Tag Archives: grandmother

Baba Marta

Main Text

CS: “So the next one I was thinking of was the tradition of Baba Marta, which is like the first day of spring for Bulgarians. It’s like the first of March and you hang up these white and red like crochet, or like knitted things, like yarn and they sometimes look like people, sometimes they’re just abstract shapes. I don’t really remember what the shape is. But people always wish each other ‘Chestita Baba Marta’ or like happy first day of spring and Baba Marta is like baba of spring. I guess somewhat similar to the Baba Yaga story, there’s this grandma who is the incarnation of spring and shes just like a joyous type I guess.”

Background

CS is a 21 year old Bulgarian American from California and is a third year student studying Computer Science: Games at USC. CS describes the Baba Marta holiday like Christmas, you do not remember your first one but it is an ever-present time in your life. CS loved Baba Marta as a holiday because he could look forward to seeing his family and having an excuse to eat. His father, aunt, and grandmother all celebrate it with him every year.

Context

Baba Marta is a spring time festival celebrated in Bulgaria on March 1st. Confusingly it is also the name of a physical embodiment of springtime that comes to people as a joyous old woman.

Interviewer Analysis

Festivals celebrating the end of winter and the coming of a sweeter season are a very common phenomenon especially in eastern European countries with Slavic influences, even though Bulgaria’s geographical placement further south in Europe means that its winters would not have been as harsh as say countries like Lithuania. Lithuania’s Užgavėnės festival however is a very similar celebration, in that it celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of a more fertile season.

Pennies from Heaven

Context: Pennies are a form of American currency equaling 1 cent. Their low value makes them adaptable since people are generally not worried about conserving them. because of this, pennies have also become a common object of folklore-ish discussion.

Background Information: Informant’s grandmother died young, and the informant’s mother and father died when informant was in their twenties. Informant and Informants family are/were Christian and very relationally close to one another. The loss of their family has been very difficult for informant.

Informant: “My mother used to tell me that when my grandmother- her mother- died, that she would send pennies to her as kisses from heaven. Whenever we saw a penny on the side of the street, she would tell me grandma had sent it. When my own mom died, I went to the funeral, and I had paid a parking meter. When I came back to my car, the meter had broken and all these pennies littered the ground. I just bawled and bawled and bawled. Completely broke down crying.”

Thoughts: The presence of pennies is common folklore, and is often perceived as a sign of some sort when found accidentally. Whether or not the parking meter was a coincidence or not, the folklore surrounding the penny stands firm. The penny in this situation connects a member of a family group to the other members, even after death. The folklore is a unifying front, which unifies the member of this group and gives credence to the belief that the members of the group will continue to embody their group identity even after death.

Future Spouse String Initial

Context: I had a string hanging off my jacket when Informant pointed it out and told me this piece of folklore. I asked informant to repeat the lore to me so I could record it.

Informant: “I heard from my grandma that when you have a little string hanging off from your clothes, that you have to pull it off and then throw it behind your shoulder. The you find where the string landed, and it should make the shape that is the initials of your future spouse.”

Background Information: Informant did not necessarily remember when their grandma had told them this, but they knew that she had. Informant did not necessarily believe in the validity of the folklore, but enjoyed doing it and sharing it with others anyway. The informant’s grandmother, however, is apparently a very avid believer in the lore.

Thoughts: The folklore is interesting, and something I have heard before. The folklore serves as a fortune telling device, and displays the notion that things which we attach to our physical selves (clothes), can embody ourselves and our lives. The folklore is a fun game to play as well as a serious predictor of the unknowns of the future. Either way, it is a comfort to its practitioners.

Elders Eat First

Context and Background:

Food is a big part of Indian culture and here, my informant is almost like my grandmother and my late grandfather’s family friend. She tells me a belief about food in India. 

Performance: (via phone call)

There is a belief that whenever we are making food for the family, the first bite is always eaten by the elder of the family. Elder meaning, the oldest child of the family. In a family of mom, dad, and two children, this means, either the elder child can eat it because they are the oldest sibling, or the mom and dad can eat if they were the older sibling in their family. It excludes the younger sibling for eating the first bite. The reason behind this is because we believe that if the elder eats the first bite, there will be plenty of food for the entire family. But if the younger child eats first, there will be a shortage of food. 

