Tag Archives: Christianity

The Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian American Christmas Eve celebration. J’s family has been celebrating with this feast just for the past few years, and he says it allows them to connect with their culture and ethnic community. In accordance with online descriptions of the grand meal, the “essentially have a dinner party with 7 different fish cooked into the dishes.”

According to Eataly, the tradition was started by Italian immigrants in the U.S. in the early 1900s and while the exact origins/meanings are difficult to trace, “the ancient tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic custom of abstinence from meat and dairy products on the eve of certain holidays, including Christmas. The number seven is rooted back in ancient times and it can be connected to multiple Catholic symbols…” Therefore, like for J’s family, one can presume that both the meals and symbolism present were reminiscent of “home” for early participants in the Feast.

He believes it to be a celebration of abundance and the “being better off” that comes with immigrating to the U.S. as well as a ritualistic acknowledgement by Italian Americans of their cultural history and the sacrifices and hard work of their ancestors.

Baby Jesus and the Three Wise Men

Category: Legend/Myth (Myth as it’s sacred to Christianity, but is part of the legend of Jesus)


Jesus, the king of Christians, brought Christianity into the world with himself. His mother, Mary, birthed him in a manger and shortly after three wise kings came and gave presents to Mary and baby Jesus as they recognized his future immediately as they are guided by the brightest star.

*for more details read the script below

Context: L is my mom and she taught at a Sunday school that I also attended when I was young. L was born in Mexicali, Mexico and moved the US with her family when she was little. She knows this origin story of Christianity / birth of Jesus from multiple sources: from her parents, from her church, from her peers, from her Sunday school, etc. She sees this story as a beginning of new world order since Christianity with Jesus have just been introduced to the world.

Interpretation: Jesus is the son to the Holy Trinity. Considering the story of Jesus is a huge aspect to Christianity, I’d say this story is sacred enough to be considered a myth. Telling this story shows that the narrator believes in Christianity. The kind house owner show the importance of kindness and hospitality to those of the religion, and so do the wise men with presents. The three men’s wisdom and actions also show the importance of wisdom through reading people and situations well and being prepared by acting upon those readings.


Me: Yeah, so like what do you think is the most fundamental story in Christianity?

L: Well I’m going to respond to this going back to when I was a Sunday school teacher and around Christmas time, you know how you got to decorate Christmas trees you and put presents under the tree? Well part of Sunday school teaching was this, not side story but leading up to it was the story of the three wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus in the manger. So basically the story goes is that Mary, who just had the baby, was looking for a place to rest and they had to go knocking on a bunch of doors, because they had no place to rest, and someone who was very kind opened up and said, ‘I have no room here in the house but I do have this place outside.’ Let’s call it a barn. Right, so, and what they did was they arranged the baby as best they could inside of the manger outside. And there was the three wise men. The three wise men knew that the baby had been born and there was going to be a new king: a king to the Christians. And so the three wise men set out and they said-the myth has it that they went looking, you know, they were guided by this bright light, the brightest light they could see in the sky and that led them to the baby Jesus. And it’s the three wise men who bring you know-the myth and the I forget what it is- 3 so… the three wise men bring these three presents to this, you know, baby who’s not even inside a house, who’s out, you know, in in the elements, who looks like any other poor, I mean even beyond poor, you know, child. Yet these three wise men, and that’s why they’re called wise men, recognize even as the baby Jesus was an infant that he was the king. And that’s why it’s central to Christianity because even as a baby he was recognized, it was known, that he was going to bring in what we now consider Christianity, the thought of you not only having God and the Holy Spirit but that you have Jesus and that’s why you have the Trinity: the father, son, and the Holy Ghost. So that is what I think would be a, some people call it a myth, especially those who are not Christians will say, ‘oh you know that’s that’s a myth.’ That’s our story. So it’s the three wise men and the baby out in the manger. That’s all.

Me: And then where’d you hear it from?

L: Well I taught this as part of Sunday school. I don’t know if you remember, we would always color stuff right? And one of the animals that was always out there would be a lamb among them because that’s the sign of a new world order and you’re outside. But I grew up knowing this because, do you remember that I used to go to Sunday school on my own and then I went to catechism and my parents brought me up. And do you remember your sister’s godmother, [Z]?

Me: Yeah.

L: So she knew the whole story. So I grew up with this from my peers and my parents so this has been going on for generations now.

Me: So your parents taught you the story?

L: My parents and my Sunday school, my church.

Me: Ok, that makes sense.

