Tag Archives: Rituals, festivals, holidays

Kiss the Lollipop

The ritual: “My high school’s cross-country team…our sectionals which was like the last meet of the year, cause we always lose sectionals…it’s always at the same place, it’s at this elementary school in Noblesville. And we would go there and there’s like this random path into the woods, and all the guys on the team would go there together, and we would take one lollipop and everyone had to kiss the lollipop and it was super weird.”

The informant carried out this ritual for his high school cross-country team. He said that one guy on the team never did it because he thought it was too weird, probably because he thought it was too close to kissing other guys. This ritual was probably more ironic than for good luck, since the informant himself said that the team lost sectionals every year. Going in knowing that they’ll lose, the ritual for “good luck” was probably just a parody, since the ritual itself is kind of weird to begin with.

Soul Train Line

The tradition: “At wedding receptions, the guests form 2 lines facing each other, men on one side and women on the other. The 2 at the front of the line dance down the aisle together and go to their sides when they reach the end. Then the next 2 dance all the way down and so on. It’s comes from the 70s and 80s dance show, Soul Train. It’s called the Soul Train Line.”

The informant (my mom) is a black American woman who grew up in Tennessee. Soul Train aired in 1971, and was the first all-black show on national television when it moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. So my mom (and dad) basically grew up watching Soul Train almost everyday after school, learning the dances and watching the various R&B performers through the 70s and 80s, when they were children and teens. The Soul Train line became famous from the TV show, and now it’s a popular practice at African-American weddings; it’s almost a staple. My mom says it happens at basically every black wedding she goes to, in addition to “lots of line dancing: wobble, Cupid Shuffle, 2 stomps…” in her words. Improvisation and line dancing are huge parts of black folk dance in America. The Soul Train line combines both, and emulates the practices done on the show itself. People go down the line in pairs, improvising and feeding off of one another. Every move is choreographed in the moment, feeding off the energy of the crowd. I think the emergence of Soul Train in the 70s was very important for young black children in America, to see their community represented onscreen. It made them excited, and want to imitate the dance practices they saw on TV. That generation (my mom’s generation) is the generation that mostly practices, or starts, these Soul Train lines. I was at my cousin’s wedding last summer, who is in her thirties, and it was the older adults who began chanting to start a Soul Train line. They’re fun and energetic, and a good way to interact with people you may not even know well through dance.

Religious ‘Crossing’ and Pre-Performance Chant Parodies

Informant (“A”) is a 19 year old, female from Rancho Santa Fe, California, and attends The University of Southern California. She is a Human Biology major. She is of European descent and her family includes her mother, father, and older brother who attends college in Texas. Informant has studied ballet for 17 years, including work in a professional company.

A: “…Now this one is going to sound really weird but recently there was a production of ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’ and there was this kinda offensive song sung in it.
This sort of got turned into a backstage chant, and like I’ve also heard other people do this too. We all huddle in and whisper this ‘We’re gonna rape, kill, pillage and burn, we’re gonna rape kill pillage and burn, eat the babies’. We say this multiple times getting louder each time until all of us are full on screaming it backstage. You know how people can like to scream vaguely offensive stuff, but its not that bad to us because we all know where it’s from. Then right before I go on stage I’ll do like a cross, you know the like Catholic one. I’m not really religious but I’ve been doing it for years. I think it started when I did a really hard solo and it had that cross in it. It basically tells me that I’ve done all I can and now I just have to perform. It’s another aspect of getting mentally ready, because so much of performing is about being physically but also mentally on your game.”

Analysis: The crossing seems to be a sort of parody of superstition. It may be an attempt to ‘use’ a previously accepted superstition in a socially accepted way or to comically parody their own use of superstition before the performance.
This backstage chant seems to be a sort of ‘trust building exercise’ that uses both humor and chanting to reinforce a sense of community. In high stress situations like ballet performances, such reinforcement likely serves to cater trust in other dancers, as the difference between an effective performance and a mishap could rely on other dancers.

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.

An Irish blessing

Every Saint Patrick’s day, Christmas, and Easter, Joey and his family have family dinner. His dad recites a specific Irish Blessing before they eat that goes as follows:
“May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sunshine warm upon your face
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May god hold you
In the hallow of his hand”

The blessing is said in order to bring good luck to everyone in the family. It is a prayer as well that provides protection for the family. The blessing is written and hung in multiple places in the Jones household. Joey’s grandma originally gave them the Blessing, and taught them the tradition of saying it on Saint Patrick’s day.

