Author Archives: mgabbard@usc.edu

Turning of the Class Ring

Title: Turning of the Class Ring

Category: Ceremonial Object

Informant: Lisa L. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 58

Occupation: Housewife

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/8/18

Description:

High School class rings are ordered in the fall of Junior year of high school and delivered to the individual in the spring semester. Class rings are worn exclusively by either Junior or Senior class standing individuals of the institution. Class rings generally tend to include: The individual’s year of graduation, a colored jewel, the institution’s name, the individual’s last name, and/or a significant activity important to the individual ordering the ring.

Once the class ring is delivered to the student, the student must then go around the school getting other students to “turn” their class ring. When turning the class ring, the individual asked will rotate the ring clock-wise in a full circle on the owner’s finger. The owner of the ring will then ask the participant to give their signature on a list in a notebook (or other recording device) with the other individuals who have turned their ring.

The number of times that the ring must be turned is indicated by the last two digits in the year of the student’s graduation. Example: Class of 2019 must get their ring turned 19 times. Class of 1977 must get their ring turned 77 times. The last person who should turn the ring is the student them-self.

Context/Significance:

Turning of the class ring is meant to bring the individual good luck and prosperity their senior year of high school as they round-out their high school education. The people who may be asked to turn someone’s class ring mostly include close friends, relatives, or significant teachers. Students in other grade levels are invited to turn people’s class rings since they the pool of people allowed to turn class rings is not exclusive to the Junior class alone. The names are meant to be collected and held on-to by the individual gathering the information.

Personal Thoughts:

The turning of the class ring is symbolic of a variety of things. The turning of the ring is representative of the end of a cycle. As these Juniors are in the late spring semester of the year, they are preparing for the final year of their pre-college education. It symbolizes the end of a significant part of their lives and the number of times it is turned is specific to the year of their graduation and the year that everything will change. This experience can be backed up by the phrase “coming full circle.”

The people who turn their rings is significant as well. These are the people who have generally held significant roles in the individuals life and have helped shape their character up to this stage of life. Of course, the last person turning the ring is the student them-self as they are acknowledging this change and recognizing the end of their informal education.

“Beanie-Baby” Safari

Title: “Beanie-Baby” Safari

Category: Children’s Game

Informant: Kurt A. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 50s

Occupation: Princeton Seminary—Vice President of Business Affairs/Financial Consultant/CPA/CFO

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/8/18

Description:

This is a game played between a child and their parent/guardian either in the evening or at night. The parent/guardian will take possession of the child’s “beanie baby”/stuffed animal toys. The child will then go to a separate area of the home where the game is not being played. The parent will then hide the child’s stuffed animals throughout the area of play. The lights are then turned off and parent brings the child a flashlight. The parent and child then embark on a “Safari” to find the stuffed animals hidden. The game is finished once all stuffed animals are found.

Context/Significance:

The “beanie-Baby” safari was a game my brothers and I played regularly throughout our childhood. Slight alterations have been made in the steps leading up to, during, and after the game has concluded. The child participants of the game will often times dress up in “safari” clothes before beginning the game and the parent will wear a “safari” hat. This game was played exclusively with our father, Kurt A. Gabbard, and it was played as a competition between siblings instead of a team oriented event. After ending the game, our father would assemble a camping tent in our front living room and the children would pile in pillows and blankets along with the stuffed animals before being read a story and being allowed to spend the night in the tent.

Personal Thoughts:

I enjoyed this game tremendously when playing with my brothers. We didn’t get to play this game on a regular basis as our father worked a nine-to-five job and often was dis-inclined to play after coming home late in the evening. Getting to play this game was a special activity as it requires a time-consuming set-up/deconstruction.

St. Joseph Figurine

Title: St. Joseph Figurine

Category: Folk Object/ Ritual

Informant: Kurt A. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 50s

Occupation: Princeton Seminary—Vice President of Business Affairs/Financial Consultant/CPA/CFO

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/08/18

Description:

The St. Joseph figurine is used primarily by Catholic home owners when looking to sell their house. The figurine is buried at the corner of the property and must be buried upside down facing the entrance to the home. The figurine is often sold along with a prayer card which the user must say the prayer on the card after burying the figure and then everyday after until the home is sold.

The figurine is meant to bring good luck and will help to sell the property faster if used correctly. After the property sells, the miniature sculpture is dug up and placed on the mantle of the next home the person moves into. The figurine should be kept on the mantle until the next home is meant to be sold and the ritual repeated.

Context/Significance:

The Saint. Joseph figurine is a Catholic saint that is known in the religion as the patron saint of workers. Saint Joseph figurines (approximately the size of 3” tall) are sold in St. Joseph home-selling kits and are sometimes even included by realtors along with “for sale” signs and newspaper ads.

