Author Archives: bhumbla

The Origin of the Lockhart Family Name.

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Scottish/Irish
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/25/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Informant: Um, so my last name is Lockhart, and despite being, I don’t know, maybe at best a quarter Scottish, it’s the part of my family that I know the most about just because… you know, having a name attached to you, makes it pretty easy. My grandfather, my Lockhart grandfather is really into genealogy. So he’s like traced all this shit and most of it actually comes from him so most of this is, like, from him. I have no idea how true any of it is.

So I think the Lockhart name… It’s a Scottish clan and each clan literally is like what you think the clan like there’s a little area and all the little Lockharts live there. So then here’s where the name comes from. So, it used to be like Loekard or like Locard. But then, etymologically, it actually got changed to “lock” and “heart,” like the two English words. Because it actually refers to a lock and the heart. Because, and this is the legend my grandfather told me. 

So King Robert the Bruce of Scotland went on the Crusades. Okay and I’m pretty sure he died on the Crusades. So Robert the Bruce goes on a big crusade, and he dies. And I think he gets – his heart gets carried back to Scotland, so that he can get buried.

Interviewer: Is that like a Scottish thing that you only need the heart? Like that’s the important thing to bury, the –

Informant: Um, I don’t think there’s anything particularly Scottish about that. I think he was just like, you know, your king’s dead. You want to take them home. 

So then they literally just put his heart in a little, metal cage and carried it back. And I literally think it started as a pun. Because there was like some Lockhart who was carrying the cage and the other soldiers must have been “Lochard? Lock … Heart? Lockhart! That’s you. That’s literally your name now.”

Interviewer: So, coincidentally the person who is carrying the heart in the cage had a name that sounded like –

Informant: He was the primordial Lockhart, he was. Yeah. So Lockhart is the English version. And that’s when the family’s name changed. I guess it’s kind of a hit. When you’re carrying the king’s heart. So that’s how the Lockhart name got started.

Background:

My informant is a friend of mine from high school who now goes to University of Chicago. He’s Scottish-Irish and his family on his dad’s side has been in America for hundreds of years. He knows this piece because his grandfather on his father’s side had told him. He doesn’t know where his grandfather got it from. He thinks of it as a very interesting story about how his name came about.

Context:

The informant is an old high school friend of mine. We’re both home due to online classes and we frequently call each other. During one of our calls over Zoom, I asked if he had any samples of folklore that I can collect and he shared a few.

Analysis:

The story is a very interesting one, and definitely rooted in history. A quick Google search reveals that Robert the Bruce lived in the 13th and 14th centuries, dying in 1329. He is revered in Scotland as a national hero as he won the First War of Scottish Independence against England (the war covered in Braveheart). 

Interestingly, Robert did not die on a Crusade. While he had vowed to go on a Crusade, he never actually did and he died of unknown, but nonviolent, causes. Even more interestingly, Robert asked that his heart be buried in Jerusalem and a company of knights (including Sir Simon Locard) set out to make it so. Perhaps this is where the idea of the story taking place on a Crusade came from. The company went to Spain and fought Granada. However, most of the knights were wiped out and a few, including Simon Locard, returned back to Scotland. 

To see another retelling of these events, read the novel The Talisman, written by Sir Walter Scott in 1825 and directly inspired by these events.

Scott, Walter. The Talisman. Harper & Bros. Publishers, 1902.

New Years Tradition: Run Around the Block

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American/Nicaraguan
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/25/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Body: 

Informant: My family doesn’t do this and I don’t think it’s a Nicaraguan thing to do. But some people, what they do is – is they put money in their shirt and they run around their block and the – like, their heartbeat, how many times your heart beats – that’s supposed to multiply the money. So you’re supposed to – you want to get your heart rate really high while you run around.

Interviewer: So then the amount of money in your shirt multiplied by the number of heartbeats you have while going around the block, that’s the amount of money you’re getting in the new year or in the first month of the new year or something?

Informant: No not exactly, I don’t think the exact math matters. And it doesn’t really matter how much money you have in your shirt. It’s more about the heartbeats, the more of those you have while you run around the block, the more money you’ll get in general in the new year.

Interviewer: So if you have a longer block where you live,  you can get more money.

