny story. It’s this beaver that is a friend of a duck and this frog that’s a bully… it’s this poisonous frog that’s a bully. And then the frog says he’s more than the duck and beaver because the beaver has stick out teeth.”

GM: “Buck teeth?”

PO: “Yeah, like that. And then the frog says ‘Oh yeah, look at me I don’t have buck teeth like you.” And then the duck says, ‘Hey, stop being a bully.’ And then this day, the beaver was at school and he didn’t have any friends at school because his buck teeth keeps sticking out more and more and keeps growing every day and night. And so, it was all the way down and he could walk with his teeth.”

GM: “So was the beaver still friends with the duck?”

PO: “Yeah, because the duck doesn’t care about teeth. He just cares about friends, cause the duck doesn’t have friends like beaver. So, the frog was keep on making fun of the beaver’s teeth and then, um… how can I say this. There’s this pig that has a spirit… it’s like god that takes care of the children because the children don’t have a mom or dad because they come out of eggs. So, the poisonous frog then had teeth sticking out and the beaver had more normal size teeth.”

GM: “So who made the frog have big teeth?”

PO: “Um, the spirit pig. And so the frog had more teeth sticking out, so the frog turned into a beaver and the beaver turned into a frog. The duck saw the frog that turned into a beaver and thought that was his friend. And the beaver that turned into the frog was like, ‘No I’m your friend!’ And the duck said, ‘If you were my friend you would look like beaver.’ And he said ‘No but I turned into a frog!’

GM: “So how did the story end?”

PO: “So they were arguing and the frog was nice and the beaver was mean. So, they just changed.”
Conclusion, written by the interviewer:

This story was told by second grader, _____, who heard it from her grandmother. The story is not literal, but has an underlying meaning. The frog symbolizes a bully that a child may encounter in school, while the beaver has a physical feature which makes him insecure. The duck stands by the beaver even though the beaver isn’t popular, showing an act of goodwill. The story ends with oppressed beaver’s teeth becoming “normal,” while the frog inherits the beaver’s buck teeth. The lesson value here is directed for a child audience. It relates themes of kindness to success, while intimidation is linked with defeat.

Folk medicine
Folk speech

Heal, Heal Little Frog

My roommate told me about a Spanish rhyme that her mother would say whenever she or her brother got hurt. She knows the rhyme originated in Puerto Rico, but she isn’t sure if it came directly from her Puerto Rican mother or another source. She has fond memories of hearing this rhyme, because even though she was hurt, it was very soothing to hear and could make her feel better.

“My mom, when me or my brother would get hurt as a child, she would…it’s kind of like kissing the wound better, but a little more intricate, because she would rub above it and go ‘Sana sana colita de rana, si no sana ahora, sanaras manana’  Which, the English translation is ‘Heal, heal, little frog. If you don’t heal today, you will heal tomorrow’ I guess the interesting bit is that it was always my white mother who would say this to me, even though my other mother was Puerto Rican… She might have learned it from my other mom or my abuelita, but she also lived in a lot of Spanish-speaking areas so it’s possible she picked it up from somewhere else”

Tales /märchen

The Frog and the Scorpion

Context: I asked my friend if he had any tales he remembered his family telling him when he was a child.

Tale:

Here’s a tale that my mother used to tell me. It involves a frog and a scorpion. And one day, the frog was on his way home, and he happens upon a scorpion at the shore of a pond, well, the bank of a pond. And the scorpion says to the frog, “Mr. Frog, I’m very very tired today. I’m very tired. Perhaps, if it’s not too much trouble, you could ferry me across the lake.”

And the frog looks at him, and goes, “Mr. Scorpion, I would love to help you out, but you’re a scorpion, and I’m a frog, and surely, by the time I get to the middle of the lake, you will sting me, and I will die.”

And the scorpion looks at him and goes, “No! Mr. Frog, why would I do that? If I were to sting you in the middle of the lake, we would both surely drown! I cannot swim ,you are my boat, why would I do that?”

And the frog thinks about it, and the frog is a bit nervous, but is of a good nature, and decides to help the scorpion. So he scoots along the shore, the scorpion crawls on his back and the frog starts swimming. and then they get to the middle of the pond, and the frog begins to think, “I guess that the scorpion won’t sting me. It makes perfect sense.” And all of a sudden, when he gets to the middle, he feels a sharp pain in his back. Wham! The scorpion has stung the frog. And the frog, as he struggles, his limbs, his legs are getting heavy, and he starts to go under, and he goes, “Why Mr. Scorpion, Why did you sting me? Now we will both surely drown.”

