Tag Archives: #festival

The Prep-work Behind The Elderflower Festival

--Informant Info--
Nationality: British European
Age: 58
Occupation: Storyboard Artist
Residence: Sherman Oaks, California
Date of Performance/Collection: April 5, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Interviewer: So how did it get started in your home town?

Informant: My parents started off just making a couple of gallons with a couple of friends, I’m not sure exactly who they picked it up from. And I think they may have done that in the house before the Bury. Or right around that time, anyway. Probably around 60 years ago (2020). There have been more Elderflower Festivals than my parents have been present for.  There was one in 1967? My parents went on sabbatical to America and their friends broke in and made Elderflower anyway. There was another one when they sailed one of their boats down to the south of France and my brother and me hosted it on our own. I’m pretty sure my brother has been at every Elderflower Festival.

Interviewer: Does it only happen one time a year?

Informant: It has to take place when the flowers are in bloom, usually in the first or second week of June. It cannot be delayed, the flowers do not stay out for very long. It is an event driven entirely by natural forces and the need for alcohol.

Interviewer: What typically goes into the festival preparation wise?

Informant: Well the deal is something around 40 guests are invited and they’re asked to pick Elderflowers so when they arrive they can deliver their flowers. We spread the tarpaulin on the backyard and lay the flowers on it to dry and be shredded. And in return for their labor, the guests are fed a huge buffet lunch. There are a number of elements of that lunch that are obligatory. Coronation Chicken, Roast Beef, Deviled Eggs, Roast Turkey, Potato Salad, and Garlic Bread and there’s always a rice of some sort. There’s a late morning snack of sausages done on a barbecue because we have a late lunch, because we don’t have lunch until we reach a quota of flowers. After lunch, the afternoon is devoted to games, ‘gassing’ (talking), and drinking wine. Because my parents were teachers a lot of the guests were faculty or students. It’s just a thing a lot of Cambridge educators do.

Interviewer: Is there a recipe then that one has to follow to make Elderflower wine?

Informant: There is a certain amount of citrus fruit that needs to be peeled and squeezed and that is combined with boiling water poured through the flowers in a muslin shiv. With a large amount of sugar to feed the yeasts. My father used to be the viter but now my brother does it. Fermentations takes place in large Demi-johns and it takes about 3 months to the point where the wine can be decanted and bottled. Elderflower wine has an unusual ‘nose’ which takes some getting used to, but the taste is very pleasant.

Background: This festival takes place either the first of second week of June, it is a time sensitive celebration that must occur during that time or not at all. Luckily it is also during the summer break for most British educators, so it is an excuse to see each other outside of work and get drunk together.

Context: My informant and I were discussing whether or not there would be an Elderflower Festival this year due to the Corona Virus. This would be the first time since it’s conception that the Elderflower Festival would not be held, but my informant believed it would be for the best since a majority of attendees are rather old and would be at risk.

My Thoughts: I’ve attended the Elderflower Festivals before and they are a riot! There’s a lot a family and friends who attend and at the end, people are gifted a bottle of last year’s batch. The festival has grown over the time I have attended from just 30 people to closer to 60 or 70. People keep bringing friends to come celebrate, which means a lot more time is put into prepping the meals and getting a supply of flowers to shred.

While not directly a festival celebrating life cycles, the festival is based entirely on the production of turning blooming flowers into wine, so there may be some form of symbolism there.

Armenian Vardavar Festival

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Armenian
Age: 51
Occupation: Dental Hygienist
Residence: Glendale
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Russian, Armenian


Transliteration: Vardavar

Translation: Flaming Rose

Description: Annual festival that Armenians celebrate on July 8th. Name literally means to sprinkle with water and the flaming of the rose. The legend comes from goddess of love named Astghik who spread love across Armenia by sprinkling rose water across the land. The god Vaghan is the person who defends love against evil. After the adoption of christianity this tradition was recognized as Vardavar where everyone in the neighborhood, streets, parks, etc splash water on each other. Anyone in the neighborhood is fair game.

Background Information: This is a very popular holiday/festival in Armenia that is celebrated by everyone in Armenia ranging from little children to elderly. It is a community affair.

