Tag Archives: customs

Fox Day

‘Both of my parents went to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and every year they have a fox day. It is an annual tradition and festival that was started decades ago by the president of the University. So each year on a day in spring that was “too pretty to have class”, the president would put a fox statue on the lawn in front of campus and all the students on campus would get free buses to the beach. Since my parents went there, every year on fox day, when I was younger I would skip school and we would always go and take a picture in front of the fox and have a fox day celebration of going out to enjoy the weather.” – PH

PH’s parents would celebrate fox day every year in college, and continue to do so even when PH was a baby. He has countless baby photos of him with the fox statue, showing him grow up on the nicest spring days of the year. The biggest role this has had in PH’s life is that it has allowed him to hold a huge connection with his mom, and is something he will never forget. This ritual also feels like a superstition to him… Every spring day if the weather is beautiful out it could be fox day. It encourages him to take in the new weather and get excited for what’s to come.

Statue on Rollins’ Campus put out to symbolize Fox Day each year

Fox Day is a celebration and ritual that has been passed down through generations, obviously leaving a mark on many who celebrate, as PH always wonders on beautiful days if Rollins College is having their Fox Day. The annual ritual enforces a sense of tradition and significance for a community that is shared and celebrated throughout Winter Park, Florida, just as folklore intends. Additionally, the fox statue works as a symbolic figure, as it represents the tradition and allows the community to recognize what day it is! Also, in much a folklore, a strong motif is that of a fox, holding symbolic significance, and in this scenario, this fox signifies the beginning of beautiful weather and prompting the community to go enjoy their day outside. Fox Day embodies many folkloristic behaviors and contributes to a sense of community and tradition.

The Dragon Boat and Zongzi Festival

‘Growing up in China, my family and I always celebrated the Dragon Boat and Zongzi Festival. Basically we would go into town and watch dragon boat races, which involved teams rowing decorated boats to music, while eating sticky rice dumplings which are called zongzi. This is a really big souther Chinese tradition with lots of festivities, praying, and it’s all about good luck. The festival celebrates Qu Yuan who was a prime minister in China centuries and centuries ago. I remember every year we would go to the river and dump the zongzi in to feed Qu yuan as a superstition. We also would hang a type of plant on our door called Chinese Mugwort to avoid mosquitos and bad luck as this is the hottest time of year.” – AS

AS grew up celebrating this holiday with her family each year as long as she can remember. It always signified a very fun time of year for her, even though it was the hottest days ever! AS emphasized that the biggest role it had, and still has, in her life, was not the history of the festival, but rather how delicious the zongzi is. While she no longer celebrates it, as she has moved to the US, she still makes and eats zongzi often, even for breakfast. Additionally, during the summer in the US, she hangs a fake plant on her door, that looks similar to Chinese Mugwort, to commemorate the Dragon Boat festival and keep her tradition as best she can in a new environment.

Zongzi: sticky rice dumplings
Chinese Mugwort hung on a door

The Dragon Boat Festival is a very important festival in the region of China AS grew up in, as it highlights the cultural significance of Qu Yuan, and the traditions that grew because of it. The festival also incorporates multiple superstitions, as much folklore does, as many of the rituals they perform are to avoid bad luck and bring in success for themselves and their family during the hottest time of year. Additionally, the dragon boat races are a tradition of Chinese folklore and mythology, as they correspond to a legend that dragon boats were used to save Qu Yuan from drowning in the river, hence throwing in dumplings to feed him. Also, the zongzi are a form of folk food, as they are many times offered as a tribute and also to ward off any evil spirits and bad luck. Many prayers and traditions are also important to this festival. With the huge celebrations the Dragon Boat festival brings, the Chinese culture and heritage of this southern region of China is shared and spread to all. AS, who recently had a baby, also shares these traditions of zongzi and mugwort with him when they days get hot! There is rich folklore characteristics all throughout this festival that allow the culture and traditions to continue.

No Marriage After Death

‘It is a Hindu custom (based on what my mom says) that you are not supposed to get married within a year of death of a close family member. That is a time of mourning. Also, after one year, you basically have another funeral called the Last Rites. When my dad’s mom died my parents couldn’t get married that year even though they met 10 months after she died and were engaged.’ -HP

While HP has never had to partake in this custom, she recognizes that it is an important custom of Hindu culture. She believes that it brings unity to the family before bringing in someone new. This custom is centuries old in Hindu faith.

My first impression of this custom was surprise at how the Hindu community respects and remembers loved ones that have passed and allow a period of mourning. Refraining from such celebrations, like a wedding, allows those involved to grieve and truly acknowledge the loved one who passed away. I think that this is a very sensitive and beautiful way to show honor to the departed, as they refrain from any activities that may take away from the impact the person had. Additionally, the celebration of the Last Rites practice, being common in Hindu tradition a year after death, feels like a final remembrance and closure for all. These customs are from traditional beliefs, many of which probably sprouted from folk practices throughout the history of India and Hindu culture. Folklore also encompasses cultures and beliefs, sharing this in common with these customs. It is also evident that HP and her family learned these rituals from ancestral sources; practices that have been learned, taught, and passed down through generations, just as folklore is known for.

