White Rabbit is
the first thing said on the first day of every month. It is meant to bring good
luck and prosperity for those who participate. If words have already been
spoken on the first, White Rabbit is not said.
learned it from her family, specifically her dad, when she was younger. Her
whole family participates. She follows this because she believes that if
anything could possibly bring her good luck, it is worth doing. It is
meaningful because she knows her family does it and it is something that she
can share easily with her friends.
There are other
additional forms of this same piece of folklore performed in different manners.
Some other words are said instead of White Rabbit. My own family says Rabbit
Rabbit on the first of every month. I learned it from my father, who learned it
from an old colleague at work. Possible
origins of this tradition could be the concept of the lucky rabbit’s foot,
traditionally from a white rabbit. It could be a manifestation of this but in a
less brutal manner.
An advent calendar
is a folk object typically used around Christmas time in between family
members. It is a physical calendar with doors numbered 1 through 24, each
representing a day up until Christmas Day. The subject used two different types
of advent calendars. The first was a personal calendar that featured one
chocolate a day. The second was a recurring wooden calendar featuring a house,
significantly larger than the chocolate calendar. The doors were still labeled
1 through 24 but were not prefilled. Family members would get gifts for each
other and place them in the days and the members would take turns opening the
doors on the corresponding date of December.
The subject was taught this folk practice by their mother. Her mother would buy these advent calendars while they lived in Scotland together when the subject was younger. The subject remembers it because of the enjoyment she found when she was a little girl. She then introduced the tradition to her own family, and now they do it every year together. They think that it is a fun way to show appreciation and give smaller gifts to other family members. In addition, it gets everyone prepared for the Christmas season and keeps everyone in the holiday spirit, much like Christmas songs.
I think that folk practices such as the advent calendar are used to embody the intended spirit of Christmas more successfully. The idea of Christmas is to spend time with loved ones like friends and family and to give gifts and spread joy. In my opinion, acts like these are less about the gifts and more about the comradery and kindness, further spreading the sentiment of Christmas. It allows Christmas to be less of a build-up towards the monetary gifts one receives at the end, and more of a drawn-out feeling for people to share. Other similar things to this would be Christmas lights or carolers during the Christmas season. Although vastly different forms of folklore, both are about mood and time rather than one big buildup.
Ebleskivers are a folk object and food that originates from Denmark. They are very similar to pancakes and are a breakfast item. They are spherical and cooked with another folk object, an ebleskiver pan. This is a cast iron pan with round holes in it to cook the batter. This pan is used exclusively for this food, so it is a very important folk object to food culture in Denmark. They are typically served with jam or other breakfast condiments, but the informant eats them with butter and powdered sugar. There is yet another folk object used, which is a porcelain bowl filled with butter placed in a rack over a candle. It is similar to an object used to melt butter for shellfish like crab and lobster.
The informant learned this practice from her mother. The initial recipe goes back to the informant’s great, great grandparents and she still uses the same pan passed down by the family members. The great great grandmother is from Aabenraa, Denmark. The informant only has it with family members and the combination of butter and powdered sugar seems to be a family-specific thing.
Upon further research, it seems that this food is rarely prepared by restaurants. Instead, it is typically only made in family gatherings and by street vendors in Denmark. Because of this, it seems to me that the food is more authentic and less likely to have a standardized recipe and in doing so, is not found in much-authored literature. The folk objects only add to the culture and lore around it as these are food-specific, something not often found in many cuisines.
“Leaves of three, let it be. If
it’s shiny, watch your heiny. If it’s hairy, it’s a berry”
This piece of
folklore is a saying to talk about how to identify poison oak. If it has three
leaves or is shiny with oil, watch your heiny, meaning that it is likely poison
oak. If the plant is hairy, it is a berry bush. This piece of folklore is
performed typically outdoors and used for a very practical sense. It is a
teaching tool to enable people to identify poison oak, whose oil will cause
rashes on anyone who touches it with bare skin.
subject learned this piece of folklore from Boy Scouts. It embodies the type of
preparedness and learning the boy scouts emphasizes and is a very practical way
of remembering the qualities of a poison oak plant. The subject learned it from
their Scoutmaster during a camping trip. The subject, of course, made use of it
as a practical saying which is its intended purpose. They remember it because
of their interest in the outdoors when they were younger, which was the reason
they joined Boy Scouts in the first place.
This saying is not just a warning for kids. It represents technical education through oral folklore. Typically, something like this would just be told by another person or read in a book. Instead, this saying was created in order to help people remember their qualities. Because of this, it takes on a different form and really represents the importance of passing down knowledge to the younger generations.
In high school sports, playoffs are consistently a big deal and represent a payoff for hard work and a good record during the sports season. This form folklore is both a folk practice and afterward, a folk object. The practice is giving certain haircuts during the time after the regular season but before playoffs begin. These are not normal haircuts but wild ones with different patterns and styles. Some of them include mohawks, bald heads, bowl cuts, words shaved into heads, monk haircuts, old man haircuts, and a plethora of others. They are not set haircuts but rather up to the imagination. This practice is similarly performed in other high schools across the United States, sometimes with other variations.
This folk practice is traditionally done by the upperclassmen within a team. The lowerclassmen get worse haircuts while the upperclassmen get better ones. In this way, it is a form of hazing. The informant said that the haircuts are typically shaved off or bettered once the playoff streak end because they are only to remain during the postseason. They learned it from the upperclassmen when they were younger and then performed this practice as an upperclassman. This is only typically done on varsity sports. The sports observed to do this include baseball, football, lacrosse, and some others. They remember it wholly fondly, even as a lower classman. It is not meant to be malicious but more a harmless rite of passage because it makes the kids feel like more of a coherent group. Another instance of this at different schools include bleaching the team’s hair during playoff time.
It seems to me that this sometimes is about a dynamic of power. Younger kids may be intimidated into doing this, but other kids may enjoy it because they are a part of a larger group and help self-identify with that. It is a physical way of making teammates more similar and improves as the kids get older, causing interest to do it for the first time.