Author Archives: Destiny Oquendo-Thomas

Sorority Stroll


AG is my friend from back home in Chicago, Illinois. She was born in Joliet, Illinois and then moved to Chicago when she was five years old. She is of Mexican and Salvadoran descent. She attends university in Illinois and is part of a Latino founded sorority. I am a part of the same sorority here at USC. The name of our sorority was left out for anonymity purposes. 


DO (interviewer) : I think that being a part of a sorority in a way comes with its own sense of community and folklore, wouldn’t you agree?

AG: Yeah totally! I think I see my sorority sisters more than I see my own family *laughs.*

DO: I definitely agree. What do you think are some traditions or rituals or beliefs that we have that come with  *name of sorority?* 

AG: Hmmm. I don’t know. I feel like there’s a lot that other people not in it can think is specific to us. I know people always have a culty vibe to sorority *laughs* 

AG: I think maybe strolling? I know that other non multicultural sororities definitely don’t stroll so I think it’s just POC orgs that stroll the way we do?

DO: Oh yeah! That’s a good example. 

AG: And like. We all obviously have the national stroll that we all have to learn as part of our process. But then I think it’s cool that we all have like chapter strolls and stuff like that. You know? Like our chapter stroll is different than yours. 

DO: It also can differ from class to class. 

AG: Right. Like when I initiated with my class we danced to a certain song and now the new babies know that, that song is a stroll but for their celebration they had a completely different one. So I guess if we’re talking about culture there’s an example of how many little different communities we have even within our little community. If that makes sense. 


According to Oring, folklore implies some group of people who share something. Here the informant and I used our social groups to demonstrate how similar and different the same community can be when separated by some factor. Though her chapter is in Illinois and mine is in California, both have some essential elements. In terms of dances and performances, every new class has a show where they reveal themselves to their academic community, and during this, we have to perform a “stroll,” which is a dance. Regardless of where they are in the country, every member of our sorority knows the “National Stroll” and can all dance the same exact moves to the same songs. There are other rituals/traditional elements to these showcases that we all follow. However, as mentioned, we all also have our own chapter stroll. My stroll here at USC consists of different moves to another song than her Illinois chapter. As the informant mentioned, each new class that initiates can also have its own stroll that differs from the two already mentioned. These dances allow unity and sisterhood across all state borders and enough uniqueness to stand out and make a name for our chapters individually. Though we are technically the same community with shared folklore, we also have smaller communities with differing folklore within this larger one. This idea can also be applied to other groups, such as ethnic ones. 

New Year’s Traditions


AG is my friend from back home in Chicago, Illinois. She was born in Joliet, Illinois and then moved to Chicago when she was five years old. Her mother was born and raised in Joliet and is of Mexican descent. Her father immigrated to California when he was twenty five years old from El Salvador. He then moved to Joliet when he was thirty. 


DO (interviewer):  I know that we often talk about certain superstitions or things that our families do during the holidays. Can you talk to me more about which one or ones you consider to be your favorite? Or one, or ones, that you do the most often?

AG: The one we have the most fun with is probably the suitcase one on New Years. It’s so fun dude. 

DO: Can you talk more about it? 

AG: So, the saying goes. Once midnight hits on New Year’s Eve, so technically I guess it’s New Year’s Day at that point. Anyway. Once it hits you run around with an empty suitcase. Just around your block a few times and this will ensure that you travel a lot in the upcoming year. 

DO: What does this tradition mean to you and what’s your stance on it? Do you believe it works?

AG: Well, growing up we were mad poor. You know this. Even after we moved to the city we didn’t have much money, you know? So it was fun to just run around with my parents and just dream and hope. I’ve traveled a few times throughout my life so I’d say that even if it doesn’t work I’d like to think it does. I’ve never not done it because I wanna travel girl! 


The informant and her family have this holiday tradition/ritual every year to bring in lots of traveling. My family also has similar stories of performing this tradition when they were younger, so there are cultural ties to this. However, this empty suitcase travel method is a ritual not tied to a specific cultural community; many cultures have some variation of this lore. Past just performing it because of cultural beliefs, the informant holds a particular superstition about it. She believes that if she doesn’t stick to this tradition, then she will travel less. As she also mentioned, this was a way for her and her family to remain hopeful for future fun during rough times. It is special to the informant for this reason, and she continues to perform it and believes that it helps her travel more. 