And the scorpion goes, “I don’t know, I guess it’s just my nature.”

Analysis:

This tale has a couple of morals. The first of which is to always trust your instincts. If it sounds like a bad idea, then it probably is a bad idea. The second is to beware of the consequences of your promises, and of the always-present potential that the other person can back-stab you. This tale was told to the informant growing up in an African-American community, and was told to him, many times, when he was a child. This is a tale that would be used to teach young children of the dangers in promises, and in providing aid to strangers.

 

For another version of the tale, see The Lady Frog and the Scorpion. Phantom House. The Phantom Publisher, 2010. Print.

Narrative
Tales /märchen

“The Disobedient Frog”

“This story was a bedtime story that my grandma used to tell me sometimes when I was a child, probably around when I was in kindergarten. It was about a disobedient frog.

So, once upon a time, there was a tree frog who was very disobedient to his mother. He never did what he was told and always just did the opposite of whatever his mom wanted. For example, like if his mom said not to eat the bug, he would eat the bug and if his mom said to go west, he would go east. Because of his constant disobedience, the mommy frog ended up getting sick, and died. But before she died when she was very sick, she asked the disobedient son to bury her near the river, because, um, she thought he would do the opposite of what she asked, as always, and bury her in the land. However, because his mom became sick from his disobedience, the son frog repented from his ways and wanted to obey his mom at least for her final wish. So, he actually buried her by the river instead of on land. Each time it rained, he was so afraid that his mom’s body would wash away in the water so he would cry out. This is why you can hear a frog’s cries near rivers every time it rains.”

My informant told me this tale over lunch on a sunny day, as she stated that this story was the first one that popped up in her thoughts, as she was feeling homesick. She said that she remembered being so sad whenever her grandma would tell her this story, and that it would really make her feel love toward her mom. It helped her to at least try to be more obedient, because of fears that her mother would get sick if she disobeyed her. She would remember past instances of disobedience would remorse.

Hearing this story, I was also really struck with how sad and depressing the story is, especially for a tale that is often told to children. The way the mother and the son frog are never on the same page is really tragic, as it took his mothers death to make the son come to his senses and the mother was never able to see her changed son. She could have thought he never really loved her, as he was constantly disobedient, when he really did as evidence by his crying at each rainfall. This story could really scare children into obeying their parents, especially since children often take things literally. I think I personally can never hear the croaking of frogs the same way.

Humor
Stereotypes/Blason Populaire

The Blowjob Frog

The source was told the following joke by an Irishman, while he was on a family vacation in Martinique in the Caribbean. He believes it has origins in Ireland. He generally only tells this joke when he’s in a group of other men, he would only tell it in the company of women if multiple people were sharing dirty jokes.

The Blowjob Frog

A wife is out looking for an anniversary present for her husband. She’s walking by various stores looking in shop windows for something he’s really going to like, but she’s having trouble finding anything, right? But then she walks past a pet shop, and there’s a sign out front that says: ‘Blowjob Frogs, 5$’.

So she goes into the shop, and says to the guy who runs it, “Blowjob Frogs?” And he says, “Blowjob Frogs”. She asks what they do, and he tells her its pretty self explanatory, right? They give blowjobs. So she thinks its funny and that her husband will like it, so she buys it for him.

That night the husband and wife have a lovely, romantic dinner at their home. And they exchange presents. He opens his and he’s surprised. “A frog?” he asks, “A blowjob frog” she replies. They laugh, and put the frog in a box with some water so it’ll be alright until they figure out what to do with it in the morning. And they spend a passionate night together in the bedroom, best sex they’ve had in years.

She wakes up in the middle of the night, and she sees that the bed is empty, the husband’s gone, right? Then she hears the clattering of pots and pans in the kitchen. So she gets up to investigate, and when she gets into the kitchen, she finds her husband in there, with the blowjob frog on the counter.

So she says, “What are you doing in here?”

And then he says, “If I can teach this frog how to cook, your ass is outta here!”

 

This joke is funny on several levels. First it plays on the common husband/wife stereotypes, and implies that a man really only keeps a woman around for home cooked meals and blowjobs. Also, bestiality is definitely a major taboo, and freaks a lot of people out, so the joke allows people to discuss it. It would also make sense if the joke really does have Irish origins, because it might be more acceptable there than in America, which still tends to be fairly Puritan, and uncomfortable with sex.