Informant: *Laughs*  Yeah I guess so.

Interviewer: But, so you don’t do this.

Informant: No, I don’t – my family doesn’t do this but I’ve heard of other families doing this

Background:

My informant is a friend and a fellow student at USC. She was born and raised in Florida but her father comes from Nicaragua and her mother comes from the Appalachian region. This tradition is a New Years’ tradition that her family doesn’t participate in, but it’s one that she’s heard of that other friends of hers do participate in. I didn’t ask specifically which friends and where they’re from, but the implication was that they were also Latin American if not Nicaraguan. 

Context:

I had set up a Zoom call with my friend because she said she had some examples of folklore that she could share with me. This sample was shared during that call

Analysis:

Some quick research online yielded no results when trying to look up this tradition/superstition. I really like this one, I think it’s really interesting. I think you can think of putting the money inside the shirt on your chest as literally keeping money close to your heart, emphasizing its importance. Additionally I think the idea that the more your heartbeats the more money you get, is speaking to the ideal of hard work. The harder you run, the more your heart beats, the more money you get. Similarly, generally in life, a good lesson to impart is that the harder you work at something, the more you will be rewarded for it.

Flip over the Slipper

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 51
Occupation: Software Manager
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Main Body:

Informant: This is one superstition that I always follow, I’ve followed and lived by this my whole life. And it’s – when you see a slipper, and it’s upside-down, I always have to flip it right side up. Because, in my mind, that’s really bad luck, for it to be flipped over.

Interviewer: Why? Why is that bad luck?

Informant: Because … I heard from my grandmother, and my mother, that somebody will die or some – some bad luck will happen if you keep the slipper upside-down.

Interviewer: And this is just any slipper anywhere?

Informant: Any slipper in your house, in your house. But honestly, now I’m so conditioned that it could be anywhere, any time I see a slipper that’s flipped over I have to put it back right.

Background:

The informant is my mother, an Indian woman who was born and raised in northern India (Delhi) and moved to the US over two decades ago. This sample of folklore is something that her mother and grandmother passed down to her. She doesn’t really know what to make of it, she just accepted it as fact and has been living by it her whole life.

Context:

I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my mom if she had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones she shared with me.

Analysis:

Growing up in an Indian household (in America), I was never told this specific superstition but I can definitely see its influence in a lot of Indian beliefs. There is a lot of emphasis in Indian (or Hindu, I’m not sure) culture in things being the “right” way and the “right” way being cleaner than the “wrong” way.

For example, if you knock over a book on the bookshelf you have to straighten it up as you don’t want it to get scuffed or dust to collect in the “wrong” areas. If you eat you eat with the right hand as that’s considered the “correct” hand (back in the day the left hand was reserved for wiping oneself after going to the bathroom). With all this in mind I can see this superstition as an extension of those beliefs. If a slipper is flipped over, it’s dirtier side is exposed. We want to put it right side up again to maximize cleanliness.

Sweeping After A Guest

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 51
Occupation: Software Manager
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Main Body:

Informant: My grandmother never allowed us to sweep, like sweep the floor or clean the house in any way, until the person, the visitor, who left the house gets to their destination. So for example if someone is going to a different city and we know they’re going to get there by 2 o’clock, we are not allowed to sweep or clean until 2.

Interviewer: Would you check in with your departed guest to make sure or –

Informant: No, there were no phones back then so you’d just have to guess like “Oh they should be there by now. They must have reached the place. Now we can sweep.” It’s because – the thing is, when you have a dead body in the house, for example, someone died in your family, and when they take the body away for cremation, then you sweep the house after the body. So that’s why a person leaving, and you sweeping right after, that’s, in a way, implying that they’re dying or that they will die. It’s just bad luck that you don’t want to mess around with. 

Interviewer: Wait, so you said that after someone dies, you sweep the house after their body is cremated?

Informant: After their body leaves to be cremated. Think about it as a hygienic thing. There’s a body lying in the house for a certain number of hours and you have to get the body ready. And in the old days you couldn’t really preserve the body as well so they used to cremate pretty quickly so a dead body would be pretty unclean. So to sweep after a guest, you wouldn’t want to imply that they’re, you know, dead.

