Author Archives: Jesus Garcia Jr.

1st Birthday – Korean Tradition

Piece:

“A Korean tradition celebrates a baby’s first birthday and it’s super traditional, like the baby wears the traditional Korean outfit and there’s rice cakes that are like rainbow, and there’s like fruit and always a lot of food but the main event is where uhm you set the baby in front of 5 or 6 different objects, and the baby has to choose one. Like a pen is going to be intellectual/writer, a stethoscope means you’ll probably be a doctor, there’s usually something for sports and there’s like other things that the parents want to throw in. Now there’s like cameras if their parents are photographers, or a paintbrush for an artist, but you put the baby in front and the baby chooses one of the things and that’s supposed to kinda predict what they are going to do in life and that’s a big part of the birthday celebration.”

Background Information: The informant is a current USC student with a Korean background. We were discussing childhood stories when she suddenly remembered a big tradition in Korean culture.  After telling me the story, the informant texted her mom inquiring about her first birthday celebration. She didn’t remember what item she chose as a baby, so she asked her mom. Her mom responded and said that the informant had chosen a pen, which as mentioned in the piece, represented intellectual/writer. I asked the informant if her decision of choosing the pen was consistent with her major and she agreed that it was.

Context: I was explaining the purpose of my assignment to the informant by providing different examples of folklore that I had collected from other students. After giving several examples, the informant stopped me in my tracks and began telling me this piece. This tradition is something that the informant’s family participate in. She remembers it because whenever a first birthday is celebrated, a family reunion is planned to witness the tradition. 

Personal analysis: I remember when I was younger, I was watching the movie Tinkerbell with my siblings and one of the scenes included a tradition similar to the Korean tradition that was described. Upon being born, Tinkerbell was placed in the middle of a circle surrounded by different objects. It was explicitly stated that whatever item she picked up first would determine her job in the fairy world kingdom. Now that I’ve been informed that this is a Korean tradition, I’m not surprised that Disney “borrowed” this folklore and incorporated in one of their movies.

 

 

 

 

 

“Bozho” the lake monster – Tale

Piece:Uhm think about this, my dad told me this story about this one monster and I’ll tell you what the name of it is, so lake Mendota, its called Bozho, so its like a serpentine snake like creature, its like the monster of lake Mendota, my dad said that in all lakes of Wisconsin. Delavan lake, Lake Geneva, whatever, theres a monster that has access to all the lakes,  so if you swim past the designated area like the buoys and shit. It can get you, its too shallow near the shore so it cant swim there, he told me this so that I would stay within the buoys.

Background information:The informant is a close friend of mine from back home. (Wisconsin) He lives in the town adjacent to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, so he is very familiar with the area.

Context: The informant first heard this tale as a kid. His dad used it to scare him from swimming outside the buoys. The informant remembers it because he lives on the lake, so he always has a reminder.

Personal Analysis: I’ve never heard of this lake monster, but I can definitely see why it was used to prevent kids from swimming past the buoys. What scared me from swimming in the lake as a kid was a short story a person had told me. A man had said that if you swim out past the piers, the seaweed wraps itself around your legs and drowns you. Although it’s not a sea monster, seeing the sea weed sway with the current certainly personified it enough to scare me.

 

Beast of Bray Road – Legend

Piece: 

“Okay, uhm aight so first thing is the beast of Bray road, sooo it takes place in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, on bray road, and they say that the road is cursed and haunted, and that a strange wolf like creature roams the area, and if you go there at night with ill intent, you’ll see him and it will try to attack you but it only shows itself to bad people. The first sighting was in the 1930’s but there have also been sightings reported in the 1980’s and 1990’s”

 

Background information: The informant is a close friend of mine from back home. (Wisconsin) He lives in the town adjacent to Elkhorn, Wisconsin, so he is very familiar with the area.

Context: This legend is usually shared during bonfires. Being from Elkhorn myself, people like to bring this up in order to frighten those who are extremely scared of local beasts. The informant shared that he’s heard of this legend multiple times as a kid.

Background Information: I was browsing my phone last semester when I stumbled upon a facebook post that a friend from back home had shared. I clicked on the article and found out that there was a new Netflix documentary on the Beast of Bray road. A Netflix documentary. For those not familiar with Elkhorn, it’s a super small town in the middle of nowhere. A city folk would chuckle at its population size of only 9,000. I didn’t know much about Bray road until I decided to look it up on google maps. Turns out, Bray road is 3 minutes away from where I live. I’ve actually driven on bray road before, not knowing of the “beast” that resided in it. I never saw the beast, but then again, I’ve only been on the road during the daytime.

Don’t split lanes with friends – Superstition

Piece: 

“I can’t split poles, if I’m walking with a group of people I have to choose a side to join them on. I don’t let the pole come between us, uh, our souls are a part of a like a continuous fabric that exists on all the spiritual planes. By separating ourselves on this physical dimension, we are doing irreparable damage to out bonds in the afterlife and the life that comes beyond.”

Background information: The informant is a USC student. The informant decided to share this story because it is a piece of wisdom that he would like to pass on.

Context: This is a superstition that the informant first heard during his freshman year at USC. His roommate shared this superstition with him, and he believed it to be true immediately.

Personal Analysis: When I was home last summer, I was walking with my best-friend at a mall, when suddenly a person walking the opposite direction decided to walk between my friend and I. After the person split my friend and I up, my friend told me not to let it happen again. Confused, I asked him why, and his response was “cause man, just don’t, it’s bad if you let it happen. If you are ever in a situation like that again you have to pick a side with your friend and both go in the same direction. You can’t let someone or something split your bond” My best-friend didn’t go on to explain the superstition like the informant did, but I believe both follow the same fundamental concept. Now I follow this superstition whenever I’m walking with a friend or a group of people.

 

 

Persian New Year Tradition – Superstitions

Piece: 

“My community, the Persian community, so Persian new year is on the spring equinox which is the first day of spring, it’s supposed to symbolize the start of the new year, but just like a new beginning, everything is starting to bloom again, so one of the things they do for Persian new year is they obviously, everyone all of your friends and family, they set up this table called a Haft-sin, and it’s basically 7 things that starts with the letter s, so they have grass, and then the tuesday before new years, theres this thing called Chaharshanbe Suri, so this is based on the Zoroastrian religion, Zoroastrian it’s one of the oldest religions of the world, dates before like 10,000 years old, uhm and what they do is basically, everyone, your friends and family, set up logs in sequence usually 7 logs, and you like jump over the logs, and that’s supposed to symbolize the fire getting rid of all the bad stuff, the fire cleanses you.”

Background information: The informant is a USC student. He is of Persian descent. This tradition is embedded in his community so it carries substantial weight.

Context: This tradition is celebrated annually, unlike the American New Year, the Persian New Year is celebrated on the first day of spring.

Personal Analysis: The Persian New Year is something that Professor Thompson mentioned during one of the lectures. It was reviewed during the discussion of the spring Equinox. The Persian New Year is also called the “Iranian New Year”, and the celebration is called “Nowruz” The lecture proved to be accurate as the informant confirmed that 7 items are placed around the table called the “Haft Sin” I was shocked to hear that they partake in jumping over the fire in order to be cleansed. Most cultures associate fire with “hell” or “satan”, but in the informant’s culture the fire represents something positive.