The figurine and ritual grew in popularity in the late 1980s and 1990s due to the housing crisis and re-arose in popularity during the 2008 housing crisis as well. People who participate in the ritual claim that their house that had previously been on the market for months or years, sold within weeks or even days after burying the saint.

Personal Thoughts:

My family has participated in the St. Joseph figurine ritual in every occasion where we’ve sold our house. My family is Catholic Christian and my father is the main family member who instills our religious traditions and practices. During my lifetime, my family has sold two houses, but moved six times. In both of the times that we’ve sold houses, my father has planted St. Joseph figurines and our properties sold within a month or two of the figurine being buried. My father and mother both believe strongly in the ritual and we have the figurine sitting on our mantle beside our family clock and horseshoe.

Annotation:

For another version of this practice, see:

https://www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/mystery-st-joseph-home-selling-kit/

MLA Citation:

Rabiipour, Nick, et al. “The Mystery of the St. Joseph Home Selling Kit.” Get Fed, 6 Aug. 2015, www.catholiccompany.com/getfed/mystery-st-joseph-home-selling-kit/.

The Christmas Pickle

Title: The Christmas Pickle

Category: Ceremonial Object

Informant: Kurt A. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 50s

Occupation: Princeton Seminary—Vice President of Business Affairs/Financial Consultant/CPA/CFO

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/08/18

Description:

The Christmas Pickle is a tradition that takes place on the eve of Christmas. After returning from Christmas eve mass, the children are sent upstairs while the parents hide the pickle within the branches of the Christmas tree. The ornament in the shape and color of a normal pickle. After the pickle has been hidden in the tree, the children are then called downstairs to search for it. The first child to discover the pickle is then granted the first gift of Christmas.

Context/Significance:

The Christmas pickle is believed to be a German Christmas tradition but has recently been proven to have originated in the United States sometime around the late nineteenth century. The tradition is for a specific child to win the first gift of Christmas. The gift is usually a smaller preemptive Christmas gift that can usually be shared between children (i.e. a coloring book, or family board game). The tradition was passed down from my Father’s side of the family and our family has participated in the tradition for at least the past twenty four years.

Personal Thoughts:

My family has been involved with the tradition ever since my eldest brother’s birth and has evolved with our ages. When we were younger, the pickle was usually on the lower branches of the Christmas tree and was more easily located. As my brothers and I have gotten older, and since my family did not want to abandon the tradition, my parents have begun to hide the pickle more strategically to make the game more difficult to win. In recent years, the pickle has been found in the Christmas tree, in both indoor/outdoor wreaths, outdoor trees/bushes, and hidden within Christmas garland or within our Department 56 Christmas village.

Additionally, the Christmas gift has evolved into more adult items that we would like, for example: a gift card, a DVD, etc.

Image: 

Unknown

The Great Pumpkin

Title: The Great Pumpkin

Category: Legend

Informant: Kurt A. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 50s

Occupation: Princeton Seminary—Vice President of Business Affairs/Financial Consultant/CPA/CFO

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/8/18

Description:

The night of halloween after trick-or-treating and the children have collected candy from neighboring houses, the great-pumpkin visits the house in the middle of the night after the children have gone to bed. Before going to bed, the children are instructed to give up about 1/4 of the candy they’ve collected that evening. The candy donated is a diverse collection from the children’s loot, but what gets donated is generally the candy least preferred by the children. The donated candy is put into it’s own candy bucket (in the shape of an orange pumpkin) and left on the doorstep with a note from the children. When the children wake up in the morning, the candy bucket is replaced by small gifts that the children can then play with.

Context/Significance:

The Great Pumpkin is a holiday entity similar to “Santa” or “The Easter Bunny” and visits a family’s house on the night of Halloween after the children have gone trick-or-treating. The Great Pumpkin comes to collect candy from the children of house so that he can take it to children in need who don’t get to go trick-or-treating. The Great Pumpkin teaches the children the importance of penance and giving back while also giving the children something to look forward to because of their donation.

Personal Thoughts:

In my family, the Great Pumpkin was used in a similar way with a few alterations. The Great Pumpkin came to take about 1/4 of each of our candy collections each Halloween. My parents made sure that we sacrificed candy that included some of our favorites as well as the candy we didn’t like as much. We didn’t know at the time, but my parents would then take this candy and re-use it in the piñatas for our birthday parties. As a small reward for donating some of our candy, my parents would then leave small gifts for us the next day as if the Great Pumpkin had brought them for us. An example of these gifts might be: a pack pf baseball cards, some barbie clothes, or a small lego set.