Background:

The informant is my mother, an Indian woman who was born and raised in northern India (Delhi) and moved to the US over two decades ago. This tradition of folklore is something that practiced back in India but doesn’t really strictly follow as much in America. It’s just something that everyone in her family did so she regards at as one of many rules of life. 

Context:

I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my mom if she had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones she shared with me.

Analysis:

This makes sense to me because a surprising amount of Indian traditions have to do with the idea of cleanliness and purity. And there are a great deal of Indian superstitions that have to deal with treating people as you would treat a different class of people (whether that’s literal class or living people vs dead people, etc.). So this tradition seems to be a natural amalgamation of the two. Sweeping quickly after a body is done when it’s a dead body in question as the body degrades fairly quickly after death and you want to ensure your house is clean. So sweeping quickly after a guest invites bad luck on them or implies they are unclean, so you only want to do so once they have safely made it back to their home.

New Pinch

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 51
Occupation: Software Manager
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Main Body:

Informant: So let me tell you about “New Pinch.” All the children, like all of the children in India, when we grew up, any time you wear – wear new clothes, your friends or family or anybody will see you and they’ll, you know, they’ll say, “Oh new clothes!” Then they’ll pinch you and say “New Pinch!” And you’re supposed to say thank you, otherwise they’ll keep pinching. 

Interviewer: So saying thank you is the only way to get them to stop.

Informant: Yes. 

Interviewer: Is it one thank you for everyone pinching you or just one is good enough?

Informant: No, it has to be one specific thank you for each person. So yeah this is something that everyone I knew did as a kid. Even know, you know, I still do it all the time so I guess it’s imprinted. I don’t know maybe it’s because we always wore uniforms to school if someone had a new piece of clothing or whatever that we saw them in, it was much more of a big deal than it would be here. But I’m not sure, that’s just an idea.

Background: 

The informant is my mother, an Indian woman who was born and raised in northern India (Delhi) and moved to the US over two decades ago. This tradition is something she’s done since being a child, something that’s part of her culture. As her own child, I have personally been the victim of it many times, often after receiving clothes from her.

Context:

I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my mom if she had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones she shared with me.

Analysis: 

This reminds me a lot of birthday punches. Birthday punches, if you’re unfamiliar, are definitely an American custom but it could be done elsewhere as well. My experience with it definitely peaked in middle school and I feel like the boys did it much more than the girls. Essentially, if it was your birthday, you would get punched, usually on the arm, once for every year of age you had. Boys would often chase each other down and they would not hold back at all.

Similarly, “New Pinch” has that aspect of introducing pain when something good is happening to someone such as getting new clothes. It feels like a way for a person to remind the person who has the new clothes that they’re not so special, that other people still have to be acknowledged (in this case, with a thanks). Additionally it’s interesting that “New Pinch” is always said English, despite originating in India. It could be that the people who get new clothes semi-regularly are those with the money or status to be able to attend a good school that teaches good English. So it acts as a sort of class indicator.

The Tale of Hukma and Hukamiya

--Informant Info--
Nationality: India
Age: 51
Occupation: Software Manager
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Main Body:

Informant: This is a story I heard from my Grandma. And it’s called Hukma and Hukamiya. So Hukma and Hukamiya are a brother and sister. And they were farmers. So Hukamiya would take care of the house and Hukma would go every day to the farm, in their land.

Interviewer: They didn’t have parents?

Informant: No, they’re not in the story. So Hukamiya will cook for her brother and he will take the food with him to, um, the farms. So Hukma loved khichdi(rice and lentils) so she would make khichdi for him and he will take it. So one day when Hukma was, um, he sat down to eat his lunch, there was a wolf.

So the wolf said, “I’m going to – I’m about to eat you.”  So Hukma says, “Instead, why don’t you share my food?” This is where I get a little fuzzy on the story. So the wolf says, “Sure, either I eat you or I’ll eat the food” or something like that, y’know? And so Hukma says, “Fine, eat my food” obviously. So he gives the wolf his khichdi. And the wolf says “तू हिला मेरी पूक्षिडी, मैं खाऊ तेरी खीचडी” (too hila meree pookshidee, main khaoo teree kheechadee).

Interviewer: *Laughs* So the wolf essentially says, “You wag my tail, I eat your khichdi?”

