Category Archives: Childhood

The Warid Game

MP is a 47 year old Syrian immigrant from Damascus, Syria. She is an accountant and has lived in the U.S. for almost 30 years now. She explains a game that she would play as a little girl with her friends in Syria. She said girls from 1st to 6th grade would play this game and they called it “warid” which is rose in Arabic. 

MP: You stand in a circle with your friends. You can play with two people, but we liked it better when we would play in big groups. So, you and your friends all make a circle and hold hands and you chant “sakir warda” and we would all run into the circle. Then, we chant “iftah warda” and run back to our original spots. It is a very simple game, but we would just have fun holding hands, and chanting, and running together.

Context: This was told to me in an in-person conversation, and I was able to perform it.


Although it is such a simple game I can see how much fun it would be to 5-12 year old girls. The chant “sakir warda” means close the rose, and the chant “iftah warda” means open the rose. In Syria, gender norms are still heavily adhered to so I could see why this would be such a popular game for little girls, especially around 40 years ago. It is feminine in all aspects and my informant told me it was typically played at school and at parties. 

The Salata Game

MP is a 47 year old Syrian immigrant from Damascus, Syria. She is an accountant and has lived in the U.S. for almost 30 years now. She explains a game that she would play as a little girl with her friends in Syria. She said girls from 1st to 6th grade would play this game and it was called “salata.”


One person would start the chant: “Salata, salata, tabal-naha, kushi fiya illa bandora.”

Translation: Salad, salad, we made it, everything is in it except tomatoes.

Then, the next person would reply by chanting: “Bandora fiha, wa kulshi fiha illa khass ma fia.”

Translation: It has tomato in, and everything in it except lettuce is not in it.

And the game would continue with each person chanting about a different vegetable to add to their salad. 

Context: This was told to me in an in-person conversation, and I was able to perform it.


Although my informant played this in Syria as a little girl, it was also a game that I used to play in America. It was used in my Arabic school to teach us what vegetables are called in Arabic in a fun way. When my informant told me about this game, I was surprised that it was one that I already knew and have played before. This game was played by both boys and girls, however my informant told me that when they would play it in Syria, typically the boys played with the boys and the girls played with the girls. When I would play it years later in my Arabic class, boys and girls all played together. 

Pineapple, Ungratefulness, and Pain

Main Piece: 

It’s this folklore or like this tale my mom used to tell me about how this poor family. The mom had like this child and she did like a lot of work to try to make sure her kid was happy. But the child was always like disrespectful, and like unappreciative of the mother’s hard work. And she kept asking for pineapples and like kept asking like I want pineapples. Like why don’t you ever feed me pineapples? All you feed me is like plain plain food. We never get like any good pineapples, the neighbors do. And so it was it like a fairy or like some celestial Spirit came down and was like, Hey, kid, do you want a pineapple? You keep fucking asking for like, goddamn pineapple. Maybe if you helped your mom out with like the work you got some pineapples. She’s like I shouldn’t have to and he’s like, You know what? I’ll give you pineapples. You can have all the pineapples you want. The only condition is you have to eat it all in one sitting. And so the kid ate a shit ton of pineapples. And because it’s a super acidic fruit, it burned through her tongue. And so it was just like, kind of like a scary little folk tale of like, how you should be appreciative of your, you know, elders and parents. 

Informant’s relationship to the piece: 

“This was like a common tale that like both my mom and dad used to tell me, and I was like, ‘Can I have McDonald’s’, and they’re like, ‘No’. And it’s yeah, a little manipulative. But, I mean, it is true. Like our parents do so much for us. And sometimes we forget how much they do for us. Um and they’re all a little cryptic in cursed ways. But they have sacrificed a lot for us and sometimes by not acknowledging that we end up harming ourselves. Like the little girl who didn’t help her mom and just wanted pineapples and burned her tongue. 


The informant is one of my roommates, a 21-year-old Vietnamese American college student at the University of Southern California. This performance was collected in our living room with one of our other roommates as we were talking about our family and the stories we grew up with. 


