Author Archives: Andrew Hull Jr.

Italian American Wedding Tradition

The below folklore is something my informant noticed while at Italian American weddings. My informant will be referred to as D, and is a mid 40s white man.


D: At many Italian American weddings, and maybe some others, when they tap their glasses it calls for the bride and groom to kiss.

Me: Do you have any idea why this is or how it came to be?

D: No I have no idea.

Context: D has told me this a few times, especially when we are discussing weddings. It is often a funny story he tells, because to this day it still catches him off guard. This is because he had always grown up with the belief that tapping your glasses means you want to give a toast. But when he’s been to Italian American weddings, people would always tap their glass and D would expect a toast, but instead see the bride and the groom kiss each other. He often laughs about it when he thinks about it and remembers it because it caught him so off guard and was so surprised by it.

Analysis: This folklore is most important because it demonstrates different cultures different wedding traditions. That is what made it interesting to both my D and I, as we thought tapping your glass at weddings meant giving a toast, not that the bride and the groom should kiss. Also, the Italians have a reputation for a very romantic culture, so them encouraging romance at a wedding is no surprise. Other forms of this tradition say that the clinking of the glasses scares the devil away, and therefore the bride and groom should kiss while the devil is gone (1). All in all, it is a fun tradition that was good for me to learn about as I had never heard it before.

Works Cited

Longobardi, Alfonso. “Wedding Customs and Traditions for Your Wedding in Italy.” Italian Wedding Photographers | Weddings in Italy, 27 Apr. 2015,


Brazilian Engagement Rings

The following is a folk tradition that I heard from my family friend, a mid-40s Brazilian woman. The woman will be referred to as C.

Text: In Brazil, both men and women wear engagement rings. While engaged, they wear the ring on the right ring finger, and switch it to the left ring finger at the wedding.

Context: C is my family friend who told me this folklore when she was telling me about differences between living in Brazil and America. She brought this particular example up because she thought it was strange only females wear engagement rings in America, when both men and women are engaged. She thought it would make sense that they would both be happy about being engaged and want to show it to other people. C said that she thought this tradition isn’t the case in America because in olden times, many women were thought to be owned by men, and therefore supposed to wear a ring to signify who “owned” them. However, men didn’t need to do this as they didn’t belong to anybody and therefore didn’t need to wear an object to show this.

Analysis: This was a surprising cultural difference between the US and Brazil that I didn’t know about. I had never thought about why men don’t wear engagement rings before, but this made me think about it for the first time. I realized there is absolutely no reason men don’t wear engagement rings other than tradition. It points out just how stuck into their own ways people are, and how hard it is to go against tradition. After doing a bit of research I discovered that wedding rings were initially meant to symbolize the women’s purity and virginity, and the man could break an engagement off at any time, so he never had a ring until he was certain that he was going to marry the woman. This cultural difference made me realize that men not wearing engagement rings is actually patriarchal and oppressive. This is because making women wear something that shows them as being taken, while men have no such reservations, is sexist in our modern society.


Leprechaun Traps

The following is a folkloric tradition that my informant participated in when she was young. My informant is a 45 year old women with Irish heritage. The informant will be referred to as M.


M: When I was young my brother and I used to set up traps for leprechauns and try to trap them. We would put out chocolate gold coins, and set a combination of traps for leprechauns. Some were holes with false tops, so the leprechaun could fall in and not get out, others were boxes that fell on top of the leprechauns when they went to grab the gold. We never caught any leprechauns, but the traps were often set off, and much of the gold was missing, as if the leprechauns always outsmarted us. I made these traps when I was about 5-7 years old.

Context: M got the idea for her trap from her grandmother, who was from Ireland. M’s grandmother told her that she had often seen leprechauns in Ireland and M was inspired to try and catch a leprechaun. M said that this activity was one of her favorite things as a child, the idea of imaging a leprechaun and catching one enthralled her. M thinks the message behind this act is allowing children’s imagination to thrive and grow. M also emphasized that is was a good way to share culture, because a lot of non Irish children also wanted to make leprechaun traps and catch a leprechaun. M says that for her entire childhood she always wanted to go to Ireland because she thought it would be much easier to see leprechauns there, just as her grandma said.

Analysis: I relate to this story especially well. When I was in kindergarten my teacher helped every student in the class create a leprechaun trap out of a shoe box on Saint Patricks Day. Similarly to M, when we came back in the morning, all the traps had been set off but there were no leprechauns to be found. The teacher told us that when she came to the classroom that morning, she had seen the leprechaun running off. All of us in the classroom went crazy looking for the leprechaun all day. Similar to M, this was one of my fondest memories from childhood. This idea of setting a leprechaun trap, shows the imagination, and creativity of children. It represents children as pure and having wild imaginations, believing things without question. It also shows parents and older adults trying to help cultivate and encourage this creativity and imagination. 

