Author Archives: Jerayah Davis

Sorrel and Yams

The informant was born and raised into the American culture and way of life. Her mother’s side of the family is in touch with their Jamaican culture and heritage and as the informant grew older she was able to become more into with the beliefs and customs of Jamaica.

Jamaican views on Yams and Sorrel.

Informant…

“Sorrel is a drink that is used in Jamaica that has magical properties that are healing. When an individual becomes sick they will drink sorrel to heal, if they are injured they will do the same. Yams in this culture have a superstition on them where in a sense that they are said to give the ability to help an individual run fast.”

I asked the informant if she believes these things to be true about the two foods and she responded, “I am a track athlete here at USC, and I rely on my ability to be fast and I eat yams because in my tradition yams help you to be fast, but they are also delicious! I would consider myself to be fast and I believe they have helped in that aspect. I don’t think that yams gave me the ability to be fast I just think maybe the have enhanced it because I have eaten so many in my life. With the Sorrel, I believe that it is a form of medicine. When I can feel myself getting sick I will drink some Sorrel and hopefully start to feel better. I believe in this because it has worked for me in the past so I will continue to use it.”

Analysis…

Using foods as a means to achieve something is definitely not unheard of. It is totally normal to have food remedies to help with sickness or whatever other conditions we want to fix or enhance there is a food remedy. I have never heard something this extreme with food remedies. Yams will make you fast, that is a different and interesting concept to me. I think that this traditions is one of those traditions that the community has a superstition about, so it becomes true. With the sorrel that reminds me of hot chicken noodle soup or vitamin c. Whenever we feel a cold coming on we take proactive methods to try and prevent the sickness from taking its toll. The healing properties of sorrel, I connect with honey. Honey is used to heal sore throats and wounds similar to sorrel it comes from a long time ago and is still used today because it actually works.

Abuelo Antonio

The informant’s family originated in Cuba. Her mother was born and raised in Cuba but her father was born and raised in America. Her Cuban culture and background comes from her mother’s side and folklore that her mom picked up over the years and shared with her. The folklore from this informant comes from family stories that are shared amongst the family as lessons or as advice. 

“Live Like Abuelo Antonio” 

Informant…

“My Abuelo Antonio was an early member in my family who grew up in Spain but eventually moved to Cuba. While he was living in Cuba he was extremely poor and he and his wife were going through some rough times. They had no money for food and all they could afford were scraps of bread. Every morning, Abuelo Antonio would put out scraps of bread on the ledge of their house porch and would wait for the pigeons and doves to come take the scraps of bread. When the birds would arrive he would trap them and kill them so he and his wife could have food to eat. Abuelo Antonio was an extremely caring, loving and a giving person who was seen as a saint and it hurt him so much that he had to kill the birds. When he and his wife were able to have enough money to live more comfortably and actually buy food, he swore that for the rest of his life he would feed the birds every single day until the day he finally did die.

When I was a child, my mother would tell me that story which had been told to her by her mother and told to her by her mother and so on, as a reminder to always I guess give back in life, and to put out good vibes and oras into the world. Another lesson that comes from this story is to live how Abuelo Antonio would have lived. That became sort of a thing in my family, everyone wanted to live like Abuelo Antonio, it is sort of a life goal to be like him and we really look up to him, and people use it as a from of advice to others in the family. They would say Live like Abuelo Antonio. Yeah its pretty neat I guess that my family has sort of our own legends and myths that make proverbs.”

Analysis…

When I thought about folklore before, I didn’t realize that folklore could be held within and amongst family members. The specific informant gave me folklore that isn’t necessarily known widely by lots of people but rather held in her family and it is significant to her and important to the family because it actually means something to them. It is a story that advises them on how they should or shouldn’t do things.

Abuelo Antonio sounds like an incredible man and saint. His struggles and the way that he approached them shows to me that he is someone to look up to. The informant expressed to me that he was a saint and I could tell by the way she spoke about him. Having a figure like him to look up to and try to live like is probably beneficial in a family. If they all look up to the same person and base their life after the same person there are probably a lot of similarities within the family.

 

 

Dancing With the Devil

The informant’s family had been a traditional Mexican family then they moved to America and expanded their culture here. His parents were born and raised in Mexico and learned many cultural forms of folklore with the informant who was born in America. He shared some of the folklore that he was told that stuck with him as he grew older and more wise and mature. 