Me and my informant are both Asian, and we both grew up with a lot of stories that were supposed to scare us into being good, but this story specifically focuses on appreciating what you’ve been given, and as my informant mentioned, she was told this story when she would ask for fast food, and in addition to being told no, she would also be told this story. This story also imparts the cultural values of respecting your elders and not asking for too much. I think these stories are an easier way to convey these values than just being told that by parents because there’s an element of fear and consequence of major physical harm, which most parents would never threaten their children with. Although, I will say when I was looking into this story to annotate it, I couldn’t find any version of it, but I did find one about a girl who was turned into a pineapple that follows the first half of the story my roommate told me. So who knows, maybe this story was a way for my informants parents specifically to scare her.

For the closely related pineapple story that’s found both in Vietnam and the Philippines see:

“Last one there is a rotten egg”


The informant is a 28-year-old who was raised in the Midwest and has very distinct memories of the game. He stated that this game was something he loved doing as a kid and brought back fond memories of his childhood. He claims that this habit and belief is something that helped him out in life. The game itself is just a fun thing he did as a kid, but not allowing himself to be last or late in anything in life is something he takes seriously now as an adult, and he views it as a great life lesson.


The Folklore was collected through a scheduled zoom meeting with the informant where we discussed his childhood years and different games he would play growing up. He learned this specific tradition from his older brother and whenever he heard it, he would immediately start running to wherever they were going he would end up as the rotten egg.

Main Piece:

The game is one where a group of people are going to a certain location such as getting on a bus, going to play on the playground, etc. The informant recalls that when he would walk with a group of friends as kids, one of them would shout out ‘Last one there is a rotten egg!’ and everyone would race towards their destination. Whoever got their last would then be the “Rotten Egg” and would be teased by the other kids as the “Rotten Egg” until the next round. The informant stated that usually after someone got labeled as the “Rotten Egg”, they would look for some other destination to race to and then keep repeating the phrase “Last one there is a rotten egg” until they no longer lost the race.


Children’s lore is always unique yet seems to bear a common theme throughout. Many of the folklore games that children play seem to have a sort of life lesson or teaching embedded within them. The ‘Last one there is a rotten egg’ game of racing to a location while trying not to be last makes me think of a few examples where this type of lore may have been an important lesson to learn for youth. In older societies that experienced famine, being the last to something might mean not having enough food to survive — Therefore this type of folklore practice would have helped children learn early on to never be last. Another example would be societies that were more nomadic or that had natural predators. In these types of societies, a child that fell too far behind the group would be at risk of getting lost and or attacked by a predator. In today’s world, these same lessons have real-world applications albeit not as extreme. For example, being last in something might cause you to lose out on opportunities in life such as getting into a good college, making a sports team, getting a good job, a promotion, etc. The informant discussed this aspect of the lore in detail and how he viewed this game as a major life lesson that has helped him develop a strong work ethic and desire to succeed in life.

Knock on Wood


The informant is a 27-year-old that grew up in Madison Wisconsin and currently lives in Southern California. He has followed this superstition for as long as he can remember and believes he learned it from his older brother when he was young. He takes it very seriously and anytime he catches himself boasting about something prematurely, he will make sure to knock on wood.

Main Piece:

The Superstition involves a person knocking on wood in order to prevent something that had recently been said from not coming true. The practice is typically seen when someone says something boastful or implies that something good will happen to them with certainty. They will then knock on a piece of hardwood nearby as a way to ward off any jinxing that may have occurred by them stating this out loud.


This folk belief is one of superstition. While superstition tends to have a negative connotation and be viewed as a pejorative term among many people, I think superstitions are usually a positive thing that people partake in. This ‘knock-on wood’ superstition that the informant discussed with me is particularly positive. The practice of doing something to sort of acknowledge an overzealous statement that one has made is a good thing for people to partake in. While it may or may not have any impact on the outcome of a certain event, it forces people to address hubris and maintain a humbler balance of how they speak about things. The literal ‘knock-on wood’ superstition reminds me of another common trope that I have heard many times throughout my life that goes “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”. This tope relates to overzealous farmers that assumed that were going to have as many chickens as they had eggs.

For another version, see Evan Andrews, Aug 22. 2018, Why do people knock on wood for luck?