USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘lucky meal’
Contagious
Customs
Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Magic
Protection

Backpacking Preparation

Informant Info:  The informant is an 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a freshman studying Public Policy at USC.

Interview Transcript:

Interviewer: As a hiker/backpacker, do you have any little traditions, rituals, or lucky charms that help ensure you have a safe and successful trip?

Interviewee: Well, before any hike, and also… any test, presentation, or project… I uhh, always – always – ALWAYS – have a very very specific omelet. I make it with 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon of milk, 2 strips of crumbled bacon, half of a pepper, a little spinach, and about a third of a cup of cheese.

Interviewer: Wow, that is specific… like why?

Interviewee: Well, some people have lucky charms but I have my lucky meal. It eases my mind, and it fuels me up. I can focus on making the perfect omelet that it prevents me from stressing out about what’s to come… and I also feel good after, so why not.

Interviewer: Makes sense, have you ever gone without it. If so, how did you feel?

Interviewee: I have. I wasn’t a fan. Something just felt missing. I know it’s stupid but I did noticeable worse on a test once. I knew the material, I studied for weeks… I just blanked. I doubt it would’ve happened had I eaten!

 

Analysis:

As with other lucky charms or rituals within these collections, a common trend seems to be mindset. The informant sort of mentions it herself by stating that the omelet itself isn’t lucky, but it instead helps her clear her mind. In a way, the omelet only serves as a placebo effect for her. This similar case can likely be argued for many lucky items. Nonetheless, it is interesting that she has such a belief and must make an omelet, of all things, so specifically (and ritually) before any major event.

Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Magic

Race-day Rituals

Informant Info: The informant is a 22-year-old male who was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and comes from a Catholic family. He currently is a senior at USC and is very into half-marathon and marathon racing.

 

Interview Transcript:

 

Interviewer: I know you run a lot of races pretty often. Do you have any pre-race rituals or lucky items you contribute to your success?

 

Interviewee: Before my very first race I made a pesto pasta, with broccoli, onions, and peppers the night before. In the morning I always had a small bowl oatmeal a cup of coffee, and like 3 Glasses of water. I did really, really good, so I consider it my lucky meal and make it before every single race I run, and only before races. And I always wear the same socks when run my race and I only wear them when I race. Ummm….And what else?

 

Interviewer: Why would you contribute is like a lucky meal or socks.

 

Interviewee: I would say the socks… well I would say the meal is one that’s like where I feel like…decent. And then…. But all of them were like I just I want to kind of keep it… because a lot of changes and… No matter what changes in my life, whether I change my race, or I get a different this or that or whatever I want to keep some things the same and the meal is something I enjoy it and it makes me feel good and also, I’m like I did well the first time I did it. I did really well uhh or had like a good race and so after that I was like I don’t really want to change it or kinda looked back at my what I did, and I was like: What do I want to keep, what I want to change, and I decided I wanted to keep the meal. Ummm…and, so I would say really well, and I was like I’m going to keep this and hopefully somehow it contributes. And for the socks, they’ve been the same pair of socks that I’ve worn every time I set a PR. And whenever I don’t wear them, I seem to do worse. So better safe than sorry, you know?

 

Analysis:

In folklore, this idea of a “lucky item” can be fit into the genre of superstitions/folk beliefs. There is no way to prove that it’s the meal or socks that actually help him in his races, but to him, they consistently do. The informant mentions this himself by stating that he considers them as his lucky meal and lucky socks because he has done well every time. By doing so, he doesn’t explicitly call them lucky, but rather he seems afraid to risk changing them and not having the same performance. It could be a simple coincidence that his lucky socks just so happened to be the one’s he was wearing when he set his PR’s, but it could be further analyzed by seeing if the socks have better cushioning or compression that help him maintain his speed. In this particular case, the belief in luck seems minimalistic.

 

Folk Beliefs
Protection
Signs

Folded Chip Superstition

As she is eating a bag of chips, I notice her shifting the chips around and only picking up particular ones. I asked: “what are you doing?”

She laughs and responds, “If I open any new bag of tortilla chips I will only eat the chips that are folded over. Those are the lucky ones”

 

Background: She is a 20 year old female from Los Angeles, CA and currently a sophomore business student at USC.

Context: This interaction happened in her apartment while we were doing homework.

Analysis: I find superstitious or “luck-driven” behavior like the one described above to be incredibly interesting. I don’t personally hold and superstitious beliefs that affect my everyday actions that I am aware of, but I find it very compelling to consider the behavior we adopt simply by believing something is “lucky” or “unlucky” without any legitimate knowledge of that being true. The first example I think of is throwing salt over your shoulder after spilling salt over to avoid its bad luck. Throwing salt over your shoulder has become a cultural behavior that is unconsciously done because it is so customary and normal. It is intriguing to analyze the origins of superstitions and how they manifest through different behaviors in an individual’s life.

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