When talking to the informant, CS, I asked him to explain a ritual that he, his friends, and his family all share.
CS: “We have a friend who is no longer with us because he was killed by police officers. He always loved the Golden State Warriors and he specifically loved drinking Sailor Jerry spiced rum. His love for Sailor was actually enough for him to have the logo tattooed on his body. So, to honor his memory, we planted a tree in his name in our front yard. Now every time there is a Warriors game, before the game starts, those of us who can make it to the tree go and drink Sailor Jerry, then pour out a small amount of it onto the ground for him.”
The person that CS is speaking of was a family friend who had grown up with him and his brother. He was killed in a situation of excessive force that was racially motivated with him being a black male. The ritual around this has no specific religious affiliation and is more individually spiritual.
Discussion around the tree and the ritual of pouring out the drink for a dead loved one came up during discussion in the anniversary week of said friend’s passing.
This tragic loss of a young friend feels like it fuels the spirit around the ritual of metaphorically having a drink with them. Since the lost loved one was in that stage of social celebration, the ritual locks the fun and bright side of their life in place, separate from the sorrow at the end. It feels vaguely familiar to Chinese and Korean practices of leaving food and drinks for loved ones at their graves for them to enjoy in the afterlife. Also, the specific timing of having it be during a sports game emphasizes a ritual timing where the perceived boundary between the two worlds is thinner.
For more appearances of this kind of paying respect, see the collection piece below on “Placing Cutlery for the Dead – A Korean New Years Tradition.”