Tag Archives: guessing game

Using a string and piece of string to predict the gender of a baby

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 54
Occupation: Health Care Executive
Residence: San Diego
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/18/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Main Piece

Informant: So you put a ring on a string. You loop it and then you hang it in front of the pregnant woman by her stomach-but don’t let it touch the stomach. If it motions sideways then it means it is a girl, but if it motions front and back it is supposed to be a boy. They say the energy of the baby swings the ring, that is kind of what they say causes it.

Interviewer: Was it ever done on you? 

Informant: It was never done on myself, but I saw it done on others. It was really popular at baby showers if the Mother was dying to know, and it was almost like a game. I guess before sonograms that is how they did it, haha. I just think the unknown of wanting to know the gender before the technology caused it. Is there any scientific proof that will cause the ring to sway a different way, I don’t know. 

Background

The informant is my mother, a Mexican woman who is first-generation and the oldest of 3, who was born and raised in San Ysidro,CA  a border town just north of Tijuana, Mexico. Influenced by memories and conversations with her great great grandmother, many of her practices, customs, and beliefs were passed down from her maternal side of Mexican customs. Fluent in both English and Spanish, the informant has always felt conflicted about her culture as she wanted to fit in with American customs but wanted to preserve her Mexican heritage and traditions. The informant had her first child when she was 18, and worked her way as a single mother with two kids to attain her Master’s Degree and is now the Executive Vice President at a non-profit health clinic that serves the community she was raised in.

Context

I remember seeing this practice done at one of my older cousin’s baby showers, and I asked the informant more about it. From what I remember, the ring accurately predicted the gender of the baby as it was before they revealed or found out the gender of the baby.

Analysis

This folk belief is a perfect example of signs, and using material objects in order to predict the future. I think it is interesting that this practice is usually done at baby showers almost as a game, as it continues to foster the belief that magic and witchcraft are associated with the female gender. This practice is still used in our family and in baby showers as a fun game, and it is one usually passed down in Mexican families as well.

Family Tradition: Guess the Number of Previews at Each Movie

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 21
Occupation: College Student
Residence: Lompoc, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 15, 2018
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Some Italian

“My family has a game we play when we go to movie theaters.  When we go see a movie, we always guessed the amount of commercials or previews there are going to be and then how many of this video’s we actually want to go watch. So, before the movie starts off, I’ll be like, ‘4:2’, and my mom would be like, ‘6:3’ and that’s like the number of previews you think are going to happen before the show and then the amount of those previews that happened that we would actually go see.”

Background Information and Context:

“I have no idea why we do that or when it started, but as far as I know we’ve done it as long as we’ve gone to see movies. I just know that my family does it, and that Reed [my boyfriend] and I do it. It’s a tradition, and it’s fun, and it’s really dumb.”

Collector’s Notes:

This is a great example of how sharing traditions help continue the tradition and improve one’s connections with others. The game that the informant plays with her family before each movie is fun and has positive associations, but by sharing the game with her boyfriend, she is not only continuing the tradition away from home but also allowing someone else to become a part of a well-loved tradition. More than simply telling someone about a tradition, allowing someone to engage in a personal tradition is a sign of trust and closeness, a sign that you deem them worthy of being a part of something that means a lot to you.