Author Archives: Michelle Wang

Asian Pears with Honey Remedy

Background: Stella is a 55-year-old woman living in Cerritos, CA. She was born in Seoul and has lived in South Korea for the majority of her life until she moved here for college. She stays at home. Before that, she worked at a hair salon as a beautician. She is married and has two grown children.


Main piece:

So what do you usually do when you or your children are sick?

Stella: “I always always say eat some pears… Asian pears!.. with a little bit honey. It is cool… and feels good in mouth. It is soothing to throat and the best for when you have cold.”

Where did you learn this from?

Stella: “My mother, so your grandmother, tell me this all the time. It is old, old tradition.”

Does it work?

Stella: “Yeah! Always feels good. It has worked for generations and generations.”

Performance Context: I interviewed the informant over the phone, as she was in the Orange County area and I’m in Los Angeles. This folk remedy seems to originate from back when my mother was a child. She learned this from her mother and has passed it down to me.

My Thoughts: I love this home remedy – it reminds me of my childhood and maybe it’s also psychological, but this remedy always seems to work for me. I plan to pass this down to my children as well.


Spa on New Year’s Eve

Background: Iris Zhang is an 18-year-old student living in Los Angeles, CA. She is a student at USC. She was born in Diamond Bar and raised in Arcadia, California.

Original script: “Ever since i was young, my family and I have had this tradition of going to a Korean sauna on New Year’s Eve. It’s weird because most people have New Year’s Eve parties with their friends but my family spends the entire day together at a spa. My parents told me it’s because they want to wash away all the dirt of the past year and literally start fresh into a new year. It’s some sort of cleansing ritual for them and makes them feel good about starting the New Year off all sparkly clean ”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: there are a couple of holidays that her family celebrates and insists on spending together: 4th of July, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Years. For each holiday, her family has an annual tradition to follow.

Thoughts about the piece: This superstition sounds like it’s a great way to bond with your family as well as start off the New Year clean. Aside from the symbolic sense, I feel like it must be nice to just go and bathe yourself one last time in the year with your family before the New Year starts. It seems to be a very important family tradition for Iris.


Eating sticky food on days of exams

Background: Alan is a 19-year old student at Boston University. He grew up in Southern California but moved to Boston for school and is now in his second year of college.

Original script: “On the day of a really important test, I make sure to do a couple of things to get good luck while I’m taking the exam. First of all, I have a lucky pencil I’ve kept with me for two years now. Second, I eat lots of sticky foods like candy or sticky rice or anything that really sticks in your mouth. I heard from my mother that it helps information ‘stick’ in your brain. I don’t know if it’s true, but either way, I believe in it and try to eat some form of sticky food before I go take a test”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Apparently he had heard this superstition from his mother on the day of an exam. His mother cooked him sticky rice and gave him chocolate before he went to take his exam. Apparently, he did well and has continued believing in the superstition ever since then

Thoughts about the piece: This superstition sounds a great deal like what my parents would say to me. They would relate it to food to keep me nourished but also give me hope that I’ll have good luck when I take the test. It’s cool how every superstition has some sort of reasoning/symbolism behind it.

Dreaming of Pigs

Background: Simon is a 58-year-old man living in Cerritos, CA. He was born in Seoul and has lived in South Korea for the majority of her life until he moved here and went to the American military. He owns a car wash. Before that, he was a self-employed accountant. He is married and has two grown children.

Original script: “It is good luck to dream of pigs because it means you will gain great wealth in the future very soon. I don’t really know why pigs are symbols of wealth, but it may be because only rich people could eat meat back in the day so if you had the luxury of eating ham, you were very wealthy”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: Apparently he had heard this from his school friends in middle school when he had a dream about pigs.

Thoughts about the piece: My parents are very superstitious when it comes to dreams, so I kind of associate them with fortune cookies; you don’t know what you’ll get but reading into them is fun and could maybe come true so why not take the chance?


Haunted house

Background: Shivani Patel is a 19-year-old student living in Los Angeles, CA. She is a student at USC. She is currently studying Business Administration.

Original script: “Back in my neighborhood, there was this really old, abandoned house that all the neighborhood kids swore was haunted. Like, really. It was creepy even in the day, because the fence was all broken, the grass was dead, the door was open all the time because the hinges were broken… it looked terrible. People would walk past it and there were rumors that there was a girl at the window sometimes. Ugh, I can’t even think about it without getting a little spooked again. Anyways, once I got into high school, there was this whole thing where groups of friends would go to this haunted house at night and camp out there for the entire night. After one group had done, more and more groups of friends were doing it and at this point, it was almost like a ritual because groups that had done it were deemed ‘cool’ and ‘independent’ like adults, basically. We were just in high school but I remember everybody just wanted to be seen as cool adults. So, the answer is yes, I did go to the haunted house with my group of friends. I didn’t personally stay the night and none of my friends did. To be honest, I’m not sure if any group of friends actually did stay the night or if they lied and said that they did. Either way, once we had said we had done it, upperclassmen were willing to talk to us and share about their experiences when they camped out at this haunted house.”

Background Information about the Piece by the informant: My informant went to a school in Georgia. She was born and raised in Atlanta with her parents and younger brother.

Thoughts about the piece: This ritual sounds absolutely terrible. I doubt that any of the kids actually stayed the night and if they did, major props to them. I don’t know how staying overnight in a haunted house makes you an adult, but I can definitely see how high school kids would see this as just another challenge/dare to prove themselves to their peers.