Tag Archives: drinking

Ooh Ah Up the Rah

Background: “Celtic Symphony” is a song performed by the Irish band, The Wolfe Tones. The song is sung at gatherings of Irish people. The line “Oh Ah up the Ra” is emphasized and belted out. The phrase is a declaration of support for the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Context: I witnessed my Irish friend’s family perform this song while at his house for Thanksgiving last fall. While singing songs after dinner, this song came on and all of his Irish family members sang it together, most of them quite drunk. My friend explained that it was one of the songs Irish people always sing together. “Oh Ah up the Ra” is basically a “big ‘eff you’ to the British,” he told me.

Main Piece:

Here we go again,
We’re on the road again,
We’re on the road again,
We’re on our way to Paradise,
We love the jungilty,
That’s where the lion sleeps, (yeeeaaaaahhhh)
For in those evil eyes,
They have no place in Paradise.

graffiti on the walls just as the sun was going down,
I seen graffitti on the walls( Of the CELTS, Of the CELTS),
Graffitti on the walls that says we’re Magic, We’re Magic,
Graffiti on the walls…….Graffiti on the walls……..
And it said…………..
Ooh ah up the Ra, say ooh ah up the Ra (x6).


I felt quite a lot of jealousy while watching and certainly hearing my friend’s family sing this song together. Even the youngest of my friend’s cousins, at ages seven and eight, were singing at the top of their lungs as everyone paraded around the room. It is clearly a song sung with immense patriotism and pride. However, the reference to the IRA must infuse the song with a certain vigor, as nearly all of my friend’s family was still in Ireland during the British occupation and have lost friends and loved ones in the conflict. There is a juxtaposition between the hearty and jubilant performance of this song and the horrors and pain upon which the song is founded. While many nations sing songs in unison out of love for country and shared experience, it seems that the Irish certainly have the most fun doing it and doing it the loudest.

German Easter Fire Tradition


AH grew up in Westergellersen, a small village in northern Germany and attended these Easter fires throughout her childhood.

Main Piece:

“Leute in vor allem ländlichen Gegenden sammeln Holzmaterial und Buschwerk und türmen es möglichst hoch auf. Es soll weithin sichtbar sein. Es entsteht ein Wettstreit um das höchste Feuer. Am Karsamstag wird es angezündet. Das Dorf versammelt sich dann um das Feuer, es gibt Bier, Glühwein und Würstchen.”


People from all the surrounding rural areas gather wooden material and shrubbery and pile it as high as possible. It should be able to be seen from far and wide. There is a contest for the highest fire. On Karsamstag (Holy Saturday, the day before Easter) it is lit. The village gathers around the fire, there’s beer, mulled wine, and sausages.


This part of the Easter festival celebration in northern Germany seems very useful for promoting unity and connection within a town. Because the villages compete for the tallest fire, the one that can be seen from the farthest distance away, this creates an in-group out-group boundary. Also, since gathering the materials for the highest bonfire takes time and work, the townspeople must work together, as they wouldn’t be able to achieve this highest fire on their own. Then, on the evening before Easter, when the fire is lit, this festival ritual turns into a communal gathering place for the village people. Beer, mulled wine, and sausages are all extremely common foods in northern Germany, and are generally associated with any festivals and gatherings, or seen as something like ‘fair food.’

Tombs Night at Georgetown

Background information: OLP is a 21-year-old student at Georgetown University in DC. They were raised in the Bay Area, but currently live in DC for school. They have lived there for the past couple years, but only recently physically went back to Georgetown for classes. Because of this, they have had a good amount of exposure to Georgetown culture.

OLP: Georgetown students have a tradition of having this thing called a “Tombs Night” when they turn 21, it’s like, where you have a party and then go to this bar called the Tombs. And I had mine this year!

Me: Oh, I remember! How was it? 

OLP: It was fun (laughs). It definitely felt like something that was really, um, hyped up, so it was exciting.

Me: How did you learn about Tombs Night? 

OLP: I know this because I was invited to upperclassmen’s tombs nights like last year (laughs). I don’t think I know where or when it originated, but I think it’s been said that it’s because the Tombs is notoriously difficult to get into with a fake, so no one even tries until they’re 21. So yeah, even though I was invited, I didn’t ever actually go to the bar until this year. It’s like a big way to celebrate being 21, so the person’s friends will host a party for them and invite as many people as possible. And for some reason they stamp your forehead at the door when it’s your birthday. So it’s a whole thing, so I assume it must be kind of old. 

Me: Do you know how it got to be such a big thing? 

OLP: No, I feel like people just want a reason to party on their 21st though, right. Oh and also, it’s usually a way for people to go socialize during the winter when club events are kind of dead. At least I feel like it is. 

