Tag Archives: Catholic school

Bringing home a wolf (humorous proverb)

Main Piece:

JK (50s, american-polish, father): “It’s like buying a wolf and then freaking out when it attacks your kids!”


The informant is my dad remarking over the phone in response to me explaining how I was upset about not being able to finish working on a multitude of projects outside of school. When asked about where he heard the phrase, he pointed to Catholic school and the sort of lamb/wolf proverbs that he was exposed to there. He also claimed it to have similarity to the saying “bringing a knife to a gunfight.”


The phrase was said in an effort to make me laugh and bring light to the worry I’d been expressing (and it did get me to do so). It’s as if to say “well, what were you expecting to happen?”


The proverb itself is innately very dark in nature, and yet hits that sort of shock humor coupled with a simple realization. The idea of having your children eaten is a terrible concept, but the ignorance/gullibility of the person who would do such is. An added factor to the proverb is the in the word choice of “buying” said wolf. There is a certain action in paying for the beast that ends up screwing you over, which bolsters and reveals the main lesson of the saying. It asks the recipient of said advice to be more pragmatically present in the day to day; to not hyperextend their own capabilities.

Bloody Mary

Informant: “So you go into the bathroom, turn off all the lights, look into the mirror and say, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary,” three times and by the third time, you turn on the light and there will be like a scratch on your face…and you’re haunted.”

Collector: “Cool. Is it only in the bathroom?”

Informant: “It needs, uh…. I’m pretty sure. I mean all I ever heard was the bathroom one, like going into the bathroom and it needs to be pitch black.” 

Background: The informant is my twenty-two year old sister. She learned this piece from friends while attending Catholic elementary school in San Diego, CA. She is an avid metal and alternative music fan with a love of body modifications including tattoos and piercings as well as horror films. 

Context: The piece was collected during a casual at-home interview. I asked the informant to share this piece because I have multiple childhood memories of her performing the ritual.

Analysis: This game/ritual is fairly common among young women and was very popular at our Catholic elementary school among both genders. While many folklore scholars have posited that this game is entrenched with female puberty and menstruation, I believe this piece was also integrated with our conceptions of the “Virgin Mary” as a human and yet divinely endowed, liminal character. Other variations and meta folklore suggest multiple different interpretations as to who “Bloody Mary” refers to. To both me and my sister in Catholic school, the only Mary we could conceive of was the Virgin Mary and the story became a sinister way to expose the contrast between the benevolence and kindness expressed within Catholicism with the strict, harsh realities of the institution we were a part of. My sister later added that the game never worked for her because she never completed it in total darkness, suggesting that although the ritual may not manifest in a supernatural encounter for everyone that participates, people still believe. 

Arky Arky

This is a song that was taught to L.D. as a child in Catholic school. It teaches the biblical story of Noah’s ark and the flooded Earth that lasted 40 days and nights.


The Lord told Noah
There’s gonna be a floody, floody
The Lord told Noah
There’s gonna be a floody, floody
Get those children out of the muddy, muddy, children of the Lord
The Lord told Noah to build him an arky, arky
The Lord told Noah to build him an arky, arky
Build it out of gopher barky, barky, children of the Lord.
The animals, they came, they came in by twosies twosies
The animals, they came, they came in by twosies, twosies
Elephants and kangaroosie, roosies, children of the Lord
It rained and poured for forty daysies, daysies
It rained and poured for forty daysies, daysies
Almost drove those animals crazy, crazy, children of the Lord
And so on for a few more verses L.D. forgot. They even taught basic choreography for the kids to perform with the song, such as two fingers held up peace sign-style for the “twosies, twosies” line.
The existence of this method of teaching a “kiddie” version of a myth (especially one so apocalyptic) shows the given church’s priorities in making sure children grasp and retain these tales from an early age. The song is also usually performed after a few rehearsals by the kids for the adults, making it a task for the kids to remember it and turn them into the storytellers. It all helps the myth pass on to the next generation basically.

Overtly Sexual Theater Tradition at a Catholic School

Main Piece

It’s only done at shows, after we do this whole energy circle and this prayer because its catholic school. Then, whoever’s in charge says “practice room, practice room, etc” to whoever is relevant, which we use as one of the dressing rooms, it’s in the hallway. The two people who are the presidents of the musical or whatever, or whoever is willing to do it goes like, everyone take two fingers, and place them on your nipples! [Over one’s clothes] And rub and hum! And then you go, “louder” and then you go “louder” and then you go “scream!” and then you go “have a good show everyone” and someone turns the lights on [the lights are turned off during this ritual] and then everyone runs out.”



Nationality: American

Location: Long Island

Language: English

The informant learned the tradition from other students, and it has been going since at least 2013, but likely much longer. The informant laughed a lot while telling me this tradition, so it seems to be lighthearted with the intention of being fun. However, the informant did say that it was quite weird. Most often included in the tradition are those who would be considered “popular.”


The informant attended a coeducational Catholic high school where this practice took place.


This tradition is an example of high schoolers being overtly sexual and although it is seemingly harmless, it also seems very odd and potentially uncomfortable given the potential age gap between Seniors and Freshmen. That said, traditions like this seem to be very common amongst theater groups. I am curious as to the exact reason behind this phenomena.


Bloody Mary (All-Boys School in the Philippines)

Informant: Enrique is a 19-year-old boy, born and raised in Manila, Philippines who now attends college in California. South Ridge (the school in his story) is a Catholic all-boys school in Manila which he attended from kindergarten through until 7th grade.


Original script:

Informant: So when I went to South Ridge, [all boys school in Manila, Philippines] there was a super scary bathroom on the top floor of the school. No one ever used this bathroom because there was a rumor that someone had died inside the bathroom years ago. On special occasions, our classes would have sleep overs at school and during one of these sleep overs, one of the older batches went up to that bathroom in the middle of the night. The rumor goes that if you say Bloody Mary in front of the mirror in that bathroom four times, Bloody Mary actually shows up. So when one of the guys that decided to go into that bathroom did the ritual, she actually appeared and when he left the bathroom, he was covered in cuts and scratches.


Interviewer: Do you know what Bloody Mary has to do with the guy that had died in the bathroom?


Informant: She was apparently the one who killed him.


Thoughts about the piece: It is extremely interesting that the Bloody Mary ritual would occur at a local all-boys school in the Philippines. Especially considering the context that we discussed it in during class wherein we saw that the ritual is most popular among pre-pubescent girls usually in Western countries. We took this to be part of girls growing up as womanhood is bloody, thus, girls are basically looking into their future (by spinning and looking into the mirror) and trying to understand it by performing the ritual. I too attended school in the Philippines however it was an international school with many American and European students- here too I noticed that only girls would take part in the Bloody Mary ritual. Thus, it is intriguing that this would be such a big sensation (seeing as how no one wanted to use the bathroom because they all know what had happened there) at a local, Catholic all-boys school.

Something else that it interesting about this version of the story is that Bloody Mary actually physically harms the people that perform the ritual whereas usually, you are said to simply see an image of her in the mirror.