Tag Archives: love

Competition to see who loved the other the most

Informant “J” is a 19 year male old college student at the University of Southern California, he is studying Neuroscience and is a Sophomore at the time of this interview. He was born in Danville, California to a Jewish father and as a result J has regular exposure to Jewish traditions and customs. Though he does involve himself with Jewish traditions, he does not practice Judaism and considers himself non-religious.

Bolded portion is a quick summation of the the particular piece of Folklore.

 

“J: So when I was growing up, and, to this day, my Grandma, what she liked to do was, she liked to challenge me to see who loved each other more and we would do that by someone saying “I love you” and someone saying “I love you more”, and someone would say I love you the most.

J:So what would happen when we were kids, when we were at the pool, is we would try to figure out who loved each other the most, so instead of just saying it more we had to wait five minutes before some could say it again in order for the time to reset. So we’d be doing something, we’d be swimming in the pool and than all of a sudden someone would be like “oh I love you the most” and they would love you the most for those five minutes. And, ever since, ever to this day everytime we finished talking we’d always just go “I love you the most”, “nope, I love you the most” and try to say “No, I love you the most I’ve loved you before you were born”, so it’s something that we do with our family.

Me: Um, when you say, wait five minutes, is it sort of like the first person to say it wins? Or is it that, they sort of, for that entire five minute period they are the winner and then they until they are “challenged again”?

J: It was just kind of like you just couldn’t say it right away and whoever did it was the winner for that five minutes. It would restart five minutes later. Whoever could say it than obviously loved the other the most because they were paying such close attention in order to tell the other person.

Me: So let me get this straight, somebody would say “I love you the most” after a sort of like ‘escalation’, and than you’d wait five minutes…

J: It went to the point where you didn’t even have to start it off, it just began when you said “I love you the most”.

Me: Okay , so who started that tradition?

J: My grandma.

Me: And did she do that with her, uh, family as well with her Great Grandparents or… did it happen spontaneously?

J: Uhhhh…  I think it kind of just happened spontaneously, I wasn’t alive for my Great Granparents on her side of the family, it would have been a long time ago. ”

Analysis: The game appears to be a game that reiterates the loving feelings among family members while allowing friendly competition between family members, this sort of ‘endearing competition’ allowing family members to prove their caring for one another. The tradition, started by his grandmother, who is American born (as he told me after the interview), had parents that were Ukrainian, so the tradition could have been generated or duplicated in the United States or Ukraine. His grandma’s use of the game allowed the use of the game to reiterate the feeling she has for her grandchildren, and the competitive aspect could help motivate the children to play along, while allowing them to express admiration for each other and her. As “J” described it, all members tried to answer first, and the competitive aspect was taken seriously.

 

Haircuts and Rejections

The Informant:

My friend is someone I met two years ago when I first came to USC. She and I lived on the same floor and had similar classes. She was born in Japan and immigrated to the U.S. when she was less than four years old. She heard this reference when she was visiting her friend back in Japan in high school.

When a girl cuts her hair to make a drastic change, it means she was dumped by her boyfriend or rejected when confessing to someone. 

The Analysis:

The saying falls along the lines of a sort of remedy to channel the girl’s sadness or frustration at rejection. It represents the rejection but also a new beginning that comes after a type of failure. The cutting of one’s hair signifies that one has abandoned the faulty past and is working to move one to the future. The hair is significant because a maiden’s hair is a major form of attraction for men. Cutting off this form of attraction can mean that the boy had no attraction towards the girl so she might as well cut it off. The importance of hair in the Japanese culture accentuates the act of cutting it and this in turn accentuates the meaning behind it.

A Rose to Remember

The informant (A) has been married to her husband (D) for 24 years. They got married in a non-religious outdoor ceremony when A was 24 and D was 29. Though I do not recollect them being overly romantic while their children were at home, this changed slightly after their youngest son left for college. I asked A if she remembered anything she wanted to share with me about her wedding and told me of a practice that the reverend suggested on their wedding day and they continued to do for a couple years after their wedding. The reverend was of no special importance to them other than that he could legally marry them. When the reverend was talking to them before the ceremony, he said that they should give each other a single red rose whenever they needed to remember that they loved each other enough to get married. This could be in response to an argument, a special day like an anniversary, or just because. A continued to say that she gave D a red rose on their anniversary, and they maybe did this a couple of other times in the first couple years of marriage, but as life went on they forgot about the practice when other things became more important. A did not seem upset that she and her husband had stopped the practice. It was just something to do.

