Tag Archives: candy

Candy cone


Background: Informant is a 51 year old Israeli American. They grew up in Germany for the first seven years of their life, which is where this tradition took place. They are talking about their first day of school in Germany, describing a tradition that’s done there. 

Informant: On the first day of school, kids’ parents buy them this big cone like in the size of a typical kindergartener. Like, early grade, like first grade of school. It was done on the first day of school. They will fill it with lots and lots of candies and snacks and they close it and that’s how you go to school and you take a picture with it and everyone had a cone. 

Reflection: I loved hearing about this tradition as we don’t have it in America at all. When doing research, I saw how present this tradition is in Germany and how integral it is to kid’s culture there. It represnts the modern creation of childhood and how it operates in the West. We do these things in Western culture to celebrate kids milestones, and this is a largely recent form of folklore; kid’s folklore.

Throwing Candy After the Torah Portion in Bat/Bar Mitzvahs

Main Content:

M: Me, I: Informant

I: Oh I just remembered another one. The traditions I was most excited for when I got bat mitzvahed is like after you finish your Torah portion I think or half Torah portion, um everyone in the synagogue has a piece of candy and they throw it at ya.

M+I: *laughs a little*

I: They throw the candy at you.

M: Uh-huh (agreement)

I: Uh and that’s just you know as like a congratulatory thing, like ‘Get it,’ you know. Like , it’s like, the congregation saying ‘sweet! You did it.’

M: Welcome to adulthood *laughs*

I: yes, yes, that one’s really fun, because I like candy and I think its fun to have things thrown at me, you know.

Context: This practice occurs while doing or watching a bar/bat mitzvah which is the coming of age ceremony done typically by Jewish children when they are 13. The candy throwing occurs after the Torah or half Torah portion of the ceremony. My informant had this at her bat mitzvah ceremony and has participated in the throwing of candy at others.

Analysis: The bar/bat mitzvah represents the transition from childhood and adulthood. Thus, while in the midst of the ceremony, the ‘child’ is in this liminal place where he/she isn’t quite a child, but isn’t quite an adult yet. They are in the process of taking on a new identity. Pranks/joke/riddles and various other traditions are common in other liminal states. In a way, getting candy thrown at you by your entire temple is a prank/joke to test you and help ease you into your new identity, adulthood.

Good Luck Shower at Bat Mitzvah

Main piece:

The following conversation is transcribed from a phone conversation between the interviewer and the informant.

Informant: So when I was 13, is when I was Bat Mitzvah’ed. Like, coming into my womanhood or whatever. It’s a big deal that all Jewish girls go through. There’s an hour and a half long service, I read from the Torah, I chant my prayers, I wear a really pretty dress.

Interviewer: And you get to choose the dress?

Informant: Oh yes, and getting a dress you want is a big deal. I got to choose my own. Anyways, all of my family and friends are there and there’s a baller party after. But after the service, there is tradition that the congregation will “shower me with good luck and sweetness.” What that means is everyone in the synagogue throws gummy candy at me. It’s supposed to be a loving act but people usually throw to hard and it ends up hurting a little.

Interviewer: What kind of candies were thrown? And is there significance in the types of candies?

Informant: Not really, it was a random assortment of candies. I specifically remember Jolly Ranchers hurting the most, because you know, out of the gummies they’re the hardest. I got hit in between my eyes with a grape flavored Jolly Rancher, and I avoid that flavor even till this day.

Interviewer: Is there any bad intent in throwing these candies hard? Or is it strictly an act of showing blessings and kindness?

Informant: I think it comes out of good means. It’s just that anytime little kids and throwing any objects is involved, and especially when the target is your friend, they tend to get jokey and try to throw it hard. But it’s a light hearted prank, kinda like cake-facing someone at their birthday.

Background:

My informant is a 19 year old college student who comes from an Ashkenazi descent. She grew up in a family which practiced the religion, and she was exposed to the culture from a very young age. Her three siblings also practice the religion with her, and Judaism is a big part of her family tradition. She comes from a large family with plenty of Jewish relatives, so Bat Mitzvah for her was a big deal.

Context:

I was aware of the general concept of Bat Mitzvah, but I was never sure what specifically went down during the process. I had asked my informant to describe the most interesting thing that happened at her Bat Mitzvah, and this shower of good luck was her choice. The conversation happened over phone, where I was in Los Angeles (2:00 pm PST) apartment while the informant was in South Carolina (5:00 pm EDT) in her house, in her room.

Thoughts:

Learning about this tradition reminded me of how different cultures utilize candies to represent good luck. My mind went immediately to piñatas, Trick o’ Treat, and Easter egg hunts. Candies are sweet, and it’s that sweetness that makes humans associate it with good luck and a ‘sweet life’. Imagining being a 13 year old getting showered with candies by my loved ones, it definitely made me happy.

