Author Archives: Allison Luo

Summer camp rituals

Background: The informant (A) is my roommate. She a college student and recalls a story of her experience at a sleep-away summer camp when she was younger.

A: When I was probably….I think 7th grade? Or like during the summer after 7th grade, or maybe 8th or something. I’m not sure. But basically I went to this summer camp at a college in New York for like….2 weeks I think. And the camp leaders made us do a lot of like…..these ritual or traditional kind of activities…I mean, I thought they were pretty weird but a lot of the kids were actually really into it ’cause they had gone to the same camp before and they literally were just… into it. I don’t remember a lot of the specific actual stuff we did but the one at the end was called Passionfruit, I only remember that because we drank actual passionfruit juice at it. Or at least they said it was passionfruit juice. But …basically it was the last day of camp for everyone and everyone would wake up super early and the counselors would bring us out to see the sunrise. I think me and my camp friends did a sleepover or something and we set alarms for literally 4:30am and I was so tired but everyone went out onto this grass field kind of thing…it was just outside and we sat on blankets and stuff. I don’t remember exactly the stuff we did but I know we just sat there for a really long time until the sun was up and then we all gathered in this giant circle and people would talk about their favorite memories of camp, or how camp had changed them, or…..something like that, I don’t really know. But it got so emotional I remember being kind of weirded….like half the people were breaking down into tears and stuff. I mean like I was kinda sad but I wasn’t that sad….but I think to be like…nice..or fit in or something I tried to seem super sad too.

Context: This was told to me during a recorded in-person interview.

Analysis: The informant recalls her experience at a summer camp where campers and counselors took camp traditions very seriously. Specifically during the goodbye ceremony, she observed many of her peers in extremely emotional states. This is an example of folklore created by a common experience or location rather than backgrounds or ethnocultural identity. Campers who had experienced the traditions multiple times felt very attached to them while my roommate, who was witnessing them for the first time, felt confused and surprised at her peers’ dedication to these camp rituals. People who have experienced the camp and understand its lore can be considered the “in group” while people who have not can be considered the “out group”.


Background: The informant (A) is my roommate, the daughter of two Pakistani immigrants. She grew up in the US and frequents Pakistan during breaks from school. She is Muslim and participates in many of the religion’s practices.

A: So the like…background of this is that in Islam there are these other creatures that exist and one is called a Jinn. It’s made of fire and like…exists between our human realm and where angels or heaven and hell are….those are called Jannah and Jannath in Arabic. And Jinns can like…..kind of like possess you, and my mom would always tell me this one blessing to say to get rid of Jin. And then that one night I had sleep paralysis and I saw this like…creepy human man figure next to my bed. And obviously I was scared and like….frozen…or paralyzed so I couldn’t move but I started like…whispering the blessing my mom had told me but the Jinn started getting closer and I just kept saying the blessing. And then eventually it just went away and I fell asleep. But when I told my mom she was like, “There’s definitely something bad around you.”

Me: So where’d you learn about Jinns?

A: I heard about them in the Quran and stories of like…personal experiences with them are passed down a lot. Like my grandma believes that Jinns are really attracted to her and will follow her around, I can’t think of any specific stories she’s told me but I know she’s thought that for a long time.

Context: This was told to me during a recorded in person interview. The informant presumed that the figure she saw during sleep paralysis was a Jinn and that it was visiting her due to some sort of evil energy or happenings near her. The informant was recounting the story she had told me at an earlier date.


Background: The informant is my roommate and a college student. She was raised in Catholicism and often attended the related events and ceremonies, but has since begun to question her religious beliefs.

Informant: When something really important happens an angel comes and delivers you from that state to the new state. There’s this one story in the bible that I’m obsessed with about Lilith….it’s only in the Old Testament, but she was Adam’s first wife before Eve. And she I guess like refused to like, ‘submit to him’ and there’s now like a lot of speculation on the internet about what it means and like cause literally it’s not mentioned in the New Testament and people in church don’t talk about her. The only time she’s referenced in the Old Testament is like…when sinful children get lost Lilith will scoop them up and like, eat them. Like grabbing lost sinning souls and delivering them to the devil. And she’s supposed to live in like….the desert…I think. Or just like….bad places maybe. They reference her as this like evil woman even though she just didn’t want to submit to Adam. I think because of that she’s also like a feminist icon type thing now…

Me: Where’d you hear about like the new theories and references to her?

Informant: I don’t remember if it was in a conversation with another Catholic person but I think like…there’s some stuff in Jewish folklore. It was referenced in the Old Testament which probably came from Jewish folklore before like Catholicism was even a religion, and it probably worked its way into the Old Testament. But now there’s so much weird shit about it online. I think I might have seen theories about her on TikTok or something?

Me: Where’d you first hear about Lilith?

Informant: I was talking to our youth minister and someone I used to go to youth group with…I think we were just having a conversation about it and the youth pastor was just telling us about it…I felt silly because I didn’t know anything about her. But then I looked it up later and that’s pretty much all I know.

Context: This was told to me during a recorded in-person interview.

All Saints Day

Background: The informant is my roommate and a fellow student at USC. She grew up in Southern California and attended a private Catholic school until she began high school.

Informant: I don’t know if this is a thing like…anywhere else, but at least at my school you’d dress up as a different saint on this day…it was called All Saints Day. Like it was Halloween but with saints instead of like monsters or whatever and we’d go to mass and we’d just all march around and you’d kind of get into character as your saint like you could be Mother Teresa or something.

Me: Was this a tradition at your school…like did teachers tell you to do it?

Informant: Yeah it was like an official day…I think it was just cute because it was like tiny kids dressed as these like adult saints but I don’t know if it was religiously significant.

Context: This was told to me during a recorded in-person interview. Upon further research, the informant later told me that it was in fact celebrated by many Christians outside of her school, and it was meant to signify that anyone who trusts in God is themselves a saint.

Indian marriage jokes

Background: The informant (A) is the 20 year old daughter of two Indian immigrants. She was born and raised in the US. 

Joke 1:

Today if Ravan took your wife away would you still consider him evil?

A: So basically it’s like….since Ravan took Ram’s wife, would it be such a bad thing if he took mine? Since there’s always, like, “beef” between Indian husbands and wives it’s like he’s saying like “oh I wouldn’t even care if mine was kidnapped by Ravan and I wouldn’t even call him evil anymore”.

Joke 2:

The doctor (to the lady): any history of insanity in the family?

Lady: yes, my husband thinks he’s the boss of the house!

A: It’s like…commonly accepted that husbands always go into the command of their wives because they’re scared of their wives in Indian households. It’s a cultural thing, whatever the wife says goes and you just have to agree and say yes to everything. It’s a joke but it’s low-key true, like they’re all scared of their wives.

Context: This was told to me over a recorded FaceTime call. The characters Ravan and Ram refer to the legend of Diwali, where Ravan kidnapped Ram’s wife Sita. Ravan is a widely known villain character in Indian culture. “Beef” is a word used by modern youths to describe disagreements or rather unfriendly relations. According to the informant, husbands and wives disagreeing often, or the husband being submissive, are topics that many members of the culture group will often joke about.