Analysis:

After recording this conversation, my and my friend also had a conversation about her childhood. She told me she had 11 siblings and most families in her village were quite big. At the time she was born, in the 1950s, it was common to have a lot of children because there weren’t many birth control options. These villages could also be poor, so food on the table was something they had to worry about. This folk belief is a natural consequence of their circumstances, they had to make sure there was enough food on the table for everyone. If believing that the older child ate first gave them some peace of heart and so they adopted and spread this folk belief. Even in the 2020’s, my mom always makes me eat first bite because of this belief. 

The Ghost of Her Grandmother at Death

Main Transcription:

Collector: Hello JS, so I know that you have mentioned before that there are ghost stories and interactions in your family. I would really appreciate it if maybe you could share some of your experiences.

Informant: Okay so when I was little my family had like a lot of encounters with ghosts and spirits; it’s happened for me a lot. I will share a story that happened with my mom and myself. I think it’s like the craziest experience. So when I was little I was looking out our window just like looking outside like anyone would do, I was maybe 10 and I saw this person walking down the street and we lived in a pretty small neighborhood so everybody pretty much knew everyone.  I saw this person walking down the street and I’d never seen them before, so I called to my mom who was in the kitchen and said, “Mom, who’s the pretty girl walking down the street?” My mom was doing something and could not see out the window, so I yelled to her explaining what she looks like. I said “she’s in this red dress with flowers on it, she had long brown hair and she’s really pretty.” At that moment my mom walked over and looked out the window and was like “Oh my God that’s exactly what my mom, your grandma, wore when she died”.  I supposedly had seen my grandma that I’ve never met before in the clothes that she died in.  I find this really creepy and my mom tells that story all the time that it looked like real life and we thought it’s a real life person that we could touch, but no one else in our family had had any other encounters with our grandmother.

Collector: Do you think are any reasons in particular why your Grandmother showed herself to you and your mother?

Informant: Well I think that my mom and my Grandma are really similar and my mom talks about my Grandma as like she is her Guardian Angel. My mom attributes small occurrences to her mom.  Little super random stuff like if something like drops in our house or sometimes like come up in her dream. My mom can connect those things, but my mom also sees auras around people.  The auras are the colors that you associate with people and it allows my mom the extraordinary power to know how someone is feeling or if something’s wrong.

Collector: Does she think this ability comes from her grandma? 

Informant: No, I think she thinks that she has like this connection with her, but I don’t think she got it from her.

Collector: Have there been other times where you have experienced other sorts of supernatural events?

Yeah, my sister and I often have the same dream and wake up seeing figures of old people standing in the corner. This makes me sound actually insane, but more often than not, my sister sees the person and I could like feel the spirit. I think it’s crazy and not a coincidence that both encounter similar things at the same time. Okay, that sums up most of it.

Collector: Would you be willing to share any more of your experiences?

Informant: Ummm, for the most part I have told you the interesting parts.

Collector: Well, thank you so much more sharing and I really appreciate you taking the time to tell your story.

Context and Relation:

JS grew up in a small town outside of Chicago. She later moved to Seattle for high school. There are pieces of her story that are from her time in Seattle, but the first encounter about seeing her grandmother took place in a small suburb outside of Chicago. She remembers this story because of the abnormality of the situation. It was extremely strange for JS to see an accurate image of someone that she had never met before. JS is a caucasian teenage girl who is attending an American university.

Personal Reflection:

Personally, I have never had an experience quite like JS’s with seeing a dead grandparent or parent or experiencing a spirit. I found it interesting in JS’s story that her Grandmother was wearing the clothes that she died in and that the grandmother took the body of a younger girl, similar to her age. I don’t know exactly what this detail means, but it is definitely worth mentioning. I agree with JS that these events are scary, but I find it really interesting how nobody else in her family has connected with her Grandmother except JS and her mother. Personally, it would make sense to me if other family members came in contact with the Grandmother ghost being from the same family, especially if her sister has had visions of figures from dreams. In conclusion, JS had an amazing encounter with a ghost of her grandmother that she will never forget.