USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘jesus’
Customs
Folk Beliefs
Gestures
Homeopathic
Material
Protection

Naciemento de JesusChristo

During Christmas time, the whole family gets together right before eating dinner. In this family ceremony, everybody gets a Jesus looking treat, usually something the mom of the family makes, and everybody then kisses Jesus on the forehead and then eats the head. It’s to symbolize Jesus and the Holy Spirit being in you. This always happens between the hours of 2am-3am after Christmas Eve. The time is important, because that is the time in which it connects to the “witch hour” where Evil is supposedly the strongest.

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Eloisa is a Michoacan born lady who has lived in Arkansas since she has been a little girl. She used to be really religious, but after being opened up to human rights, and mostly women rights, she has taken a step back and tried to analyze everything to decide on what she can really identify as part of her.

Customs
Holidays
Myths
Narrative
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Posadas

“From the 15th of December to Christmas Eve, we have posadas. We re-enact the journey of Joseph and Mary to find a place to stay.”

 

The source says that his local church would hold the posadas every year. The re-enactments would take place twice a day, one performance in the morning and one in the evening. It sounds similar to the Stations of the Cross and the re-enactment of the Nativity scene. It’s all about getting into the “true spirit of Christmas,” which for the source and other church-goers was always about accepting Jesus into one’s life and being more like Jesus. It’s strange, though, because the posadas don’t feature Jesus. So maybe this tradition is more about family in general and how everyone journeys to one home on Christmas Eve to come together and celebrate the birth of Jesus.

The fact that it ends on Christmas Eve is also significant. While the most obvious reason is because Joseph and Mary “found lodging” by December 24th, the less clear reason is because of the value Latin Americans place in Christmas Eve. For other cultures, Christmas Day is the most important day. That’s when everyone gathers with their family for food and games and whatnot. But Latin Americans host what’s called Noche Buena or “The Good Night” which takes place on Christmas Eve. What most other cultures do on Christmas Day, Latin Americans do on Christmas Eve. Why? Who knows! I asked the source what he thought about this, and he said it’s because Christmas Day is for you to spend only with your immediate family rather than every cousin and great aunt and uncle.

Folk speech
Humor
Protection
Proverbs

Jesus Be A Fence!

“Whenever I’m tired or have a hard practice I be like, “Jesus be a fence” like be my strength…or before a hard test…or just when I have a lot to do and I need Jesus to be a fence, that’s like when I say it so…pretty much every day! Or like, “Oh Lord stop me from doing somthin wrong…” like if I’m feelin temptation…it goes from simple to extreme.”

 

Analysis: As a Christian, my informant looks to Jesus as a source of inspiration and fortitude in all aspects of her life. The proverb is laid out in a metaphor in which the speaker literally asks Jesus to hold them up or provide support like a fence. The proverb can be used in many different situations as a means of conveying momentary weakness and a desire for divine intervention on behalf of the speaker.

 

Although it is mostly used in serious scenarios or during times of legitimate distress, the phrase can also be used in a more humorous setting depending on the scenario. For example if someone was on a diet and saw a donut in a shop window they might use the proverb as a means of conveying their desire to restrain from eating the donut and their need for divine intervention to help them do so.

Folk speech
Humor

Moses, Jesus, and a little old man golfing joke

The following is a joke my informant told me:

Moses, Jesus, and a little old man are playing golf. They get to a particularly difficult hole which requires them to hit the ball onto a little island in the middle of a lake. Moses goes first and hits his ball into the water. He then puts his staff into the water, parts it, walks over to his ball, and hits it into the hole on the island. “Two!” he says. Next it is Jesus’s turn. He hits his ball into the water. Jesus walks out onto the water, and hits his ball into the hole on the island. “Two!” he says. Finally it is the little old man’s turn. He hits his ball into the water. A fish swims down, eats the ball, swims to the surface, spits it up, an eagle catches it, flies to the island, drops it into the hands of a squirrel, and the squirrel deposits the ball into the hole. “One!” the little old man exclaims. Moses then turns to Jesus and says: “Man, I hate playing with your dad.”

My informant says that he usually tells this joke while golfing, or at church. However, he says that since it is favorite joke, he often tells it in other situations. Since it is not offensive, it usually goes over well with everyone.

I like this joke a lot. It is not one that requires the listener to participate in the joke, and instead relies heavily on the punch line reveal that the little old man is god. I first heard it when I was 13, and I liked it because I could understand it. Still to this day I think that it is a very clever story. I have also found that even though it is a religious joke, it is not offensive. Often religious jokes cause trouble in that they make-fun of the stereotypes associated with a certain religion. This joke, however, is quite harmless, which is why it is easy to tell to any audience.

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative
Signs

The Legend of the Dogwood

In Jesus time, the dogwood grew

To a stately size and a lovely hue.

‘Twas strong & firm it’s branches interwoven

For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.

Seeing the distress at this use of their wood

Christ made a promise which still holds good:

“Never again shall the dogwood grow

Large enough to be used so.

Slender and twisted, it shall be

With blossoms like the cross for all to see.

As blood stains the petals marked in brown

The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.

All who see it will remember me

Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.

Cherished and protected this tree shall be

A reminder to all of my agony.”

(author unknown)

This poem of unknown origin canonizes an old legend about this twisted, beautiful tree.  My informant originally heard of the legend from her grandmother, and was unaware of its roots.  As neither the Bible nor other historical records have anything to say about the wood used for Jesus’ cross, the idea that the dogwood was used cannot be verified.  The legend exhibits a high degree of Christian symbolism, which would lead me to guess that it has foundations in the Catholic church, which has always shown great interest in symbolism, perhaps as far back as the Middle Ages.
My informant said, “According to the legend, the dogwood was one of the largest and strongest trees in the Middle East at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, and thus was the wood of choice for making crosses. Supposedly, the biggest and strongest was used for Jesus’ cross…. because of his pity for those who suffered on the cross, Jesus spoke to the dogwood tree and told it that it would be slender, bent, and twisted, so that it would never again be used as a form of execution.”  She pointed out that one can look at a dogwood blossom and see that it has two short petals and two long petals in the semblance of a cross.  The edges of the blossoms display a color pattern that resembles a nail wound, “tinged with brown (rust) and red (blood).”
My informant also recalled part of the legend not mentioned in the poem.  Supposedly, three days after Jesus’ death, the dogwood trees began to wither and die.  Several years later, woodcutters were amazed to have witnessed how forests of the trees they once used for lumber had been transformed into groves of twisted shrubs with fair blossoms.

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