Tag Archives: love

Kupala Night – Polish tradition

Intro: The following is a transcribed from my informant, P.

Main Piece:

P: This is something you do in Poland with your lover. You strip down and hold hands then try to jump over a fire. If you’re still holding hands jumping naked over a fire, then you are truly significant to each other. If you aren’t holding hands, then the relationship is doomed. It’s called Kupala night, sometime in the summer.

P: I heard about it from my mom when I was little, but I think it’s one of those things that I wasn’t supposed to know about, so I don’t think I have the full story.

Background: My informant is an old friend of mine who I once worked with. Both of his parents are Polish and he learned Polish before English, but he was born in America. He has a rocky relationship with his family as he had a difficult childhood and by extension does not currently connect much with nor seek out his Polish identity, even though it was at the forefront during the formative years of his life.

Context: We got dinner, and I asked if I could also interview him and if he had any folklore to share.

Thoughts: P recalled this as a scandalous practice and one of the few things he remembers about his mother, though he never asked his parents if they did this which I found odd. Funny enough, P didn’t have the full story– I looked up the tradition, and it’s part of a larger festival that involves this as one small component.

See https://www.inyourpocket.com/warsaw/Midsummers-Night_72214f to learn more about it as a summer solstice festival.

I think it is interesting how the story can change through generations and a willingness to remember.

The Romantic Exchange of Notes at Spoofer Stone

Main piece:

“Spoofer Stone is a rock located on the campus of University of Arkansas outside the building known as Old Main and it was used back when the campus was divided by gender for lovers to exchange notes by putting the papers in the cracks of the rock. SInce then, it has become a spot for romance and the campus has special events there and even been proposals there for people who have gone to University of Arkansas”

Background:

The informant for this piece is a woman in her late 40s who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She was born in Joplin, Missouri but moved south to Fayetteville and has lived there for almost 18 years by now. Fayetteville is a college town as it is adjacent to the University of Arkansas. Due to the proximity of the town to the Ozark mountains, the Ozark culture influences the town alongside the culture of those going there for college.

Context:

The piece was shared with me via a phone call with the informant. This exact topic was brought up in response to my general question looking for local folklore of the Fayetteville area. 

Thoughts:

I think the Spoofer stone is interesting in how it has become accepted by the University. The stone used to serve as a meeting spot for couples, as the school was originally divided by gender and disallowed the men to mingle with the women. This was gradually changed over time, but originally, the stone allowed people to interact behind the official authority of the school system. I feel like this is often the intent of folklore, to go around typical restrictions of the system. In this regard, the stone is a rebellious use of the student’s abilities to circumvent the system. Now, the stone has been accepted as a historic part of the campus of University of Arkansas. As such, it still remains folklore, but the people involved have changed from the students to the students and the administration. This is not to say that this shift devalues the stone, but instead it is interesting as it shows how folklore can change meaning over time.

The True Love’s Heart

Main Piece:

So there’s a famous Creole belief that the truest way to win over someone’s heart is to make them drink your blood. Some version says that it only works if it’s your period blood, but the one my grandma told me says that it works with any kind of blood. You just have to make sure that the other person somehow consumes your blood without them realizing, then that’ll make them fall in love with you without a doubt. In the movie “Midsommar” they had a similar tradition shown in it, so a lot of people just assume that this tradition is like only for Nordic/Norwegian stuff. But from what I know the drinking of blood dates way back in the Creole culture, and maybe this is a shared thing amongst other cultures too. Obviously I’ve never done this myself, nor do I know anyone who’s actually done it. I think at this point, it’s more like a story that elders tell to kids kinda as a fairy tale, I’m not sure if anyone would actually try to pursue this.

Background:

My informant is African American, with her father’s family coming from a Creole/Haitian heritage. She grew up in New York, where a large Haitian community exists. Even though she’s never personally visited Haiti, she was exposed to the culture through her family. She also explained that this story was told to her by her grandmother in French, so there are some mistranslations alongside phrases that couldn’t be remembered correctly.

Context:

I met up with my informant at her apartment in Los Angeles. During our talk about finding love and relationships, the topic eventually lead to her sharing this bit of interesting folklore. No other persons were present during our conversation.

Thoughts:

Drinking or consuming one’s blood is a sacred act that’s been practiced and upheld by various cultures. It’s an act that symbolically and literally unifies two persons, and it only made sense for me that there would be a folklore regarding drinking blood and associating that with attaining one’s love.

Dandelion nose

Main piece:

We had this thing we’d do as kids… Like, young kids though like maybe 10 years old! So, you’d find a dandelion and pick it, then pressure one of your friends into doing this thing where you look at someone you have a crush on – then you bury your nose in the dandelion.

If it comes away yellow, we’d ooh and ahh and say that it meant you guys’d get married some day or somethin’. And the person’d look over, of course, and see someone looking at them completely embarrassed with yellow all over their nose. Then they know and the… middle school tension grows?!

