Author Archives: Jordan Kessler

Senior Year Hoodie Design Competition: Folk Tradition for High Schoolers in Dubai

Folk Tradition:

Basically every year the senior class orders these hoodies. Theres a design submission contest of all the different designs/ideas.  Every year is different. On the back it says your grad year and it has in small letters everyone in the grade’s name. And on the top you would get your own nickname or something funny or something people would call you. The cabinet starts planning it the year before when you’re a junior. They call for design submissions. They narrow it down to two and then the grade votes on the grade facebook page and everyone would pick from the top two. They announce winner based off facebook poll. All semester the next year its like, ‘When are they ready?’ ‘They’ll be ready soon.’ Since its done by the grade, productivity depends on the people doing it.

It’s a really fun day cause everyone is so excited to wear them. The day we do it depends on who the people who are ordering it are. Each grade has their own cabinet in the general student council. The cabinet is who orders them and plans it. But there’s not an official day like the fifth month or whatever. But everyone gets it on the same day and then everyone wears it.

For our year the design was the Dubai skyline. The Burj, the highest building, said 2016 cause that was our graduation year. Underneath it was the Dubai skyline. Every year is different. On the back it says your grad year and it has in small letters everyone in the grade’s name. And on the top you would get your own nickname or something funny or something people would call you. I was gonna get [informant’s nickname], but since I didn’t go to school there anymore I thought it would be funny to get ‘she doesn’t even go here’.”

Context:

This tradition is hosted by the leaders in student government, but not the school itself. Being an American school in Dubai, I think this is funny that they put so much weight on this hoodie design competition because I went to high school in Southern California and we had a big design competition for our senior grad night t shirts as well.

Background:

The informant is 21, and self identifies as a “third-culture-kid”, meaning she does not identify as being from one place alone. She grew up in Southern California, Wisconsin, Lebanon, and Dubai. This tradition is from her American school in Dubai. She says that, “The school actually isn’t there anymore. They merged it with another school so it just doesn’t exist.” 

My Analysis:

The folklore of an American school in Dubai is interesting to look at because most of the attendees, like my informant, have not grown up in either location predominantly. Most of the attendees have lived their lives all over the globe, bouncing from country to country. So, the folklore of this location is unique because it is exclusively made up by the people and not attached to any one geographic space. A hoodie is the perfect reflection of that. Many other senior pranks or traditions are tied to the space of the school itself. For example, I’ve heard of students pooling money to donate a bench in their classes’ name or a tree. Those permanent things do not have meaning to this community because they are all so transient. For example, my informant was not in attendance her senior year. However, she could still participate in the tradition because they could mail her a hoodie. It is something small and easily packaged for everyone’s future travels.

Oysters For New Years in Bayou, Louisiana

Folk Tradition:

“Basically my godmother’s niece married this guy who lives in Bayou, Louisiana so it’s like two hours away from New Orleans?  And it’s a really tiny town and their whole schtick is that they have oysters. It’s like where they farm all these oysters. So oysters are really special or whatever there. Whenever she married him or whatever it became their tradition to to harvest them on New Years Eve. And then they like all make them. And now we all go over to my godparents house on New Years. And my godfather is a really good chef and shucks them and he makes different oyster dishes and we eat them.

We started having this be a party when I was in high school so like four years ago ish? But they’ve been doing this forever, they just didn’t start coming over till they had a kid. Then it became more of a family thing. Their family will come to New Orleans and we’ll all meet there. Now my friends fight to like come with me. It’s like a fun thing cause my godfather’s a really good chef. Oysters are so special to Louisiana, but its a really niche tradition and cool. But Bayou is not that far away from New Orleans and not that many people in Louisiana know that people there only eat Oysters for New Years. For them it’s like the way thanksgiving is with turkey.” 

Context:

New Year’s in Bayou, Louisiana.

Informant Background:

The informant is 20, from New Orleans.

My Analysis:

This is a perfect example of folklore transcending geography. While the oysters on New Years are a tradition unique to the Bayou region (Informant specified that people in New Orleans, only two hours away, generally don’t even know about this tradition), this family brought the unique folk tradition to New Orleans, where it is now being shared with friends of family and extended beyond the Bayou region exponentially. My informant now resides in LA and she says that should she get married and settle here, she will institute this tradition in her home.