Earth cycle
general
Narrative
Tales /märchen

청개구리 (The Green Frog) — Korean Folk Tale

My informant told me about a story he had heard in Korea, told to him by a teacher when he was in elementary school:

“Once, there was a frog. A green frog, I guess, or–never mind, it doesn’t really matter. Just a frog. Uh, this frog was really disobedient and never listened to his mom. So if she told him to go one path, he’d go on the other one, and if she told him to shower he wouldn’t, and stuff like that. He just, like, does the opposite of whatever she says. A really mean frog kid. Anyway, so the mom is on her deathbed or something, and she thinks like, because he’s always done the opposite of whatever she says, she tells him to bury her in the ground so that he’ll take the opposite and bury her in the ocean, you know? She actually really wants to be thrown in the ocean, but she tells him the opposite. And so she dies, but uh, the frog kid feels guilty for all the crap’s he done in the past and chooses that moment of her death to decide to do exactly as she says. Which uh, sucks, obviously. So he buries her in the ground thinking he’s finally done the right thing when he’s making this huge mistake that’ll make her spirit or soul or whatever suffer forever. [Silence] And that’s supposed to be why when it rains, the frogs cry. Like, the rain reminds them of the ocean which reminds them of the mother that never got buried where she wanted to be. And they get sad, and they cry.”

My informant said that it was most likely a story disseminated to Korean children in order to instill obedience, to parents and elders at a young age. The tying of the story to the frogs’ crying is mainly a way to connect it to reality and make it seem more believable. That the wayward actions of one frog had caused such collective sadness in the entire frog community also seems to imply that a child’s disobedience to his or her parents is a massive enough act of disrespect that it can tear a hole in the fabric of society. Korean children, my informant said, are thus educated from a young age to respect not just their parents, but all of their elders, through this and other stories.

I found it interesting that this particular story, the one that this informant remembered, was one that had used sentiment and empathy to convey its message to its audience. My informant said that he had heard many stories too, of children being kidnapped by monsters in the night if they disobeyed their parents, but that “The Green Frog” was always the one that stuck with him. Instead of using intimidation and fright tactics, this folk tale trusts in a children’s love for their parents, and evokes its moral only indirectly, implying, you wouldn’t want to make your parents sad, would you? This was probably the reason why, my informant said, that this folk tale has always been one of the ones he has remembered over the years.

Musical
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Folk Song – American

The informant learned the following folk song, called “Froggy Went a-Courtin,’” at “Rendezvous . . . a campout. [He] learned it at a campout from several other people who were singing it ’round a fire playing guitar and a banjo.” The lyrics are as follows:

Froggy went a-courtin’ and a-he did ride, mm-hmm, mm-hmm
Froggy went a-courtin’ and a-he did ride, mm-hmm, mm-hmm

Froggy went a courtin’ and a-he did ride,
Sword and a pistol by his side, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Froggy went down to Miss Mousie’s house, mm-hmm, mm-hmm
Froggy went down to Miss Mousie’s house, mm-hmm, mm-hmm
Froggy went down to Miss Mousie’s house,
Wanted to marry that cute little mouse, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Sat Miss Mousie down on his knee, mm-hmm, mm-hmm
Sat Miss Mousie down on his knee, uh-huh, uh-huh
Sat Miss Mousie down on his knee,
Said Miss Mousie, would you marry me, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

Not without Uncle Rat’s consent, uh-huh, uh-huh
Not without Uncle Rat’s consent, uh-huh, uh-huh
Not without Uncle Rat’s consent,
She would not marry the President, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.

Here is a sound clip of the informant singing the song: Froggy Went a-Courtin’

The informant says that the only place he’s ever performed the song or heard it performed is at campouts. His opinion of the song is that “it’s a great little song. It’s great for a singalong; it’s very easy to pick up.”

The song is rather repetitive and, according to the informant, has many more verses, so it does seem like the type of song that anyone could pick up, sing until he or she got tired of it, and then make up his or her own verses. My guess would be that the lyrics are quite flexible. The song is listed in the songbook 500 Best-loved Song Lyrics with slighty different phrasing as an English folk song (103) and there is actually a musical of the same name by Stanley Werner based on the song. The song is also interesting as a tale; it appears to promote the traditional value of female obedience.

Sources:

Herder, Ronald. 500 Best-loved Song Lyrics. Mineola, NY: Dover, 1998.

Werner, Stanley. Froggie Went A’Courtin.’ Woodstock, Illinois: Dramatic Publishing, 1970.

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