Author Archives: Rebecca Witzel

Traps and Doors

When my friend was a kid she played a game at recess on circular four square court.  The game was essentially a variant of tag.  One person would be it and they would chase the other players around the court.  The rules were that the players must stay on the outside of the court and not enter any of the squares.  The court had cracks in it which could be entered from the outside but if a player was on the inside the cracks became a dead end and they had to turn around.  When players were tagged they went into the prison area (the squares in the court) and they could be tagged out.

My friend invented this game and played it with her friends at recess so the game was very close to her.  I think she felt pride that her friends all partook in a piece of folklore that she invented.

The game seems to be at its heart very close to tag but the moderations allow tag to be played in an area that would ordinarily be much too small for tag.  This shows the evolution of a folkloric game into a form that is adapted for the environment it was confined to.  The addition of the cracks as a rule also shows the complexity in the game practice and an incorporation of the environment into the gameplay.

 

 

 

Business Frat Hazing Tradition

My friend knows someone in a business frat who told her that one of the things they had to do as hazing was spend four hours locked in closet together in complete darkness.  While they waited the members played  the song called Trapped in a Closet on repeat.

My friend found this tradition to be rather simplistic.  She didn’t think that there was any point to this hazing tradition because it wasn’t teaching the hazed individuals any real lesson.  Instead it was just hazing for the purpose of hazing.

I agree with her, the hazing tradition is rather simplistic.  It doesn’t seem to have any purpose except to teach the prospective members to blindly do what they are told.  This is an unhealthy form of hazing because the lack of lesson is degrading and represses individuality.  As a result it reinforces the idea of hazing as cruelty.  This probably furthers the process of hazing from year to year because it will make new members them more likely to inflict this kind of cruelty onto others as their comeuppance for having them done to them.

Naked Marching Band in Notre Dame

One of the traditions amongst the USC marching band is to go to the Notre Dame game naked under their uniforms.  Notre Dame is located in Ohio and most of the time it’s about 40 degrees outside during the game.  The marching band does not get cold however because the body heat from everyone around them keeps them warm.

A friend in band told me this tradition.  It is a secret tradition so he is technically not supposed to tell it as he claims the uniforms are considered a valuable item and this tradition is degrading to them

This tradition seems to be making commentary on the lines of decency.  The participants in this tradition are technically within the realm of what would be considered acceptable in terms of exposing themselves but they are still playing with the confines of this rule while also making a statement in regards to disgracing a shared enemy, the Notre Dame team.

Marching Band Basketball Initiation

One USC marching band tradition that occurs basketball games is that the band will start to scream 57 when the score reaches that number.  Additionally they will taunt any player on the opposing team who has a 22 as the number on their jersey jeering “tweeeenneey twoooo, tweeennneey twoooo”

The informant explained to me that this is a tradition that plays a role in inducting new members into the band.  New members learn this tradition at the first basketball game of the season when the rest of the band starts jeering and screaming they join in.

This is a good example of a tradition based around the liminal period.  The new members are in a place where they are physically in the band, in that they are preforming with them, but they don’t yet know the traditions, so they are not yet psychologically a member of the band.  After the first game however they learn the unofficial rules of being in band and leave the game feeling more a part of the band community.

Minnows can be beauty salon employees

My friend told me one folk tradition she and her sister used to do as children.  They would sit on the edge of a pond and stick their feet in the shallow water.  After a while the minnows would come by and they would start biting at their feet, removing the dead skin.

We were watching a documentary on sea life and she volunteered this tradition.  She claimed it feels like small pokes and was not painful at all.  She said that the practice was also used by Asian spas, which would stick your feet in buckets of water with minnows in them.

The process seems to be an at home beauty solution which incorporates nature.   It’s much cheaper, although somewhat more inconvenient that buying something to exfoliate your feet for you or paying for a spa visit. It makes sense that this originated as an eastern tradition since eastern medicine is known for incorporating natural remedies.  It is interesting that it was adapted as a practice for children since it is also almost a daredevil game because it places children in a much closer relationship with nature than they would normally be.  Minnows are not inherently dangerous but using them to clean your feet you are mastering nature.

Source: http://www.dvorak.org/blog/2007/08/15/new-spa-treatment-fish-eat-your-dead-skin-cells/