After doing some digging, I discovered that this tradition is of French origin:

Beardsley, NPR. “For the French, New Year Means Good Oysters.” All Things Considered, 04/20/19, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6707229.

This makes sense as Louisiana is proud of its heritage, being colonized by dominantly French immigrants. Perhaps the reason the tradition has only been preserved in the Bayou region is because of the higher proportion of French immigrants there than in New Orleans. Again, this is an example of mobile folk traditions, having been brought to Louisiana by the French.

 

Mufleta Recipe: Jewish Moroccan Passover Traditional Food

Recipe:

  • 3 cups flour (add more or less depending on desired texture)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups water
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup oil

1. Mix flour and salt, add water to the other mix. You’ll you get a dough consistency. Pour some oil on top of the dough cover. Let it stand.

2. On a baking sheet pour the measured oil. Make balls of the dough and place on the oil. Repeat and cover and let rest for about 15 minutes.

3. Dunk the dough balls in oil and stretch out the dough. While flattening out the balls, heat a large skillet.

4. Cook them like pancakes and stack upon one another and then roll in sweet sauce of your choosing.

 

Context:

“This is a traditional Jewish Moroccan food. Make this to break the fast for Passover and because it’s “chametz”. It’s a thing you’re not allowed to eat during Passover. It’s kind of like a crepe you eat it with butter or honey or chocolate. It’s a desert.”

Background:

The informant is Moroccan and Jewish, but grew up in LA. She said, “My mom makes it, she learned from grandma. Mom was born in Morocco and lived in Israel, but now lives in LA.” The informant is 20.

My Analysis:

Most families I know have one dessert that they love to make for breaking of the fast, usually it is an iteration of kugel, another starch-heavy meal. It makes sense that these recipes are so simple and consist of almost only flour because in Jewish tradition, you cannot eat flour leading up to passover. So, this is a sweet and delicious way to eat a lot of what you have been barred from eating for a period of time.

 

Papa Soup: Colombian Comfort Soup

Recipe:

  1. Long onions scallions
  2. Potatoes sliced in cubes
  3. Eggs
  4. Hot water

Boil potatoes add scallions mix eggs in add salt to taste.

Background:

“I learned this recipe from my grandmother. I was born in Colombia and raised by my grandmother there for the first several years of my life. She would make this for me when I was sick. It is also supposed to be a good hangover cure, but I was never hungover. I make it for my kids now whenever they are sick.”

The informant is 55, from Medellin, Colombia. She now resides in Southern California.

My Analysis:

This is a very simple recipe with nearly no instructions. It is easy to make, so easy that a sick person could probably cook it for themselves. The fact that my informant’s grandmother would make it for her and she now makes it for her family members when they get sick shows that the people who make this recipe value service. Even if it is not a grand gesture, this simple soup makes a meaningful gift to friends and family when they are ill.

Colombian Kids Folk Song

Folk Song:

“El Marinero que se fue a la mar y mar y mar a ver qué podía ver y ver y ver y lo único que pudo ver y ver y ver fue el fondo de la mar y mar y mar” which translates to, “The mariner who went to the sea and sea and sea to see what he could see and see and see and the only thing he could see and see and see was the bottom of the sea and sea and sea.”

Context:

“So you know how kids learn patty cake patty cake and all that, that’s just one of those things that you learn as a kid. It’s almost like a tongue twister. It’s just a thing kids learn as something to do and play and occupy their time. A lot of girls do with clapping of the hands and circles and things like that. You are suppose to start slow and speed up as you go along.”

Background:

The informant is from Medellin, Colombia, but now resides in San Diego. He is 58.

My Analysis:

Colombia has coastlines on the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, so the rhyme being about the mariner could be significant of the seafaring culture in these regions in Colombia. However, based on my informant’s understanding, this is a predominately linguistic training exercise. Spanish pronunciation of “r” requires the rolling of the tongue, which is a skill that requires practice at a young age to achieve properly. This rhyme has a lot of “r’s” in it to help kids acquire this skill. The progressive speeding up of the rhyme enables players to practice making the noise faster. Clapping helps children with coordination.

To see this done in practice, see this Youtube video: Solis, Maru. “Marinero Que Se Fue a La Mar…” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Sept. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXpsCJqf6n0&feature=youtu.be.