I don’t know. It seems so weird now but I can remember so many times when we did this!! And dandelions are so gross too, but it was fun. And it didn’t always come away yellow.

Context:

Ritual described by Bree Tschosik, born and raised in Decatur, IL.

Background:

This ritual continues today among schoolchildren in the rural Midwest, of course with some variation. At an age where male/female relationships are still somewhat awkward, it provides an expressive and entertaining ritual for participants.

Analysis:

The chance element of dandelion rubs is what makes it so entertaining! Because it doesn’t always leave a yellow mark. And of course, the social relationships of participants is the main factor in entertainment value of this ritual.

Proverb: Love is like a Tomato

Main Piece: Proverb

Original:

Прошла любовь, завяли помидоры.

Phonetic:

Proshla lyubov’, zavyali pomidory.

Literal translation:

Love has passed, tomatoes have withered.

Actual translation:

The love was a crush and it passed quickly.

Background Information:

  • Why does informant know this piece?

This was told to her by her friends.

  • Where did they learn this piece?

The Soviet Union.

  • What does it mean to them?

If she hears it, it means she had a silly crush and has quickly moved on.

Context:

This proverb is told to young people, usually young girls but can be boys, when they have a crush and quickly move on either from liking the person to hating them, or to another person.

Personal Thoughts:

I find this proverb to be very amusing, comparing a person’s feelings to a tomato that has withered, especially since tomatoes are not a food that is commonly associated with anything romantic. Usually when young people hear this proverb, they are insulted at first, because it seems to diminish the value of their feelings, but they find it funnier as they get older and realize those feelings were not nearly as important or significant as they seemed.

Kabir ke dohe (Kabir’s couplets)

Main piece:

Kabir ke dohe (Kabir’s couplets) are couplets from India.

Here is one of them:

“Pehle Agan Birha Ki, Pachhe Prem Ki Pyas

Kahe Kabir Tub Janiye, Naam Milan Ki Aaas”

Translation:

“First the pain of separation, then the thirst for love

Says Kabir, only then will you know joy of the union.”

Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):

Informant’s grandmother used to teach her these couplets because they were popular.

The informant believes that this couplet means first you experience the pain of separation then you can feel love. Only from the pain of separation do we feel the pangs of love. Then there is hope of union. This is the story of life – lovers meeting, separating, and realizing their love for each other then holding the urge for union and an eventual union. In Sufi tradition, it is a reflection of man and God – realization of the separation from God, the pangs of love and urge for union with God, and the eventual joy of union.

Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):

It is shared with children in school.

 

Personal Analysis:

I never grew up with couplets, so it’s strange that other cultures see this as regular. The meaning is universal though and it can be said for lovers, family members, God, and anything else we love.

 

Pele, the volcano goddess

Main piece:

Pele is a volcano goddess in Hawaii. She’s feared by people and known to be mean, because she spurts magma. She became that way because she fell in love with a guy and he betrayed her.

 

Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):

The informant attended a public elementary school in Hawaii. She first learned about Pele in a mandatory hawaiian culture class. The class was about Hawaii’s history, culture, and language. Pele doesn’t mean much to her. When she grew up, Pele was like Santa Claus- a fictional being. The informant respects the culture, but it’s not her own culture so it’s different from what she identifies with. Growing up, she had a lot of different cultures and races around her but she didn’t know about the others in depth. She knew that Japanese had a god for everything which was similar to Pele. She always doubted the existence and truth of these stories because of her own skepticism.

 

Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):

It is taught in elementary schools in Hawaii. It is regional folklore, similar to greek myth which is taught not as fact but part of culture. Pele is thought of as a story to tell kids growing up.

Personal Analysis:

I’ve never heard of Pele before, but I’m not surprised by the fact that the Hawaiians have a god for their volcanos. The idea of gods seems much more integrated into the Hawaiian culture, but it is more foreign in Los Angeles. Even those who aren’t religious can know these stories like Pele as a part of culture.

 

 

For another version of this proverb, see Kane, Herb Kawainui. Pele: Goddess of Hawaii’s Volcanoes. Captain Cook, HI: Kawainui, 1996. Print.

 

Cuban Riddle

Original Script: “Un muchacho le pregunta a una muchacha, ‘Cómo te llamas?’ Ella le contesta, ‘Si el enamorado es entendido, ahí va mi nombre y el color de mi vestido. La respuesta correcta es, ‘Su nombre es Elena y su vestido es morado.”

Transliteration: “A boy asks a girl, ‘How do you call yourself?’ She to him responds, ‘If the lover is understood, there goes my name and the color of my dress.’ The answer correct is, ‘Her name is Elena and her dress is purple.'”

Translation: “A boy asks a girl, ‘What’s your name?’ She responds, ‘If the lover is understood, there goes my name and the color of my dress.’ The correct answer is, “Her name is Elena and her dress is purple.'”

