In the following, my informant recounts one of her pre-performance traditions:
So, in the last few days before we’re about to do a show, we have a tradition called “merde gifting,” where, everyone in the show buys everyone else a small present or treat, and like, it doesn’t have to , they don’t have to buy it, but, like, we make cookies, or little candies, or pencils, or even stuffed animals, it depends, but just something nice to give to the rest of the cast and show them you care about them. And then I guess the other part of it is, more than just giving gifts, you tell people merde before they go on stage, which is supposed to be like, good luck. It comes from french and I think it means “shit” and it means good luck on stage, don’t step in shit, because apparently cows would poop onstage in the olden times or something, I don’t know, but yeah, we tell each other merde and give each other presents before a show.
Although my informant does not know exactly where this tradition comes from, she believes it is derived from something more closely related to the meaning behind merde. However, by now it has simply come to mean “good luck,” and my informant and her fellow performers have expanded upon the word to include gifts, and other ways of showing support. Apparently it is part of a number of traditions designed to foster support among the cast before a show, and has been around for a long time.