USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘infant’
Legends

Shanghai Legend about a haunted shopping mall

Legend

Main Piece:

Me: hey Dachui. Can you give me some folklore?

Dachui: yes. So the Xujiahui Shopping mall in Shanghai has been playing that song Sorry My Baby after it closes, for like ten years. They said that where the shopping mall is right now used to be a place where they bury dead infants. Many newborn dead babies are buried there. They said after the mall was built, people could hear babies cry at night. Also, sometimes the toys in the shopping mall got messed up, and some of them even seemed to be bitten by kids.

Me: and then?

Dachui: then one day the shopping mall customer relations people got a geomancer to check out the problem. He said that there were too many ghosts of infants, so playing the song Sorry My Baby would help pacify their ghosts and stop them from messing around. Therefore, the shopping mall started playing the song every time they close the door. And then nothing happens anymore.

Context:

I first heard this legend from him during a theater club retreat. During the retreat, everyone sort of started to talk about the ghost stories in their hometown. So I recorded it from him.

Analysis:

My friend Dachui heard about this folklore mainly from his friends and parents. According to him, children would be warned about the shopping mall and to go around the area at night. He was really scared at first, but later when he grew up he didn’t trust it anymore. Later, the shopping mall stopped play that song at night, probably because the “ghosts” don’t come out anymore. The performer doesn’t really believe in the folklore. When he performed it, he tried to be like he wasn’t scared by it at all, but I felt like he must have been so scared by the legend.

Later I searched the original story online, which seems to be slightly different from the version he told me. In the version online, the geomancer later got into trouble with the case and seemed to get hurt from the “ghosts”. However, the end of the story is unknown, because China doesn’t really like the ghost story to haunt that area and the surrounding citizens, (Government control, yea.) indirectly controlling the spread and variation of folklore. Therefore, we don’t really know what happened later.

Gestation, birth, and infancy
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Agra Hadik

I interviewed my informant, Vanessa, in the band office lounge. She is of Armenian descent on her mother’s side. Because of this, she was able to provide me with Armenian traditions around important celebrations. This includes the Armenian tradition of Agra Hadik:

 

Vanessa: “Agra Hadik is the baby’s first bath after baptism. It’s a big deal, and the family usually hosts a party at their house where people get together and eat stuff. Oh! And sometimes, a priest comes to bless the baby if there’s one nearby.”

 

Me: “Can you provide me with more details of the bath or the party?”

 

Vanessa: “On the bath?… um… they use special oils to wash the baby. That’s about it. And after the bath, they lay out a quilt or towel or blanket of some sort with items — like a book, money, a calculator, a stethoscope, a thimble… what else? [I told her this was enough if she couldn’t think of more examples] But, yeah, they are, like, representatives of career paths in the baby’s life. You place the baby on the quilt, and let them pick an item that they are drawn to. It’s representative of their future and what they’ll become.”

 

Me: “I’m guessing you did this?”

 

Vanessa: “Yeah! I picked a stethoscope which, I mean — [she gestures to herself] Gerontology major… going to med school. [She smiles] My brother picked money.”

 

My informant told me that she learned this tradition from her grandparents and her great aunts and uncles. She has also seen this celebration performed for her cousins.

 

She also suggested I do a little research to make sure she got the facts straight. I have attached a source I found that describes the same folk tradition, just with a few alternate details from what I documented from my informant.

Link: https://holidappy.com/party-planning/agra-hadeeg

 

Analysis

I have learned of this tradition from class and from readings. It’s fascinating knowing that I know someone linked to the very tradition we talked about in class! I also think it’s amusing my informant picked an item that ultimately did reflect her chosen career path.

 

Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Life cycle
Magic
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays
Signs

Italian Christening robes

“On the Christening robes of babies, they have these little charms, little golden charms. There’s a monkey fist, a bull horn, all different ones, and they’re all supposed to keep the evil eye away.”

 

My informant comes from a devout Italian Catholic family. Although the evil eye is not a Christian belief, it has seeped so deeply into the culture from pre-Christian folk beliefs to the extent that a modern Catholic family believes in it enough to take precautions against it harming their infants. Again, there is the idea that celebration can draw the wrath of the evil eye; even a religious celebration is dangerous.

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