 

This riddle only makes sense in Spanish because the Spanish word for lover, enamorado, is a combination of the last three letter’s of the girl’s name, Elena, as well as the color of her dress, morado. ena+morado=enamorado. Furthermore, the word enamorado is preceded by the word el in the joke. El translates into “the” in this context. The woman in the riddle is testing the man to see if he’s clever enough to figure out  her name using only the clue, rather than just asking for it.

The source said she heard it at a bridal shower. They were telling wedding riddles, and this one came up. It’s a coy riddle, with the woman sounding very flirtatious. It seems she’s interested in this man, but only if he’s smart enough to beat her game. It seems odd that her dress would be purple rather than white, though. Perhaps in some earlier version of the riddle, the man was a prince? Because purple is known to indicate royalty.

 

For another form of this riddle:

Ortiz Y Pino De Dinkel, Reynalda, and Dora Gonzales De Martínez. Una Colección De Adivinanzas Y Diseños De Colcha = A Collection of Riddles and Colcha Designs. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone, 1988. Google Books. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

Top Place to Go On a Date in Shrewsbury

“Okay, so, umm, the guy who created the pill, um, invented it in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. And there, the first factory where, um, they started, like, getting manufactured or whatever is in Shrewsbury. Umm, and now it’s like a thing, I guess, where you like take your significant other on a date to the factory where the pill was first made. So, that’s a thing people do in Shrewsbury. Or, like, not my generation but like, people who are, like, slightly older, that’s what they do.”

 

It’s an interesting and funny story. You can understand the connection between dates and the pill factory, I guess? It seems odd, but the way I see it, dates lead to love which lead to sex which leads to a need for the pill. Perhaps whoever first started this trend was hoping to have a happy, birth-free relationship. It’s cutely ironic and sounds like something that was meant to be a joke, but perhaps became mainstream after one couple did it.

What’s also interesting, though, is what the source says about this not being part of her generation. It’s something that occurred among an older generation and then died before her generation go to following in their footsteps. Perhaps it’s because the factory was still in use during this older generation’s childhood. They may have seen and known of the factory, probably even heard about it once a week, what with what they were manufacturing. So when it shut down, it was more relevant for that generation to sneak in and see what was going on and, eventually, start going on dates there.

The source’s generation, however, would’ve grown up never knowing about the factory. Had they not researched it or heard about it, they might never have known what was made there. If they don’t know what the factory was for, then it loses the attraction as being a “hot date” spot. The irony and comedy of it is lost.

Tadpole Song

I think I’ll eat a tadpole,

maybe even a bug.

I’ve got some worms down in the garden

that I recently dug.

You said you didn’t love me,

you told me it was true,

so darling this is really, really,

what I’m gonna do.

 

I think I’ll eat a tadpole,

then I’ll lay down and die

and you’ll be sorry,

oh so sorry,

that you told me goodbye.

 

So if you really love me,

just tell me with a hug

before I eat a tadpole or a bug.

I really mean it,

before I eat a tadpole or a bug.

 

The informant was my father, a 49-year-old engineer who currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, but who grew up in the area surrounding Austin, Texas. The song is one that his mother used to sing to him and his siblings when they were little. The informant says his mother had a beautiful singing voice and would either sing hymns or songs like this before the children would go to bed because she was always in charge of this activity. He says it is interesting to him because “it must have come from some popular pop music of some age” and he “almost suspect[s] that it’s a fragment, but it was passed down to us as a whole,” “almost a vignette.” He also heard it from his older sister as she was learning to sing it for her children. He performs it because it reminds him of his mother, but also because “it’s just, it’s the cutest concept of a song . . . you know, it’s a child’s concept of love combined with a child’s concept of mortality. Uh, you know, you left me, I’m gonna basically hold my breath and die if you don’t come back. You know, and eating a tadpole is going to kill you, you know, it’s just all, I just love the construction and the cuteness of it.” He sees it as a way of teaching children that breaking somebody’s heart is a big deal. He also admits that the whole thing is “a little twisted.”

 

This song was collected while I was home for Spring Break and performed in my living room. It was interesting to me because my father also used to sing it to me and my sister when we were children. It’s a song with a nice tune that seems harmless, but it has lyrics that are actually pretty dark. I remember it as being sad when I was much younger, but looking at it now it strikes me that the subject of the song is suicide, even if the narrator is not going to die from eating a tadpole. I think the song is mainly meant to be cute and entertaining, but I also agree somewhat with the informant’s assessment that the song is about teaching children the effect their actions and words can have on another person.

 

A version of this song was performed and released (“I Think I’ll Eat a Tadpole”) by Sue Thompson in 1966. Thompson’s version has the above version as its chorus and additional verses. While the chorus is recognizable as the informant’s version, many of the words have been changed and the overall tone of the song is different. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHnlZfJAHT0

Thompson, Sue. "I Think I'll Eat a Tadpole." The Country Side of Sue Thompson. Ridgeway Music, 1966. CD.