Author Archives: Carmen Villasenor Santiago

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.

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.

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.

Palm itching and dreaming of black

“Well since my family is Armenian there are like quite a lot of little beliefs that I have heard growing up from my mom or dad that they themselves probably got from their parents themselves. Like, let’s see an example of this is that when you dream about something black it means someone that you know or such is going to die. This happens because I believe the color black is just seen as like a color that attracts bad luck or bad omens in Armenia. Uhm and then another one that was also very common when I was growing up was like that when your palm itches it means you’re going to get money soon or like in the near. I guess these were just phrases that were passed down as tradition or something of the sort. I remember I used to always like when my grandma or my mom would tell me these stories because it made me think that Armenians were like the coolest people ever!”
The fact that cultures have such traditions make it important to see the superstitions that make people believe to have good or bad omens in life and it is interesting to see how devoted some people are to these beliefs.

Saint Nicholas Day

“Saint Nicholas Day which is before Christmas, I believe is the 13th of December, actually I can check that for you” (goes off to check), “December 6th sorry. And you lay your shoes outside and Saint Nicholas stuffs them with treats overnight.” “it was always a fun holiday to celebrate and it made me feel a lot more connected to my ancestral roots because it was something that my family did differently from other families, and it served as a reminder of my heritage…let me see, it also gave me a sense of pride in whom I was and who my family was, it made me feel like I was part of something more than just my family and just, just white as a race.”
“So like Christmas?” I asked
“Kind of its sort of like a prelude to Christmas, it was a delightful holiday it made my childhood fun, so the story of saint Nicholas is that there were three girls who needed money for various reasons and they came from a poor family, saint Nicholas heard of their plight and while they were drying their stockings one evening, he snuck over and filled their stockings with the money that they needed. And that is why we have Saint Nicholas Day to commemorate that act of kindness.”

I believe that this is a way that people kind of have a variation of Christmas in order to be able to adapt it to their own heritage and it would it some ways make them more united.  The way that different cultures manage to make variations of holidays in order to match them to their culture is interesting to hear about because it keeps their uniqueness there.  They are able to integrate their traditions and incorporate them into this type of folklore and that is a certain characteristic that many people manage to incorporate into their lives.