Wedding Bells – Irish wedding rituals


KT: “This is a wedding tradition that mostly comes from my dad’s side of the family [Irish heritage], but I did it at my wedding and I believe my mother did it at her and my father’s wedding too. So, after me and your dad left the church, all the guests rang little silver bells that were passed out before the ceremony. Bells are said to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck in a marriage. They also rang the church bells too if I remember correctly, which is pretty normal for church weddings. The guests got to keep the bells and they rang them as we can in for the reception too which was really pretty. I really liked that.”

Me: “Where did you learn about this wedding tradition?”

KT: “I learned about it from my parents, I think. Like I said, I think they did something similar at their wedding. Your grandmother isn’t Irish, but your grandfather is, so they incorporated some Irish traditions into the wedding. I think he must have learned it from his family because I think I remember my mom saying my uncle did the same thing at his wedding too.”

Me: “Do you know what generation American you are?”

KT: “Yes, so my dad’s dad came from Ireland. That means my grandfather and grandmother, which would make me a 2nd generation American, I think. So, I guess that tradition is probably pretty popular in Ireland, at least in our family. I don’t know anyone in Ireland, from our family or otherwise, so I don’t really know. It’s funny too because I don’t think my sister or brother did it at their ceremonies, I can’t really remember, but they both got married first, and my mother was insistent that I do it. My dad passed when I was three months old, but you know, my mom remarried, so I was the last of her kids from my real dad. I think that’s why she really wanted me to do it since I was the last one from that side of the family.

Me: “Did you incorporate any other family or cultural traditions into your wedding?”

KT: “Well we had a Catholic wedding ceremony, which has specific things to complete the Sacrament of Matrimony. I don’t know if we really have any other specific family traditions. Well, I guess besides the bells, that’s kind of a tradition now.”

Me: “Did it feel important to connect to your Irish heritage, and in a way your dad?”

KT: “Yeah, it was nice. I never really knew him, only my stepfather, so doing something like that I like to think my dad would have appreciated it. My stepfather was Irish too, so we still did a lot of Irish things and such growing up, but it was special because my real dad did it at his wedding.”

Context: KT is a 59 year old from California. She is of Irish decent. This wedding celebration was passed down to her from her parents, and she is unsure of how far back the tradition goes in her family, but it is a very popular wedding tradition in Ireland. She told me this story in-person, and I recorded it to transcribe.

Analysis: This is a relatively common Irish tradition, one that has influence in even non-Irish weddings. As my informant mentioned, even churches for non-Irish ceremonies have a practice of ringing the church bells after the ceremony is concluded. This Irish tradition has been acculturated into a religious tradition as well, in part, likely due to the strong religious ties in Ireland. This practice is directly linked to folk legends of fairies and spirits in Ireland, as the bells are to ward off evil spirits that could cause strife for the celebrations or the new couple. It is also important to note that this tradition was encouraged by KT’s mother to connect KT to her heritage and her father, even though it is not a practice from her culture [KT’s mother is Russian]. She wanted KT to connect to her culture and the important cultural practices. It was also a way that KT was able to remember her father and have a link to him on a very important day in her life, one that is centered around family. KT also mentions that she got married in a Catholic church, and in doing so, took part in the Sacrament of Matrimony. This is a religious tradition, which has its own set of specific rites that are completed. To receive this sacrament, certain things must be completed by the bride and groom, no matter what cultural background they are from, since it is purely religious in nature.

Don’t Step on the “B”

Informant KS is a 19 year-old USC freshman from San Jose, California.


It is a custom for students of a certain private, Catholic high school to avoid stepping on the logo of the school — a circular emblem with a “B” in the center which is printed on the ground — or risk being beat up by seniors.


KS attended a private, Catholic high school which was founded over 150 years ago.

KS: “I actually found out about this tradition when I was very young, maybe ten years old. I attended summer camps at the school, and ‘Don’t step on the ‘B” is one of the first things you learn about if you ever come to campus. The basic idea behind it is there’s a logo in the center of campus that has a ‘B.’ It’s a circular logo. And the rumor was that if you stepped on the ‘B’ and there were seniors nearby, they had full license to beat you up, since you disrespected the logo of the school. I’m not exactly sure if people do beat other people up over stepping on the ‘B’ given that I’ve never actually seen it happen. I’ve never seen a student step on the ‘B’ before, I’ve only seen an unsuspecting parent do it before, and nobody really had a reaction in that circumstance. I would say this custom is part of one of the many traditions that we have at the school that gives it a bit of character. I guess it ties into a greater respect for the logo and the institution.”


As an institution dating back over 150 years, the private high school which KS attended has accumulated its own folklore in the form of customs such as avoiding the “B.” Since its founding, the folklore developed among students and the growing alumni network served to develop a common culture and camaraderie surrounding those with the experience of attending the high school, which resulted in KS learning about the custom from a young age. While serving as one shared custom that builds camaraderie, the act of avoiding the “B” also further develops a sense of respect and reverence for an old institution. Older definitions of folklore — such as those utilized by German folklorists Johann Gottfried von Herder and the Brothers Grimm — tend to argue that folklore is a practice shared by the common folk and independent of the elite class, yet this custom operates on both levels — as a shared practice among students, and as a means of maintaining the legitimacy of an old institution.