L: So it’s from my generation of Sunday school teachers, right? And peers to now your generation of attending Sunday school.

Me: Ok. Gracias.

Bay Area Catholic School Ghost Story


“My all girls Catholic school was founded by these nuns in the 1950s but before it was a school it was a mansion called the Cole mansion, built in like 1916 or something. It was owned by this guy, Frederick Cole, we call him Freddy. He was a young wealthy dude who’s dad made money in steel production. He’s basically a trust fund baby, so he builds a nice mansion in the Burlingame hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. And so Freddy built his beautiful mansion, it’s pretty big with a working elevator, bunch of servants, big bedroom. He’s living there with his wife. At the time, it’s all the rage to have a maid from France. And so his wife is like, a huge entertainer at their house, and she’s like “I need to have a French maid for my parties.” And so she sends a letter to her aunt in France who’s visiting, and she’s like “While you’re in France, can you pick me up a french maid?” So when her aunt comes back she brings an 18 year old girl named Annette. Annette speaks no English, like very very little, and she works at the house. While she’s there, Freddy, the little pervert, is all creepy on her. He’s like harassing her and will not stop bugging her. She’s like not having it, but the wife of Freddy is like “Oh my god my husband is jealous of this 18 year old I brought into the house, I’m going to get her fired. And not only am I going to get her fired, I’m going to tell all the other people in the Bay Area, all the other rich people, that she had sex with my husband and she’s an adulterer.” And so the wife went around telling everyone that Annette had sex with her husband and was all like, not holy or whatever. So she fires Annette, Annette can’t get hired anywhere, so you know what she does? She files a wrongful termination lawsuit in the San Francisco court in like, early 1900s, and she wins! Which is so rare. Then Freddy takes her to court to try and overturn it, and he’s going down the elevator to the courtroom and when the elevator opens, he sees Annette. And Annette just looks at him and tells him he lied, pulls out a pistol, and shoots him in the stomach. So this man is rushed to the hospital and they stich him up, but they leave the lead bullet in him, and Annette gets deported back to France. Freddy is recovering, but the bullets’ still inside him. So he tells people that he’s started receiving these postcards, and each one says “I will see you soon, from Annette.” And each one gets closer and closer, so it starts in France, then there’s one from England, then there’s one from New York, then she goes through Canada down to Washington, then to Portland. She books herself a boat from Portland to China, but there’s a stop in San Francisco. She gets out there, and the postcards stop. And the next day Freddy is found hanging in his mansion. And so people don’t know if he killed himself because he was worried Annette was gonna get him or if she got to him or if she even was there, because he still had the lead bullet in him and lead makes you go insane. And so people think he imagined it all, it’s like totally up to interpretation, people don’t know. Anyways, Freddy is now a ghost in the mansion and my ceramics teacher has seen him multiple times, people believe he still exists in the mansion on campus. My ceramics teacher had to go to the kiln on the bottom floor right by the servants’ stairs. Freddy was renowned for hanging out in the servants chambers and hitting on them. So she was in the basement unloading the kiln for pottery class, and she was bending over the kiln and she feels someone grab her waist. She turns around and no ones there. So she thinks it was him hitting on her, cause he’s a creep.” 


B is an 18-year-old college student from the Bay Area, California. She used to go to a Catholic all girls school, where she says teachers would tell this ghost story about the campus. She doesn’t know which facts are certifiably true, but she says she was first told this story while on a campus tour by an old nun who she trusts to be reliable. Teachers share this story with the students around the school. 


This story is a legend about Freddy’s ghost. It’s told to me as a “friend of a friend” story, so the speaker has never actually had an interaction with this supposed ghost. It’s clearly a legend because it could possibly be true, or it could not. No one really knows why Freddy died. This uncertainty about his death could be the reason for his haunting. Ghost stories tend to follow people who weren’t properly buried or their death wasn’t settled, because it’s very important for communities that their community members get the proper burial and death rituals. If the ritual is done wrong, it leads to haunting. It’s particularly interesting that this story is spread around a Catholic school, as in the Christian religion killing oneself is a sin. If Freddy really did hang himself, that’s a hard conversation for Christians to have because it means he went to hell. Ghosts probably form around these figures that die in ways that Christians don’t see to be natural to serve both as a warning to others against sinning, and as a way of understanding and reconciling what happens to someone who dies in a sinful manner. Another aspect of this ghost story is the way in which it is performed. When this story was told to me it was told by a girl the same age as Annette, and the school is an all-girls school so almost everyone who tells and knows this story is a girl. By looking at the social context of the story, we see how it takes a very feminist lean. It’s almost a satisfying revenge story for women, as they watch the lying creep suffer for his actions against the young girl. If this were told by someone else, Annette may be the villain. But both the speaker and the audience receive the story as a triumph for Annette. This bias can be seen in the vocabulary the speaker uses, calling him a “little pervert” and “creep.” It makes sense that this story would circulate amongst a group of young women as a victory for them against this creepy man. It reminds me of murder ballads, which is a type of legend that often details the murder of a young woman and paints the male killer in a positive light as opposed to a condemning one. In an environment filled with young women, the same plot instead is inverted to declare Annette as the victorious hero. Looking again at the social context, the audience was a group of young women the same age as the speaker, and she was often interrupted by expletives denouncing Freddy as a pervert as well.

