Author Archives: Carmen Villasenor Santiago

Coins inside dumplings

“I know one of the best things I remember of superstitions from my family is that my extended family and I made dumplings at Chinese New Year and put coins inside six of them because six to us is a lucky number. Then after we put the coins inside we cooked them and then like serve them out for the whole family who was over to eat at the celebration and well basically it was that whoever ate a dumpling and found a coin inside it, and hopefully not choked (laughs) would have good luck for the rest of the year until the next Chinese New Year where we would do it again. I liked this superstition because it allowed me to you know cook with family and have a good time and also I might get lucky and find a coin, plus dumplings are yummy.”
Being positive with family traditions in order to try to give off good vibes of having a good year is a very common form of folklore in ways that they try to find ways to be lucky the next year.

Choreg and dolma family time

“As far as little things like tradition or I guess family folklore that my family has is that before every holiday, the three grandmothers in our family get together to cook for three days straight in order to prepare for the family party, which trust me is huge! The reason they cook so early is because they make a lot of baked breads, such as choreg, and complicated appetizers, such as dolma, that require hours of work to prepare. During these three days, all the granddaughters come to help clean and to learn little tips and secrets to cooking these special meals, which you can guess, will be eventually passed down to us. However, cooking with the grandmothers has influenced me in a deeper way other than just like learning how to properly roll a dolma. We have made so many memories spending hours in the kitchen together, we talk and laugh and yell, but most importantly we see that the value of creating these meals is not just the joy we all get out of eating them, but time we get to spend together because of them. In this case the preparing is as much fun as the eating them itself.”
Another means of coming together as a family and in this case, food is important to notice how food plays such a prevalent role in the folklore of different families because of the way it unites them.  Food is not only a way to cook but the different ingredients that are used and the recipes that get passed down all form part of this folklore from different cultures.  In many ways when families come together in order to have meals together or such, they are able to go through the journey of cooking together and this too becomes such a significant part of tradition for many.

Red envelopes and Tang Yuan

“For Chinese New Year we would visit every member of our family and go to their houses and tell them merry…I mean happy Chinese New Year, and wish them a happy one and give the children of the families red envelopes with money inside them. This is based on Chinese tradition of New Year and it was kind of like wishing them good luck in the upcoming year. Also fifteen days later we would celebrate the lantern festival in which it is tradition to eat a dessert called Tang Yuan – this is glutinous rice flour – and this symbolizes the family togetherness. I liked all of these events because I guess I just related them to seeing my whole family come together and just good family times.”
Many families have these tradition in which they share money or give it to the children in order to make them more excited about the New Year or such family gatherings. Being able to be with family and share such special this is very important for many cultures.

Blowing on dandelions

“Growing up I guess always heard or even participated in the whole superstition about blowing a dandelion in order to make sure that you get your wishes granted, I guess they can kind of be seen as a symbol of your hopes or dreams have a chance of coming true. I think the very first time I did it I was very small walking back from school with my mom and she say one and like told me to blow on it and to make a wish. Apart from that I just kept seeing on TV I guess so every time I saw one I would like remember to blow on it and make a wish, I liked it because it kept me thinking about magic or this flower that could make my wishes come true and it was nice.”
It is important to point out he place that the media plays in the superstitions that many people believe in this kind of magic and it is a nice way to kind away from societies daily struggles.

Brides wearing white

“Another one of the stories that I grew up hearing was the reason why a bride wears white on the day of her wedding is to like symbolize her purity in entering marriage and also in many ways that it is the happiest day of her life. I learned this from my mom and dad and it’s supposed to be the bride being pure and such or whatever. And I guess a variation of this is how it became a folklore joke I guess because it goes like this: ‘a kid asks his mom why the bride wears white and she says because it’s the happiest day of her life and then the kid asks why the man wears black’. I guess it’s just funny the fact that people joke about a man’s life being over when he gets married.”
Jokes are a very important part of folklore too because they help relieve pressure from social expectations by being funny. And traditions regarding marriages are also very important because they are everywhere and they dictate how many people see their lives with their spouses.