Author Archives: Jerayah Davis

Don’t Wear Silver in Water

The informant’s family comes from the Bahamas. She was born in the Bahamas and is a talented Bahamian woman. Her mother and she were extremely close and she learned a lot of the folklore that she shared with me from either her mother or from being with her mother. Eventually her family moved to Florida where they learned American cultures and were able to compare and contrast the two. 

Informant…

“I’m not really sure if this is considered folklore or a proverb, but one tradition, or superstition, or maybe it could be considered water etiquette in most island cultures is that you absolutely never wear your silver jewelry or anything shiny into the waters. I don’t mean like swimming pools, I mean the water with fish and other things in it. We do this because we believe that a barracuda will attack you if you do. I think its because silver or any other flashy types of jewelry or anything will confuse a barracuda and it’ll mistake you for the little critters it preys on and will attack any human wearing it.”

When she was asked why this is a superstition she said, “Well a barracuda will attack you.”

Then I asked, “Have you ever seen it happen or heard it happen to someone close to you?”

She said, “well… no, My mom just told me and here mom told her and I’m sure her dad told her as well. I don’t know where they got it from, I just know not to do it.”

Analysis…

Superstitions play an important role in the way that people may act, what they will do, what they will say, what they will wear, or when they will do things. Usually superstitions are practiced because of good luck or bad luck and doing something one way will prevent bad luck from happening, and give you good luck. In the case of the informant this is a superstition of something you don’t do or there will be bad consequences. Maybe this originated by an older sibling trying to fool his younger siblings into doing something he wanted so he made up a story about barracudas attacking, or maybe someone was actually attacked by a barracuda because of the jewelry the person was wearing. Regardless of where it came from it is a heavily practiced superstition and is not ever broken in fear of being attacked.

Bad Luck

The informant’s family comes from the Bahamas. She was born in the Bahamas and is a talented Bahamian woman. Her mother and she were extremely close and she learned a lot of the folklore that she shared with me from either her mother or from being with her mother. Eventually her family moved to Florida where they learned American cultures and were able to compare and contrast the two. 

Informant…

“In the Bahamas there is a superstition about ladders. If a person is walking on the sidewalk and there is construction going on or for any other reason there is a ladder blocking the way, it is considered bad luck to walk under the ladder. The person walking should completely veer off their intended track to avoid the ladder and then continue on their intended path once they are clear from the ladder. In my culture a person will never walk under a ladder.”

I asked her were it came from and she said she wasn’t sure she just knew that it is blatantly obvious that people will not walk under a ladder. If the ladder happens to be in their way they will go around because they don’t want the bad luck that comes with it.

Analysis…

Superstitions play an important role in the way that people may act, what they will do, what they will say, what they will wear, or when they will do things. Usually superstitions are practiced because of good luck or bad luck and doing something one way will prevent bad luck from happening, and give you good luck. I have heard the don’t walk under a ladder, or if you see a black cat that is bad luck. To me I don’t buy into superstitions, however some cultures do. If there was even a thought in their heads that walking under a ladder would bring them bad luck why would they walk under anyways? It makes sense that they would avoid the ladder completely. Our society I would say is split between those who are superstitious and those who aren’t. I think because our society is so diverse and full of lots of culture combined that we don’t have just one culture for everyone to believe exactly the same thing and practice the same things.

Rise and Shine

The informant’s family originated in Samoa, his parents were born and raised there before traveling and moving into the United States. He takes many visits to Samoa and is very in touch with his Samoan heritage and culture. He shared some common folklore with me that he could think of off of the top of his head. 

“Ole manu e muamua ala nate maua le anufe”

Informant…

“Something my parents expressed to me when I was a kid goes:

Ole manu e muamua ala nate maua le anufe meaning: The early bird gets the worm.