Thanksgiving Ornaments

The informant is a student in university who has spent the entirety of his life in the United States, starting various different traditions that she has the ability to experience due to family members building upon their values.


On Thanksgiving, the United States’ annual national holiday, the informant, her family and extended members join together to “share [their] love with one another by bringing [their] Christmas earlier in the year.” The ceremony that takes place accompanying the traditional Thanksgiving feast and activities includes the “exchange of an ornament on Thanksgiving because we often won’t be able to be together during Christmas but we get to carry a reminder of them on the tree.” This is typically done “after the meal ends, giving each other the ornaments, symbolic of our love on Christmas eve and day, is mainly for the extended family members who we don’t get to see on the most chaotic days of the year”.


The informant states that this tradition has existed in her family since “[her] brother was 5 so that was 13 years ago” and was a very important ceremony that played a “unique part of Thanksgiving day” as it was “more symbolic than the turkey was to [them]”. She had also expressed that these ornaments were usually personalized according to each family member and their interests, specifically over the course of that year. Examples of this in her family exist through an ornament that she received years ago that was “Nemo themed because it was my favourite movie as a child” and that resonated with the rest of the family as they put it on their tree for that Christmas season. Ornament ceremonies had a certain dynamic and were typically done between specific individuals most of the years with an exchange of “the older generations giving the younger generations personalised ones” and the entire family giving the elders “a collective personalised one” from their descendants. This can be seen through her family giving their grandfather a wooden ornament because of their “family memories and love for nature.” She summarises her experience with the ceremony as a “matter of how we can share our love with unfortunately not being able to be in the same space as each other” on Christmas day.


This unique ceremony being done during Thanksgiving presents a different approach to the traditional holiday by implementing the effects of the religious/community holiday of Christmas together. The mix of holidays in a familial setting embraces and highlights the true impact of these holidays on the informant and her family, placing her family in an important position in their lives. Although it is not a generational tradition that has existed for decades, it emphasises the significance of this tradition to the informant herself and her siblings. The personalisation of the ornaments presents the beginning of a narrative of sorts as she is able to collect the personalised ornaments she has received over the years to show the growth in her persona and values as a human. Besides this allowing the family to celebrate the family essence that they do not have on Christmas with the ornaments received on Thanksgiving, it also supports the ideology of feeling extreme gratitude on Thanksgiving. Spreading the “love and family joy” all year round as they prepare for the year ahead of them, with the ornaments piling up over the years symbolizes the impacts of implementing this ceremony onto Thanksgiving. It allows the informant to have grown up feeling connected to her extended family which is evident in the manner she has expressed the importance of family in her life, missing the ones who are not there for Christmas Eve.

Las Posadas

“They have Las Posadas during Christmas which is like a…., not a parade, but it’s kind of like a parade, it’s like a procession. And basically they have actors play the virgin Mary, Joseph, and then they reenact the whole birth of Christ and stuff like that. It’s like about nine days before Christmas and lasts until Christmas eve. It’s like a whole set of holidays.”

Background: The informant has not attended the Las Posadas procession herself as it primarily takes place in Mexico and other Latin American countries. She says at some point her and her family were planning on going but unfortunately were not able to. 

Analysis: Christianity, specifically Roman Catholicism, is the dominant religion in Latin America because of Spaniard colonization so Los Posadas is celebrated throughout Latin America. Latin American immigrants have since brought this tradition to the United States and it’s now also practiced by Latin American people in the United States. It’s common to find people who practice Christianity, mainly Catholicism as it is the most dominant branch of Christianity, recreating the events that lead to the birth of baby Jesus. The importance of the event can also be seen in the use of nativity sets that many Christian households have and display during Christmas time to celebrate the birth of Jesus.