Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/3/2019
Primary Language: English
P: If you blow out the candles, the amount of times you, it takes for you to blow out the candles is how many children you’re going to have
P: Oh wait, that means you’re going to have one child, cause you blew once
J: See I thought you were saying you get what you wish for and M doesn’t want to have kids, so….
P: But yeah that’s why I said that you’d have zero because I thought it started at zero but I guess it starts at one.
M: But the abortion negates it.
Context: The collector is noted by the letter J. Informant P is the one who knows of this custom, and informant M is celebrating her birthday. Informant P learned this belief from her Indian parents.
Analysis: This custom celebrates not only the birth of the person blowing the candles but also their potential fertility and their future as a reproductive being. That said, the idea of blowing out the candle isn’t necessarily inherently sexual, but instead is just a physical way of blowing out the flames. Perhaps the flame is a representation of single life without children and each failed blow is a child that fails to tame the fire of the blower’s sexuality. However, this isn’t meant to be a ritual to bring on the children but is instead a predictive belief. Despite this, I am confused as to how to reconcile with the fact that people have multiple birthdays. Does the number of blows add up from year to year? That seems impossible given that humans don’t tend to have 13 children (assuming that the counting stops once the being is fertile. Or is it an average of all of the blows per birthday? Regardless, the belief itself isn’t concerned with the mathematics of the custom but instead is primarily focused on celebrating birth and fertility.