Something Old

The following folklore is an old folk belief my informant followed during her wedding. My informant is a middle aged white woman who will be referred to as M;


M: Brides should have something old, something blue, something borrowed, and something new at their wedding day.

Context: M and her mother both followed this wedding tradition when they were married, and M told me this folk belief numerous times throughout my life, usually in the context of whenever someone is getting married M would say “I hope the bride has something old, something blue, something borrowed, and something new.” It’s important to M because she followed this belief, as well as her mother and grandmother. For M, she followed this folk belief because it was a family tradition as well as supposed to give her good luck. According to M, the something old is supposed to remind her of her past and family, and M’s something old was one of her mother’s pieces of jewelry. The something new is supposed to represent the brides future, and for M she bought a new pair of wedding shoes. The something borrowed is supposed to represent that she will always have reliable friends, and M’s something borrowed was a necklace from her friend. The something blue is supposed to represent the purity of the wife, and M wore a pair of blue underpants. All together, they are supposed to set the wife up for an excellent marriage and M fondly remembers her collection of objects and the meaning behind them.

Analysis: I enjoyed learning about this folk belief and tradition because I think it’s fun to have a family tradition in your family, and my mother also follows this tradition. I hope my sister will also follow this belief. I think M analyzed this perfectly, it’s a folk belief that is supposed to give good luck to those who follow it. This belief shows how many customs we retain from our parents, and how it is hard to break these customs without feeling guilty.

For a more detailed version of this folk belief, watch season 8, episode 23 of the CBS series How I Met Your Mother titled “Something Old”.


Ghost Story- Personal Narrative

The following personal narrative was told to me by my friend from Saint Louis, age 19, he shall be referred to as N. He his of Italian ethnicity, but both his parents were born in Canada, however N was born and raised in Saint Louis.

Text: I don’t remember doing this, but my mom always told me a crazy story about me. One weekend, my neighbors were gone and my mom and I went over to their house to feed their cat and take the trash out. I was only about 6 years old. Anyway, according to my mom, we walked into the house and I started staring at the couch. My mom didn’t understand why, but I kept looking at the couch and eventually pointed to the spot I was looking at and said “Mom, there’s an old lady sitting right there.” My mom told me that this was not true and tried laughing it off. But I was insistent, and kept telling my mom that there was an old woman sitting right there. My mom began to get concerned, and she grabbed me and we ran out of the house. When the neighbors returned, my mom told them that I had apparently seen the ghost of an old lady sitting at the house. The neighbor started crying. My mom didn’t know this, but our neighbors were gone that weekend at the funeral of one of the neighbors mother. Apparently the neighbors mother had always sat on the couch watching TV, and the neighbors were comforted by the fact that their mother was still doing this, and that she has passed on to a better, happier life.

Context: This story was told to me by my friend N, who is 19 years old and while Canadian, has lived in Saint Louis most of his life. N described to me that his mom often tells him this story, but N himself has no recollection of it, as he was only 6 at the time of this event. However, because N trusts his mom, N believes this story fully, and believes in ghosts and the supernatural because of it. N remembers this story because it is crazy to him that he saw a ghost and doesn’t remember it. N said he doesn’t know what to think of this event. He doesn’t know whether or not to think it’s scary and freaky that the ghost of a dead grandparent was at the house when nobody else was there, or whether to think it was comforting that our ancestors are watching over us.

Analysis: This piece of folklore was especially interesting to me. Usually when I hear a ghost story, it is a distant story of someone who I didn’t know who had seen a ghost, which makes it pretty easy for me to pass off and not believe it. But, since this story came from and occurred to a friend of mine, who I know and trust, it made it hard to pass off as some random ghost story and made it much more believable and realistic. I think this memora is important to N because it is a really cool story that people are always interested by. It goes to show people’s fascination with the supernatural, as well as the social and conversation the develops from sharing stories and folklore. It also shows how reliant people are on folklore from their parents or elders. N has no recollection of this event, but because his mom told him it happened, he believes in supernatural and ghosts, showing just how much influence our parents and other older individuals can have in our thinking. Also, the fact that this happened to N when he was a young child is also very important. It demonstrates the idea that children are pure and innocent, and more liable to believe in the supernatural. The final thing this folklore shows us is the idea of ancestors looking over us and the idea of a friendly ghosts, contrary to the frequent scary and evil ghosts seen in movies.