Author Archives: Alexis Madara

Asian Fraternity

My informant described a part of hazing in an asian fraternity when we were discussing different fraternities and sororities: “Basically, so they make you go out on the beach after you run something like…five miles. they make you sit down on your knees and tell you close your eyes and open your mouth and they throw sand in your mouth”

This is supposed to make them relive the hardships of recent immigrants that first started up the frat.

Gargling Salt Water

My informant told me that, when she was younger and had a sore throat her mother would make her gargle with warm salt water to get rid of it. She continues to pass down this method for curing a sore throat to her children.

Warm liquids generally tend to be soothing for the throat. Salt absorbs liquid and dries out areas, so if it absorbs liquid in the back of the throat it can help to kill the bacteria, which needs a wet environment to survive in.


My informant told me about the holiday tradition of hanging mistletoe around christmas time so that those who find themselves under it have to share a kiss, though my informant apparently does not participate in the tradition. He states that “if you kiss someone under the mistletoe, you fall in love.” Though I knew about mistletoe, I had never heard that it was supposed to cause you to fall in love.

Mistletoe is considered to be a symbol of fertility and has served for many other purposes besides this, like protection from evil. So how did this go from an object of fertility to one of love? Maybe to has to do with the American ¬†culture and it’s obsession with the idea of love, especially the romantic idea of love at first sight, or even first kiss. But in Greece, if an in one couple kissed under the mistletoe it was supposed to serve as a proposal, as well as bring them good luck in their relationship. Somehow this has changed from and already in love couple sharing a kiss, to a couple falling in love through the kiss they shared underneath it. Maybe this idea of luck and love somehow intertwined, where the mistletoe became lucky in helping participants who kiss under it to fall in love.

Rid Up

My father uses a phrase that he grew up with in Central Pennsylvania, “rid up the room,” which just means clean up the room.

This phrase rid pertains to the same concept as clean, it just means to rid of the clutter.

Baby Noises

My informant was talking about how when people feed babies they intuitively make certain noises and gestures when feeding babies, like making an airplane noise or choo choo train noise.

These are learned behaviors that we pic up from observation, that for some reason actually makes the baby eat. We do a lot of the same things with pets. People do whatever accommodates the baby the best.