Bags of Rice

Nationality: Vietnamese
Primary Language: English
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Performance Date: 04/26/2024


“My mom would make small bags of rice, made out of red velvet, and sew it into any clothes my sister or I got as kids. The bags are pretty small, like the size of a knuckle. She actually still does it if she buys me something, but a lot of my closet is stuff I buy.


The informant, who grew up with Vietnamese parents, recalls his mother sewing the little bags for as long as he can remember. He knew that other people of his extended family did the same thing, but hasn’t heard of it with people of other cultures. When he was a young teen he really being frustrated by it because he thought it was dumb, and that if anything it was irritating for his skin, but now smiles a little every time he wears a piece of clothing containing a bag. It reminds him of his mom, and of the methodical love and affection she showed. He recalls the act of the sewing following each day shopping or after every delivery as a fond ritual.


While the ritual of sewing most likely holds cultural or familial significance for the informants mother, it holds different significance for the informant. Rather than representing good luck, it is a signifier of the love of his mother, and a reminder that he is cared for. The ritual, that was consistently done after any shopping trip, is one that the informant now looks forward to, demonstrating the potential of certain rituals to bring people together. It also serves as a consistent display of affection, from a family member, that can be expected and thus brings comfort. I think that this act is really interesting as I had never heard of it before. I know that the color read often symbolizes fortune in certain cultures, but I find larger interest in the methodical and distinct act. Given that this is not something I have heard before, I believe that it may be unique to the informant’s family, and those holds personal and nostalgic value.