Author Archives: Erin Lee

Children’s Game – Marietta, California

Marietta – Children’s Game

Version 1:

Eeenie meany missalini

Otchi Katchi Liberachi

I love you

Version 2:

Eeenie meany missalini

Otchi Katchi Liberachi

I hate you

Lauren would play this game with her friends or cousins whenever she was bored. Being half black, half Japanese, and living in Marietta, California her entire life, Lauren spent her entire life hanging out with a variety of friends. She stated that, in every circle of friends she has had during elementary and middle school, they would play this hand game. She said that she noticed that the lyrics or the motions would slightly change from one group to another. Version 1 would be used among people she was not as close to, but were still friends with. Version 2 could be used among her closest peers. When asked about the meaning of this hand game and rhyme, she stated that there was supposed to be no literal meaning behind this game. However, it was just a means of passing time and having fun with your girlfriends.

I believe it is interesting to see that children take such words as love and hate so lightly, which reflect the innocence of their youth. Also, the fact that these random words are clustered together in a way that is pleasing to the ear reflects children’s desire to learn about language. Their frivolous minds just seem to find joy out of repeating words that end in the same vowel. Also, many adults teach their children clapping games such as the one mentioned above because it allows for child and adult communication through play in addition to words.


Catch Riddle

“Question: What four-lettered word ends in ‘k’ and means the same thing as intercourse?

Answer: Talk”

Catherine learned this catch riddle from her brother who is three years older than her, when she was in 5th grade and he was in 8th grade. Also, he told her this joke when they were playing in the church playground.  He wanted to get his little sister, Catherine in trouble in front of the adults of the church. In fact, Catherine fell for the trick and was chastised by her mother. After finding out about this riddle, Catherine’s brother Robert also was reprimanded. She believes that it was common for young boys to play tricks such as this one to innocent little girls as a means of feeling smarter and superior. She was surprised that such perverted jokes were spread at such a young age.

This catch riddle was particularly fascinating to me because I heard a very similar one when I was younger. I also learned this joke in middle school when I was hanging around on the gym of my church. The version I heard goes as follows:

“Question: What starts with an ‘f’ and ends with a ‘k’?

Answer: A fire truck”

It follows the same concept as the one Catherine heard, in that it involves a letter and the intention of trying to get a person to say a profane word. I believe both of these catch riddles follow an anti-authoritarian theme, especially since they were both said at church.

The overall point of these catch riddles are to make the unconscious conscious and trick someone into saying a word that they are not allowed advised not to say. Ever since we were young, we were told we have to be respectful, but it is natural for children to want to deviate from these rules, especially young boys. The idea of intercourse has been the topic of many jokes popular around young children, and was mostly started by young boys in playgrounds.

The catch riddle mentioned by Catherine was also found in American Folklore: An Encyclopedia, in the section entitled “Riddles and Puzzles.” [1] The author states that riddles are “framed with the purpose of confusing or testing the wits of those who do not know the answer.” The initiating participant, or the riddler, strives to embarrass or confuse the ridder’s coparticipant, the respondent. In this case, Catherine’s brother was the riddler who tried to test Catherine’s wits. The obvious answer to both questions posed above is quite profane, and the riddler obviously had the intention of getting the respondent in some sort of trouble.

[1] Annotation: Brunvand, Jan H., ed. “Riddles and Puzzles.” American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, Inc., 1996.

Folk Art – Ukrainian

Folk Objects – Pysanky (Ukrainian Easter Eggs)

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These decorative eggs shown above are called pysanky. Percy learned about this gorgeous form of folk art from his father, who is from Ibano–Franchesik, Ukraine. These eggs are typically decorated with beeswax and dyes. During Easter, most Ukrainian households made these eggs as gifts for their family and friends. Percy said that he has a couple of these lying around in his house from past Easter celebrations. However, he has never personally made one before. When he asked his father about the pysanky, he learned that the symbols and colors used hold many deep meanings. Many pre-date the arrival of Christianity, and have had Christian interpretations layered on after Christianity was established.

He also learned that there were some superstitions and myths attached to the colors and designs of the pysanky. His father said that it is wise to give darker colored pysanky with lots of designs to older people, for they have lived most of their life already. Also, it is appropriate to give young people a plain white pysanky with no designs as a symbol of their youth and possibilities for the future. Percy also recalls his father telling him that girls should never give their boyfriends pysanky with no design on the top and bottom of the egg, for that would indicate that the boyfriends would start going bald someday. This was particularly a fond memory for Percy because Percy has a three-year-old sister, and it was hilarious warning her about her future boyfriend at such a young age. He said that he loves the fact that his house is filled with some aspects of the Peruvian culture from his mother’s side and some aspects of the Ukrainian culture from his father’s side. When asked how he feels about the pysanky, he stated that he thinks they are a beautiful form of art that he hopes to learn how to make someday. He hopes to be able to preserve this Ukrainian tradition by teaching his future children how to make these eggs.

