Intro: The following is a transcribed from my informant, P.
P: This is something you do in Poland with your lover. You strip down and hold hands then try to jump over a fire. If you’re still holding hands jumping naked over a fire, then you are truly significant to each other. If you aren’t holding hands, then the relationship is doomed. It’s called Kupala night, sometime in the summer.
P: I heard about it from my mom when I was little, but I think it’s one of those things that I wasn’t supposed to know about, so I don’t think I have the full story.
Background: My informant is an old friend of mine who I once worked with. Both of his parents are Polish and he learned Polish before English, but he was born in America. He has a rocky relationship with his family as he had a difficult childhood and by extension does not currently connect much with nor seek out his Polish identity, even though it was at the forefront during the formative years of his life.
Context: We got dinner, and I asked if I could also interview him and if he had any folklore to share.
Thoughts: P recalled this as a scandalous practice and one of the few things he remembers about his mother, though he never asked his parents if they did this which I found odd. Funny enough, P didn’t have the full story– I looked up the tradition, and it’s part of a larger festival that involves this as one small component.
See https://www.inyourpocket.com/warsaw/Midsummers-Night_72214f to learn more about it as a summer solstice festival.
I think it is interesting how the story can change through generations and a willingness to remember.
“Spoofer Stone is a rock located on the campus of University of Arkansas outside the building known as Old Main and it was used back when the campus was divided by gender for lovers to exchange notes by putting the papers in the cracks of the rock. SInce then, it has become a spot for romance and the campus has special events there and even been proposals there for people who have gone to University of Arkansas”
The informant for this piece is a woman in her late 40s who lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She was born in Joplin, Missouri but moved south to Fayetteville and has lived there for almost 18 years by now. Fayetteville is a college town as it is adjacent to the University of Arkansas. Due to the proximity of the town to the Ozark mountains, the Ozark culture influences the town alongside the culture of those going there for college.
The piece was shared with me via a phone call with the informant. This exact topic was brought up in response to my general question looking for local folklore of the Fayetteville area.
I think the Spoofer stone is interesting in how it has become accepted by the University. The stone used to serve as a meeting spot for couples, as the school was originally divided by gender and disallowed the men to mingle with the women. This was gradually changed over time, but originally, the stone allowed people to interact behind the official authority of the school system. I feel like this is often the intent of folklore, to go around typical restrictions of the system. In this regard, the stone is a rebellious use of the student’s abilities to circumvent the system. Now, the stone has been accepted as a historic part of the campus of University of Arkansas. As such, it still remains folklore, but the people involved have changed from the students to the students and the administration. This is not to say that this shift devalues the stone, but instead it is interesting as it shows how folklore can change meaning over time.
So there’s a famous Creole belief that the truest way to win over someone’s heart is to make them drink your blood. Some version says that it only works if it’s your period blood, but the one my grandma told me says that it works with any kind of blood. You just have to make sure that the other person somehow consumes your blood without them realizing, then that’ll make them fall in love with you without a doubt. In the movie “Midsommar” they had a similar tradition shown in it, so a lot of people just assume that this tradition is like only for Nordic/Norwegian stuff. But from what I know the drinking of blood dates way back in the Creole culture, and maybe this is a shared thing amongst other cultures too. Obviously I’ve never done this myself, nor do I know anyone who’s actually done it. I think at this point, it’s more like a story that elders tell to kids kinda as a fairy tale, I’m not sure if anyone would actually try to pursue this.
My informant is African American, with her father’s family coming from a Creole/Haitian heritage. She grew up in New York, where a large Haitian community exists. Even though she’s never personally visited Haiti, she was exposed to the culture through her family. She also explained that this story was told to her by her grandmother in French, so there are some mistranslations alongside phrases that couldn’t be remembered correctly.
I met up with my informant at her apartment in Los Angeles. During our talk about finding love and relationships, the topic eventually lead to her sharing this bit of interesting folklore. No other persons were present during our conversation.
Drinking or consuming one’s blood is a sacred act that’s been practiced and upheld by various cultures. It’s an act that symbolically and literally unifies two persons, and it only made sense for me that there would be a folklore regarding drinking blood and associating that with attaining one’s love.
We had this thing we’d do as kids… Like, young kids though like maybe 10 years old! So, you’d find a dandelion and pick it, then pressure one of your friends into doing this thing where you look at someone you have a crush on – then you bury your nose in the dandelion.
If it comes away yellow, we’d ooh and ahh and say that it meant you guys’d get married some day or somethin’. And the person’d look over, of course, and see someone looking at them completely embarrassed with yellow all over their nose. Then they know and the… middle school tension grows?!
I don’t know. It seems so weird now but I can remember so many times when we did this!! And dandelions are so gross too, but it was fun. And it didn’t always come away yellow.
Ritual described by Bree Tschosik, born and raised in Decatur, IL.
This ritual continues today among schoolchildren in the rural Midwest, of course with some variation. At an age where male/female relationships are still somewhat awkward, it provides an expressive and entertaining ritual for participants.
The chance element of dandelion rubs is what makes it so entertaining! Because it doesn’t always leave a yellow mark. And of course, the social relationships of participants is the main factor in entertainment value of this ritual.
Main Piece: Proverb
Прошла любовь, завяли помидоры.
Proshla lyubov’, zavyali pomidory.
Love has passed, tomatoes have withered.
The love was a crush and it passed quickly.
- Why does informant know this piece?
This was told to her by her friends.
- Where did they learn this piece?
The Soviet Union.
- What does it mean to them?
If she hears it, it means she had a silly crush and has quickly moved on.
This proverb is told to young people, usually young girls but can be boys, when they have a crush and quickly move on either from liking the person to hating them, or to another person.
I find this proverb to be very amusing, comparing a person’s feelings to a tomato that has withered, especially since tomatoes are not a food that is commonly associated with anything romantic. Usually when young people hear this proverb, they are insulted at first, because it seems to diminish the value of their feelings, but they find it funnier as they get older and realize those feelings were not nearly as important or significant as they seemed.