Informant: Yeah

Interviewer: So does “You wag my tail” mean “You annoy me” or “You excite me” or something?

Informant: You know, I don’t really know, it just rhymes. It used to be so funny for us, when we were little. And for you when you were little. I used to tell you this story. So, poor Hukma will take his tail and –

Interviewer: Oh so the wolf’s telling Hukma that “You have to wag my tail.” It’s a command.

Informant: Yeah exactly. So then the wolf eats his khichdi. So this happens a few times. And then poor Hukma will come home hungry. And then his sister is like, “This is not good. You have to eat, this wolf is bullying you.” I think it’s a story about bullying, basically. But anyway, then Hukamiya is like, “We have to get rid of this wolf, this bhariya(wolf).” So then what they do is the next time the bhariya comes and tries to grab his lunch, Hukma says, “Hey, you know what? My sister has made really good food at home. So instead of this plain old khichdi, why don’t you come to our home and we’ll serve you?”

So the wolf agrees and they both go to the house where Hukamiya had made a lot of food. So they invite him inside the hut and there’s a stake in the ground inside the hut. So they tie a rope and they tie the, uh, the wolf to the stake. So the wolf is like “Why are you doing this?” And Hukma responds by saying “Oh we’re tying you here so you won’t be disturbed. You can just rest and stay in one place and enjoy your food in peace.” So the wolf, he’s stupid, he says OK. I guess he’s more interested in food. 

And then Hukma comes in with a big stick, big oiled stick. And so the wolf asks, “Why do you have this stick in your hand?” And so Hukma says, “Oh I’m just guarding the house.” Then they put the food in front of him and as the wolf starts eating, Hukma just starts beating him up. *Laughs* And then they beat him so much and then the wolf runs off. And he cries “हाय हुकमिया, धोका कर दिया” (haay hukamiya, dhoka kar diya) (Oh Hukamiya, you have betrayed me!

Interviewer: Why Hukamiya, specifically?

Informant: Oh now I remember! Now I remember. Man, I’ve forgotten this story. It was not Hukma the wolf used to bother, it was Hukamiya. So she used to go out to the fields in the afternoon to give her brother lunch. So on the way the bhariya would accost her and take the food. So then the brother finds out because every day he’s like “Why are you bringing such a little amount of food?” So she tells him. So the brother tells Hukamiya to invite the wolf over and then he dresses up as Hukamiya. And then beats him up after doing all that stake stuff. And then the wolf finds out it’s Hukma which is why he cries out saying that Hukamiya betrayed him. So he was bullying the girl who was weaker and then the older brother comes and beats him up. And so the wolf runs off and never comes back. 

Background: 

The informant is my mother, an Indian woman who was born and raised in northern India (Delhi) and moved to the US over two decades ago. This story is one that she was told by her grandmother and mother. It’s also a story that she apparently frequently told me when I was little.

Context:

I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my mom if she had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones she shared with me.

Analysis: 

There are a lot of interesting things going on in this story but what sticks out to me is that it’s kind of like a flip-flopped version of Little Red Riding Hood. You could think of Hukamiya as Little Red Riding Hood, a girl who runs into a wolf. Yet, in this story, it is not the wolf that dresses up as a grandmother, but Hukma (who fills the role of the hunter) who dresses up and disguises himself as his sister. The sequence of the wolf asking about the stake and Hukma giving an answer and the wolf asking about Hukma’s stick and Hukma giving an answer brings to mind a similar sequence in Little Red Riding Hood. The one where she remarks “What big eyes you have” and the wolf replies, “The better to see you with.” And then she says “What big teeth you have” and he says “The better to eat you with”, etc. Both tales end similarly though, with the wolf either dead or beaten and driven away.

Barber at the Wedding

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 55
Occupation: Financial Manager
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Main Body:

Informant: This when I was growing up in India, this was still being done. And I’m not sure if it was all of India that was doing this but definitely a lot of Northern India. For some strange reason, when you got married, typically it was an arranged marriage, right? So, at some point, the girl’s dad would talk to the priest. They’d figure out what’s a good, an auspicious day for the wedding. But for some strange reason, and I don’t know what that strange reason is, the barber in the village, he would be the one to take the message about the wedding’s dad across to the groom and his family. It was always the barber. 