The romantic nature of a red rose itself has little to do with this gesture other than being a pretty story. The red rose could be replaced with anything: a favorite candy bar, a stuffed animal, a card. The meaning to this gesture seems to be in the kindness of remembering to give the red rose rather than the red rose itself. Effectively, giving the red rose simply says “I remember that I love you, and I want to show you that I remember.” A and her husband stopped doing this a couple of years after they got married, which coincides with when they had their first child. This is the point at which I think that they ceased to be a “couple” and started being a “family,” which does not need special gestures to show that there is love between them. A rose pales in comparison to looking at a child that you created with another person. Being romantic and stereotypically sappy does not seem to be a part of A and D’s relationship.

A Romantic Knock Knock Joke

My informant here recounts a knock knock joke which was spontaneously told to her by an adolescent:

So I was babysitting this kid, and he started telling me this knock knock joke: he was like “knock knock” and I was like “who’s there?” and he was like “window!” and I was like “window who?” and he was like “window to your heart,” and I was like “wow kid that’s really deep.”

Although my informant said she felt as much amusement as genuine gratitude in return for this knock knock joke, she mentioned how “awesome” it was since it had come from a child. Indeed, the propensity of the cheesiest lines to touch us when recited by children can only be due to their pure child-like honesty. In fact, It was this selfsame pure benevolence, which comes through this knock knock joke, and so touched my informant.

Custom Henna

In Indian weddings in general, Henna is very very important. And it is said that the darker it is, the more your husband loves you.
This belief, while known to be a mere superstition, is still venerated and guarded as paramount to the success of a marriage. So much so, that there are articles and tips in Indian wedding magazines and blogs as to how to obtain a darker stained Mehndi. Some brides, Mayuri mentioned, go so far as to bleach the skin around their upper and nether limbs in order to have the henna stand out more from their skin and appear darker.

Sorority and Fraternity Pinning

My informant shared with me how her sorority celebrates one of its members getting pinned by her senior boyfriend in a fraternity. First, the fraternity shares with the president of the sorority that a member of their fraternity is intended to pin a sister in the house. When a date for the pinning is set, the sorority informs the house that a sister is getting pinned, but the girls do not get to know who. Any girl in the sorority who has a senior boyfriend is asked to come to the ceremony wearing a red dress and to send the president the names of her two closest friends in the sorority. Then, on the day of the pinning, all members of the sorority are required to wear black dresses except for the girls who are eligible to be pinned. These girls will be in red. The girls in black gather in the sorority house with the lights dimmed and stand in a huge circle. A ritual song is sung while the girls in red join the circle and stand in-between their two closest friends. A candle is passed to the right, starting from the ritual chairwoman, around to every girl in the circle once. On its second time around, after it passes the girl wearing red who is getting pinned, her best friend standing to her right will make to pass it to the next girl, but then actually pass it back to the sister getting pinned. The two closest friends then blow the candle out together. That signifies that it’s that girl, and this is when she first finds out she is getting pinned. After the candle is passed around, all the sisters line up outside of the house where the fraternity and the sister’s boyfriend are waiting. The boyfriend and his best friend as well as the girlfriend and her two closest friends stay standing on the porch so everyone can see them. The sorority president introduces everyone and officially announces that the sister is getting pinned. All of the close friends give toasts to congratulate the couple and the boyfriend talks about his relationship with his girlfriend. Then the fraternity presents him with his pin and he pins it on his girlfriend.

 

These ceremonies are very fun and exciting for both the fraternity and the sorority as pinning is comparable to a pre-engagement promise. The fraternity brother is giving up his active pin and is essentially reduced to pledge status within the house. It’s a little bit old fashioned, but the girls appreciate this public acknowledgement of their relationship. My informant was just involved in a pinning ceremony at her sorority at the University of Southern California, as her best friend was recently pinned.

Why the Roussillon rocks are red

Informant: “This Lord and Lady  lived in the castle in Roussillon, which is like this canyon area in France, right? There was this pageboy that came to hang out at the castle and stuff. The Lord was away a lot and didn’t like to spend time at home. So the pageboy and the Lady spent time together and like, fell in love and started to have an affair. The servants started to notice and a jealous maid reported the incident to the Lord. One day, the pageboy sang a song of his love for the Lady, and hearing the truth, the Lord was so mad he decided to take revenge. He took the pageboy hunting, and when the pageboy wasn’t looking, he stabbed him in the back and cut out his heart. Then he went back to the castle with the heart and had his cook prepare it with a spicy sauce. The Lady thought the dish was delicious, until her husband informed her that she had just eaten the heart of her lover. She said, “You have given me such a good meal, that I never want to taste anything else again”. Then she  fled out of the castle to the edge of the cliff, and jumped off the cliff. Her blood spilled over the land and turned it red, and that is why the Roussillon rocks are red.”