I can apply this to most every aspect of my life, so it has really  helped me mature as I’ve grown. To me, well you can have your own interpretation of it but to me, it means literally the one who rises early will have the most success. I translate this into meaning that if you work hard, and out work everyone and anyone you will be rewarded and be just fine in life. I use this with my school work, with football, with almost about anything. I believe that everything takes hard work and nothing good is going to be easy to get hence, Ole manu e muamua ala nate maua le anufe. ”

Analysis…

The statement “The early bird gets the worm” is nothing new for our culture. This statement I have heard by my parents, mentors, teachers, coaches, you name it almost anyone (old enough to know its meaning) has heard this proverb before. It essentially means to most people the person who arrives to any location, event, opportunity first has the best chance for success in that area. The informant meant in his translation that he makes she he works the hardest so he can essentially “arrive first” and have the best chance for success.

It is interesting that a very common proverb in America would be used in another culture as well. As phrases.org.uk says, “The early bird gets the worm” originates from the Latin phrase Carpe diem which means “seize the day”. Both of these proverbs are advice on how to attack our days and make the most of our lives by working hard.

Fa’amuamua Le Atua

The informant’s family originated in Samoa, his parents were born and raised there before traveling and moving into the United States. He takes many visits to Samoa and is very in touch with his Samoan heritage and culture. He shared some common folklore with me that he could think of off of the top of his head. 

“Fa’amuamua Le Atua”

Informant…

“A common saying that is used pretty religiously in my family goes:

Fa’amuamua Le Atua meaning: Put God first.

My family is extremely religious and we use this pretty often. We believe in the high power of God and we realize that we wouldn’t be where we are today or blessed with what we are blessed with if it weren’t for God. We use it as a reminder to help us line up our priorities with God and our duties to God being the first thing on the list [priority list], to be grateful for what he has done for us and will continue to do, and to remind us that without him being in our lives we wouldn’t thrive. ”

Analysis…

This statement is definitely not new to me. I have heard it before and it has also been expressed to me from my parents and their parents. I think that this statement on how you should essentially run your life is widespread throughout the would because of the common christianity that many cultures have. It is interesting that other cultures besides our own use similar sayings and statements that mean the same thing and are interpreted the same way. This statement in particular “Fa’amuamua Le Atua or Put God First” is translated and applied differently by different people but essentially it means the same thing and can be applied the same way.

Bones

The informant was born and raised in Colorado. She all her life has used proverbs that her grandmother taught her to develop relationships. Her grandmother helped in assisting her by giving her proverbs to live by that apply to any situation and any human.

A dog that brings a bone takes a bone

Informant…

When I was a lot younger and still in my adolescent years, I would try and keep up with the latest drama and gossip. I was all in his business or her business and always had the latest gossip. So and so would tell me something about someone and I would talk to my grandma like oh so and so said that she’s been doing a,b,c and my grandma would respond with A dog that brings a bone, takes a bone. At first the didn’t really mean much to me, I had to experience it on my own to have a full understanding of what she meant. A dog that takes a bone brings a bone to me means that if someone is coming to you with gossip, they are going to leave with something about you and talk about you to other people the same way the were talking to you about so and so. I just always have kept this in the back of my mind when someone is gossiping  about someone else to me. I realize that if i egg in that conversation, there might be something that I said that would give the person a bone to run off with. I guess what I get from this is be aware of conversations you engage in and how much you trust to tell people.”

Analysis…

A dog that brings a bone takes a bone. I haven’t heard this before, so it is new to me. When to informant was explaining it to me I think she could sense my confusion probably by my facial expression and thankfully she continued to elaborate until she thought I could make sense of it. I think this just goes along with the proverbs about being careful who you trust and spend your time around. Not everyone in this world has good intentions and I think that in informant’s grandmother kew that and she was wise enough to share them with her granddaughter to hopefully help her in life. A dong that brings a bone takes a bone puts an all new perception of people and relationships into my head. It makes sense that a gossip who gossips to you is most likely gossiping about you, so it is important to choose carefully who you also yourself to be around.