Tag Archives: folk practice

Rosie the School Mascot – Legend


A is a sophomore at USC studying Screenwriting. A was born in Canada but moved to the United States when A was 10. The below text is a legend at A’s elementary school and, according to A, was the origin of how the school is decorated.


A’s elementary school has a fox as a mascot and they circulated a story about how they had gotten a fox as a mascot. “Why did they choose Rosie the Fox? This is why, this is the story we heard from teachers and friends but it was never confirmed by the school.” Basically, decades before, while a teacher was taking her kids out for recess, they found an injured fox lying in a ditch near campus. The kids all pleaded with the teacher to treat the fox, and they ended up taking it to school (principal or nurse’s office). They gave the fox a splint and eventually nursed it back to health (A did specify that the fox did not bite). Over the course of days, all the students got super attached tot he fox and named it Rosie, after the school’s name.

It got to the point where the fox was very tame. When the leg healed, they released it and all the kids were super sad about it. But, after that point, the fox would always come back. At recess, kids would see it standing on the side of the woods watching them play at recess. Eventually, obviously, the fox died and the school ended up naming the mascot after the fox in order to carry on the legacy of Rosie. A’s elementary now has a lot of culture surrounding Rosie. During A’s time there, they even had a whole festival or day surrounding Rosie.


The above narrative is a story that is highly probable, so much so that the school themselves indulge in it as if it was truth even though it has never been proven legitimately. A specifies that it has not been proven historically, and perhaps there may never be a way to prove it, but here is an example of folk history secluded to a school. The contemporary setting of the narrative makes the story an urban legend, however the deep belief with which the school puts in Rose the Fox makes the truth of her existence inconsequential. In my opinion, even if the school did find out Rosie wasn’t actually real, it wouldn’t matter. She became a legend ingrained as almost fact for the school, therefore what they think happened matters more than the unknown of what actually happened. Furthermore, being good to nature, kind to all creatures, and community are values upheld and respected in schools. Not only is Rosie the fox a heartwarming story to tell young students, but an example of how to behave at school. Rosie’s story provides an almost-forbidden rule broken by the school itself; letting an injured fox’s leg heal. It almost gives the audience room to make mistakes, using something as sutble as a fox to encourage breaking rules for kindness. Here is another reason why it doesn’t matter if the legend of Rosie is true or not.

Water on the Hands


“Ok, this is semi-ritual, semi-ceremony in Thai culture, like with the festival I mentioned earlier, water is really important and so I guess on the Thai new year and also just other sometimes random special occasions water will be used to like give–bless, bless your elders. So what happens is like you normally have this golden or like silver bowl, I’m forgetting what it’s called, but you have like a bowl and you fill it with flowers and water, and you take like a smaller little bowl. Oh I remember its called a

Phonetic: K̄hạn
Transliteration: Water dipper
Translation: Bowl

and you just scoop a little bit and your elders (your parents and your grandparents) would hold their hands out and you would pour water over their hands. And when you do that you are supposed to say good things like ‘I wish you good health,’ and with the Thai new year obviously you would say ‘I wish you good luck or good health for the next year.’ And the water is representing like forgiveness and you’re also asking for their forgiveness for, like, all the bad stuff you may have done to them in the past year. So there’s that. And it also becomes relevant during like a funeral when like you will similarly pour water onto the deceased hands when they’re in like the casket. And similarly, when you approach them you are supposed to ask for forgiveness for any wrongings you’ve done to them throughout their entire life and you just kinda pray for them and wish them good luck whatever happens to them after their death.”


Informant (WP) is a student aged 19 from Chino Hills, California. Her parents are from Thailand and Laos. She currently goes to USC. This piece was collected during an interview in the informant’s apartment. She learned this from her parents and her extended family. She interprets it to represent forgiveness and cleansing.


Water is used to represent the cleansing of a moral sense in different cultures’ beliefs around the world. Where this one differs is in the belief that the person washing is being forgiven, not the person being washed. The water in the ritual does seem to represent forgiveness and cleansing, and when it’s done seems to align with the amount of time associated with the forgiveness. At the new year, it is used to forgive a year’s worth of wrongdoing. At a funeral, it’s used for a life’s worth.

100 Days of Life


“When the baby is a hundred days old or something, yeah, the parents put like different objects in front of the baby each meaning like a different career or something lets say there’s like a book meaning you’re going to be a scholar or money meaning the baby is going to get rich and you see which one the baby picks as a way of predicting its future.”


Informant (JG) is a student aged 19 from Beijing, China. Although she was born in Los Angeles, she has spent most of her life living in China. She currently goes to USC. This piece was collected during an interview over breakfast in the dining hall. She’s seen this on tv shows and knows people who practice this tradition. She thinks parents want something psychic to guarantee success for their children.


As (JG) mentioned, this belief is largely meant to guarantee success for the baby. None of the options are negative; there isn’t an item that symbolizes bankruptcy or homelessness. This reflects a larger belief that whatever the baby picks is what they will have in life, so best not to lay anything negative in front of them.

Nian New Year


“I guess some Chinese stories and traditions have different meanings in different parts of China. For example, we like exchange red packets for new years and the reason why its red is cause in Chinese mythology there’s this monster that shows up every new year I forgot the reason but yeah in the story there’s a monster that shows up every new year and apparently, it’s scared of the color red which is why everything is in red. The monster’s name is:

Chinese: 年獸
Phonetic: nián shòu
Transliteration: zodiac
Translation: year

and if you translate it into English it means year. I don’t know the story, but thats also part of the reason we have fireworks is to scare the monster.”


Informant (JG) is a student aged 19 from Beijing, China. Although she was born in Los Angeles, she has spent most of her life living in China. She currently goes to USC. This piece was collected during an interview over breakfast in the dining hall. She learned this in primary school. She doesn’t have any interpretations for its meaning, she just thinks it’s there to preserve New Year traditions.


This folk belief demonstrates how elements of festivals and folk practices may be “rationalized” by other elements of folklore. In this instance, the possibility of a monster is what drives part of the folk practice. It also encourages the people to keep the tradition going.

Rings predicts the gender of a baby

Background: The informant has a daughter.

LR: There is some belief that if you put a ring on a piece of string and you hold it over a pregnant woman’s belly, it spins or swings, and if it swings it’s a girl and if it spins it’s a boy. We did it because our baby wasn’t cooperative in the ultrasound.

Me: Where did you do this?

LR: Just in our apartment or wherever we were living.

Me: Just for fun? Like it wasn’t for a baby shower or anything?

LR: Yeah, it was just kind of like oh I wonder if we could actually, like, find out because we really wanted to know and so I think we tried it and I don’t remember if it worked or not.

Me: Do you know if many people do this?

LR: Back when I was pregnant, you only got one ultrasound, I feel like now people have multiple ultrasounds so it’s probably a little bit less likely to happen now, but back when I was having a baby, it was as frequent so a lot of people actually used to do it. This is actually a tradition people would try, to see, especially if they couldn’t have an ultrasound to see what the baby’s sex was, a lot of people tried to do this.

Me: And you said it’s a ring, is it any specific ring?

LR: I feel like it’s usually your wedding band, and I think it’s the mother’s band. We tried it because we’d heard about it.

Context of performance: This was told to me over a Zoom call.

Thoughts: I think this is a really interesting belief given that it is a fully 50/50 chance that has no bearing or knowledge on the sex of the baby. It’s also notable that it is so tied to the development of technology and that it was very common before pregnant women started getting more ultrasounds. I wonder if the use of the wedding band has any sort of significance of a promise to the baby since it represents devotion and eternity in a marriage.