Author Archives: PAR

Prayer to Saint Anthony

Text/Interview:

MW: “If you lose something, all you need to do is say the Prayer to Saint Anthony seven times along with seven Hail Marys and your missing object will appear.”

PAR: “What is the Prayer to Saint Anthony?”

MW: “Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please look around. Something is lost and cannot be found.”

Context:

MW first heard this from her grandmother. Although the Church has never officially declared this prayer to be the solution to finding lost items, every time that MW has lost something, she has performed this ritual and the item has magically appeared. She claims that you do not need to do this multiple times, as that would be redundant. Once you get through your 7 prayers to Saint Anthony and your seven Hail Marys, you have received all the divine intervention you will get. Now you must be patient and wait.

My Interpretation:

The first thing that sticks out to me about this is that prayer to Saint Anthony reads like a rhyme. It is almost an incantation of sorts and saying it seven times (along with the seven Hail Marys) will create a spell that will make your object magically re-appear. I think this is an awesome piece of religious Folklore as it shows the blurred line between prayer and Sympathetic Magic.

Three Wishes In a New Church

Text/Interview

MW: “When I was a little girl, I went to catholic grammar in Brooklyn. Every year around Easter time we would have to go to 7 different churches. It was our own local pilgrimage. One year, a nun told me that when you walk into a new church, you get three wishes.”

Context:

MW explained that these wishes are not prayers. The people are not asking God to intercede on their behalf. Instead, it is binding between you and God as you enter a new place. The wish is just a favor God is granting a person for entering His house – like a good host giving a gift to his visitors. MW explained that she has continued this far beyond her grammar school years and has even gotten her three wishes at the Vatican in Rome.

My Interpretation:

I find it very interesting that the tradition of visiting different churches eventually yielded the religious folklore that God will grant the wishes of those who go to a new church. I think this Folk belief shows hopeful optimism as it takes from dogma and establishes a non-canonical connection with the divine. God will grant the wishes of anyone, all they have to do is visit a new church.

PJ Inside Out And Backwards

Text/Interview:

LR: “Every time you want a snow day you have to put your PJs on inside out and backwards.”

Context:

Where LR grew up, snow days were common. She would usually get 2/3 per year. She doesn’t remember where she heard this superstition for the first time but remembers doing it all through school. LR even does this when she wants a snow day off of work. She eventually passed this down to her children, who now do this as well. LR really believes in this superstition. As a result, she only puts her PJs on inside out for special occasions. When you put your PJs inside out and backwards, that makes the magic even more powerful.

My Interpretation:

I think this is a really cool piece of folklore and reminds me of a rain dance. It is a performance that individuals can put on to take control of the elements. Snow days are special events. Thus, it makes sense that a special ritual is necessary in order to get one.

Benny

Text/Interview:

TM: “Every summer, people from New York and Western New Jersey flood to the Jersey Shore. They invade the beaches, cause traffic, and are generally rude. We call them Bennys.”

PAR: “What does Benny mean?”

TM: “Benny an acronym. It stands for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York.”

Context:

TM lives in New Jersey and has dealt with Bennys his entire life. He said that he first heard the term in middle school but it became much more popular when he was in high school as social media helped to popularize the term. TM claims that Benny is a secret word and these individuals do not know they are being made fun of. He also said that although it is a stereotype, it is a fairly accurate one as he has never met a Benny who did not match his expectation of them.

My Interpretation:

This is a very interesting use of slang. The word Benny is used to foster a divide between the native individuals who live at the Jersey Shore and those who are visiting. In this manner, the word Benny gives the individuals from the Shore power over the vacationers as they have authority over the slang. This is transformative speech.

Out of Salt, Out of Money

Text/Interview:

BR: “I have always lived by the saying, ‘Out of Salt, out of money.”

Context:

BR heard this for the first time when he got his first paycheck but remembers a similar saying from even before that. BR truly believes that you are never out of money until you have no salt. He always keeps salt around his house and has even given salt as a housewarming gift for people. BR believes that salt is a comfort level and it goes deeper than simply seasoning your food.

BR: “Salt gives both food and life flavor. When you run out, your life will go bland.”

My Interpretation:

I think this is a very interesting proverb and BR really touched upon its deeper meaning. This proverb lends an excellent insight into American life. Although you may be down, you are never truly desolate unless you have no salt. This gives people agency, as salt is the easiest thing to possess. Thus, if you possess this basic element of daily life, you have a shot.