Description (From Transcript): “This is a custom that we have with the lemon.This one comes from my dad. I see him always carrying a lemon in his back pocket and he’s like, “Give me a lemon”, and i’m like, “okay”, because it absorbs bad energies, especially because he works all day at work. He goes from 5 am and comes back at like 8 pm. There’s like a lot of work and I’m like, okay, I’m gonna give you the lemon. Sometimes he can place a lemon randomly in the corner of a cabinet, or take it home and I’m like what’s the point of doing that? He’s like– because you don’t know how many bad people want bad things towards us. I’m like “what happens if the lemon rots or becomes black?” He’s like “that’s because there’s a lot of bad energies”, and he’s like “you see this one” (there was one next to his bed) he’s like “look at this one. This one’s dry but it’s still green”and I’m like okay “what’s the significance?” And he’s like “Oh, well, there’s not really many bad energies”. I’m like, “Okay, so what happens if you have a lemon that has bad energy?” You’re supposed to go outside and instead of throwing it forward on the floor, you’re supposed to stand backwards and get rid of it, so that you can put all those bad energies behind you.
Context: The informant, VA, is a first generation student at USC. She has one sibling and her family is from Puebla, Mexico. She learned this custom from her dad and says that he is a man who has many superstitions and believes in a lot of rituals and magic. She believes he learned this one from a friend at work. He works at a food production company, specifically poultry. She explains how his friend group at work always talks about superstitions. If any of them sustain an injury, instead of telling each other to go to the doctor, they’ll tell each other to do a certain ritual or go to a certain person (who specializes in superstitions medicine). Even though she does not personally believe this superstition, she explains how her dad believes in it, which to her, demonstrates how much he cares about their family. He doesn’t want any harm to come to them, he’s responsible and caring. So by him carrying the lemon, he is also protecting his family, not just himself.
My interpretation: It’s possible that a lemon would be used as a measure of energy because it’s such a bright, happily colored fruit. Once it starts to rot or green, however, it shows that it has been infiltrated by bad energy. It’s also, seemingly, used for that exact purpose. If the negative energy is strapped in a tangible, affordable and easily disposable container, it’s easy to get rid of that bad energy. Because the informant’s father works in a field where people can be easily injured, it makes sense that co-workers would share home remedies with each other. Finally, it was very telling that the informant admitted she did not personally believe in this, yet appreciated it because it showed her how much her father cared about her well being. This demonstrates how, often, superstitions are not just about avoiding harm, but also about showing affection to loved ones.