USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Traditions’
Customs
Folk speech

The SoCal Spell Out

Context & Analysis

The subject and I were eating lunch together and I asked him to tell me about some of his experiences at USC; particularly, I asked him if he knew of any strong traditions at USC (aside from the obvious ‘Fight On’). The subject is a member of the USC Triathlon team and is very active and involved on the team. He proceeded to tell me about this particular tradition he enjoys on the Tri team, which is also a tradition shared by many other USC sports teams.

Main Piece

“My favorite tradition is, like, the SoCal spell out, and it’s basically a lot of things that I think, like, USC athletic teams do here. It just consists of basically spelling out “Southern California”, like, really quickly and really loudly and then just, like, erupting in cheer at the very end. That actually is, like, really really fun to do and a good tradition to have, plus it also fills you up with adrenaline. So that’s a tradition that we have.”

Customs
general
Gestation, birth, and infancy
Gestures
Humor
Kinesthetic

Claremont Colleges Birthday Tradition

Background information:

Throwing friends into the fountain on the day of their birthday has been a prank tradition for the span of several decades, and has become a birthday ritual for students at the five Claremont colleges. It is even noted on Claremont McKenna College’s website that the fountain at Flamson Plaza is a site that students visit to either study or to throw their friends into on their birthday.

Main Piece:

On the day of a friend’s birthday, it is a common tradition to throw that friend into a specific fountain at Claremont McKenna College. The fountain is located at Flamson Plaza and is in the middle the Claremont McKenna College campus. It is common for students from all five of the Claremont Consortium schools: Scripps College, Pomona College, Harvey Mudd College, Pitzer College, and Claremont McKenna College, to engage in this tradition. When it is a student’s birthday, friends of that student often barge into the student’s bedroom early in the morning, physically carry them over to the fountain at Flamson Plaza at Claremont McKenna College, and throw the student into the cold water as a sort of wake up to their birthday. When interviewing a friend of mine who was thrown into the fountain last year during her freshman year of college, she said that it was definitely one of the highlights of her time attending Claremont McKenna College. She said that this tradition was very unifying in the fact that this was a birthday ritual that was specific to the Claremont Colleges and made her feel that she was a part of the college community. My friend stated that even though this is a small tradition, it has a large impact on how an individual relates to the community at the Claremont Colleges and reaffirms the fact that a student’s friends care about them and want to celebrate their birthday.

 

Personal thoughts:

Throughout my time at Scripps College during my freshman year of college, I found that this was a specific tradition that peaked my interest. I would constantly see people being thrown into the ice-cold water of the fountains at Flamson Plaza and think that is was very entertaining. I would often think that it looks very entertaining to someone watching, but must be relatively burdensome for the student being abruptly woken up and thrown into the cold water in the morning of their birthday. As such, my friends at Scripps College knew that I did not want to be thrown into the fountain on my birthday and always joked that they would throw me into the fountain but never did, to my relief!

Holidays

German Christmas Traditions

The interviewer’s initials are denoted through the initials BD, while the informant’s responses are marked as SH.

SH: It’s a German thing to open presents on the evening of the 24th. Christmas in Germany isn’t the 25th—the 25th is nothing. My family celebrates in the morning of the 25th because my brother and I grew up in here—Christmas is at its peak when you’re young, and my brother and I lived in Michigan, and I feel like it’s more exciting to wake up as a kid and think “There are presents!” as opposed to like, seeing them there the entire evening.

With Germans, it’s the thing where you go to church and then come back, and the presents have magically appeared. But like, if you don’t go to church, like my family, the presents would have have just kinda been… sitting there.

I guess it’s also a family tradition that my father always tries to force us to go to church, and the rest of my family always resists. Didn’t happen this year though, my dad gave in. He didn’t even mention church. He was like: “It’s fine, it’s whatever. We aren’t doing it.” I’ve found that a lot of other families make a big deal out of doing like—a home cooked meal for Christmas eve, or Christmas dinner, you know. We usually go out.

BD: But not to church?

SH: Nope.


 

Analysis: The German tradition to open presents the night before Christmas Day reminds me of a tradition my family celebrates, called Noche Buena—celebrated in Spain, the Philippines, and some places in Latin America, this holiday also puts more of the emphasis on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. I was unaware that Germany had a similar idea, and I find it interesting that my informant’s family changed their traditions upon being in America. Though she did not consider her family to be “very German” to begin with, the ease with which they adopted a more “Americanized” tradition for Christmas is very interesting. It helps to show what their family values as well—the excitement of Christmas for the younger generation is emphasized, and in a way, the children are prioritized.

