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Family Christmas Recipe

While talking to my friend Clayton, I asked if he had any specific meals that he looked forward to on any holidays or occasions with his family. His response was about a meal that he has every year on Christmas eve.

Clayton elaborated on this and said that, “On Christmas every year we do something called the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ in Italy it is known as ‘The Vigil’. My grandparents came from Bologna, Italy. My grandparents home-make the seven seafood dishes every year and it is a similar recipe that their grandparents in Italy did every year on Christmas eve. It is one of my favorite meals, especially cause we only do this once a year, and this recipe has stayed similar across multiple generations”

 Background Info: Clayton is from Manhattan Beach, CA, but his grandparents are originally from Italy, and then moved to the states. Clayton knows of this traditional dish because he has been having this meal ever since he can remember on Christmas eve.

Context: Clayton told me about this tradition when I was talking to him before our class started, this was the first thing that he thought about when I asked him a question about if he had any traditional meals in his family.

Analysis: I had never heard about this type of meal, I have other friends who have roots in Italy and I asked them if they had heard of this and they said that they have. I guess it is a very common thing across many parts of central Italy. I think this is very interesting and reminded me of meals that I have on Hanukkah.


When talking to one of my brother’s good friends, who is from Manchester England, I asked if he had any songs that he knew of that he has learned from any of his friends or relatives.


He told me of a song that him and his friends always sing when they go out, “We like to drink with (insert name) because (name) is our mate! And when we drink with (name) he takes it down in 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”



Background Info: This song is some that Edward grew up hearing amongst people in England. When you call someone out and sing the song, they have to finish whatever drink is in their hand by the time the singers get to the end of the 8 second countdown. “It is something that is fun and gets you to finish more beer” –Edward.


Context: Edward told me about this song while I was at lunch with him and my brother.



Analysis: Once Edward told me about the song, he sang it but for me—it was a fun experience to say the least. Edward said that this is a very popular song in England, and is normally sang at universities at their get-togethers, next time I visit England I will be sure to ask people about this chant!



For similar write-ups, and some videos of other people singing this same song, see:

Dance Team Tradition/Ritual

I asked a fellow classmate if she had any specific traditions that she has been a part of or has passed on to any of her friends or family. When I asked she responded about a particular tradition that she had in high school involving her dance team.


Greer said that “In high school I was a member of the dance team which was only 11 or so members each year. We had an annual show that was our main production and what we spent most of our time working towards. As a team, we had a tradition that I learned as a freshmen and apparently had been happening on the team for years before me. Before a show opened we would stand in a line on the stage & hold hands and and walk up to the curtain and kiss it for good luck and for a good show.”


Background Info: Greer was on her high school dance team for all four years of high school, and learned this tradition from the previous elders on the same high school dance team. This tradition was a very important part of the culture of this dance team and was a beneficial part of their bond.


Context: I learned about this tradition while at coffee with Greer, we both shared stories about certain traditions that we were familiar with or were a part of throughout our lives.


Analysis: I thought this was very interesting how this tradition was learned when she was a freshman and carried throughout her four years of high school. Greer shared that she then taught the younger generation of dancers on this same team the same tradition, keeping the legacy of this strong. This reminded me of a tradition that I had with my lacrosse team that we started my freshman year of high school: before exiting the locker room we would all jump up and tap the top of the exit door while we were running out to the field. High school sports are definitely a major theme where many traditions and rituals are found and practiced.


I asked my grandpa if he had any jokes that he loved. His response was that he only had Jewish jokes, because that is what his Jewish father would always tell him growing up in Brooklyn.


He began to tell me the joke after I asked him this question, “It was the winter Olympics, there were 3 finalists in the ski competition, one from Israel, one from Sweden, and one from Italy. The top favorite was the man from Israel, who normally finished the competition in 2 minutes 10 seconds. The man from Sweden went first and timed a 2 minutes and 46 seconds, next the man from Italy went and timed a 2 minutes and 22 seconds, finally it was the man from Israel’s turn, they waited as he went down the mountain, but the time kept ticking, it went past his normal time of 2 minutes 10 seconds, finally he crossed the finish line at 4 minutes and 20 seconds. The reporters asked him what happened and he said, “WHOEVER PUT THE MEZUZAHS ON THE GATES IS TOAST”.


Background Info: My grandpa is from Brooklyn and was raised in a Jewish family, he loves these types of jokes because they help explain parts of the culture. The joke is that whenever a Jewish person sees a Mezuzah, he/she has to stop and say the prayer that is inside of the Mezuzah, and remember why they are Jewish, this stalled the man from Israel’s competition as he had to stop at each Mezuzah.


Context: My grandpa told me this joke during Passover dinner


Analysis: My grandpa has been telling me jokes since I can remember, but I had not heard this one before. A lot of his jokes are about the Jewish culture, but have meaning to them in remembering the importance of certain aspects of the culture, for example this joke is meant to remind you to recognize the prayer whenever you see a Mezuzah.


I asked my grandmother if she had any slogans or proverbs that been passed down to her. A proverb that she told me about was one that was passed down to her from her mother. The proverb started during WWII, which was the first time she heard it, and she still says it today as the values still mean a lot to her.


She said that her mother would always say that “People are basically good, even the Nazis”.


Background Info: My grandmother and her mother escaped from the Nazi’s in Romania during WWII, and fled to America. My grandmother’s mother thought that all people had good hearts, even the evil Nazi’s, she just knew that they made poor life decisions, but still had the good hearted humanistic values of every person on the globe, my grandmother now says this when people seem to be mean to one another, recognizing that although people make poor and evil life decisions, they are still people.


Context: My grandmother told me about this proverb at our family Passover dinner.


Analysis: My grandmothers story of how she fled from Romania is something she has told me many times. I was too young to understand many of the things that my great grandmother told me when I was little, so this proverb, that was passed from my great grandmother was very interesting and held good values about the good in people, even if they make bad decisions.