Egg Limpia

SD is my close friend here at USC. Her parents are both from Columbia and immigrated to the US. Her mother is from Cartagena, Colombia, and immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, when she was sixteen. Her father is from Salento, Colombia, and immigrated to Clifton, New Jersey, when he was twenty. They all now reside in Orlando, Florida.

Here you see an example of an egg cleanse that the informant preformed on me while we were together.


DO (interviewer): As a Colombian-American, are there are religious traditions or rituals that your family has?

SD: Egg limpiezas I think are considered a ritual that we have. It’s like a spiritual thing, so I’d say yeah that. 

DO: Can you explain more about what that means and what exactly the ritual entails?

SD: So you’ll need an egg, sometimes multiple but I’ll explain that later, a cup with water, salt, a toilet, and rubbing alcohol. So first off, you need the egg to be warm so some people leave their eggs out but I think that’s mad gross so, I just hold mine in my hand until it feels room temperature or at least until it isn’t cold. Then you pour rubbing alcohol over it. I think this is to clean it, but honestly I don’t know why we do this, I just know it’s important. Then, you rub the egg all over your body, even under your feet. I think this part depends from person to person because I’ve heard some people do different things. You either say like “I remove all negative energy from my body” or you say positive affirmations. I think either works. Then once you do this around your whole body. You fill the cup with water and break the egg open in the water. Then you read the results. 

DO: What do you mean by results? 

SD: Whatever you see in the water/egg mixture thing means something. If you see spikes that means that you gossip a lot or others gossip about you a lot and this is blocking your blessings. If the egg looks cloudy or dull this means that you have certain physical blocks. So this can mean lots of headaches, hard time focusing,always tired, body pain, stuff like that. If there’s strings going from the yolk to the surface then this means that there’s certain people in your life that you need to cut ties with and these strings represent these ties. And bubbles are “the bad energy” (did air quotes) leaving your body and spirit. So you want lots of bubbles. Bubbles means it’s working. I think there’s more but I don’t really know them off the top of my head. 

DO: You mentioned that there is sometimes a need for multiple eggs, when would these other eggs come in?

SD: So if your results are bad, meaning there’s a lot of anything other than bubbles, then there could still be bad energy trapped in you. So my dad usually says that you should do egg cleanses until there’s only bubbles in your cup. 

DO: And do you put these in the same cup? Or another way to ask that I guess is are there multiple eggs in one cup?

SD: Oh, no! Once you do one reading you dispose of the egg and stuff and then do another one. 

DO: And how do you do this? 

SD: You throw it in the toilet. Well first, you sprinkle salt into the cup and the salt traps the bad energy into the cup and ensures that it won’t come back for a while. And never EVER look into the cup from the top down view. When doing the readings make sure that you’re only looking through the side of the cup. If you look at the cup from top down then you’re inviting back in the negative energy that you just took out, so it would defeat the purpose. Then just flush it down the toilet and you’re good. 

DO: Do you feel as if these cleansings work for you? Have you had success with them? What about your family?

SD: It’s actually pretty funny I guess, because my family is super religious and that’s an important part of our culture. But I think that egg cleansing are technically witchcraft. But I love doing them when I feel something is off and my family does too. I genuinely do feel better after I do it. 


This ritual can be looked at from numerous different perspectives. Technically it can be seen as a medical type of folklore, but not for your physical body but instead for your spirit. It also ties into a discussion about religion and religious lore. The informant’s family practices Catholicism, but this ritual is considered to be black magic by many. This ritual shows just how personal folklore can be since this family holds some practices from Catholicism and some from witchcraft. Although they may deny the validity of other witchcraft rituals, they fully believe in the one they perform. 

New Year’s Traditions


SD is my close friend here at USC. Her parents are both from Columbia and immigrated to the US. Her mother is from Cartagena, Colombia, and immigrated to Newark, New Jersey, when she was sixteen. Her father is from Salento, Colombia, and immigrated to Clifton, New Jersey, when he was twenty. They all now reside in Orlando, Florida. 


DO (interviewer): I’m interested to know if your family has any New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day traditions that you practice to ring in the new year?

