Tag Archives: challenge

Bloody Mary in the School Bathroom


When she was in elementary school, T recalls going into the girl’s restroom with a group of female classmates. She remembers it being an eerily cold and cloudy day, so she and her friends believed it was the perfect opportunity to put the Legend of Bloody Mary to the test. Before they had to line up to return to the classroom, T stood in a huddle with her friends before the only mirror in the girl’s restroom. After chanting the name three times, each girl began to scream and sprint from the restroom in fear. Afterwards, each claimed to have seen an older woman, but each girl described the woman quite differently. T recalls seeing a ghostly phantom with bloody and dejected features, and says that, after that day, she and her friends never used that bathroom ever again.


The Legend of Bloody Mary claims that if you chant “Bloody Mary” at a mirror three times, a woman– believed to be the historical and genocidal British queen, Bloody Mary— appears before you.


The trend of challenging the Legend of Bloody Mary is extremely common among young, pre-pubescent children, especially girls. At this age in life, young girls look forward to the daunting prospect of adulthood, or womanhood. The Bloody Mary challenge can actually be viewed as a metaphor for how the uncertainty of puberty and receiving one’s first menstrual cycle can be a terrifying experience. Like in T’s story, young girls confront a mirror, which in return projects back an image of themselves. Once completing the challenge and chanting Bloody Mary, the girls are faced with another image: the image of an older, often bloodier woman. This can be taken as a literal reflection of puberty, menstruation and other foreign aspects of womanhood through the eyes of young girls.

Italian Tongue Twisters

Description of Informant

AG (18) is an Italian-American dual citizen and high school student from Berkeley, CA. At home, she speaks primarily Italian, and spends her summers in Italy.


Original Text (1): Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa.

Transliteration: On top of the bench, the sheep/goat is singing, under the bench, the sheep/goat is dying.

Original Text (2): Apelle, figlio di Apollo, fece una palla di pelle di pollo. Tutti i pesci vennero 

a galla, per vedere la palla di pelle di pollo fatta da Apelle figlio di Apollo.

Transliteration: Apelle, son of Apollo, makes/fetches a ball of chicken meat. All of the fish came to the surface to see the ball of chicken meat that Apelle, son of Apollo, made.

Original Text (3): Trentatré Trentini entrano a Trentino, tutti e trentatré trotterellando

Transliteration: Thirty-three people from Trento enter the region of Trentino, all thirty-three of them trotting.

Context of Use

Italian tongue twisters are used for sport/entertainment among peers, often during social gatherings. Peers challenge each other to see who can speak the phrases fastest, without mistakes.

Context of Interview

The informant, AG, sits in the kitchen with her father and the collector, BK, her step-brother. Text spoken in Italian is italicized, but not translated.


AG: *speaking quickly* Sopra la panca la capra campa, sotto la panca la capra crepa!

BK: *laughing* What on earth is that?

AG: *laughing* You know how here we have “how much wood could a woodstuff stuff”—  no wait, what is it— “how much… wood could a woodchuck chuck! If a woodchuck could chuck wood.” Or like “how much stuff could a stuffy stuff if a stuffy could stuff stuff,” right?

BK: Sure, “Sally sells seashells down by the seashore.”

AG: Yes, exactly! Uh, we have one of those in italian, and it’s… *enunciating* Sopra la— oh we have two! I’m think of two right now. Oh we have three! Trentatré… okay. Ok, so first one is *enunciating* Sopra la panca la capra campa,  which means on top of the bench, the sheep, or the goat, is singing. Sotto la panca la capra crepa, under the bench— it’s crepa the same word from the wolf [phrase] [See _________]— the goat is dying… or dies.

AG: And then we have, uhh, oh yeah! *AG claps and speaks to the rhythm* Apelle, figlio di Apollo, fece una palla di pelle di pollo. Tutti i pesci vennero a galla, per vedere la palla di pelle di pollo fatta da Apelle figlio di Apollo. *laughing* It’s Apelle, son of Apollo, fece, made or got, palla di pelle, a ball of… chicken meat? All the fish went to the surface to see this ball of chicken meat that Apelle, son of Apollo, made.

BK: So the tongue twisters, much like those in English, don’t make a lot of sense. When do you use these tongue twisters?

AG: I think just at parties to see who can do them fastest.

BK: So they become competitive?

AG: Sometimes, yeah. Especially the capra one because that’s really hard.

BK: How widely known are these tongue twisters?

AG: Everyone knows them. Even the trentatré… Trentini tutti trentatré trotterellando

*At this point, AG‘s father EG (52) interjects to correct her*

EG: Entrarono a Trentino

AG: What is it? I forget.

EG: Trentatré Trentini entrano a Trentino, tutti e trentatré trotterellando.

AG: Trentatré, so 33, Trentini… What is Trentini?

EG: People from Trento, where I used to live. Entrano

AG: Entrano… entrarono? Or is it entrano.

EG: I don’t know.

AG: Entrano Trentino… what’s Trentino?

EG: It’s the region that Trento’s in.

AG: Oh entro Trentino… OHH!! Tutti e trentatré trotterellando.

EG: All 33 trotting.

AG: So how do you say the full thing in English?

EG: 33 Trentini, like people from Trento, enter Trentino, which is the region around Trento, all 33 trotting.

BK: That’s almost a tongue twister in English! So when/where do you learn these?

AG: From cousins, peers, usually from cousins and among young people.

Collector’s Reflection

The culture of tongue twisters in Italian society is similar to that among Americans, particularly American school children. Nonsensical, yet difficult to articulate phrases are developed informally and shared orally by peers. These tongue twisters are used for entertainment in groups, where at least two participants will challenge each other to recite them as quickly as possible. More often than not, this will result in sputtering and laughter, as participants fail to cleanly recite the twisters. Rules or structured games associated with tongue twisters are uncommon (e.g. points system, prizes, etc.), though they may be implemented.

Another function of tongue twisters not mentioned by the informant is the improvement of pronunciation. Those learning a new language may be encouraged to practice tongue twisters to improve their command over said language’s phonetic composition, and overall fluency. Given the already quickly-spoken nature of the Italian language, tongue twisters may serve new language learners well.

Spoon Full of Cinnamon

My friends and I were discussing the ongoing popularity of Internet challenges and where this all came from. It is clear that people do just about anything for some Internet fame. One of the earliest challenges that we could remember was the cinnamon challenge which we recalled to be happening at the end of our middle school experience. The challenge involves putting a tablespoon of cinnamon in your mouth and trying to swallow it without drinking anything and then posting a video of it on the Internet. It came to massive popularity in the early 2010‘s but quickly lost it after the realization of possible health problems.

W: “remember when D—- and I did the cinnamon challenge?”
Me: “hahah yes! And you almost threw up”
W: “yeah that sh** made me sick, I can’t believe we even did that. Why?”
Me: “I don’t know, seemed like a good idea at the time I guess hahah, I’m pretty sure I recorded it.”
W: “where did that trend even come from, I swear Everyone and they mom did the cinnamon challenge.”
Me: “I saw it on YouTube, I think it was some kid I subscribed to.”
Wyatt: “I remember Miranda sings doing it.”

It was at this point that I realized that we had stumbled upon some folklore. Although just about everyone knows about this challenge I wondered who may not. We also mostly wondered where this originally started. Was it YouTube? Or was it somewhere else first? After some short investigating I discovered that the first documentation of the cinnamon challenge was in December 2001 but the idea made its way to YouTube in 2006. The massive popularity that we all remember was in January 2012 but only lasted about half the year then fell off again. I would consider this an American folklore for people born just before the start of the Internet age and after.

One of the earlier attempts: