Family Initiation – Sooty Plates

One of my good friends in High School’s family initiates new members in a very peculiar way. This right of passage is done at liminal points in time. Normally, on wedding weekends, her family conspirea to embarrass the unsuspecting victim. For a select group of close friends and me, she decided to get all of us right before we left for college. The premise of the prank is that her family wants to teach the victim family secrets about mental relaxation. I called my friend to give me the full run-down on how this prank is effectively carried out, seeing as I was blindfolded the entire time it was being done to me.

  • The victim(s) are gathered into a dark room and told to sit down.
  • As they wait on the ground, they are told to close their eyes.
  • After being instructed to take several deep breaths, the victims are handed a cold plate.
  • The victims are told to slowly rub the cold plate with their hands, feel its temperature with every breath, but not to open their eyes, as it will ruin the sensation.
  • After the victims have rubbed their cold plate, they are instructed to press their cold plate against their cheeks.
  • Slowly, they are told to move the plate around their face, feeling every square inch of the cool plate against their skin.
  • To conclude, the victims are instructed to place their plates on the ground in front of them, and place their hands on their face firmly, allowing every bit of the coolness to transfer from the plate to their bodies.
  • Then all of a sudden, the orchestrator turns on the lights, and shouts for everyone to open their eyes.
  • The victims are horrified to realize that their faces are completely covered in soot, and the cool plate they had bee holding was previously coated in the black substance.

My friend is not sure when her family’s prank originated, and neither does her father. It is amazing to think that this prank could go back hundreds of years, all as a result of oral communication from generation to generation.