USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘womanhood’
Adulthood
Customs
Initiations
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Red in Indian Weddings

Collection:  Indian wedding – significance of red

A: “What is the significance of red in Indian weddings?”

B: “ Well red symbolizes a married woman, so the groom spreads red tika called Sindoor on the bride’s hairline…Oh! And the bride wear red.”

A: “A red dress?”

B: “It can be a saree, salwar suit, or whatever she wants.”

Context/Interpretation: While different colors take on different meanings and degrees of significance around the world, red is almost universally used in the development of womanhood. Marriage is a defining moment of adulthood, specifically womanhood, in many cultures. Therefore, the red in Indian weddings stays consistent with the red symbolism.

Annotated Bibliography:

SmarterTravel. “So THAT’S Why You Shouldn’t Wear A Green Hat In China.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 26 Jan. 2017.

According to the article, “Red is the most powerful of all colors in Indian culture and holds many important meanings.” In fact, red can convey fear, power, fertility, love, beauty, and more. More significantly, red is known to symbolize an Indian woman’s marriage through red henna, red sindoor, and her outfit.

 

Adulthood
Customs
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Quinceanera

I interviewed my informant, a young lady of Mexican descent, in the study lounge of the band office. Because of her upbringing in Mexican culture, she was able and eager to share a lot of folklore and folk traditions. At the top of her list was her experience with the tradition of Quinceaneras, which she learned from her family members. She watched her older cousins performing the event when she was younger, and she had one herself when she turned fifteen. The following is the information she shared with me during the interview:

 

According to my informant, a Quinceanera is a celebration of a young girl’s fifteenth birthday.

 

In the past, they were to show the village/town that this person is now ready to be wed/ now ready to meet suiters. Now it’s more of a celebration of coming into womanhood, and presenting her as such to family and friends

 

Girls wear bridal-like dresses. In modern Quinceaneras, girls wear colors that match the theme color of their party. My informant informed me that she wore a white dress because that was the main color of her party.

 

Quinceaneras also have a Court. The court is made up of seven couple with one main escort to dance with the Quinceanera [here the word is being used to describe the girl herself rather than the entire celebration].

 

At her party, when she enters the room, a waltz is performed with her court. And then she dances with the father/male figures in her family. Her father performs changing of the shoe, which is usually changing a ballet flat to a heal.

 

This is followed by the presentation of the doll. There is a doll that looks like the Quinceanera. She has to present it to a younger female figure (a cousin, or sister). My informant gave her doll to her younger sister at her Quinceanera.

 

My informant also told me that a more recent Quinceanera tradition is the surprise dance. The girl being celebrated will choreograph a modern dance of some sort to entertain guests.

 

It is also expected that the Quinceanera greet every guest and thank them for coming to their party.

 

My information added that Quinceaneras are traditionally for catholic people. There is usually a mass beforehand where they honor the Virgin Mary because she’s the pinnacle of womanhood.

 

I asked my informant for the context of a Quinceanera. She admitted that most of what she shared is based on the American tradition. In the Mexican culture, the whole town would be invited, not just family and friends. The party is usually held anywhere people fit: a ranch, in a dance hall, etc. The entire party also functions as a display of wealth for the family.

 

Analysis

I have ever experienced a Quinceanera party, but I have a great idea of what it’s like based on my informants description. She obviously is well informed about the complexities of the tradition, and was able to explain it to me in a way that was easy to document. I feel that if I ever go to a Quinceanera in the future, I will be knowledgeable of what is happening and why it’s significant.

 

For more information on Quinceaneras (including who celebrates it, and rituals that are part of it), go to https://www.quinceanera-boutique.com/quinceaneratradition.htm

 

Adulthood
Initiations
Material

Kimchi Recipe

Kimchi Recipe

Most women made their own kimchi (cabbage side dish) for their respective families. With the onset of contemporary times, kimchi is now mass produced and rarely homemade. This recipe was taken from my mother who had been given her mother’s (my grandmother’s) recipe and so on. She added her own addition to it (the shrimp) years after making the kimchi for our family. There is a different taste from this homemade side dish to the mass produced one, and between my mother’s kimchi and other families’ kimchi tastes. Each family has their respective recipe that they follow, which can vary for the amount of time the cabbage is soaked to the individual ingredients used. Creating kimchi for your family was also a sign of a girl learning ownership of her household and family, as it takes a while to make and families tend to make a lot to last through the winter in one sitting.

The Recipe:

배추를 사서 반으로 쪼개고 그리고 그걸 또 반 살짝 자르는거야 중도까지.

그렇게해서 물에다가 소금을넣어서 풀으는거야. 소금을 녹을때까지 배추를 당거.

그렇게해서 2시간후에 뒤집어. 그리고 총4시간후에 싯어.

싯어서 소쿠리 에다가 나.

양염은: 무 하나, 양파 반, 파 한단, 마늘 6족, 생강( ginger) 조금, 새우 조금 (1/2 cup), sweet rice죽, 미나리, 갓. 다 썰어서 고추가루랑 양염하는거야.

Sweet rice죽에다가 새우를넣고 그냥나둬.

죽에다가 예쁘게 만들어 빨갛게. 무 하고 야채를 따로 고추장을 양염해.

그 후에 배추에다가 죽 양염한걸 섞어. 섞은후에 배추의 잎 사이에다가 썰은 무 양염한걸 뿌려, 빨갛게. 다해서 냉장고에 2주동안 나두면 맛있게 익을거야. 겨울에는 4주.

