Tag Archives: Family tradition

The I-Love-You Game

Context

The interview is with one of my friends as she recounts a game that she used to play with her family

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Performance

The following is a story told to me by the interviewee.

“Growing up, at the end of our day when we were checking in we would play the game called the I love you game. It always had to be right as the person came in, so my sister and I would wait by the door, and as our parents came in, I would jump out, and then we would have to say the phrase “reflection, block, power base, force field, I love you more than you can say do think to imagine count listen hear write whatever you can think of goo-gol plex, I win the I love you game” and whoever said the phrase the fastest they would win the I Love you game. My mom came up with the game and we played it until I was sixteen years old.”

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Analysis

This very cute and sweet family ritual is perhaps one of my favorite pieces that I have collected. It is a simple game played amongst a family of four, in which the family shows each other how much they love one another. This game likely started as a silly thing that the mother did when the children were younger which then became a ritual that the family consistently practices. Knowing the interviewee, I have an understanding of her family background in which her father was not home for a lot of her childhood and thus this game could have been a way to show the children how much bother parents loved and cared for them, even if one of them could not have always been around.

Harvest Festival in Chinese tradition

Context: My informant is a 26 year-old woman who is of Chinese descent. She grew up in Hong Kong and lived there until she moved to Pasadena at the age of 7. Listed below is an account of a Chinese holiday called “Harvest Festival”. She detailed her experience of the holiday growing up and where the story that surrounds the holiday comes from. She knows and loves these stories from personal experience.

Informant:

“There’s this thing called the ‘Harvest Festival’ which we celebrate on the harvest moon which is in September and basically there’s this tale behind it where earth had 10 suns, which was too hot, and this soldier would shoot down the 9 suns so there would only be one. The emperor then gave him an elixir that would make the soldier live forever, he said oh great, takes it home and marries the love of his life. He then went off to war and the wife, out of curiosity, drank the elixir and eventually became the moon. This was a curse so she couldn’t be with the love of her life. So now the story goes that he could never be with her since she is so far away but, on the day of the harvest moon, the moon is the closest to the earth so he can be with her. We light lanterns and they guide the way for him to see her. We eat mooncakes and walk around the street with paper lanterns on that day too.”

Thoughts:

I found this story beautifully mystical and extremely interesting. I was not familiar with any Chinese lore before talking to the informant about this and I am really excited to learn more. The symbol of the moon being eternal and also feminine is magical and I have always seen the moon in a more feminine light as well. I also find it fascinating that their holiday is centered around the moon. I am curious to know where this connection to the lunar calendar ties in. I would like to know where the lesson of the curse comes in. It might be connected to greed or not following one’s orders as the wife drank the elixir even though her husband said not to. I loved hearing the intricate beauty in this story and am excited to learn more about Chinese culture.

For another reference of this holiday, check here: 

https://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/mid-autumn-festival.htm#:~:text=The%20common%20customs%20of%20the,displaying%20lanterns%2C%20and%20regional%20activities.

Christmas Eve Fondue

Piece:

Interviewer: “Can you explain the fondue Christmas Eve tradition?”

Informant: “Yep! So, fondue goes way back when to me being a kid… and we did this at Christmas Eve with the Hardy family, and we called it ‘hunkso’ – I’m sure you’ve heard that – ‘hunkso meat’ or a ‘hunkso party’ and… I don’t know, we started the fondue tradition in the 70s and it is something that has carried with us ever since, and now we do cheese and it’s a lot more elaborate.”

Background:

The informant has grown up with this tradition as a part of her family since childhood. The piece is important because it is representative of Christmas Eve and family camaraderie during the holiday season.

Context:

The informant (my mother) and I discussed the tradition at our home kitchen table, but the tradition itself that she is describing is performed only on Christmas Eve with extended family.

Thoughts:

Given that I am an active participant in this tradition, hearing about its origins was very interesting to me because I was able to witness how it has evolved over time. The family no longer calls it ‘hunkso’ for whatever reason (this was actually the first time I had ever heard it referred to by this name, despite what my mother said during the interview) and we have expanded the tradition to include cheese fondue, shrimp, and chicken in addition to the original beef. This is the perfect tradition for a holiday meal because the fondue format forces the meal to progress very slowly since each person can only cook one or two bites of food at a time, meaning the time in between bites is spent enjoying the company of extended family.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Piece:

Interviewer: “What about the Thanksgiving tradition with pumpkin pie?”

