Author Archives: Daniel Kang

When your ear itches, someone is talking about you.

Whenever your ear itches, it mean’s someone is either saying good things about your or bad things about you, depending on which side of your ear itches. Specifically when your left ear itches, bad things are being said; when your right ear itches, good things are being said.


My informant’s mother told her this proverb when she was 10 years old. She stated that one day while my informant and her mother were walking home from school, her mother said “My ear itches, someone must be talking about me.” My informant then asked what that meant and she explained this superstition to her. She then always answered with that statement when someone she knew said that their ear itched.

She said that this proverb was passed down from her grandmother to her mother. She believes it was a simple superstition due to the fact that Korean women are known to gossip frequently. Thus every time someone’s ear itches either good things or bad things are being said about them. She believed as a child if her ear itched a lot a certain day either people liked her a lot or despised her. My informants analysis makes a lot of sense as it provides quite the answer for a simple body reaction.

Whistling at night attracts snakes to your bed.

When you whistle at night you attract snakes to your bed.

My informant first heard about this proverb from her mother.  Due to this superstition my informant never whistled at night as a child as she did not want to bring harm to her family. She lived in a small country town in Korea, thus this environment helped this superstition gain steam. In her specific city, snakes were prevalent all over the neighborhood. She believes now that this proverb was told to discourage children to make noise at night, as this bothered the neighborhood. She also once witnessed her sister whistling while she was about to go to sleep, my informant then quickly told her the proverb so she would not brings snake into her bed.

This is actually quite an interesting usage of folklore as it was used to discourage children from doing a certain thing that bothered other townspeople. It also makes sense as snakes were prevalent all over the town and children usually hate snakes, thus the adults used a familiar animal to discourage children from whistling for generations as adults constantly passed this folklore down.

The Meaning of Greens

This piece of folklore is actually a custom among Marijuana smokers. This custom states that whenever it is someone’s first time smoking that they get to “greens.” Greens is basically a name for a custom where a person gets to light the marijuana first whether it be in a pipe or a rolled up joint. My informant states that he heard this through his friend who is a big fan of marijuana. He states that offering the person who either put the weed in the pipe or rolled a joint is a huge deal and demonstrates a large amount of respect for the person that did the tasks.

He states that greens is important to smokers as it demonstrates their kindness and also is a common courtesy for guests when the smoke for the first time or smoke with the group for the first time. He states that it is comparable to offering someone a drink of water when they enter your home. He also states that by explaining greens and passing it on, that everyone now is a part of it and keeps the cycle going.

I think this is a very interesting piece of folklore due to the stereotypes users of marijuana have in our culture. They are known as lazy and selfish people, yet this illustration demonstrates that friendship and courtesy that there is in smoking. It is also interesting that the drug culture always seem to have rituals or ways of order to not mess something up. It basically proves that among drug users that there is a personal courtesy or secrecy among them, thus users can decipher first timers from consistent users easily. For example if a first-timer did not offer greens or did not know what greens was.

The Exorcism at St.Louis University

My informant stated that the library of St.Louis University was taped off and there were rumors that some sort of supernatural experience took place. This experience eventually was found out be an exorcism within the library itself. It was said that there was foreign writing on the walls mostly in the form of symbols and depictions. Some people state that a student was actually possessed by a demon and acted in an obscene and violent fashion. The student actually had to be imprisoned within the library and a Jesuit Priest reportedly came in an exorcised this student.

My informant’s uncle passed down this story to him and told him it was a passage when pledging his fraternity, while attending the University, to enter the allegedly haunted library and spend a night there to remember this event. To this day, this library is infamous to those who know of or heard of this assumed supernatural anomaly.

This is actually an example of annotation of authored folklore. As the alleged exorcism that took place at this university inspired both the film and novel titled The Exorcist.  This folklore is more as a legend within the university as this incident cannot be proven to have actually have happened, however students at this particularly university all know about this incident. This is a strong example of a legend quest and also part of a ritual, as fraternity pledges need to prove their bravery by spending a night in this haunted library. What is also interesting about this is that is a form of adapted literature, as the original legend was about a boy but however this was soon transformed into a tale about a little girl who got possessed.

Annotation: This case actually inspired the film and novel, The Exoricst. The boy that inspired The Exorcist, was given the name, “Roland Doe,” by the Catholic Church to protect his identity.

Cigarette Ritual

My informant states that he and his close friends share the practice of choosing a cigarette in a freshly purchased pack of cigarettes and flipping it over, so that out of all the cigarettes that have the butt sticking out, there is one odd white one. This supposed cigarette that is odd one out is a lucky cigarette. My informant states that he always save this cigarette for a bad day and once he smokes it he will either have a good day or a great night. But the one catch is that the buyer of the pack cannot choose the lucky cigarette, a friend must always be at the time you purchase a new pack and also choose it at the point to get the luck charm.

My informant believes in this whole-heartedly and thus tells this to all of his friends and makes sure that they follow the rules and also reap the benefits of this superstition. He states that he was told about this through his older friend, when he bought a pack of cigarettes for the first time.

This is an interesting piece of folklore, as it is a fun practice for such a bad habit. I believe whoever started this piece of folklore was trying shed a positive light on smoking cigarettes. It is also an interesting ritual started by visuals as the image of a cigarette just being the odd one out in a pack of cigarettes is like finding a four-leaf clover in grass. The visual of picking a certain “blessed object” appeals to people to brighten up their day.