Author Archives: Claire Preising

Childhood ritual

My informant provided an example from when she was in elementary school, around fifth grade. She described how she and her classmates would remove the blue insert from the inside of soda bottle caps and stretch it out until it fit around their wrists. Children would wear three or four of these bracelets, and according to my informant,  “While you wear it, you were supposed to have good luck, and if someone ripped it off then they could make a wish and it would come true.” She learned this from her group of friends, who were among the first to begin creating these bracelets. My informant enjoyed reminiscing about these little childhood traditions, but did not cite any times in which she had good luck from wearing a bracelet or had a wish come true.

This kind of childhood tradition was prevalent in our discussion, but this one was the only one that I really related to because I remember doing the same thing when I was younger, except with Gatorade bottles instead of soda bottles. It was always a feat to get the inserts out of the caps, so the more “bracelets” my classmates had, the more respect they garnered. In addition, my classmates would trade them (somehow, a ranking system was created, so a student could trade two lesser bracelets for one superior bracelet). The good luck tradition was something I hadn’t heard of, as my school just used them as accessories. The practice of attempting to rip a bracelet off of another’s arm seems to perpetuate the rather childish urge to disrespect other people’s possessions.

Childhood rhyme

My informant recalled a chant from her time playing softball between 2nd and 5th grade. It was a tradition for the team to cheer and chant for their teammates as they came up to bat; she says this particular chant used to be a handgame as well and then crossed into cheering. Everyone knew the chants, but she says that most people don’t even remember learning them–heard them once and then just knew it.

“Down by the banks of the hanky panky

Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to bank-y

With the eeps, ops

Soda pops

Hey Mister lily paddy,

Went kerplop!”

I’ve heard this rhyme as well, but in a different context. When I was in Girl Scouts from 1st to 4th grade, we would play a game called “Down By the Banks,” which involved hand slapping while singing this song. The last person to get their hand slapped was “out,” and the game was repeated over and over again until only two players were left. These two players would then clasp hands, sing the song, and pull their hands back and forth, and the person whose hand was extended when the song was over was the loser. I really like this song, and have a lot of fond memories; I remember learning it from another Girl Scout leader when I was really young. Also, I’ve heard many iterations of  this song, mostly with the last line: instead of “Hey Mister Lily Paddy,” I’ve also heard “He missed a lily paddy,” which I personally think makes more sense.

Childhood tradition

This particular tradition is from when my informant was a participant at an elementary school-sponsored Outdoor Education trip in the sixth grade. She remembers it being a night around the campfire where the camp counselor, whose name was Shauna, brought out a ton of string in different colors and told every camper to take four pieces. Shauna then told the campers how to tie the strings together, what each color meant, and the proper order in which to tie the strings around each other to make a bracelet.

“It was the coolest thing ever when I was twelve. As soon as I went home I went out and bought a bunch of different colored strings, to start making the bracelets myself. At camp it was all about making them with other people and making wishes (since the wish would come true when the bracelet fell off–you weren’t allowed to cut them off or break them on purpose, or the wish wouldn’t come true) but once I came home I just cared about having the most bracelets or the fanciest. That summer I ended up having like twenty on my wrists and ankles.”

I remember this craze very well, because I too owned a large amount of string to use for bracelets. I even had a book to help with the more intricate designs; I learned this from my Girl Scout camp counselors. I was a firm believer in the “your-wish-will-come-true” part of the tradition, too, though by the time the bracelet fell off I had most likely forgotten what my wish was. My informant’s comment about what the various colors meant was interesting to me too, because I had not heard that before. Her Outdoor Ed camp was in the mountains of Southern California, but another friend who attended a similar camp in Virginia also talked about making friendship bracelets. However, it seems to be a mainly-female tradition, because there are not many boys who would sport the bracelets in elementary school. In addition, the craze seemed to lull by middle school, though I do still have my box of string!

Humor–blonde joke

My informant heard this joke from his best friend Michael, who seems to know a wealth of blonde jokes. The boys have been friends for years now, and my informant always has a new joke to share from Michael. This particular one was told on their way to Disneyland last year (their sophomore year of high school). My informant also told me that most of the time, these jokes are told out of the hearing of adults, so they tend to remain among younger circles.

“A blonde was driving to Disneyland, but when she saw a sign that said ‘Disneyland Left,’ she turned around and went home.”

As another play on the stereotype of airheaded blondes, this joke provides a fairly clever punchline. When I searched for this particular joke online, it came up with many different sources, meaning that it is pretty well-circulated (though I had not heard it until my informant told me). There are several variations, including “Disney World Left,” “Sea World Left,” and “Six Flags Left.” However, the Disneyland iteration seems to be the most popular. I think this is very witty, as most blonde jokes tend to be; it definitely fulfills the requirements to be considered as blason populaire. The interesting thing about blonde jokes is that people take offense very infrequently; I believe this is because the number of people who actually fulfill this stereotype is small, so the majority of blondes are proud to be exceptions to the stereotype.


During the month of October (or sometimes November) my informant’s family and friends celebrate Diaali (“Diwali”) or the Indian Festival of Lights. She said this was always a fun celebration, because their house was all decorated and everyone was always cheerful. In her words,

“We put bazillions of little tea lights all over the house, up the stairs, in the living room, everywhere, and put Christmas lights up outside (which was a little awkward since it was October, but whatever). Also we’d set off firecrackers in the street. The Festival of Lights has to do with a Hindu story where a god went and conquered a devil, and when he returned the people were celebrating in the streets with lights to cheer him on. It’s always in October or November–this year, it’s on October 26, but last year it was in early November. There’s also a lot of sweets and other food, and often we exchange gifts.”

This holiday is based in a myth, but it has different meanings for various religions. The three main religions that celebrate Diaali (or Diwali) are Sikh, Hindu, and Jain. According to an article in the Charlottetown Guardian, the five-day festival celebrates the homecoming of the god Rama, after a fourteen year exile. I’m always really interested in festivals that are based in some kind of mythology, particularly ones from different cultures. The fact that three different religions all celebrate the same basic event, though they do differ significantly, is an excellent support for the argument for monogeny, where a tradition originates in one place and then disseminates to others.

Annotation: Gupta, Sharda. “Diwali.” The Guardian (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island). 5 December 2000: G21. Print.