Tag Archives: friends

Pre-Thanksgiving Festival/Tradition

“A tradition that my family had is called Pie Day, and it’s not 3-14 but instead the day before thanksgiving. It’s essentially a party where friends and family come together and make pies for thanksgiving, everyone is in the kitchen. Before we moved to Washington my grandma would always have pie day at her house and that is the one time of year that I would see the most extended of extended family. There are lots of wine snacks and cooking. In Washington it was much more my parents’ friends and a couple cousins and such, and the night ends with everyone gathering on the couch and sitting down for a show or movie.”

The informant performs this tradition every year the day before Thanksgiving, typically held at her parents house in Olympia, Washington, USA. Depending on the year, different people may arrive to participate in this tradition. The informant’s immediate family, her parents’ friend group, her dad’s work friends, herself and her siblings, who invite a couple of their friends, and then some extended family are all potential participants, depending who is in town. Every person who comes can bring a dish they would like to make for the next day, but most people just come to socialize and decompress before the busy Thanksgiving day. The informant is not sure when it started, but her family started preparing the pies for Thanksgiving in the days before and as the years went on, more and more people were invited to participate in preparing food prior to the actual holiday.

The tradition demonstrates a culture that values food and socialization, as nearly all cultures do. Cooking together is a common way to build bonds between people, especially family and close friends. It is a sort of unofficial folk festival for just the small group of people involved, taking place the day before a bigger holiday. This is relatively common as people prepare for holidays. There are group cooking days for food-centered holidays, group shopping excursions for the winter holidays that involve gift giving, and group decorating days before decoration-centered holidays like Dia de Los Muertos or Christmas. It is a way to mount the excitement for the holiday as well as extend the celebration.

Hold Your Breath!

‘When I was younger my parents and older siblings taught me the superstition that whenever we had to drive across a bridge, it was necessary to hold your breath or else the bridge would collapse underneath us. I still do it now, even though I know the bridge obviously won’t collapse, but what if it does because I wasn’t holding my breath?!’ – NZ

This superstition has had a grasp on NZ as long as he can remember; a hold so tight, he refuses to not hold his breath if he has to drive across a bridge. He also shares this superstition and ritual with his friends, also forcing them to partake in it. NZ can’t remember a single time he did not hold his breath going over a bridge, “the ritual has practically taken over my life” he emphasizes. He also grew up in New York, a state with many bridges, thus this tradition was fully engrained in him from a young age driving around with his family. NZ also plans to continue to share this superstition with friends, and one day “trick” his own future kids into holding the same ‘bridge-crossing’ ritual.

My first impression was that my own father actually taught me the same superstition; a superstition I have not met many other people to have! Superstitions in folklore have long existed and take hold to prevent misfortune and bad luck among communities. While this superstition did not have a community wide affect, it is a familial folk belief that has been passed down to yet another generation, as NZ’s parents learned it from their parents and shared it with each other when they first met. This superstition is a classic example of oral tradition, and also folk beliefs in supernatural forces. For example, there must be some supernatural force to make a bridge collapse, so holding your breath will prevent it, much like knocking on wood to un-jinx something.

出外靠朋友: “Going out, relying on friends”

Chūwài kào péngyǒu

Translation: “Going out, relying on friends”

Background: Y is a 21-year-old college student from Taiwan who is navigating her new life in Los Angeles, California. Having grown up in and gone to school in Taiwan, she is incredibly familiar with Taiwanese folklore and culture.

Context: This is a proverb that Y’s parents would always say to her to remind her of the importance of making friends and networking. It refers to when you are out of your parents protection and when you must rely on friends to give you a helpful hand. It emphasizes the importance and benefits of having close friends.

Analysis: This proverb highlights the importance of friendship and having a large safety net in Taiwanese culture. It highlights the transition from living with your parents to expanding your horizons in the real world amongst working adults. Contrasted with American culture, where young adults are expected to fend for themselves once leaving their parents’ protection, Taiwanese culture values building your network before the jump into adulthood. Once you step out of the familial nest, you are expected to be independent of your parents yet not entirely independent of your peers. Overall, it is a proverb highlighting the importance of community and fraternity among peers when transitioning from one stage of life to the next.

Spicy Uno

BACKGROUND: JM is the interviewer’s friend. Spicy Uno is a variation on the popular Uno card game, one that we’ve played many times as friends, and a game that can get quite heated at times.


TRANSCRIPT:
JM: “Here are our rules:
Play a 4, no talking. Whoever talks has to draw 1 card for each word they say.Play a 6, all hands need to go in the middle of the table. Last hand draws 3.Person who plays 0 chooses 2 people to swap hands (can include themselves).+2 cards and +4 cards can stack, but not on each other.You can ask for help and can help someone, but you can’t show them the card before.You can skip to yourself by playing an exact match of what’s on top of the pile.If you have UNO and someone else calls UNO for you, draw 6.
There’s the famous moment when we were playing, someone drew 4, and then someone knocked on the door. You went ‘it’s all good, we’re taking a break, we don’t need to be quiet anymore. The game is paused, the game is paused.’ Watching you draw 22 cards was maybe the greatest time I’ve ever played the game.”


ANALYSIS: The Spicy Uno variation of the Uno card game is a popular one among Millenials and Gen Z, one that qualifies as folklore since there are no exact rules and no known origin — everyone plays it slightly differently. It’s a modern folk tradition, one that can forge friendships and break them apart in the same round. For another version of Spicy Uno, see:

“How to Play Spicy Uno.” Crazy Little Projects, 30 Jul. 2020, https://crazylittleprojects.com/how-to-play-spicy-uno/.

Secret Agents

Context

The following is collected during a routine call with my younger brother.

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Performance

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

“Yes, I have a secret organization in class where I’m the boss. And I have all my secret agents and they do things for me. I send them out on missions to collect pencils and collect all the secrets from other people in the class. And then we guard those secrets, or we can also use those secrets if we need to, but we don’t, because we are the good guys. And there is another secret organization that Christian is in charge of. And we are going to have a war soon but I will win when we do so it’s okay. He doesn’t have as many secret agents as I do, I think he only has five or six, but about half the class is my secret agent.”

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Analysis

Secret Organizations are always common amongst children in schools. They are starting to meet peers for the first time and naturally are starting to create in groups and out-groups. They are searching for a sense of belonging, and for the first time are experiencing what it means to feel community. Thus it makes sense that they would actively work to creating their own communities. And add on the imagination of a child, secret organizations with spies and agents is a common answer. What is interesting is the competitive level that the interviewee felt to express. That he had a better agent organization than his friend because he had more people with him. Thus we see numbers is what gives this organization power. This makes sense for a child at the age of seven, the more friends you have, the more popular you are in class, and thus the more power you possess.