Tag Archives: informal

Lithuanian Folk Simile: “Healthy as a Radish”


Original script: “Sveikas kaip ridikas.”

Transliteration: “Healthy like radish” / “Healthy as a radish.”

Free translation: “Snug as a bug in a rug.”


IZ is a 20 year-old college student from Lisle, Illinois, living in Los Angeles, California. Both her parents’ families immigrated to the United States during World War II and remain connected to their Lithuanian roots through strong immigrant communities in the US.

“My dad loves this one,” IZ said about this folk simile. She described it as one that is only used around close family members and said by adults to children in an affectionate manner. “It’s a little silly,” she said, “because it rhymes.” For this reason, we chose “snug as a bug in a rug” as a potential free translation of this phrase, since it preserves both the rhyming and silly tone of the saying, as well as its social dynamic of being a saying communicated from parents to children.

IZ recalls both her father and grandfather using this expression to communicate comfort at times of sickness — a time when one has a red face, alluding to the color of the radish. She emphasized that it would only be said informally among family, from adult to child.


As IZ explained this folk simile to me, she was quick to mention her association of these words with her father. This represents the power of folklore to be associated with a specific person even as it is a broader cultural production. I would infer that many other Lithuanian kids are reminded of family upon hearing these words. 

The strict confinement of this phrase to the nuclear family serves to define the boundaries of the family to young children as they learn social dynamics. Additionally, the knowledge that this phrase is only said to children implies also a knowledge of what is appropriate language to adults.

This proverbial phrase also contains variation in that it can be applied to diverse instances of redness, including from the cold. Lithuania is a country with very cold winters and moderate summers. I can imagine potential variation in this phrase being applied to redness from the cold. An ironic application could refer to redness from drinking — this would subvert the norms of only using this proverbial phrase toward children. More research is needed to see if this is an existing variation of the phrase.

The appearance of radishes in this phrase speaks to the cuisine of the country. Lithuania’s climate is suited to growing root vegetables, including radishes but also potatoes and beets.

“Hail Holy Queen, please let this light turn green”

Text: “Hail Holy Queen, please let this light turn green”

Background: A is an American catholic who is very devout and prayerful in her daily life. She often incorporates prayer into everyday tasks, even when driving her car to the grocery store.

Context: A says this little prayer every time she’s late, gets stuck at a pesky red light, and is desperately trying to get to her destination on time. She believes that it’s a grounding and wholesome little prayer that helps her regain patience, but also calls upon the Holy Mother (Mary) to enact her wish.

Analysis: This little short prayer demonstrates how many Christians like to call upon God or religious icons to help them through their every day lives. For a Catholic like A, calling upon Mary demonstrates the role that Jesus’s mother plays in the Catholic faith tradition. Although not worshipping or praying to her as a divine being, Catholics call upon Mary as a guiding force and role model. This directly contrasts the traditions of Protestant faiths, who do not view Mary in a similar light, but as a humble woman and historical figure in the Biblical epic. Therefore, they would not call upon her guidance in such moments throughout the day. A’s little prayer, like most Catholic prayers, highlights the importance of biblical icons, like Mary, to the faith tradition.