Author Archives: Amanda Suarez

Candelight Ceremony and Ring Day at Saint Martin’s

Collector: So you’re originally from Louisiana, right?

Informant: Yep!

Collector: In your high school, were there ever some traditions for seniors?

Informant: Oh, there was! There was a ceremony called the Candlelight Ceremony. And the seniors at the time had, like, a lit candle and the juniors would have a non-lit candle, and the seniors would take their lit candle and light the juniors’ non-lit candle.

Collector: Oh that’s cool!

Informant: Yeah, and Ring Day.

Collector: What’s Ring Day?

Informant: Ring Day was when a senior at the time got their senior ring and put it around their neck, then took the ring and put it on a junior’s neck.

Collector: Do you know how that got started?

Informant: Um, I think they were just looking for a creative way to give people their senior rings.


Collector’s notes: I’ve seen the act of giving class rings in a couple of different situations.  A few decades ago, I know that boyfriends would give their girlfriends their class rings as a sort of symbol of their relationship.  It linked the two people together and I think this is sort of like that.  Similarly with the Candelight Ceremony, the “light” has always been a reputation of love and unity (Stritof). In some ways, this ceremony was a way of the senior passing on their love and approval to the juniors, and they were uniting them as “rising juniors” and “graduating seniors.”  It’s as if they belong in the same community for a short while; both considered seniors-but-not-quite.

Because this was a Catholic school, however, the light may have had a simultaneous but different symbol.  In the history of the church, fire and the candle have represented Christ, otherwise known as “The True Light” (Horvat).  Being given a candle at a baptism, for example, is considered “receiving the light of Christ.”  This light is supposed to accompany and strengthen the baby at this liminal point in their life.  At baptism, a newborn or convert becomes a member of the church community.

In a more basic way, fire carries its own representation altogether.  It can, in some ways, represent the three stages of thought and enlightenment (Horvat).  This would be very appropriate in a school setting, especially being given to rising juniors, who are about to start the final year of their child lives. It takes hard work and dedication to create and care for a fire.  The long burning wick of the students’ lives is beginning, and the leaving seniors are sharing their knowledge, or “light” with the new senior class.


REFERENCES : Stritof, Sheri. “Candle Symbolism — Candles Represent Love For Many.”, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Horvat, Marian T., Ph. D. “Symbolism of Candles, Fire by Marian Horvat.”Tradition in Action. Tradition in Action, Inc.,  n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2015.

Clothes-less Curtain Call

Collector: Are there any opening night traditions that you guys do in theatre?

Informant: Um, we had a closing night tradition at my high school. I went to an all girls high school and we would have to borrow boys from the boys’ schools to play the male roles in our shows. And on the last day of the performance, the crew, while they were taking the bow at the end, the costume crew would come and hide the boys’ clothes backstage.

Collector: Oh my. That’s funny!

Informant: Yeah, then they would have to, obviously, walk past all the girls ashamedly in their boxers. I always felt kind of bad about it, because I knew I would hate it if I was doing a show at a boys’ school and they did that, but… I mean it was a tradition!

Collector’s Notes: I think “hazing” would be a strong word for this, but it’s definitely an initiation tactic.  I think a lot of it has to do with gender roles and divides that exist between boys and girls, especially at the really liminal age that kids are at in high school.  These girls were accepting these boys into their community, and in order to make themselves more comfortable, they took the boys’ comfort away.  It also sort of makes light of the obvious tension that usually goes on around boys and girls when they’re involved in things like theatre where everyone is changing backstage and might accidentally catch a glimpse of someone else.  This makes those sorts of taboo situations easier to talk about and manage because it’s done with humor instead of seriousness.  And I think it may have been a way to show a little bit of dominance to the male visitors: Because girls are territorial when it comes to their school, and boys naturally try to take charge of situations that they’re put into.  The act of taking someone’s clothes in our culture is sort of bringing them to a baseline humility, and would make it clear that the girls were in charge.

Turdy Tomfoolery

Informant: So for April Fool’s I saw on Instagram this woman, she’s an artist in New Orleans and she’s crazy! You take a toilet paper roll and you make it all wet, then you rip it up and clump it together and it looks like a poop!