Customs
Game
Initiations
Rituals, festivals, holidays

The Pull- Hope College

My brother went to a small liberal arts college in Holland Michigan. He remembers “The Pull” vividly:

Skye: The Pull is a tradition that goes back 117 years. Every fall the sophomores challenge the freshman to a gladiatorial variation of tug of war. It takes place across the Black River. 16 men on each team, 16 women serving as the callers of the cadence and in charge of “morale”. The teams train for weeks, they shave their heads, and they put on war paint. They run throughout the campus carrying the heavy thick ropes. Trenches are dug, with footrests of dirt mounded up. The pullers will lie in the trenches to pull as they push their feet against the dirt mounds. The actual day of the pull thousands come from throughout the region to watch along either side of the river. There is a lot of guttural shouting and cheering. Mud is generated.”

Me: How long does it last?

Skye: “A typical pull goes on for approximately 3 hours before one of the teams is pulled into the river. There have been years when the exertion has gone on for over 14 hours. More recent years have brought rules that allow for the pull to end at three hours even if no one has been pulled into the river yet. The teams go by the names “Odd” and “Even” corresponding to the class year.”

Analysis: In a very conservative, Christian area of the Midwest, emotions are often kept inside and the behavior is quite circumspect. The Pull stands in stark contrast to this buttoned-up way of life in Holland, Michigan. Hope College prides itself on the purity and mild attitudes of its students. A loud and seemingly violent event like The Pull is and anachronism at this Conservative Christian Dutch College.150926PullOddYear020

Folk speech
Game
general
Life cycle
Musical

Jewish Day Camp Traditions and Songs

The informant is from New York City and told me of his summer camp experience.

“Okay so I went to a Jewish Day Camp, so like you’d go, everyday you’d go to a bunch of different bus stops and then you go to the campground and do whatever camp shit you’d do and then come back like, so it was a Jewish camp and we celebrated Shabbat, and we even like one of the activities would be like, so every friday you’d celebrate Shabbat and then alongside the other activities like archery, ceramics, we would sing Jewish songs, so there’s like um, oh man, oh there’s “who knows one” and it’s like, i think it goes up to twelve and there’s like different hebrew or like old testament things like, or like, definitely like “nine” is the months of a -, I don’t remember but it’s like “Who knows one?” “I know one!” “one is the da-da-da-da-da-duh” “who knows two? I know two! Two is the da-da-da-da-da-duh.” And I know like one of them is like, twelve is the tribes of Israel, um, I think nine for whatever reason is the months a woman is pregnant? Um, uh, and just like seven is like the days of the week that god made, and all these other Jewish songs of like um, wait ok, so there’s who knows one, and there’s like, uh, I don’t remember anymore. But like the main part about the songs that’s pretty funny is that like seventy-five, no maybe like two-thirds of the camp were like black and hispanic, and were like not Jewish, because it was like, a somewhat cheap day camp in, like Manhattan, and they had a lot of bus stops in like Harlem, so like we made these black and hispanic kids eat Challah and drink grape juice and like sing these Jewish songs, and they were like kinda into it, none of them were like, “why are we doing this?” all of them were like “okay””

Analysis:

What is most interesting is that the songs were of religious connotation, but that many of those who attended the camp were not of that religion (Jewish). So they were learning all these songs and stories that did not directly affect them at all, opening up Jewish ceremonies to the wider world. It is also interesting to see how these “children’s songs” deal with adult themes such as pregnancy, which as a child did not really comprehend until much later.

general

Rainy Day Tradition

Main Piece:

Participant/interviewee is marked as AM and I, the interviewer, am marked as LJ.

AM: So my mom, whenever it rained, she would cover the  curtains with blankets and make hot chocolate. She would go out and buy pan dulce too–so sweet bread.

LJ: When would you do this?

AM: That was like elementary school. So like 3rd, 4th, and 5th grad. And then she stopped.

 

Context:

We had been talking about childhood and this story came up. I then proceeded to record it.

Background:

The participant is a first year student at the University of Southern California. She was raised in South Central, Los Angeles around the university in a Mexican household. This was a tradition within her family–especially on her mom’s side.

