Author Archives: netrujil

Quinceaneras

The following is a transcribed interview conducted over a video chat between me and interviewee, hereby further referred to as LT. 

Me: What’s been your experience with Quinceaneras?

LT: When I was growing up, quinceaneras were just like a cute little party you had because at age 15 you’re kind of becoming a young adult, but I never thought it was too serious. It was just a cute day to celebrate you becoming a woman and you also got jewelry. My grandma, though, told that back in the day the qu8ince was very much tied to spanish catholic culture where you’re supposed to get married when you become a woman. Back in the day, my grandma before her quince, was taught how to weave and taught how to cook so it was clearly a set up for her to become a homemaker. But like, as we know now, 15 is absolutely not an age where you can get married but back in the day you weren’t really the one making those decisions, your family was. With that said though, quinces are still very tied to that christian base. You dance with your mom and dad, you go to church, so it’s still very much tied christianity but now it’s not tied to marriage. 

Me: So what do you do at a quinceanera? 

LT: So, you get very dressed up in a fancy gown and you get a tiara as well. But on the way there, I had to wear flat shoes so that my dad could put on my heels at the party, it’s kind of a little tradition. And then there’s food, you get presents, and then you have to do a special dance with your dad. Me and my dad were really bad so it was nothing too complicated but some of them are very elaborate. And then you just have like a regular party and celebration. 

Background:

Interviewee immigrated from Mexico to Los Angeles as a teenager, however, she still returns home near Mexico City frequently. Her entire family is from and lives in Mexico, apart from her younger siblings and stepmother. She works as a translator in both Spanish and Italian. She is my older sister, so we’re very comfortable around each other. 

Context: 

This interview was conducted over a video chat between interviewee and I. Being that we are family, it was a very casual conversation just talking about some things we both did growing up, but her specifically in central Mexico. 

Thoughts:

The quinceanera is one of the biggest days in many young girl’s lives. The celebration varies culturally, but the Mexican version is typically very tied to religion and very ceremonial. Some of the ceremonies are spoken about here, the changing of the shoes and the father-daughter dance. However, depending on how religious families are, there is also usually a church ceremony and other aspects of the event that highlight the transition from young girl to woman. Originally, the purpose was to showcase the young woman as she became eligible for marriage. However, the purpose now is simply to celebrate a big coming-of-age and growing up.

The spiritual meaning behind pinatas

The following is a transcribed interview conducted over a video chat between me and interviewee, hereby further referred to as LT.

Me: So what were some birthday rituals you used to have growing up?

LT: Well, I’m sure most people now are familiar with the classic pinata that a lot of mexican households have at their kids’ birthdays. I guess, since you’re asking about traditions, I remember my dad telling me that the tradition about pinatas is all about how the pinata represents, supposedly, the seven deadly sins – like temptation. So you having the stick and being blindfolded is supposed to represent like blind faith in god and your struggle not to give into those sins. And, I never did this, but my dad told me that they used to twirl people around to confuse them because that’s how you make it an extra struggle! And I remember my grandma used to even twirl people 30 times because that’s how many years Jesus Christ lived. Also, pinatas were never animals – they used to just be, according to my dad, just like spiky balls with lots of vibrant colors. I guess vibrant colors are supposed to represent sin and temptation.

Me: Ok, so what about the candy?

LT: Oh, and the candy, well he said and I guess it makes sense, that the candy is supposed to represent the reward from god and from faith that you get when you fight and defeat those temptations. 

Me: So, you used to always have a pinata at birthdays growing up?

LT: Oh, yes always.

Background:

Interviewee immigrated from Mexico to Los Angeles as a teenager, however, she still returns home near Mexico City frequently. Her entire family is from and lives in Mexico, apart from her younger siblings and stepmother. She works as a translator in both Spanish and Italian. She is my older sister, so we’re very comfortable around each other. 

Context:

This interview was conducted over a video chat between interviewee and I. Being that we are family, it was a very casual conversation just talking about some things we both did growing up, but her specifically in central Mexico. 

Thoughts:

Pinatas are seemingly well known at this point as a Latinx tradition, but it is interesting the variation by region and country. In her area of Mexico, the pinata is tied to religion and they teach kids very young that they must battle and conquer sins. While this is a very heavy message, they do it as a reminder of the emerging hardships of growing older each year that also seemingly give fruitful rewards, like candy. I, too, always had pinatas at birthday parties but ours were always characters and I never got to meet my grandma to learn her lessons about it. 

The Folk Slang of Gamers

The following is a transcribed interview conducted over a video chat between me and interviewee, hereby further referred to as SM.

Me: I just burnt my toast. 

SM: GG, my man. 

Me: What does that mean?

SM: It means “good game.” It’s, like, sarcastic and it’s HUGE for gamers like everyone uses this slang on games and in youtube videos. 

Me: So, what does it actually mean then?

SM: Like when someone just lost a game, especially if they lost it pretty royally, to rub salt in the wound you say sarcastically “GG” like “good game, hahaha.” It’s like you didn’t actually play a good game cause you messed up but here’s me being an asshole to remind you of that. It’s probably the equivalent of saying “good job” sarcastically. 

Me: So you just made me feel worse about ruining my toast?

SM: Yes, I just made fun of you and anyone else would’ve understood it because it is very popular slang. And if I wanted to be extra mean, I would say “GG No Re.” That means good game, no replays meaning you can’t redeem yourself. 

Background: 

Interviewee is a gamer, so they know quite a bit about popular slang and lingo and use it in everyday life. 

Context:

Interviewee and I were speaking just after I had made an error. I had burnt some toast, so he was making fun of me for it by using this folk slang. Interviewee and I are romantically involved, so the conversation was very casual. 

