Author Archives: Shea Lenniger

The Candle Dragon

“My grandpa loved to tell my this story of the Candle Dragon. He told it to me many times when I was younger. It explains why there are four seasons and day and night. There was a mysterious mountain in a rural part of China, where this serpent or dragon type creature with a human head lived. He was almost like a god for the people. His eyes were fiery and bright and when he had them open it was day. When he closed his eyes, it was nighttime. He created seasons when he breathed. So he would breathe in to create the summertime and blow out to make it cold during winter winter. Some versions say he had a sort of candle in his mouth, which is where he got the name of the Candle Dragon. When my grandpa told it, it was more story like, but I’m just stating the main facts of the tale.”

The informant has relatives in China who are very knowledgeable about Chinese folklore, although she was born here in the US. She said that she first heard this story from her grandpa, but other family members knew it as well. It’s a Chinese creation myth basically, describing what makes night and day and the seasons. Of course a dragon is involved, since dragons are respected in the Chinese culture.

I think this story is a cool version of another culture’s explanation for the seasons. It’s interesting how each culture has different aspects that make their creation myths unique to that region, like I mentioned earlier, as this story uses a dragon for example. It’s clever too, with the use of his eyes being the source of the sun and the moon.

Rubbing Alcohol Cures

The informant was born in Ventura, CA but her father is from Mexico City and her mother is from Guadalajara. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and partakes in many of the Mexican customs.

“We use rubbing alcohol all the time in my family. When you have a fever, it helps when you soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and you put it in your belly button. Haha, I don’t know why your belly button. But also you grab a wet towel saturated with rubbing alcohol and put it on your forehead. Also on your feet too. I think since it kind of has a cooling effect, it’s helpful. When you’re nauseous it helps when you smell it. My mom uses it all the time. She always has packets of those rubbing alcohol pads and smells them when she is feeling queasy.”

The informant learned all of these tricks from her mother who insisted that she use rubbing alcohol whenever she was sick. She is my roommate and I see her using rubbing alcohol all the time when she is sick with a cold or something. She believes that it is helpful and says that you can’t just use a damp towel, it has to be rubbing alcohol.

While I’ve never heard of these methods, I can understand why rubbing alcohol would seem beneficial. It does have a cooling effect, and it’s scent probably works like Vicks in a way to open up your airways. While I probably won’t use this method anytime soon, since rubbing alcohol seems harsh on the skin, it seems to work for the informant and her family.


Don’t Shower When Sick

“So when I’m sick, my mom tells me not to take a shower. Like even if I’m sick for a week, she doesn’t let me shower. She says not to wash your hair because it will make the cold worse. If you sit around with wet hair your body will absorb the cold wetness and it will make you miserable. And even when you aren’t sick, you can’t wash your hair and go out in the cold with wet hair. You need to dry your hair before going out. Also you can’t have your feet uncovered or you will get sick. That’s why I always wear socks when I’m around the house.”

The informant was born in Ventura, CA but her father is from Mexico City and her mother is from Guadalajara. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and partakes in many of the Mexican customs.

She said her mom always told her this, and her dad agrees as well. However, it’s her mom who constantly reminds her to put socks on if she’s barefoot, or to dry her hair before she goes outside.

My parents have told me similar things about not going out with wet hair if it’s cold outside. I’m not sure it really impacts your health in that way, but it’s a very popular myth. I always wondered why Hispanics and Latinos are always usually seen wear some type of footwear, even indoors, and now I understand why.

Don’t Watch a Dog When it Poops

The informant was born in Ventura, CA but her father is from Mexico City and her mother is from Guadalajara. She is bilingual in Spanish and English and partakes in many of the Mexican customs. The following is a superstition that is common within her community and family. 

“I’ve definitely heard other people say this too, but I originally heard it from my mom. She says, if you ever dare stare at a dog while it poops you will get a pimple on your eye. So, for example, when I had my dog, my mom would see it pooping and she would see me watching it and my mom would be like DON’T LOOK AT IT! But it’s one of those things where you kinda want to look, since you’re forbidden not to and it’s more exciting. So one day I just decided that I was gonna look, and you know what? I was fine! I didn’t get a pimple on my eye, even those I was nervous I was going to.”

The informant originally heard it from her mom, but says people in her community all believe the same thing. She also said it applies to any dog anywhere. It’s not just your own, and it can be when you’re out in public as well.

I personally had never heard of this ever before, and when she told me about it I was laughing so hard. I think it’s so fascinating how something can be made such a big deal just by believing it. Since I had no idea this was a thing, I obviously never thought twice about seeing a dog poop. But for her, she said it was this big thing when she was younger. She said she was so curious because it seemed like such a bad thing to do that she always tried to sneak a peak when her mom wasn’t looking so she wouldn’t yell at her.

Gua Sha Remedy

“For remedies, there is this thing in Chinese culture where you take a spoon or a coin or something, rub oil on ur back, and then have someone run the spoon along your back as if you were scraping the oil off. If you develop red circle marks or red dots (other than from the scraping), it means you had toxins in ur body and this was like taking the toxins out and you could see it supposedly. Oh and this is called Gua Sha, by the way. Sometimes my grandma would use this on me, but it’s very uncomfortable. I hurts kind of, like a super deep massage. And then they’ll do it for like 20-30 minutes. That’s a long time to be scraping someone’s skin, so of course it hurts.”

The informant is from a Chinese background, although she was born in the US in Northern California. She has relatives that still live in China and her grandparents are very traditional with their remedies, traditions, and superstitions.

This remedy is very popular among Chinese culture, and is truly believed to help relieve pain and bring it to the surface. It can be performed in the home, by friends or family members who know how to do it, or can also be done at various businesses that specialize in this type of therapy.

To me, this sounds similar to the cupping method that is becoming so popular recently. Both of these seem very intense and I’m sure the deep massage feeling is very good to loosen up your body and help regulate circulation, etc. However, I don’t know if I would ever partake in this type of thing. It seems very harsh on your skin and muscles and I don’t think I would have the courage to actually try it. I’m curious as to how this began and what was the reasoning behind it.