Category Archives: Customs

Customs, conventions, and traditions of a group

Greek Red Egg Cracking on Easter


I have a Greek friend whose family still practices lots of older Greek folk traditions. One of these is an Easter tradition involving eggs that are dyed red. Everyone takes one and they begin smashing them against each other, two at a time. Typically, when two eggs meet, only one of them cracks. The person whose egg is left untarnished is said to have good luck for the rest of the year! It’s almost like a competition or a game, and my friend told me there’s some strategy to it, since you can use either side of the egg to hit someone else’s.


My friend doesn’t really believe in the superstitious aspects of Greek traditions, even if his mother and extended family do. He does, however, enjoy participating because some Greek traditions are very fun, like this one. My friend didn’t really know the significance of the eggs cracking or why they were painted red. We had to do some research to find out that the cracking of an egg symbolizes Jesus’ opening of the tomb he was buried in, and the red dye is to symbolize Jesus’ blood shed on the cross. He told me that his grandma definitely knew about this but had not discussed it to him as a child, probably because of its grotesque nature. For my friend’s Greek family, the tradition has a significance greater than its religious one because it brings the family together for the holiday.


I did some more research on my own and found out that some people attribute the egg tradition to Mary Magdalene, whose cooked eggs miraculously turned vibrant red when she witnessed Jesus rising from the grave. Easter egg painting has remained a tradition across Europe and into the Americas. In America, where religious tradition has become remarkably secular, Easter egg painting has become a simple activity to entertain kids on the holiday. In my friend’s family, however, I believe the intention was to teach children about important religious stories and celebrations. Painting eggs red and cracking them is an easy way to remember what happened when Jesus rose from the dead. My friend may have been too young for the lesson to be taught, but he did know his grandma to be a teacher of religious stories to her chidlren and grandchildren.

Family Baptismal Gown – Family Ritual

The family of the informant has used the same baptismal gown for many generations. At least one child in each section of the family wore the gown while being baptized, and many times in the same church. This gown was said to be made from fine linen cloth brought straight from Ireland. The informant wore the gown and their sibling also did, but their cousin on their mother’s side (the side of gown tradition) wore their mother’s. However, the informant said there is now much question in the family as over one hundred people have worn it, but it is currently missing. The informant said that this gown held importance to much of the family to carry on wearing the traditional gown, but now there is discussion of making another one since the first is gone.

Context – Many families will often have a garment or cultural object that holds meaning among the family or a common group. For the informant in this story, the baptism gown is that object and became a symbol of family heritage and carried meaning from generation to generation. This crosses over into the realm of folklore due to the mass of the shared ritual and the commonality that each family may have similar garments or rituals.

Analysis – For those who have a cultural object carrying meaning among a family, there is much symbolic meaning and weight carried by the object. The object no longer is seen as a simple piece of cloth to be worn, but rather a symbol of generational wealth, prosperity, and heritage. In families such as the informant, there is a question created as to where clothing/objects begin carrying weight, and where does the meaning begin collecting deep folklore and meaning among a shared group — it is unclear and decided family by family case whether the object can be replaced or changed at all (such as in this informants family).  

Maile Leaves – Hawaiian Traditions

The informant explains that it is tradition in Pacific Islander culture to wear maile leaves during major life events/luaus. Some examples of times worn are first communions, graduations, weddings, family celebrations, and major commencements. This can be considered a big honor in Pacific Islander families and mostly only worn by male individuals in direct relation to islander blood (either born islander, or married in/accepted). The female version of the maile leaves is the traditional lei; however a male can wear both a lei and the leaves, but females will only wear the leis.

Context – Maile leaves are a very common piece to wear during major celebrations in Pacific Islander culture. As lies are very well known among many cultures and popular culture associated with Pacific Island culture, Maile leaves are not as well known as they are more specific to male participants during celebrations — almost as if it is “closer” to the culture although this may not be exactly correct. Maile leaves are often seen within depictions or pacific culture, however they are not as well noted or acknowledged by those outside the culture. The most common knowledge about gear worn similar to the maile leaves is the flower lei that is used both within the culture and outside among tourists, western culture, and costumes.

Analysis – The practice of wearing maile leaves, particularly in relation to those with pacific islander blood can serve as a way to remember and practice tradition among your heritage. The informant expressed major emphasis on the honor and “rules” of wearing maile leaves which preserves the long practice of pacific islander culture. This is a way in which you can keep the memory and heritage of an area relevant and a part of major moments in a participant’s life. Especially since many of the pacific islands are smaller territories, the practice of culture is important to those with pacific islander background because it preserves and creates space for agency of an area.

Muslim tradition : Eid

Nationality: American
Primary Language: English
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Performance Date: 9 April 2024

Tags: Muslim, Islam, Christmas, Ramadan, family, festival


Eid can be seen as an “Islamic Christmas”, a time where one can spend time with family and friends to celebrate the end of Ramadan and such. It’s actually tomorrow (April 10 as of this recording) but it usually lasts 3 days minimum, with people celebrating as long as they want or need to for about a week or two. It’s based on the Lunar calendar. People often go to each other’s houses, celebrating with prayer and joy, and the holiday is very familial in nature. Since it starts right as Ramadan ends, the goal is to break one’s fast every day, starting by eating a date, due to the belief that the prophet Mohammed also broke his own fast with a date. The phrase for this festival is “Eid Mubarak”, which approximately translates to “Happy Eid”, simply.


J is a student studying ANTH 333 in the University of Southern California. She regularly participates in Muslim traditions and cultural activities with her friends and family.


The comparison between Eid and Christmas is pretty interesting, as while both festivals/celebratory periods have virtually nothing to do with each other, the activities and festivities held in each are similar enough to where a comparison can be drawn. It’s evident to see through Eid and various other religion-based festivals that spending time with family to eat and have fun together is a universal experience that goes beyond location or religion-based culture.

Taiwanese Festival: Lunar New Year

Nationality: Taiwanese
Primary Language: Taiwanese, Mandarin
Age: 46
Occupation: Branch Manager
Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
Performance Date: 19 April 2024

Tags: Lunar, New year, firecrackers, red, family, Asia


Lunar New Year (also called Chinese New Year) is one of, if not the, most famous festivals/traditions in all of Asia. Starting at the turn of the Lunar Calendar (around February in the Gregorian calendar), families from all around Asia come together to enjoy good food, share fortune with each other, and have good times. Various activities before and after the main celebration include cleaning the house to let the good fortune inside, putting scrolls and characters on doors and walls, decorating various places with red, and lighting fireworks. The latter two are in relation to the mythological story of Lunar New Year, about a fierce beast named Nian who would come and terrorize the local people before they warded him off with firecrackers and the color red. Now, elders give the young red envelopes filled with money (usually after a short give-receive ritual of sorts), eat foods like dumplings in the shape of money and other such cuisine that invoke good fortune, and have an overall wonderful time with each other.


C was born and raised in Taiwan, and has traveled the world various times due to her work and studies. She regularly participates in Taiwanese and Asian festivities with friends and family.


I put “Taiwanese Festival” in the title, but really, any sort of Western Asian country would do due to how widespread this particular festival is. Virtually every single action one takes and food one eats can be linked to a specific belief or superstition, making it one of the busiest times of the year for Asians due to how much work gets put into everything. It truly is a showing of how various different people from different backgrounds can come together and share in one traditional time.