Informant: “So the ingredients in pumpkin pie are largely consistent. Um, most pumpkin pies contain eggs and cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger and salt and pie crust. What you generally do is whisk it all together and bake it. Our family does not bake it at all, we instead use egg whites and all the same ingredients as well as the most important ingredient which is gelatin, which is used to make jello in many recipes. Also, we do not heat it up and it is served cold.”

Background:

The recipe for this pumpkin pie has been handed down for generations for use during Thanksgiving. It is important because it is the family’s signature Thanksgiving dish and pays homage to the ancestors who originated the tradition.

Context:

The informant (my mother) and I discussed this tradition at our home kitchen table, but the recipe itself is only used during Thanksgiving.

Thoughts:

Although normal pumpkin pie is a very common Thanksgiving tradition, this cold gelatinous variant introduces the family’s personal twist on the traditional recipe. Because of this unique identifier, participation in the tradition brings one closer to the heritage of the family and also provides a family bonding activity in the form of cooking the pies the day before Thanksgiving.

Korean Thanksgiving Traditions

Main Piece: “In Korean thanksgiving we gather all the family and sit down and make own rice cakes, Songpyun, and translated in English, it is a half mooned shaped rice cake. In the middle of the rice cake there is something sweet… I can’t remember exactly what, but it is sweet. We make them and steam them, and then play game called Go Stop. It’s a gambling game that is like poker, where you pair the images and the card, and you bet on the game. One point is considered a dollar, and they get doubled and tripled very easily. One thanksgiving I earned 400 dollars from my uncle. Sometimes it can get a bit hot, because people lose a lot of money… but its all in good fun so we like it. The holiday lasts three days and everyone stays with family for the entirety of the holiday. It is a great chance to reconnect with cousins cause they live in different cities and different social positions. Because of this, we don’t get to see each other that much so it is a good chance to see everyone for at least a few days in the year. There are a lot of very diverse professions in the family, so it makes it even harder to see each other which is why it is good to reconnect with each other.”

 

Background: MP said that Korean families have become more nuclear recently, so there are less big families, and it is more or less smaller tight knit familial groups. MP also mentioned that Korean culture can be very individualistic when it comes to everyday things, and that because Korean people are very ambitious, they can be very judgmental. MP mentioned that a lot of his cousins were very jealous that he was able to study in the United States because it is viewed as a very prestigious opportunity, and they don’t have the money to be able to have that experience. MP mentioned that things of that nature can sometimes create more jealousy during the thanksgiving season, and as a result sometimes families would decide not to gather during the family holidays. When asked whether or not he thought this more of a contained thing with his family, MP responded that it is extremely common in South Korea to have this issue of jealousy, and as such sometimes it was seen as more of a pain to meet for Holidays.

 

Context of Performance: MP told me about his typical Thanksgiving while we were at my apartment discussing typical traditions and holidays in our respective cultures. He was very excited to talk about it, especially after hearing how it differed from my general experience with Thanksgiving and holidays in general.

 

Analysis: I found WP’s thanksgiving traditions to be extremely interesting, especially because while at first it seemed to mirror typical American thanksgivings, it quickly became apparent that there are some striking differences. The gathering of the family is obviously very similar to American Culture, and it would appear that in both cases there is an emphasis on making time for your family, and being thankful for the fact that you all have each other. However I do find it interesting that MP mentions how judgmental it can get during thanksgiving especially in regard to people’s school and work opportunities. I also found it very interesting that some years they would decide not to meet as a family because it is seen as more of a headache, than a fun time of the year. This must tie in to what MP was talking about with Korean culture being somewhat individualistic, and how even though familial bonds are important to an extent, the main thing is to do what is best for you. In America, we are definitely an individualistic culture, but those ideals almost always seem to take a backseat during holidays. In some ways it seems that in America we are trying to make up for a year’s worth of being selfish, by spending one or two holidays with families.