SD: I think we have a couple different ones in my family. The first one has to do with grapes. With eating grapes. Basically, you get a bunch of grapes New Year’s Eve early in the morning. Then you wait until it’s ten minutes before the New Year comes. So 11:50. Then you start eating grapes. 

DO: Is there something specific that you do or say when eating the grapes? And what significance do the grapes have for your family’s New Year? 

SD: Yes! So. Each grape is the equivalent of one wish. So for each grape that you eat you’ll have one wish granted. So you just have to close your eyes and make a wish and really believe that the wish is gonna come true, then eat the grape and it’s done. 

DO: Nice. I like that. Are there any other traditions that you especially like? 

SD: I wouldn’t say that I like this one per say, but my sisters do. This one just says that you wear a specific color of underwear to sleep on New Year’s Eve and when you wake up on New Year’s Day the process to getting you that thing starts. *pauses* 

SD: Wait, that sounds confusing, let me reword that. Essentially, let’s say that you want to manifest love into your life. You’ll wear red underwear. And so on for all the colors. The colors go like this: yellow is money, green I think is more time outside or in nature, pink is friendship, white is peace, and blue is health. So you wear whatever color underwear to bed right. Then you wake up the next morning and lets keep with the red example. So you wake up the next morning and the universe or God or whatever you believe in is now making the path to get you a nice relationship.

DO: You mentioned that your sisters like this one a lot. How do you feel about it?

SD: I think I’m more of a grapes type of person. Honestly, I’ve been doing that one since I was a kid so I think to me it still has that spark of childhood magic to me. But the underwear thing seems like a scam to me. But who knows. 


After speaking more with the informant, she said these beliefs came from her parent’s Colombian roots. In my family, we also share a similar tradition both with the grapes and the colored underwear, so I believe that this holiday tradition does have ties to Latinx folklore. The grapes can also be considered children’s folklore in this informant’s case. She mentioned how when she was younger, she started off performing these “rituals” so even if they may not actually grant her wishes, she chooses to continue to do so. This shows the importance of children’s folklore and the types of impressions that it leaves on us as we continue to grow. Sometimes things that we consider “magic” as children continue to be a connection to that feeling as we age. 

Vicks Vaporub


RH is my roommate’s boyfriend here at USC. He was born in Atlanta but was raised most of his life in Brooklyn, New York. His parents are Dominican American and were born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. 


DO (interviewer): Being of Latino descent or more specifically Caribbean descent are there any medical treatments or remedies that your family has?

RH: Yeah. 

RH: I think the one I can think of the most is one that probably all Latino people have. It’s Vicks. You know. Vicks solves everything to these people. 

DO: Interesting. Can you talk more about how it is used medicinally? 

RH: Sure. For my family it was like an all over thing. You’d put some in your nose if you can’t breathe. My mom would also make us rub some on our feet and then put socks on. Then we’d sleep with the socks and those two things were like holy grail. “Te vas a sentir mejor.” “You’ll feel better is what she would say to me basically. 

DO: And how do you feel about it? Do you think this was actually a remedy or do you think it was more of a myth?

RH: Mmm. I don’t know. I think that specifically the nose thing definitely worked. Like it would burn when you put some in your nose because it’s like cooling. But because of that I think the boogers would come out or I don’t know what would happen, but I would feel less stuffy nosed. But the sock thing I don’t know. I don’t really know the point of that one or what it did, so it could’ve been more BS than the nose thing. I think it’s just because my folks don’t like going to the doctors. 


In the Latino community, Vicks Vaporub is often used to help recover when someone is sick with a cold or the flu. While it has no ties to a specific Latinx culture, this can be considered an essential part of Latinx folklore. If you ask numerous people of Latinx descent, you will find that this is a common medicinal folklore practice that many believe works. It is most popular with the older generations in our culture, as reflected in the informant’s hesitation to say that this entirely acts as a remedy for the flu or a common cold. There may not be any scientific evidence that Vicks Vaporrub actually helps in any capacity, but the Latinx community still uses it religiously when under the weather. In our culture, there is, unfortunately, sometimes a lack of trust in doctors or fear of miscommunication/misdiagnosis. The informant believes this medicinal folklore comes from the yearning to self-heal because of these fears and lack of trust.