I believe it is vital for all Ukrainian-Americans, especially of the present generation, to be familiar with such traditional objects, for it illustrates a huge aspect of the Ukrainian culture. It is crucial that these beautiful traditions stay preserved and that people are serious about passing the knowledge on to future generations. It provides a window into the importance of aesthetics in the Ukrainian culture, and allows one to experience the hospitality and generosity of the Ukrainian households as they go around each Easter, presenting these works of art as gifts to their loved ones.[1]

[1] Annotation: This folk object is also mentioned in American Folklore: An Encyclopedia, under the section “Ukrainian Americans.”

Brunvand, Jan H., ed. “Ukrainian Americans.” American Folklore: An Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, Inc., 1996. 724.

Folk Tale – Taiwan

Taiwan – Folktale

“There once lived an old man who was really poor. One day he was thirsty so he went to a river and drank the water. As he was walking back home, he realized that his skin was becoming less wrinkly. So, the next day, he went back to the same river and drank some more water. Lo and behold, he became even younger. He came back to his village and bragged about how young he looks. The villagers told him that he shouldn’t drink the water too often, because too much of something is never good, especially when it is a part of nature and does not belong to him. They told him that he didn’t know the repercussions of drinking that water and that the gods might get mad at him. He didn’t care about what the other people said, and he kept going to the river to drink the magical water. Eventually, he kept going to the river, and he drank as much water as he could. The next day, he became a newborn baby with no one to take care of him. So, I guess he died, or something really bad like that happened to him.”

Catherine recalls her grandmother telling her this story when she was a little girl. She said that it has been over ten years since she heard this story, so she forgot most of the details of the tale, but she still remembers the main parts and the morals. She said that this was trying to teach the listener to not be greedy. She also stated that this may seem like a simple concept and lesson, but it is necessary to tell young children about it using an imaginative means such as a story. Although it has a gruesome ending, she felt as though it was necessary to get the point across. She hopes to be able to tell her future children this same story when she gets older, for she does not want the tradition to be lost in her family.

I completely agree with Catherine in that telling stories, such as the one mentioned above, is an excellent way of teaching a vital life lesson to someone, especially a child. The fact that Catherine has not forgotten this story and lesson in over ten years is a testament to this. I also agree that the gruesome ending of the story, the man’s death, is quite effective in warning children not to be too greedy. In addition to Catherine’s understanding of the story’s moral, I believe that another moral in this story is to take all good things in moderation. The fact that the man drank too much of the magic water, which did not belong to him in the first place, led to his demise. Thus, this story illustrates that he could have drunken a little bit of the water and lived happily ever after. Instead, his greed got to the best of him and he could not moderate the amount of water he was going to drink.

Traditional Clothing – Korea

Traditional Korean Clothing



“??” (Hanbok) is a general term for the traditional clothing of Korea. In modern day, it has come to simply entail “dress for Korean women.” However, there exist such clothing as hanbok for men. All hanbok come in a variety of bright colors, and can be either plain or elaborately embroidered. They have soft geometric shapes, elegant folds, intense color, and various levels of embroidery. Most of the skin is hidden for women, except for some of the wrist and a bit of the neck area. Myung Soon, my mother, explained to me that her mother once told her that the amount of skin a woman showed was an indication of her marital status. If she showed a lot of her wrist and neck area, it was an indication of her being single and vice versa. My mother had to wear a hanbok at her wedding reception as well. Around our house, there were a couple pictures of my mother, her mother, and her four sisters all wearing this traditional Korean dress. Nowadays, no one in our family dresses up in this elegant gown because it is quite expensive to find. However, when my grandmother and mother were in Korea, everyone owned one.

The stereotype of the mysterious Asian beauty has been perpetuated for as long as my mother and I can remember. I believe it is largely due to this beautiful traditional dress, and the customs associated with wearing it. I remember being taught to walk gracefully and with my eyes looking downward, in order to portray a subservient image. In my family, the men did not wear traditional Korean clothing, but every New Year’s Day, adults would dress up the younger girls in hanboks. I recall feeling very uncomfortable in my hanbok when I was younger. My armpits felt constricted and my chest felt compressed. However, I loved wearing it because it made me feel as though I was learning more about my family’s culture.