Collector: Oh my God!

Informant: Then you can like, put it somewhere! And the person’s like, “Turd! There’s a turd in the bed!”

Collector’s Notes: I think this has a lot to do with things that we as a Western society view as “taboo.”  It’s very taboo to talk about feces, pr to even talk about going to the bathroom at all!  We tend to pretend like these things don’t exist, like the popular joke and saying that appeared was that “girls don’t poop.”  Well, of course they do.  Everyone and most living things on Earth do.  It’s just the human body doing what it’s supposed to do.  We, however, have developed this weird relationship with going to the bathroom.  It’s seen as a very dirty thing in a world that we like to keep very clean.  We call it “going to the restroom” or “bathroom” when we are neither resting or bathing.  So, for practical jokes, people like to make light of these “taboo” topics and turn them into something funny.  Putting fake poo in places that one wouldn’t expect it is both shocking and bringing the “off-limits” to the forefront.  This joke is definitely one for the books.


Sexy Expulsion at USC

Informant: You might not be able to use this, but there’s like this—it’s not like an urban legend—but there are these two people having sex on a roof at USC and they got expelled. I’ve heard it from a few people.

Collector: Do you know what roof it was?!

Informant: I think it was one of the ones by where they had welcome week, back by the music buildings.

Collector: That’s crazy!

Collector’s Notes: This seemed more like an urban legend for the USC community.  It’s interesting that it was a story about sex, an inappropriate or taboo thing to talk about, and it was a story where the consequence of this taboo action was expulsion from school, a very severe and serious price to pay.  There were interesting and raised stakes because the sex was in a public place, and at school, where something adult like sex is even more inappropriate.  It seems that students at this age in their life are getting used to combining school life and adult life, because they’re on their own with responsibilities for the first time.  Addressing this in a funny way is a way of easing the tension of that reality.


Do it for the Vine!

Collector: Where did the phrase “Do it for the Vine” start? Because people use it, like, not for Vines…

Informant: Okay, so like, I think it specifically started with this little girl and she was being filmed and someone was like “Do it for the Vine” and she was like “I ain’t gonna do it!” And they were like “Do it for the Vine,” and she’s like, “I ain’t gonna do it!” Then finally they’re like “Do it for the Vine!” and she just started dancing.

Collector: Oh! I feel like I’ve seen that one!

Informant: It’s just this girl and she’s like (acts out dance). And she’s like three! And so I think that’s where it started.

Collector: So now I feel like it’s used whenever you want someone to do something like…

Informant: Crazy! Yeah. Like, the image just came to mind: rolling down in shopping carts or something through a parking lot. Someone would be like, “Do it for the Vine!” Cuz it’s like crazy things that you would see on Vine.

Collector’s Notes: I’ve just started hearing this this year, and I’ve heard it used in many context yet similar contexts.  I think my Informant got it right on the nose when they said it’s for doing something “crazy.”  I think I also saw that original Vine once before and it had many, many “revines” or repostings.   Vine in general is a fairly new phenomenon.  Pretty much you get about 6 seconds to do something that people will want to watch or share.  You can film consistently, or you can stop and go with the recording.  I’ve seen a lot of different types of Vines, which is most interesting to me.  I’ve seen stunts, magic tricks, time lapses of recipes being acted out, jokes, and singing.  People have even become “Vine stars” or celebrities now.  Meaning, if their Vine account has a lot of followers, they become verified as a significant person.  This sets up a completely different culture.  Generally only people who spend a lot of time on Vine know who these people are, or what they’re famous for.  I learned from my Informant that a couple “Vine stars” have even been featured in movies like actors.  These people have millions of fans just for posting six second videos that catch people’s attention.  For the “Do it for the Vine” scenario, I think people saw the little girl, thought it was funny, then decided to put their own spin on a trendy video to get views and be a part of the trend itself.  Then, that permeated the division between the digital forum and real life.  It reminds me of the transition from texting terms like “lol” and “rofl” being written, and now being spoken like real words.