USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Symbol’
Folk Beliefs
general
Signs

EVKitty

Informant DP is a 19-year-old male studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. He is well-aware of most USC folklore and he describes a very peculiar one to me (AK).

In this piece, DP describes the folklore surrounding a very special cat that hangs around a dining hall at USC named Everybody’s Kitchen or EVK for short.

EVKitty

DP: So I actually found out about this cat my first time at EVK freshman year. Basically it’s this regular cat but it just hangs right outside EVK by the outdoor seating. I’m not really sure whose cat it is, but I just know it’s been there for a while.

AK: So you have no idea where it came from?

DP: Well there’s rumors that it’s Stan Rosen’s cat. He’s the faculty master for the Birnkrant Dorm. I should probably know this cause I lived there but oh well haha.

AK: Sounds interesting is there anything else I should know about EVKitty?

DP: Yeah there’s actually a facebook page dedicated to her. It’s legendary.

This was another piece of USC folklore, but I especially enjoyed this one because it is so specific and probably unknown to a lot of students. For those that have no idea, they would be thoroughly confused to see a cat roaming around the outside seating of a dining hall. However, for those who are aware of this folklore, they have really done their part to help spread it to the larger USC community. I found out about EVKitty through word of mouth, and I’m sure many other students have also found out from their fellow friends and peers.

Rituals, festivals, holidays

Ritual: Water

Main Piece: “One ritual that my family partakes in is when we go on long trips or vacations. So basically when you leave the home for an extended period of time, someone will throw a cup of water while you’re walking away from your house, so, to the back of your feet kind of”

Background: This is a ritual for the informant and her family. The informant was born in the U.S. and her parents were born and raised in Afghanistan. The family has been in the United States for about 30 years but still practices many pieces of Afghan folklore. The informant thinks this particular ritual uses water as a symbol of purity for leaving a place with “good and clean intentions”. She notes that this ritual takes place at the doorway.

Performance Context: The informant and I had lunch together and sat at a table across from each other.

My Thoughts: This Afghan ritual uses the symbols of water and the threshold of the doorway. Besides the notions of water as a symbol of purity, I understand the threshold of the doorway as significant as an entry and exit point. It is interesting that the informant and her family continue to practice this ritual, even in the U.S. The informant mentioned how rarely her family takes vacations and trips. I wonder if her family may have a reluctance to go to new places, as the informant noted earlier that their immigration and assimilation to the U.S. was somewhat troubling and disturbing to their culutral beliefs and traditions. I also intepret the ritual as a combination of valuing the past and looking forward to the present. The U.S. is known to have a forward looking mentality, while countries of the Middle East hold the past in high regard.

folk metaphor
Folk speech

There’s Always Two Sides

This saying is one that my informant said she uses on a regular basis:

“No matter how thin the pancake, there are always two sides”.

My informant said that she learned this proverb or saying from a friend that was born and raised in Japan. Her name was Kozuko, and my informant met her in the 1980’s when her husband was stationed in Japan for the army. My informant believes that it was a proverb that was common within Kozuko’s family. Kozuko had translated the phrase from Japanese and told them how to say it in English. My informant thinks that it originally may have been a different word than ‘pancake’, because those are not a Japanese food. My informant uses this saying, she says, to express that there are always two sides to a story. She told her kids this when they would make decisions without considering the consequences or the people that they could hurt in the process. She says that she always thinks of her friend Kozuko when she uses the phrase, and is happy that she was able to bring it back to California.

I, for the most part, agree with my informant’s analysis of this piece of folklore. I believe it was likely developed as a more clever way to say that there are two sides to every story. I believe that this metaphorical way of saying that is a good way to get the message across. I had never heard this saying before, and after researching it more, could not find many sources and sites of it. This leads me to believe it is a rather rare saying, and potentially rarely translated from Japanese, or wherever its true origins lie.

[geolocation]