Then when you actually went to the wedding, it would always be at the girl’s place. So the girl’s family is already there, the whole extended family. And the groom’s family comes and they all meet and some money is always given or exchanged. So one of the first people who would always be recognized, and don’t ask me why, would be the barber of the girl’s village.

Interviewer: So, no matter what, this is one of you obligations as a barber? No matter if you know the girl’s family or not you have to be involved in the wedding in this specific way?

Informant: Yes, it’s like a village thing, you know?

Interviewer: So it’s a rural thing, it’s not an urban thing?

Informant: Good question, I don’t know the answer. So yeah the barber gets recognized by both families and he gets some money. Barbers typically were lower classes, so he wasn’t treated exactly equal but he would be taken along with the rest of the wedding party. 

Background:

The informant is my father who was born and raised in northern India in the state of Punjab and immigrated to America over 20 years ago. He was raised for a time in a rural village setting which is where much of our family comes from and this tradition is one he noticed being practiced in those rural, village weddings. This did not happen in his own wedding.

Context:

I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my father if he had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones he shared with me.

Analysis:

This is a very interesting tradition. I think it somewhat makes sense that when the two families finally meet that the barber is one of the first to be recognized because it’s the barber that relays the choice of date between the two families. So in a way, this could be recognizing the barber for their part in making the wedding happen. What is less clear is why the barber specifically is given that responsibility in the first place. It could be that a barbershop is typically regarded as a community center. It’s where everybody goes because everyone needs their hair cut. So it could be that the barber, knowing more people than most other people in the village would, is given the responsibility being a sort of “community representative.” Any elected leader of the village would not be given the responsibility as it would be “beneath them.” But the barber, being of lower class, would be the perfect candidate.

The Wedding Singers

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 55
Occupation: Financial Manager
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Main Body:

Informant: So singing at weddings was big. And I’ll describe this from my memory because I haven’t seen it anywhere else. But I remember, you’d be on the groom’s side. So everyone is sitting on the floor. Typically this would be in the courtyard of … some kind of thing like if there are a few houses it would be in the courtyard in the middle. But then, houses were usually one story high. And on the roof of the house, there would be all these girls sitting all around, on the edge of the roof. They’d be sitting in a row and they’d be singing. So whenever a particular part of the wedding ritual took place, they’d be singing a song that was relevant or appropriate. What they’d also do is, typically, they’d be picking on the groom’s family. 

Interviewer: So these are all women from the bride’s family?

Informant: Yup. And I don’t think there was any restriction on whether or not they could be married or unmarried or anything. While the ceremony is going on, they don’t wait for pauses or anything, they are just continually singing over the ceremony. And they weren’t faint or anything. I mean, they weren’t overpowering but you could very clearly hear them. 

And this is the funny part, I remember one time I was looking up. And their songs, you know, sometimes they would have pathos in them because it was a sad thing because, typically, the bride would not return home after being married off. So they would, the singers would pick on the groom’s family. Like “Oh look at his mustache” or “Oh he’s bald,” or something like that. So I looked up, I was a little kid, to see what all the singing was about. And I remember my older brother telling me, very sternly, “You’re not supposed to look up.” So you can’t acknowledge them. But at the same time, it was very clear that people would feel deprived if there wasn’t that singing.

Background:

The informant is my father who was born and raised in northern India in the state of Punjab and immigrated to America over 20 years ago. He was raised for a time in a rural village setting which is where much of our family comes from and this tradition is one he noticed being practiced in those rural, village weddings. This did not happen in his own wedding.

Context:

I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my father if he had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones he shared with me.

Analysis:

I think I understand where this tradition comes from. India is, by and large, an incredibly patriarchal society. Brides are married off, largely expected to stay home. Even now I see it during dinner settings there is an unspoken expectation that the women clean and bring the food to the table while the men sit and wait. So with the wedding being a somewhat sad affair for the bride’s family, losing their sister/daughter/niece to another family, this tradition is sort of a way of rebelling against that. Disrupting the ceremony, making fun of the groom’s family, ultimately all in vain as the bride will be married and leave. But it’s the bride’s family’s way of expressing their love for the bride and acting out to show, in a roundabout way, that they will miss her.