Context: The informant told me about this festival during a conversation in which I asked her to tell me about an Armenian tradition/holiday that she knows about.

Thoughts: This holiday seems to have roots in pagan traditions but has managed to carry on to present day. I think this holiday does a great job at showing the spirit of the Armenian people and brings a joyous part of the year that many look forward to. I believe that through all that the Armenian people have gone through, Vardavar is a testament to the strength of Armenia’s culture and heritage.

Dolores Hill Bomb – Bay Area skating “festival”

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Italian American
Age: 20
Occupation: Law enforcement at Nordstrom
Residence: with her parents in San Jose
Date of Performance/Collection: Friday April 24, 2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

The following is a transcript of a conversation between me, M, and my friend, T.

M: What is the Dolores Hill Bomb?

T: I guess it’s more for like bay area skaters, but Dolores Hill Bomb is this event we go to. So like every summer, I don’t remember what day, in San Francisco, a bunch of –hundreds actually– of skaters get together and they just like, bomb hills in San Francisco. If you look up Dolores Hill bombs there’s tons of videos. They or we actually do it every year, its literally just skaters getting together and fucking bombing hills, because there’s a lot of hills in San Francisco. 

Me: what does that mean? Bombing hills?

T: Just like, going down hills, like fast. Super high speed. It doesn’t sound scary, but just going downhill on a skateboard, like a big San Francisco hill…..its intense. You need to watch videos.

M: How did you hear about it?

T: (pause)…just like, through the community….if you hang out with um any sort of actual skater and skating is something they’re passionate about, you learn about it. It’s through word of mouth, and that’s how it started. 

Me: So it’s hundreds of people?

T: Yeah, and people keep coming, even though every year someone injures themselves pretty bad. It’s a big deal for us.

Me: How long have you been going to it? 

T: Just two years. But I’ve known about it for a while…I didn’t go before because I was younger, its a bit of …well, you know skate scene can be vulgar, so I didn’t go, and also it was a bit of a drive and I didn’t have a car. 

Me: Is it like a festival?

T: Yeah, but it’s not an organized thing. It’s not sponsored or official, people just choose to meet up on this day, and support each other, and just skate. 

Me: Did you compete or just watch?

T: Hell, no! I skated around there and casually, but I didn’t bomb…its not a competition necessarily, more like a meet up….it just goes on until the cops come shut it down, because it does shut down the entire street. Skate culture in San Francisco is huge.

Background: Informant is 20 years old, and considers skating to be a big part of her life. She builds her own boards starting in middle school. She skated to school everyday since she was 12 and has continued to skate on her own and with her friends. (most of her friends skateboard as well) 

Context: T is a good friend of mine who I interviewed while FaceTiming her to catch up during quarantine. I asked her about any interesting folklore she knew.

Thoughts: This is the first time I have heard of anything like this. I think it’s a great example of how folklore is so reliant on community and word of mouth, and that people can strongly feel connected to something. Also, that there are layers to folklore- this is not just about skateboarders, but also the Bay Area.

Don’t buy shoes on Qingming Festival

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese
Age: 49
Occupation: Teacher
Residence: China
Date of Performance/Collection: 2020.4.3
Primary Language: Chinese
Other Language(s):

Main piece:

Translated conversation:

Me: I want a new pair of board shoes.

Father: Sure, we can go shopping after the Qingming festival.

Me: You mean after tomorrow? Why not tomorrow?

Father: You don’t buy shoes(鞋xie) on Qingming because it brought bad luck (邪xie).

Me:It sounds like a terrible joke.

Father: I mean it.

Background information:

My father used to go tomb weeping with my grandparents on Qingming. But none of them went because of the pandemic. Instead, we were talking about what to do for the short break (It’s a official holiday). He told me he heard this from his father and I should remember not to buy shoes on Qingming as well.


I collected this piece when I was casually talk to my father through phone call.


Homophonic words sounds like joke to me at these days. But in the past, people really believed those words with the same pronouce could bring them bad luck. My father still believe in it. I don’t know if I should follow that but I will remember this weird taboo.