The Great Pumpkin

Title: The Great Pumpkin

Category: Legend

Informant: Kurt A. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: Upper 50s

Occupation: Princeton Seminary—Vice President of Business Affairs/Financial Consultant/CPA/CFO

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/8/18

Description:

The night of halloween after trick-or-treating and the children have collected candy from neighboring houses, the great-pumpkin visits the house in the middle of the night after the children have gone to bed. Before going to bed, the children are instructed to give up about 1/4 of the candy they’ve collected that evening. The candy donated is a diverse collection from the children’s loot, but what gets donated is generally the candy least preferred by the children. The donated candy is put into it’s own candy bucket (in the shape of an orange pumpkin) and left on the doorstep with a note from the children. When the children wake up in the morning, the candy bucket is replaced by small gifts that the children can then play with.

Context/Significance:

The Great Pumpkin is a holiday entity similar to “Santa” or “The Easter Bunny” and visits a family’s house on the night of Halloween after the children have gone trick-or-treating. The Great Pumpkin comes to collect candy from the children of house so that he can take it to children in need who don’t get to go trick-or-treating. The Great Pumpkin teaches the children the importance of penance and giving back while also giving the children something to look forward to because of their donation.

Personal Thoughts:

In my family, the Great Pumpkin was used in a similar way with a few alterations. The Great Pumpkin came to take about 1/4 of each of our candy collections each Halloween. My parents made sure that we sacrificed candy that included some of our favorites as well as the candy we didn’t like as much. We didn’t know at the time, but my parents would then take this candy and re-use it in the piñatas for our birthday parties. As a small reward for donating some of our candy, my parents would then leave small gifts for us the next day as if the Great Pumpkin had brought them for us. An example of these gifts might be: a pack pf baseball cards, some barbie clothes, or a small lego set.

Meteor Candy

*Note: Taylor is a member of the student organization USC Troy Camp, a group that mentors/tutors students in the South Central L.A. area and raises funds during the year to send 200 elementary schoolchildren from South L.A. to a week-long summer camp in Idyllwild, CA. This week-long camp is completely run by the counselors, and through the year many legends and traditions have developed that are upheld/told each year at camp, carried on by newer counselors as older ones graduate. Because I am also a member of Troy Camp, she didn’t provide any context for this, so I figured I’d do so to minimize confusion. This particular story is the story of the meteor candy, which we tell to campers outside on a big grassy field under the stars at night.

COLLECTOR (myself): So tell the story we tell the kids, and then also explain what we do with the candy.”

 

INFORMANT: “Okay, so we’re sitting out on the field with our cabin, and we tell them we have a very special story to tell. Okay, so…

Years ago, before any of us were in Troy Camp, there was a family who lived in Idyllwild in a little cabin up in the mountains. There was a little girl and her mother and father, and one day the mother got very sick, and the girl and her father went out down the mountain to try to get the medicine that could save her. They walked many miles to town and got the medicine, but as they were walking back through the forest, suddenly the sky FLASHED and something huge fell from the sky. BOOM! It was a giant meteor! It crushed all the trees and sent smoke and debris everywhere, and the girl and her dad got separated. They called out and called out, but they were too far away – they could barely hear each other. There was so much smoke and it was so dark that neither one could see the other. The girl sits down in defeat and begins to cry. She picks up a piece of the meteor and throws it in anger… but when it hits the ground, it creates a bright spark! The girl has an idea. She picks up more pieces of the meteor and throws them, creating sparks each time. Suddenly, from all the way across the clearing, through the smoke, she sees a spark. Her father has seen the sparks, and now he’s throwing pieces of the meteor too!! The girl and her dad keep throwing meteor pieces and making sparks until they’re close enough to hear each other and then to see each other. They gave each other a big hug and continued back up the mountain to give the mother her medicine. The meteorite had cleared a big hole in the forest, a lot like the field we’re sitting in right now. But the best part was that the candy shop down the road got little bits of the meteor all over it, so the candy they make still has liiiittle pieces of the meteorite in it. Did you notice the candy shop we passed on the way up [of course, we didn’t pass a candy shop, but none of the kids were looking out for one, so this part gives the story more validity]? We have some of these candies for you tonight.

And then we give each camper a mint Lifesaver, but like they don’t know it’s a Lifesaver, and we tell them to turn to a partner and chew the Lifesaver. And when they bite into the Lifesaver, usually it makes a tiny little spark in their mouths. It’s really cool, I don’t know why it does that.

Thoughts:

This is one of my favorite TC traditions, because the younger kids are usually totally amazed. Some of the older kids figure out that the candy is just a Lifesaver, or they look for the candy shop on the bus ride back down the mountain and notice it doesn’t exist, but most of the campers are completely captivated by the meteor story. It helps because we tell the story in a big clearing, so we can pretend that’s the spot where the meteorite hit many years before. After we tell the story, usually the cabins lay out and look at the stars, because a lot of the campers haven’t really seen many stars in their lifetime because they’ve never left LA.

The story doesn’t have much of a message, but it’s a fun way to bond the cabins and contribute to Troy Camp lore to make the campgrounds seem almost magical. This story, like Mary Brown, is told slightly differently by each counselor who tells it, though the general elements remain the same.