My informant first heard this story from a tour guide when he was visiting Roussillon.

Analysis: According to my research, this is the story of Raymond d’Avignon and Lady Sermonde. It is interesting because while this is story is called a legend, it has the quality of a myth because it tells a story of how the earth came to be, and why the rocks are red.

The Roussillon cliffs are a unique shade of rust-red, therefore it makes sense that someone came up with a story to explain why they were the color they are. This is due to the “ochre” color in the clay of the sand, which is a rose-pigment that is often used in the coloring of textiles.

This story does not appear to be very well known, and is only present in tour-guide websites across the Internet. The story has an almost Shakesperean quality to it. The love, lust and tragedy might be due to the fact that France is known for being the romance capital of the world.

Gatsby’s Facebook Chat Joke

My informant told me this joke as a piece of humor relating to current events. It references both a Movie (Great Gatsby) which comes out this (May) month, as well as Facebook chat, a  currently utilized electronic media.

Informant: (as a prologue) You know Gatsby right?

Me: Yeah

Informant: All right, well you know that sexual tension you get when you and your crush are “online” on Facebook at the same time, and you just stare at the green light chat button?  Suddenly you realize that you know what Gatsby felt like.

This joke relates Fitzgerald’s classic Great Gatsby, by way of its new movie, to generational issues of correspondence. Just as Gatsby looks out longingly at the green lighthouse light which represents his beloved Daisy, so does this joke suggests those of us with Facebook accounts have a similar experience when looking at the green chat buttons with which we  can start conversations with others. Perhaps most appropriately in light of its digital themes, my informant first heard this joke on the internet.

 

Queretaro’s Aqueduct of Love

In Queretaro, Mexico there’s basically a bridge with arches that runs from one side of the city to the other. And the story is that they used to be two separate cities at the end of both bridges, and on one side of the bridge lived a nun in a monastery, and on the other side of the bridge lived this really rich man and the really rich man lived, oh the really rich man fell in love with the nun, and the whole reason there is a bridge is that it’s basically an irrigation system, because the nun had to get water from the other city because that’s the only way she could because there was no water in her own city, and so, um, the rich man built this bridge that is an irrigation system that brings water from his city to her city. And that’s basically the story. That’s the story of why the bridge is there. It’s like famous. It’s in Mexico.

This is a really romantic legend that attempts to explain the history of the town’s bridge-aqueducts. The bridge is very long, very beautiful, and fairly unusual. Regardless of whether the tale is true or false, it is a lovely explanation for the construction, and reveals some information about the city’s culture and values. We see that the city likely values religious commitment (the nun does not break her vows), but people of Queretaro also seem to feel the love of a man for a woman (perhaps particularly an unattainable one) can inspire great and beautiful actions, like the construction of the aqueduct bridge. The extremeley romantic explanation for the bridge also clearly suggests the city’s prioritization of romance and beauty.

Street of the Kiss

So, in Guanajuato, Mexico there’s a place called Calle de los Besos. Um, and it’s just translated to Street of the Kiss, where this couple lived on opposite ends of the sleep. The woman lived with her family, and the man was a traveler. And every night they would talk and then kiss good-night, and then one night the woman’s father came home from work late and saw that they kissed, and he was furious and he said :If you ever kiss him again, I’m gonna make sure he’s dead and he just freaked out, and so she promised to never kiss him again, And then some weeks passed and she didn’t keep her promise, and then again one night the dad came home late and saw that they had kissed and so he goes up to the guy’s room and kills him, and she freaks out, and she’s really depressed. And then she kills herself. And then now today whenever you cross that street, visitors or anybody, you kiss each other on the 7th step, because there’s like steps on the street. On the seventh step you kiss your significant other, otherwise it’s like 7 years of bad luck for you. But if you’re single nothing happens to you.

This legend tells the story of the town, and tells how the custom of kissing when crossing this certian street came to be. The story also tells us about the culture of the town. For instance, one might infer from the story that it comes from a culture where fathers have a lot of control over their daughter’s love lives, and the father’s extreme reaction, while drastically over the top, is considered within the realm of possibility. It also tells us that the town culture may identify as romantic and passionate.