The Wedding Beat

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Indian
Age: 55
Occupation: Financial Manager
Residence: San Ramon, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Hindi

Main Body:

Informant: This is one that I’m positive does not happen in my part of India, in my part of the community. I had not witnessed it until my brother got married. He was getting married and my sister-in-law was from Haryana (a northern state of India). And the wedding was in Chandigarh which is a big city. So this was after the wedding ceremony but we’re still all sitting around. My brother, the groom, gets called into a room. And he walked in, and there were always these little rituals to do so I suppose he thought it had something to do with that. And I walked in after him but someone stopped me. So my brother comes back out two or five minutes later, red in the face, and he told me that they all punched him on the back.

I mean, it wasn’t soft too, it was pretty serious. I thought it was funny. It was the bride’s family that did it and they laid into him pretty good. So they brought him in there under false pretenses and there were all these women –

Interviewer: So it was exclusively the women in the bride’s family?

Informant: Yeah, only women, not men. So it’s more of women in the bride’s family messing with the groom’s family. Here’s my theory, there were many women in there who probably were abused and this was their way of getting some of their thing out. And at my wedding, and your mom is from UP which is a different state. At a similar point in the wedding, and my brother in law was standing behind me. And some women from your mom’s family came and they hit my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband. But it wasn’t like a fist, like how they hit my brother, it was open hand. It was on the back and they had some powder some turmeric on their hand so now they have a hand print on their nice suit. Funny thing, my brother-in-law starts yelling, “No you don’t hit the brother-in-law, you’re supposed to hit the groom!” Which is why, even though I haven’t heard of it anywhere else, I’m pretty sure this is a tradition in some sense.

Background:

The informant is my father who was born and raised in northern India in the state of Punjab and immigrated to America over 20 years ago. He was raised for a time in a rural village setting which is where much of our family comes from and this tradition is one he noticed being practiced in those rural, village weddings. This also happened at his own wedding.

Context:

I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my father if he had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones he shared with me.

Analysis:

I think this tradition comes from the women in the bride’s family fighting back at the patriarchal society they find themselves in. While done in jest, it could be argued that the women beating the groom is a warning for him not to do the same to the bride and to treat her right, otherwise he knows what’s awaiting him. Additionally, the example of a powdered handprint being left on a suit could suggest that the women are leaving their “mark,” much as a man would leave on a woman by beating her. They’re leaving a physical and a visual reminder that there is an entire family who is looking after the bride so she is to be treated well.The fact that the two examples discussed happened in different, yet nearby states, lends credence to this being a widespread tradition in northern India.

New Years Tradition: Throwing out the Water

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American/Nicaraguan
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/25/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Body: 

Informant: I don’t think my family did this all that much. Maybe they did, I’m not sure. But I know for sure other families did this where … sometimes they would open the door and throw a big bucket of water out.

Interviewer: Just throw a bucket of water out? Did have to be hot or cold or anything like that?

Informant: No, I – the temperature didn’t really matter.

Interviewer: Oh, so why do that?

Informant: I think it’s supposed to be getting rid of any bad luck for the next year. Like the water symbolizes all the old, bad luck and you’re just getting rid of it and getting a fresh start.

Background:

My informant is a friend and a fellow student at USC. She was born and raised in Florida but her father comes from Nicaragua and her mother comes from the Appalachian region. This tradition is something she got from her father and is something her entire family does regularly. She is under the impression that this is a common tradition that many families from Latin American countries participate in but she is unsure as to which countries specifically do or don’t participate in it. She thinks of it as another fun, special New Years’ tradition.

Context:

I had set up a Zoom call with my friend because she said she had some examples of folklore that she could share with me. This sample was shared during that call

Analysis:

This seems like a fairly straightforward tradition to me. Water usually doesn’t symbolize negative things, but I imagine there would be substantially more clean up involved with anything else. Additionally you could say there is significance in throwing the water out directly from one’s doorstep. The door is a threshold, it represents the line between what is in your home and what is not. By taking the water from inside your home, cross the threshold, to outside you are effectively making clear that the water (or bad luck) is no longer welcome in your home, in your life. There could be aspects of this that are tied to Latin American culture, or Nicaraguan culture specifically, but I’m not well versed enough to comment on them.