 

The first step is the buy the cabbage. Wash it and cut it in half. Take these halves and cut it again to the midway point. Prepare a tub of water and sprinkle a lot of salt in it. After doing this, soak the cabbage in the mixture until the salt melts in the water. After 2 hours flip the cabbage and soak the other side. Take them all out after a total of four hours. Leave them to dry. 

Sauce ingredients: 1 Radish, half an onion, one bushel of green onion, 1 clove of garlic, a little bit of ginger, half cup of mini shrimp, sweet rice porridge, parsley, and leaf mustard. 

Place the shrimp aside. Cut the rest into small slices and marinate them with gochugaru (chili powder).

Put the shrimp in the sweet ridge porridge and stir. Mix in the gochugaru until it’s a pretty red color. After this, spread the porridge mixture across the cabbage. After this, spread the other mixture with the radish and other ingredients in chili powder in between the cabbage leaves. Do this until the cabbage is red. After finishing, put the cabbage in a glass jar or store it and place it in the refrigerator for around 2 weeks to ripen. It can take up to 4 weeks in the winter.

 

 

Adulthood
Childhood
Customs
Material

Chinese Changzhou Combs

Interview Extraction:

Informant: “There’s this special brush, or comb I guess is more accurate, that girls get when they graduate high school, or any sort of graduation beyond that, although I think is mostly for high school. But the comb is supposed to be meaningful and it’s made out of this special wood, and you’re not supposed to like, get any water on it.

Me: “Do you ever use it?”

Informant: “I do. And yeah, the wood’s supposed to be good for hair and you can stroke your hair with it however many times and it makes it healthier, I think.

Me: “Who gave it to you?”

Informant: “My mom’s cousin. She said she got one from her mom, and it’s all about womanhood and all that blah blah blah.”

Me: “Who typically gives the comb?”

Informant: “Family, relatives, mothers usually I guess.”

Me: “Do you think you’ll get one when you graduate college too?”

Informant: “Oh, no.”

 Analysis:

It’s interesting that the comb is given to girls at graduation, and my informant stressed the fact that this is an upper education graduation gift. Yet at the same time, she mentioned how it was relevant to womanhood, and indeed it can seem like an appropriate gift to a girl who is transitioning into becoming a woman. Traditionally, I would have assumed that this process would be celebrated earlier, but since it is education-based, this custom would evidently be a more modern one, even if the item itself is older.

My informant also remarked that it’s typically a high school graduation gift, indicating again that it is part of the shift from living with one’s parents and being a girl to living elsewhere in the world and becoming an adult.

My informant didn’t know the name of the special wood used, but her gift is presumably aChangzhoucomb, which can be made out of mahogany, jujube wood, heather, and boxwood.Changzhoucombs have been in production for over 2000 years and have been traditionally used only by royalty, making them a popular and valuable award or present to anyone who may deserve it. Additionally, though the combs can be good for the hair, they seem to be mostly decorative in purpose. They are hand-painted and can often be very intricate, emphasizing the importance of beauty in a young woman.

I’m not sure how popular throughout Chinese culture it may be to give these combs as graduation presents, but no doubt they will be in use for a long, long time, bestowed as various gifts for any occasions.

Adulthood
Customs
Folk Beliefs
general
Gestures
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Jewish girls get slapped on their first menstrual cycle

When a Jewish girl has her first ever menstrual cycle, every woman in the family (and sometimes, any woman) will slap her across the face. 

My informant recollects getting her period for the first time while she was alone with her younger sister at their grandma’s house. She was panicking because no one was home and her post-menopausal grandmother doesn’t keep the necessary supplies in the house. When her grandma got home that afternoon, she tentatively whispered what had happened. Her grandmother screamed in delight, raised her hand and slapped her across the face with full gusto. My informant started sobbing, and then her sister did too, because they had no idea why grandma was hitting her!

I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of the slap, and it’s meant as as gesture of love, and a very exciting time. When a girl gets her period for the first time, it’s not unusual for the entire extended family to be informed, and then that girl is subjected to slaps as her aunts and cousins and grandmothers come to congratulate her. It’s part of the rite of passage that comes with “becoming a woman.”

The slap supposedly comes out of ancient times, when a woman getting her period was a sign of her coming into her sexual maturity–and needed to be slapped for being a sinful, sexual being (basically implying that she is a whore.) For most Jews now, though, the slap is a joyous, fun, and slightly painful tradition.

Adulthood
Customs
general
Life cycle
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Ritual – Japan

Coming-of-Age Ritual

Japanese Coming-of-Age for Girls

Dana said in her Japanese family, when a girl begins menstruating, red beans and rice are prepared and eaten to celebrate her transition into womanhood. She said this is a widespread Japanese tradition, and that her family has been doing this “forever.”

The red beans stain the rice a pink color, which Dana said might be symbolic. Everyone in the family has to have a bit of it. When asked what she thought about this ritual, she said, “It’s really awkward.” Some people in her family who aren’t as traditional, her Aunt for example, use peas instead of red beans.

This kind of blatant recognition of womanhood is not prevalent in American society. There are no widespread rituals in response to a girl’s transition into womanhood. In fact, it is kept very quiet. I assume in Japan, the transition of girls into women is a much bigger and more serious celebration, and isn’t at all “awkward.”

In other cultures, it is common to recognize this transition—Jewish bat mitzvahs, for example. In the United States, the topic of menstruation and new womanhood is sensitive—almost taboo. Perhaps this American influence on the Japanese ritual is what makes it “awkward.”

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