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New Year’s Eve – Waves

Artur, my friend from Brazil and my roommate in USC, was telling me about one of his traditions during New Year’s Eve, which has many celebrations all over the country. The story was told in Portuguese because is something that he does only when he celebrates in Brazil. It is extremely common to have superstitions and perform certain rituals right when the year stars. He tells the tradition like this:

“Tem uma tradição que a gente segue no Brasil, que todo Reveillon, para dar boa sorte no ano seguinte, a gente pula 7 ondas na praia. É um negócio que todo mundo faz quando tá na praia. Pessoas de todas as idades e também de todo mundo que estão lá. E acho que a primeira vez que eu ouvi disso, acho que eu era pequeno, tinha ido para a praia depois de um Reveillon, e eu não sei bem quem me falou para fazer isso, minha mãe ou minha avó, e eu comecei a prestar atenção com outros fins de ano que passei ali, que todo mundo fazia isso, então eu comecei a fazer também. Eu sei que, a origem dessa tradição tá relacionada com o Candomblé, que é a religião que surgiu no estado da Bahia por causa de uma mistura de diversas religiões do oeste da África que foram trazidos pelos escravos africanos durante a colonização do Brasil. E saiu como uma referenda para uma religião chamada iemanjá, que umas das figuras mais místicas, mais importantes dessa religião. Apesar de eu não ser da Bahia, eu sigo essa tradição muito menos pela oferenda, e mais pelo costume cultural disso.


“É por esse motivo que você gosta dessa tradição né? Mais pela parte cultura?”- I asked him.

Sim, você vai no “bandwagon” né. Mais eu acho simpático. Não sou supersticioso, mas, é, não custa nada.

“Ela tem algum significado especial para você?” – I asked him.

“Sinceramente não, só uma tradição que eu faço de vez em quando. Existem algumas no Reveillon, eu faço essa.”

Artur says that he has a tradition and superstition to jump over seven waves during New Year’s Eve. His grandma told him to do it and as he observed other people doing the same thing, he began to join this tradition, more as a bandwagon rather than any other specific reason. He says not to be really superstitious in general but he goes with this one because is something that everyone does in Brazil and it’s a way to start a new year with something to chase. I know Artur well enough to acknowledge that he isn’t in fact a superstitious person. I believe that this is a common thing in Brazil, just to “go with the flow” and do what others are doing, especially when you are young. In fact, this tradition is something that I also follow and although I am superstitious in this sense it was just something I did as a bandwagon. My parents told me about this tradition and how everyone did this so I decided to do it every year too. It’s a good way to start the year with a few dreams and to go after and achieve them. For every wave I jump, I come up with a wish and try to make this wish a reality in the upcoming year. I’ve been doing this until today and I plan to continue with this superstition throughout my life.

“De grão em grão, a galinha enche o papo”

My mom is a very superstitious person and has a strong belief in faith. She has many sayings that she uses on a daily basis to teach lessons about life. I grew up listening to her proverbs and attempting to use them in my life because all of them are meaningful to her and I think it became meaningful for me too. This is her proverb and the story behind it:

“Eu costumo falar um dito popular: de grão em grão a galinha enche o papo. A primeira vez que eu ouvi foi a minha avó falando,  depois a minha mãe. Hoje em dia, sou eu que falo. Então é uma tradição de família falar esse dito popular. Foi passada de geração para geração e eu espero poder continuar com essa tradição. Isso representa para mim o não desperdício. Se você consegue guardar e não gastar demasiadamente, você vai ter no futuro. É importante porque é algo que todas as pessoas têm que ter em mente. Isso se aplica para muitas coisas mas principalmente o dinheiro, que é o que te faz conseguir viver. Outro também que eu costumo usar é: sabendo usar, não vai faltar. E acho que esse se aplica bem ao que eu falei antes. São relacionados e muito importantes para mim. Portanto, costumo falar com frequência.