Baseball superstitions

John and his team had certain traditions and superstitions for baseball. One of the biggest superstitions was to never touch the chalk lines when running onto field to get in position. It was bad luck to touch the chalk lines, and it was known to bring misfortune to the player and the team.
Whenever a player was designated to be the pitcher for the upcoming game, the pitcher would have to get to the field exactly two hours before the game started to get ready. The pitcher and one of his teammates would then warm up with a drill they called two ball. They would toss two baseballs at the same time using both their left hand and their right hand to the other person who would have to catch both baseballs. The notion behind showing up two hours before the game and practicing hand eye coordination with the two ball drill was that it significance of two. In order “two” win or in order “two” beat the other team, they needed “two” work twice as hard as the other team.
In addition, when it came to the actual game, each batter would perform a ritual with their bat and the home plate. Each player, before he batted, would touch his bat to the top right corner of home plate, then the top left corner, then touch the middle of the plate. This ritual was performed in order to create a better chance that the batter would reach both ends of the field and then return home.
Even though these traditions and superstitions did not work every time, the players still would follow them because they just might mean something.

Santa Margarita Burning

Every year at the end of the school year, a few seniors who are graduating from Santa Margarita High School meet at the 12th hole of the Coto de Caza golf course. They bring all of their high school text books, work books, notebooks, and their school uniforms with them. They walk to the sand trap near the green of the 12th hole and throw all of their High School paraphernalia into the sand pit. Next, they pour lighter fluid all over the books and clothes for exactly twelve seconds. The number twelve marks the years of schooling they have been through; they are graduating from the 12th grade. After twelve seconds, each person involved lights a match and throws it into the pile of books and cloths. They stand around the burning sand pit until all the cloths and books are turned to ash. This ritual is meant to symbolize the moving on to the next stage of life: college.
It is natural that Ian and his friends would do a book burning because of the way American society is future oriented. We are always looking into the future and treat the past as something that is behind us. In another culture, people might find it wasteful or dumb to burn old books because they contain knowledge. However, the future oriented society we live in makes it acceptable to burn books and move on to whatever comes next.

Kookaburra Christmas Song

Hannah’s Aunt lives in Australia and would visit Hanna in California every other year for Christmas. It was a tradition after Christmas dinner to sit in the living room and play games and sing songs together. One year, her Aunt changed the lyrics to the Kookaburra Song and sang it to everyone. After that Christmas, it became a tradition that every year her family would sing the Kookaburra Christmas song. The song went like this:

Kookaburra sits in the Christmas Tree
Merry, merry Christmas king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookaburra! (*everyone would laugh) Laugh Kookaburra! (*everyone laugh)
What a life you lead

Kookaburra sits in the Christmas Tree
Merry, merry, merry Christmas bird is he
Sing Kookaburra! (*everyone would sing ahhh) Sing Kookaburra! (*everyone sing)
Sing your song for me

Kookaburra sits in the Christmas Tree
Eating all the sugar plumbs he can see
Stop Kookaburra! (*everyone would yell stop) Stop Kookaburra! (*everyone yell)
Leave some there for me

Kookaburra sits in the Christmas Tree
Counting all the elves he can see
Stop Kookaburra! (*everyone would yell stop) Stop Kookaburra! (*everyone yell)
That’s not an elf that is me

Hannah and her family continue to sing the Kookaburra Christmas song every Christmas even without her Aunt. The Christmas adaptation to the song is a unique way of taking a cultural song from Australia and integrating it into a fun family song that Hannah’s family can sing that symbolizes Christmas.

You Are My Sunshine

As a morning ritual before school days, Cat’s mom would always come into her room to wake her up. Since Cat was such a terrible morning person, her mom would try and perk her up by singing the song: “You Are My Sunshine.” He mom would come into the room singing You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray, you’ll never know dear how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away. Every time that her mom got to the line “love you,” her mom would pull off Cat’s covers to lovingly force her out of bed. Because her mom would pull her covers off every day on the same line, Cat would clutch onto her covers as strong as she could to try and thwart her mom. However, every day Cat’s mom would always succeed in waking her up to go to school. They performed this ritual every school day morning from Fifth grade through senior year of High School.

Queens Prayer

When Kula and his family would have big family gatherings, they would all say a prayer before they ate their meal. The prayer was called the Queens Prayer and went like this:

Ho’onani ka ma kua mau
ke keiki me ho’o na me no
Ke akua mau ho’omai ka’I pu
Ko kea au ko kela au

Praise God from whom all blessing flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The prayer was similar to saying grace before a meal. However, it is not solely said before a meal. It is used as an initiation to something important. Hawaiians would say the prayer to start chapel service or at the opening of a new restaurant or business or before a surf tournament. In whichever case the prayer was used, everyone involved would join hands while one person, usually the head of the family or event would say the prayer. Everyone else would quietly say the prayer along with the orator.