This piece of folklore was very intriguing because of how specific it is to students at Georgetown. Through word of mouth, despite the fact that students do not seem to know the origin of the tradition, everyone knows that it can act as sort of a rite of passage for Georgetown students turning 21. “Tombs Night” being a tradition shows how folklore practices can provide an opportunity for celebration and socializing.

The “Bell Run”

Background information/context of performance: GP is a 21-year-old student at Beloit University in Wisconsin. She grew up in Alameda, CA, but is currently living on-campus at Beloit. Beloit is a very small university, so many traditions are well-known throughout the entire student body, according to GP.

GP: Beloit does this thing where we all run to this bell in the middle of campus from what we call “The Wall” naked, and usually drunk, and then you have to pee on the bell. It’s called a “Bell Run”. It sounds gross (laughs). I don’t really know where or why it started, it’s kinda hard to figure it out. 

Me: That’s okay, you can just tell me about your own experience with this tradition. 

GP: Well personally, I know about it because I’ve been told by my peer mentor when I started college. I also saw a lot of people doing it on the weekends, especially people in like frats or sororities. I feel like it would make sense if it originated from Greek life here, I think a lot of people do it during initiation or, like, that kind of thing. That’s how most people I know ended up doing it. 

Me: What do you think of this tradition? I’ve never heard of it, but it sounds pretty entertaining.

GP: To me, it’s just one of those college traditions where people can do something kind of taboo on a regular day and not get…stigmatized for it. Like of course it’s supposed to be embarrassing, and it is embarrassing, but no one gets in trouble for it even though it happens all the time. It’s definitely a form of hazing, but in my eyes it’s a more harmless tradition and it’s supposed to be funny, as long as you’re not forcing people to do it. I’ve never seen anyone who was forced to do it but…I’m sure it happens especially in frats. It probably depends on if you’re doing it for Greek life or if you’re doing it because you’re drunk and want to do something stupid (laughs). But Beloit doesn’t have a super intense Greek life culture, so I think it just feels more fun and less scary. 

Me: That’s interesting how you brought up doing something taboo, I feel like a lot of college traditions are kind of like that. I agree that as long as no one is getting hurt, and everyone is having fun, it seems like a good time (laughs). Have you ever done a Bell Run? 

GP: I did one when I joined my sorority this year. It was funny because I didn’t know if I would have to do it or not but I was dreading it the whole time (laughs). I ended up doing it at like 5 am one day. I wore underwear still. I wasn’t trying to have everyone see me naked. 

GP’s idea that traditions like the Bell Run are a way for college students to engage in something taboo, without it feeling too inappropriate or embarrassing, was compelling because I think that it spoke to the idea that many traditions in various cultures may not be deemed appropriate without the context of folklore. The Bell Run provides context to a behavior that would be seen as very strange and vulgar without knowing the tradition behind it. I think that many other college traditions are similar, since they often involve drinking and engaging in public displays embarrassing or funny behavior.  In addition, GP’s belief that this tradition has been popularized primarily by Greek Life offers some insight into how groups like fraternities and sororities create a feeling of closeness and exclusive membership through customs like this. 

Fighter Pilot Bar Rules – An Air Force Tradition


The informant, GW, is my father. He was a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force during the late 1980s/early 1990s and participated in operation Desert Storm. I have heard him tell many stories from his time in the Air Force throughout my childhood, so I asked him to tell me some of his traditions to collect for my project. This was an informal interview in our household. This description followed a description for a specific fighter pilot bar game, Crud, which can be found in the archives under the title “Crud – A Fighter Pilot Bar Game”. 


Main Text:

GW: “There’s rules inside the bar too, right? You can’t, so this is the before the age of cell phones, right? But if you, if your wife called to ask where you were, while you were in the squadron bar, that was a round for everybody. If you wore your hat in the bar that was a round for everybody. If you left your hat on the table that was a round for everybody. If you left your hat on the bar that was a round for everybody. If you rang the bell that was a round for everybody. All these rules were written of the wall of the bar, of any fighter bar that you’d walk into. And always the last rule in the rule set, because people would go ‘I don’t get it. How am I, why do I keep buying people drinks?’ And then you’d go ‘Well the rules are right there on the bar’ – of course you wouldn’t point cause that’s impolite, you’d use your elbow – you’d go ‘The rules are right there on the bar all you gotta do is be familiar with those.’ Well the last infraction is reading the rules in the bar is a beer for everybody.”



The many rules of the bar serve to reinforce the fighter pilot culture that exists throughout every aspect of their lives. It serves as insider knowledge and a way to tell who the initiated are within a group at the bar. In a way, it is also an initiation ritual in itself, as the uninitiated would be brought to the bar and forced to buy many rounds for everyone else until they got the hang of the rules themselves.