The proverb is “from grain to grain the hen fills her belly.” My mom says that the first time she heard it was from her grandmother, then from her mother. Nowadays, she’s the one who says it. So it is a family tradition to speak this popular saying. It has been handed down from generation to generation and she hopes to continue with this tradition. It represents to her the act of not wasting/spending. She says that if you can save and not spend too much, you will have it in the future. It is important because it is something that all people have to keep in mind. This applies to many things but especially to money, which is what makes you live. I believe this is extremely important to keep in mind because little by little things get to an end. It reminds me to always try to manage my money in a way that it lasts. I apply this to my life with my college budget because if I start spending money on unnecessary things the money will soon come an end. I believe that life is always about balance and knowing what is worth doing. Therefore, I am always attempting to keep this in mind and as a family tradition I will pass it down to the future generations.

“You get what you give”

My proverb is “you get what you give.” I heard this saying for the first time when I was 18 years old in my history class in high school. We were learning about the history of the Americas, and it was right after the college application process was done and a little bit before the decisions came in. So everybody from my class was a little nervous and we pretty much stopped talking about what we were learning in class. Our professor, who had studied at Columbia University, gave us that piece of advice. He pretty much said that it doesn’t matter where you go for college in this case what matters the most is what you put in, cause that’s all you are going to take out of the experience. And I think I’ve taken this advice to heart, because it’s essentially true. Every time I start a different project, you know, I have a decision to make. I turn on the mindset that I’ll get what I give and I’m only taking out what I put in. A good piece of work won’t come without my input.

In my opinion, this proverb proposes the idea that it doesn’t matter where you stand, you output will be based on your performance. Although coming from a person who studied in an Ivy League school might be easy to say, it suggests that he put in the work for his achievements. Luck is always involved, but it’s only a small portion of the consequence. There is progressive association with the determination and its benefits, it doesn’t simply occur. I also try to apply this to my life in every aspect that I partake. I know the person who said this quote and he is in fact a hard worker. An excellent teacher and a great person and coming from him is meaningful to his students.

Cutting the Cake from the bottom Up

A tradition I have is to cut the cake on my birthday party from the bottom up. I first heard it when I was seven years old at my birthday party, and some uncle just yelled it out, “cut the cake from the bottom up so that you grow in life.” And it’s pretty common, every party you go to there’s going to be one person who’s going to yell it out the second before you cut the cake and it’s meaningful because it’s superstitious, it’s just thinking that if you cut the cake from the bottom up it means that you are going to grow and ascend in life. So, basically every time I have a birthday I do this, it’s an automatic response while I cut the cake and I really do believe that it will be beneficial for because I take this superstition seriously.

I’ve heard about this tradition several times throughout my life. It is said to be more normal in weddings rather than birthdays but I guess everyone does that while cutting the cake in celebration. In fact, I also do it sometimes but not as often as other people, since this is a superstition that I don’t really believe in. Pedro seems to be a superstitious person, he said that he has been doing this since the first time he heard about it. I think that having a superstition sometimes is healthy because thinking positively that you will grow in life can indirectly help you to achieve this. I believe that cutting the cake from the bottom up suggests that you will grow in life because you starting from the bottom and always growing; therefore, cutting the cake in the upward direction proposes that you will nurture.

Blowing the Candles for Wishes

Davi is a USC alumni that has been working in Los Angeles since he graduated. I met him in one of the Brazilian Student Association events during my freshman year. He is a good friend and never abandoned his Brazilian roots. He talked about his birthdays and how he makes a wish every time he blows the candle. Here is his story:


My tradition is making a wish before blowing the candles on my birthday. I first heard it when I was five years old from my mother and it’s a tradition that has been in my family for ages, so it’s important for me because I really believe that making a wish before blowing my candle, it’s going to become real. I have made some wishes that have turned into reality so I will continue doing that for my upcoming birthdays. I will also pass this tradition to my children, because apart from being something that goes through my family I think that having faith is an important part of life. You have to first believe in something and then fight for it and in my opinion it is a good way to start by making those wishes during your birthday.

Davi appears to be a superstitious person because he has been sticking to this tradition since he was little. I think he started to believe heavily in making wishes before blowing the candles because it is something that has been passing down through generations in his family that is always meaningful to people. I think that having heard about this tradition when he was a young boy also encouraged him to keep doing it because as children we tend to believe in things more easily. Furthermore, Davi said that some of his wishes during birthdays have become reality; as a consequence, he continues to blow candles and make wishes in hopes of realizing all of his other dreams. In fact, I make wishes every time I blow the candles on my birthday; I believe it’s something really common.


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