Thoughts:

It’s interesting to me how many versions of this slang there are, especially in the gaming community. Many of them typically are snide or sarcastic remarks that tend to get a rise out of other players and make the game more interesting or perk it up. When this translates to daily life, as most have, they are quick wits that rub salt in wounds. They all are typically very short and quick because the gaming world is so fast paced. I learn quite a bit from being around gamers, whenever I can keep up!

Tsougrisma

The following is a transcribed interview conducted over a video chat between me and interviewee, hereby further referred to as SM.

Me: So how do you celebrate Easter?

SM: Well, not all families do this, but my family plays this game every Easter called tsougrisma, it’s a Greek name but many countries have their variations, like Armenia – which is where I think we got it because our country houses many Armenians. Anyways, the game goes like this: each person picks an egg. And then, in pairs of two, they duel by hitting the eggs on top of each other and the first person who’s egg cracks loses. The goal is to have the hardest shelled egg or like some technique of holding it (but I’m not sure if I believe in technique, I think it’s mostly luck.) But yeah, so if your egg wins then you battle the other winners and you keep going like that until the two strongest eggs battle and the winner of that one is the super egg. Supposedly if your egg wins this, you will have great luck for the next year. 

Me: And do you dye the eggs, like in many other traditions?

SM: Oh yeah, we dye them all sorts of colors but I know my aunt’s families are more traditional in a lot of things they do and they dye them red each year for some reason. Sometimes we do it with their family too, because as you can imagine, the game is much more fun with more people – more eggs to battle!

Background:

Interviewee was born and raised in America, but his parents are both Lebanese. He lived in Dubai during his teen years and has always had very close ties to Lebanon. He visits Lebanon at least once a year and speaks with his parents regularly, where they speak in Arabic and often chat about history. They also all continually practice many Lebanese and Arabic traditions and share folklore. 

Context: 

This interview was conducted over a video call. Interviewee and I are romantically involved, so the conversation was very open and casual. He was very willing to help out and share some of his culture’s lore. 

Thoughts:

This was the first time that I had heard of this Easter tradition. It seems to be quite varied in what region celebrates this tradition because it is widespread, yet isn’t typically celebrated all over Lebanon. Interviewee is from the northern region of Lebanon from a village in the mountain called Al Coura. While it is possible that the tradition emerged from the villagers, because there are other variations of this tradition all over the Middle East and Greek-influenced countries that I think it is safe to say that interviewee’s family was influenced by the Greeks and adapted the tradition to make a fun Easter tradition with some historical significance. In the classic Greek or Armenian game, the smashing of the eggs is supposed to represent smashing of sin. And so, the winner is most sacred. While I’m sure it doesn’t hold the same sentiment in modern times, especially in non-religious families, it is still a fun way to celebrate.

Ukrainian Easter Traditions

The following is a transcribed interview between me and interviewee, hereby further referred to as MT.

MT: We are Greek Catholics, so that’s basically between Greek orthodox and Roman Catholic and so we celebrate on the Greek Orthodox Easter, which is a week after the popular Roman Catholic Easter.

Me: Ok, and how do you celebrate Easter in your village in Ukraine?

MT: There are a lot of things that just have to be done on Easter, it’s kind of a big deal. So, one of the biggest things is this special bread called “Pascha.” My mom, and all the women, typically spend lots of time and make sure they have all the ingredients to make this fresh holiday bread. They also make sausage and jams and all sorts of stuff like that. But the bread is really the main thing – that simply cannot be substituted. And then when the food is done, usually it’s like a day or two in prep, they put a small bit of each kind of food and sometimes some other stuff, depending on how religious your family is, in a basket. Like, just a classic woven basket. 

And then they send one person from the family to the church with the basket so it can be blessed by the priest. Now, this part where us and our food gets blessed by the priest is like a game. So basically everyone waiting to be blessed by the priest stands in a large circle and the priest goes around blessing everyone and their stuff. And everyone makes room for everyone else like a large rotating circle like as soon as the priest blesses someone that spot gets switched out for someone else in the circle if it’s crowded. But no one can leave until the priest goes back to the center and blesses the cross and positions it perfectly. And so sometimes the priest goofs off and like takes his time doing that because everyone wants to rush, I mean like truly run home because supposedly the first one to get back home will be lucky the whole year. So the priest plays with them, if he’s fun, and then everyone fights to be the luckiest man of the year. It’s really funny but yeah we have to do that every year, the whole town gets involved. 

Me: Wow, cool. Do you also do colored eggs like in many other traditions?

MT: Oh, yeah. We do the colored eggs and stuff too, it’s a very busy time of year with lots of running round and food. Just so much food. 

Me: Hahaha

Background:

Interviewee, MT, is from LViv, Ukraine. His family is from a village called Rodatichi in Ukraine. He immigrated to America at age 13, but returns home for occasions. He has lived in Sherman Oaks, CA for the rest of his life thus far and has been happily married to my mom for 11 years. He has been a part of and seen this easter tradition happen all growing up.

Context:

This interview was conducted over lunch at our family home, so it was very casual. He has many stories about the customs of his country that he usually shares with me so it was just like any number of our usual conversations. 

Thoughts:This bread and blessing ceremony is interesting. The bread is pronounced pas-ka and in some languages, it is just the name of Easter. By collecting various Easter traditions from different countries, I’m learning that food and eggs typically play a big part in Easter festivities, no matter the region. What is interesting is that everything in this custom must be home-made. This must be because there have been minimal resources in villages and so women became the homemakers and chefs, especially for holidays. I liked the idea that this custom has grown and changed in order to have humor and recognize the simplicity of being blessed with holiday cheer. I’m sure not everyone can actually know if they were the first person home from church, but I bet it’s nice to think you are.