USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘pants’
Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Wearing white after labor day

Informant is a student at the Penn State University who grew up in upper NJ.

She told me about a certain rule in the fashion world which requires people to refrain from wearing white after Labor Day:

 

“So the rule is, you can’t wear white after Labor Day… until Memorial Day when you can again.” she says.

“Why not?” I ask.

“Because… that’s just the rule.” she tells me. “That’s what my mom told me and we do it,  and everybody else I know does it too.”

 

She couldn’t tell me why, other than that it’s just something people do. I’m not really sure I have a great guess either.

After some research I learned that in the early 1900s, wealthy socialites would create secret “fashion rules” to tell new and old money apart. Eventually it just trickled down to the masses in 1950.

Interesting that despite the information widely available, these traditions continue.

 

Folk speech
Proverbs

Don’t Ever Stuff a Gun in Your Pants

“Don’t ever stuff a gun in your pants”

 

The informant learned of this proverb from military officers and his peers during basic training for the Coast Guard when he was about 19 years old. He learned that this saying came about when safeties were common in guns (when you pull back a hammer before shooting). Now double-safeties are commonly built into guns that force disable you from pulling back a hammer without pulling the trigger so if it’s dropped of stuffed somewhere, it won’t go off.

While in training, the informant said he was trained with 9mm, which officers told him, was to help him and his peers get a fell for how to use a gun. When you graduate to become a full member of the military, they will issue a different gun with a double-safety to protect from accidental discharges (and because they are more accurate and efficient). He mentioned that the Harry Potter saying: never put your wand in your pocket is a direct reference to this proverb

Humor in this instance is a good tool to help people remember safety information. Personally, I’m unaware of the workings of guns, but this proverb is helpful in reminding listeners of the mechanics of certain types of firearms.

Childhood
general
Myths
Narrative

Abdul-Beha looses his pants in Paris

In the following, my informant recalls a childhood story which he still remembers and finds significant:

This next account is one that comes from Baha’i tradition, more so in the Baha’i faith, which was founded in the mid eighteen hundreds by our prophet founder Bahá’u’lláh, you can Google that, it means “glory of god,” um, he founded the Baha’i faith, and uh, Baha’i all around the world look to this figure, the son of Bahá’u’lláh, his name is Abdul-Beha, it means servant of god, and Abdul-Beha for Baha’i all around the world, his title is “the perfect example,” so there are many stories of his life recorded, and it’s very common to tell children stories of his life as an example of a perfect example, and how one should emulate their life by him. A story that stuck out to me that was told when I was a child was: One day Abdul-Beha was walking in the streets of Paris. He was walking in the streets of Paris and – I’m gonna fast forward, he answers the home of one of the Baha’i who was hosting him, and he has a cloak wrapped around himself, he’s laughing very heartily, he comes in in a kind of strange way – why is he laughing? all this stuff, they ask him why he’s laughing, and he pulls the robe up a little bit and they see that he’s not wearing any pants, his pants are gone, and they ask him “Abdul-beha” and he’as a very, hes a very revered, respected, intelligent, divine figure, “why are your pants gone, what’s happened?” and Abdul-beha tell the story of how, as he was walking, he comes across a homeless person, who, in the weather of Paris, which is very cold, he was cold, and his pants were very tattered, and they have holes in them, and the man was cold, and Abdul-beha, his title is the servant of god, so to be servant of god he is the servant of god‘s children, so he removes his pants, this extremely holy and divine figure, and gives it to the beggar, and he just clothes himself in his cloak, which was customary to wear in the day, and comes back to the believers, and that’s a sign of humility, and a sign of selflessness, and all of the stories of Abdul-beha have a certain similar message,  that, like, all Baha’i can learn from – all people can learn from – but are specifically told to children.

In this story, my informant claimed to be affected morally and religiously, and remembers it even today as guidance for his life. He said that many similar stories are told to children, and the idea behind them is that they will remember the stories and the messages within them when they grow up, and guide their lives accordingly.

Childhood
Humor
Narrative

The Pooping your Pants story

My informant told me a story about his younger brother:

“My brother, sister and I all went to an inner city Roman Catholic grammar school.  It was located next to a church, and every day during recess, at exactly noon, the bells would ring the Angelus and all children were supposed to stop in their tracks and quietly say a prayer until the bells stopped. The nuns patrolled the playground and no one moved. We kids actually liked to freeze in odd positions like statues. My little brother was a new first grader and afraid of doing anything wrong. During the first week of school he played during recess, but when it came time to freeze for the Angelus he couldn’t make it through because he had to go the bathroom. But he was young and nervous and afraid to anger the nuns by walking across the playground to the school’s bathroom. So he just pooped in his pants. I was assigned to clean him up and couldn’t understand how my brother let this happen.”

My informant told me that he often tells this story to his sons, daughters, nephews, and nieces at family gatherings. It is a funny story that always makes everyone laugh.

I found this piece of folklore interesting because my grandmother told a similar story involving peeing herself in class because she was afraid to ask to go to the bathroom. It seems like a common theme amongst children when they have to face obeying the rules even if it means soiling themselves. There is also always something funny about pooping your pants, no matter how old you are I find that people always find stories that involve soiling yourself funny.

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