Analysis:

This is a very nice tradition to uphold during childhood. It encourages bonding between parent and child because of the hot chocolate and pan dulce. The rainy day changes from something bad or dangerous (having to cover the windows) to a great moment between two people. Although I’m not sure if it had to be blankets to cover the windows, it shows that the rain outside was being warded off. Perhaps bringing negative energy in if the blanket was not on.

Customs
Festival
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

New Years in Brazil

Title: New Years in Brazil

Interviewee: Rafael Blay

Ethnicity: Brazilian

Age: 19

Situation (Location, ambience, gathering of people?): In his room in Webb, with 3 other friends playing video games in the background. It was a Thursday in April, all the work done for the week, so spirits were high. The interviewee sat on his bed to recount some tales and such.

Piece of Folklore:

Interviewee- “Everyone wears white to signify that Brazil is a peaceful country. If you don’t wear white you’re the one kid that doesn’t wear white, so they don’t want to stand out. Some people buy new underwear, and they only wear it for the day, for the event.

Also some people try to go to the beach, and jump over 7 waves.

After the fireworks, after the year begins, there are a lot of parties and there are concerts and things of that nature. A lot of alcohol.

There are customary foods by my family just eats whatever. Some people eat lentils on the day.

Big dinner that is usually held later so that they can see the fireworks.

People do a bunch of resolutions, which a lot of people in other countries do too.”

Analyzation: This appears to be a collection of superstitious things that people do on new years, not just one simple tradition. People have different reasons to be doing these traditions, and not everyone does every action. For example, the Interviewee himself says that some people do some things, and he himself only does some of them with his family.

Tags: New Years, Brazil, Traditions

Holidays

Christmas Traditions

Collector: Do you have any holiday traditions?

Informant: Um… let me think first. Okay, I guess for Christmas, uh, my entire family gets together the night before on Christmas Eve, and we have a dinner party, and then we just stay up until midnight, when the, when it becomes Christmas Day. And then we all just go around the room and hug each other and say Merry Christmas. So then, everyone goes home to their own homes, and the next morning, my parents, my brother, and I have breakfast in our pajamas and then we open Christmas presents, while watching A Christmas Story.

 

My informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California. She is studying psychology. She is from Orange County, California.

 

This is an interesting family tradition because I think it’s very common to do this with families. My family does this type of thing as well where we gather for Christmas Eve and then the smaller family gets together Christmas Day to open presents.

Holidays

Family Traditions

Collector: Were there any traditions you had for holidays?

Informant: We always used to have fondue on, oh, we always used to have fondue on Christmas Eve, and then, um, and then my mom would always light something on fire. That was part of it, um, but, that stopped. It would be accidental, but she would, like, knock over the fondue thing, and something would like… Actually on Thanksgiving, though, we used to have a tradition that something would catch on fire. It goes pretty…It happens pretty much every year. My grandma does that. She lit a cornucopia on fire once.

 

My informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California. She is from San Diego, California. We had this conversation in the study room of my sorority house.

 

This is really an interesting tradition, and I think this happens with a lot of families is that a tradition is accidentally created, and it just continues to happen for some reason. For me, every year, my aunt will make some type of joke, and my mother will get mad and everything from then on during the dinner. This seems like an unintentional family tradition that everyone looks back on and remembers but becomes a problem each holiday.

Folk Beliefs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Where The Hell Is Cuba On The Map?

Sara comes from a traditionally American family. However she told me about the time when she spent new years with her Cuban friend:

“It was very strange Alex. They filled champagne glasses with grapes! They ate them real fast. Then her grandmother walked up to everyone with a suit case. They each out an item in and then she walked around the block. When she came back she took a bucket of water and throw it out the door. What the hell!”

She later asked her friend who explained everything.

One, her friends grandmother was a bit crazy and slightly out of her mind. Two, they were old Cuban traditions – of course she was going to find it weird.

Analysis: Culture shock anyone! The twelve grapes each represent one months in the calendar. By eating them real fast after midnight, you’re hoping that good luck will come for each of the months that are to come.

The grandmother walked around asking for one valuable item from each of them. She put them in the luggage case and walked around the block to signify that the important things in life will only come with a little bit of effort and lot of hard work. To remember that the important things in life you earned and you need to continue working to keep them. Lastly the odd bucket of water is meant to symbolize all the sins from the past year. By throwing it out of the door she is asking for the families forgiveness and getting rid of all their demons.

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