Context: The informant was speaking of German traditions and remembered this piece.
Informant:Another thing is this kind of funny if you don’t like look someone in the eyes when you’re like clinking your cups together you have bad sex for seven years.
Collector: Where did you learn this from?
Informant: That was learned from peers, but yeah when I go to Germany I make sure I look in their eyes and if you don’t look they call you out and are like that’s bad sex!! It’s a little bit of a joke but it’s definitely prevalent.
Background: The informant is a 20 year old USC student of German descent. She visits Germany often and spends time with her German family and friends, giving her insight into their cultural practices.
Analysis: This idea of creating eye contact when clinking glasses or during a “cheers” is an idea I had heard of before, but to create good luck in general. This piece focuses on the relationship between eye contact and sex. It is interesting because there is a very special sort of bond and connection created with both eye contact and sex, therefore it makes logical sense that they correlate in this superstition. The act of cheers is already a celebratory gesture, therefore the addition of the eye contact gesture adds depth to the meaning of the cheers.
“Everybody drinks mate. As long as I can remember, since I was a kid, my mom and her friends used to drink mate. I think it’s made out of coconut or something. Everybody drinks it out of these cups made out of wood that basically look like coconuts. They put tea leaves in it, and drink out of a strange straw made of metal. The straw lets the liquid through without letting the tea leaves through. Basically, whoever is serving the mate has a bowl of yerva, which is the herbs, and they put it in the mate, and once you have all the tea in, you pour in hot water and sugar. The person serving drinks first because it’s usually very bitter but gets sweeter. You pass it around, adding more sugar and hot water, and everybody gets the mate out of the same container and straw.”
Background Information and Context:
According to the informant, her parents drank mate every morning and throughout the day, and her cousin drinks it by himself by the river, but the particular ritual she described is meant for a social gathering. She’s not sure if any of this is symbolic. “People will share with complete strangers. It’s really strange,” she remarked, “My cousin will be down at the beach and meet some strangers, and they’ll drink mate together.” In Argentina, kids drink it too, but with warm milk and lots of sugar. She remembers drinking it as a kid all the time, and remarked that shMare was sad that she didn’t make it for her kids when they were little.
Traditions reveal a lot about social relations within a culture. Based on this tradition of sharing mate, one can see that hospitality – moreover a deference for one’s guests – is an important aspect of Argentine culture and that being friendly and welcoming, even to strangers, is expected. The first time I came to the informant’s house, I was so confused by the extent to which she’d welcomed me into her home and wanted me to make myself comfortable because it was such a different experience from my own more conservative Vietnamese upbringing. A good way to see the differences between these two cultures would be to compare this mate tradition to what I’d consider a typical Vietnamese social interaction, like greeting each elder individually and bowing, a representation of the strong sense of hierarchy in Vietnamese social groups.
Informant is a Peruvian friend who was visiting me this week. She first heard of the Amancaes festival from her grandmother. The Fiesta de San Juan was a festival that took place in the hills of the Amancaes located in the seaside Rimac district of Lima. The Amancaes are bright yellow flowers that grew on these hills during the months of June and July.
The Festival of Amancaes evolved from the pilgrimage site because of the beautiful Amancay flowers that blossomed during the months of June and July and covered the hills in their entirety. In these celebrations, limeñans of all classes and races came down to the hills for unlimited food, music and dance. This celebration went on until 1952 when it was discontinued because the hills of Amancaes were invaded by squatters coming from the outskirts in search of better opportunities in the capital.
This festival was meaningful because Limeñan society has always been very stratified and segregated by class and race. Limeñans of European descent always looked down upon the indigenous and African populations, but on this one day (like Mardi Gras and the Ancient Roman’s Saturnalia) all of these social mores are forgotten and people of all races and classes would party together and share food and drink. Now, there is a festival that was started two years ago called Mistura, this is a gastronomic festival organized every year in Lima and it has become so popular that tickets are sold out almost immediately after they go on sale. This festival is doing the same purpose that the Festival de Amancaes used to do which was to bring society together by providing them with something that people of all ages, races and social classes enjoy: good food.