The Dance

Informant…

“Their was a woman in Mexico who wanted to go to this dance but her parents told her no you cant go, but she really wanted to go so she snuck out at night to go. So she went out to the dance and she was having a really good time. Some point while she was at the dance she met a guy and he seemed really cool, he was good looking, and well dressed. She started dancing with him and the party went on around them it was raging and exciting and a typical dance environment. The party progressed and my grandma described it to me that they were ballroom dancing. She looked around and noticed that there was no one there but her and the guy. She realized that they were just dancing alone and by this time it was late into the night and every one had been gone. She thought it was strange and looked back again and it was just her standing there and the guy was gone. She realized that she was just dancing by herself the whole time and she was alone the whole night. Frightened, she ran out of the dance place because she was so freaked out by what had happened and where the strange man came from. When she ran out, there was a black dog who chased her all the way to her house. The mom came to the door just as the girl was about to get there and said ““where the hell have you been its 2 o’clock in the morning!”” The girl was screaming crying that a dog was chasing her so the mom beat the dog with a broom, scratched it on the eye and the dog ran away. The next day in the town there was a weird creepy man. The creepy man had a patch on his eye and it was bruised up pretty badly. The story infers that the creepy man is supposed to be the Devil.”

The informant also stressed, “the message it is trying to get across is you better listen to your mother because you might end up dancing with the devil or doing the devil’s work.”

The informant said that this wasn’t necessarily meant to have any meaning behind it, but once his grandmother told him this he was put on the right path and was so freaked out that he would be home every night by ten o’clock, or he wouldn’t talk to any type of stranger. This story was creepy enough to the point where he wanted to listen to his parents when they said no.

Analysis…

I was able to collect folklore information from two Latina descendants. In this culture it seems common where the stories are created for the children to get them to get on the right track. The legends, myths, tales, and family tales all have a way to persuade the children to act the way the parents want them to ask whether that is a scare tactic or giving the children a saint to look up to. In the culture I’m use to, it is common where stories are told to direct children in the paths that their parents want but it is more common where the legends, myths, or tales are told to confuse the older generations. We talk about the existence of aliens, Bigfoot, vampires, werewolves, or any other strange tales that are told to our older generations. It is interesting how the folklore is geared to attract different age groups of people.

Candy Family

The informant’s family had been a traditional Mexican family then they moved to America and expanded their culture here. His parents were born and raised in Mexico and learned many cultural forms of folklore with the informant who was born in America. He shared some of the folklore that he was told that stuck with him as he grew older and more wise and mature. 

The Candy Family

Informant…

“My family, we have been making candy for 200 years. Good Mexican candy. No one knows where it started but my great great great grandpa is who we believe started it and passed it down though each generation. Making Mexican Candy is how my grandparents survived through the Mexican Revolution. My grandfather use to say, “people may be poor but they are always going to have a couple of cents for candy for their kids.” That was how my family survived being poor then it turned into this thing that our family does. My uncle who lives in Mexico, is know as the King of Candies in that area and he was able to put his kids through college. My dad brought it here to America and that is what he did for the longest time, and once he retired he decided to take up the candy trade. Over here in this are my dad is known as the Ducero or the Candy Man”.

Analysis…

Family traditions are interesting and it is interesting to hear about the different family traditions that families possess. I collected from this informant and he was more excited to tell me about the traditions that his family has started and continue to do apposed to the scary stories or the legends and myths he shared with me. Family history, traditions, culture, and backgrounds are important to us because they give us a sense of identity and I thought it was neat hearing about how the informants family survived.

Mexican Candy is extremely popular, it has the sweet taste of regular candy but with an extra tangy bitter taste to it. The taste of Mexican Candy is so much different than any type of food combinations we may be use to, giving a nice flavor burst in our mouths. We enjoy different things and Mexican Candy is definitely different and I think that is what makes it so popular.

 

Dreams Mean…

The informant was born and raised into the American culture and way of life. Her mother’s side of the family is in touch with their Jamaican culture and heritage and as the informant grew older she was able to become more into with the beliefs and customs of Jamaica.

Jamaican Dreams

Informant…

“In the my culture deaths and marriages are often predicted by ones close family members. It is believed that if a family member dreams about someone in their family’s wedding the person being dreamt about will die soon. I think we believe in being able to predict deaths because life and death is a big deal in our culture. Marriage is also an important aspect in my culture as well and is ritualized. When a person dreams about a family member’s death that is consider a prediction of that family member’s wedding.”

I asked the informant if she had ever had a dream like this or known someone who did and it became true. She told me that she didn’t know anyone who had ha a dream like this and she personally  has never had one. I asked where she learned this belief from snd she said that she remembers her grandma telling her about it when she was younger before she passed away.

Analysis…

Being able to predict someones death could be a blessing and a curse. Knowing that someone you love is going to die soon has to be difficult to handle. However on the other hand being able to predict a wedding is exciting. Death and Marriage are two major stepping stones in most cultures and they are ritualized because of that. Marriage you are become one with someone else and you are able to start a family, but death is the end of your life and the start of your after life whatever you believe that may be. I think that is why they are both made such such a big deal out of and ritualized with customs and rituals and why cultures have so many beliefs centered around these two major life events.