Tag Archives: marriage

Wife Joke

This, uh, lady was asking her-her husband that, uh, “which one do you like more, do you love more? A pretty woman or an educated woman?” And he says …“none of them, I love you”. (laughter) 

Context:

The speaker was sharing a joke to their family after everyone was each sharing a joke they thought was funny. As the speaker spoke, they paused at the end, making sure there was an emphasis on the punchline. 

Personal Thoughts:

This is a very interesting joke to dissect, as it not only is structured in a way to have a humorous punchline, but it also can be used to understand gender roles. The structure itself leads up to the punchline in a way that subverts audience expectations. Rather than the husband picking between the two, he essentially chooses neither, which leads him to imply that his wife is neither pretty nor educated. What this does, is also reveal how gender norms are regarded with this joke. In this case, the wife asking if her husband prefers beauty or education shows that there is a pressure for women to be one or the other, and that men may have a preference. By the husband responding that his wife is neither, it is essentially making a point that the wife did not achieve either goal that society places on her, meaning that she would not be seen as the “ideal” wife in Western culture. That being said, an optimistic view of this joke could interpret that the husband does not care for either and his wife is someone special to him. However, by looking at the sexist gender roles placed in this joke, it is making a point about what Western society views as important for women to have, and to not have that makes them a “joke”, as shown by this specific joke. 

Don’t Sweep the Feet

Informant: My informant is my Mexican mother, who grew up in Puebla, Mexico. While she stayed with her mom for about 16 years before coming to the U.S, she grew up with many superstitions that either derived from her mom or from her grandmother. 

Main Piece: “No dejes que te baran los pies porque luego vas a terminar no casandote.” Translations: “Don’t let anyone sweep your feet because later on, you will end up not marrying 

Context: My mom heard this as a kid whenever her mom was sweeping. However, now that my mom thinks back to when she was small. She doesn’t believe that it literally meant that she would never get married, but I think this was used to intimidate my mom and “encourage” her to look for a partner.

Analysis: I see where this myth is coming from. I think that when this proverb is used illustrates some of the values in the Mexican culture. One of those, is marriage. think it also just demonstrates how much in the Mexican culture; marriage is an important factor to a happy life. When one should know that should not be the case. Unfortunately, because of beliefs such as these back then and still today in the Mexican culture, it’s normal for women/girls to get married at a very young age and have children at a very young age.

Annotation: For more broom lore superstitions/myths similar to this one take a look at the following list of similar brooms myths/superstitions derives from Kentucky folklore

Roberts, Hilda. “Louisiana Superstitions.” The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 40, no. 156, 1927, pp. 172-173, https://doi.org/10.2307/534893. Accessed 26 Apr. 2022.

Smith College Mock Weddings

Context:

Smith College is a historically women’s college in Massachusetts. EZ is a current Smith College student.

Main Piece:

EZ: “so, there’s a lot of just weddings happening that obviously aren’t real weddings but people just dress up and have ceremonies and stuff, just like in their friend groups. It’s just a Smith thing, I guess.”

SH: “Is it like, like making fun of the lesbian stereotype because Smith is a historically women’s college, or like, kind of serious?”

EZ: “It’s definitely not that serious. I think it’s definitely a historically women’s college trope that like, um, you’re kind of like embracing it, and I think it, there was an article about it a while back, but it dates back pretty far, so there’s like tons of history in the archives about it, um, and I think it started out more as like ‘oh haha we’re like women getting married, like how unconventional’ and then now it’s more like, we’re like either dating or just good friends or something like that, and it’s more like a fun friend group thing than like ‘haha look at us’ kind of thing”

SH: “Alright, so it can be between people who are dating and people who are just friends?”

EZ: “Yeah, I don’t think there are necessarily set rules to it.”

Analysis:

This tradition presents an interesting combination of different concepts within folklore. On the one hand, the tradition revolves around a ‘mock wedding,’ a non-serious replication of a very culturally significant event. Marriage is a significant ritual that represents the transition from single life to the expected life of raising a family. In some societies, marriage is even the transitionary event that inducts one into adult society. The imitation of this event could, without any additional context, have come from a desire to mimic this transition into adulthood and freedom, as earned by the college students’ leaving their family home and living among their peers.

But when viewing this tradition through the context of its location and historical ties tells a slightly different story. Smith College is a historically women’s college, and has through that centering of women long had associations of lesbianism tied to it. Marriage, central to many societies, has been used within the United States to uphold and enforce the heterosexual nuclear family. With this nuclear family came the expected subjugation of women, who are historically disenfranchised and were made dependent on their husbands for financial support. Since, as the EZ says, the tradition “dates pretty far back,” these mock weddings presumably existed long before marriage equality, so at a time when legally, women could not marry each other. Therefore, these mock weddings represented a protest against the heterosexist laws that forbade them in reality, and now exist as a relic of that time. While currently, the mock weddings are something fun to do with your friends, they recall a time when the marriages were ‘mock’ because they legally could not be anything else.

Brooms and marriage in Haiti.

M is a 45-year-old Haitian immigrant originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. M is currently a body-builder based in Phoenix, Arizona.

M offered me this piece of folklore during a phone conversation. I Informed M that I was in the process of collecting folklore, and asked her if she remembered any superstitions her family in Haiti may have had.

M: When I was growing up, the adults.. from Haiti had a saying that if anyone sweeps under your feet, with a broom.. you will never get married.

Reflection: Though M did not provide me with many background details about this fascinating bit of Haitian folk belief/superstition, I can at least try to interpret its meaning based on historical context. I have heard that in post-colonial and post-slavery nations like Haiti, there is a common marriage tradition in which the bride and groom each jump over a broom during their wedding as a good luck ritual. Assuming that the broom’s association with luck and marriage remains consistent across Haitian folklore, it may be fair to interpret the sweeping broom in M’s account as the antithesis of jumping over a broom, as doing so literally ”sweeps away“ the luck of getting married from underneath an unlucky soul’s feet.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something, blue

Background: The informant is married herself, but also worked in a bridal store for years and knows a lot about wedding traditions. She specifies how this tradition ties in with wedding dresses and how the store incorporated them.

LR: I know the whole, something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new as being like good luck for brides, and, so, I think there are several things associated with weddings. I don’t know where the reference came from, um but i think it’s the idea that you have meaningful things with you, or that had been passed down when you get married that sort of, um, bring good luck, good feeling, good energy, or positive vibes. So I think for most people something new is sometimes the wedding dress, sometimes that’s something borrowed, sometimes that’s something old if you wear somebody else’s dress. Ya know, people borrow vails, but usually, and again, I don’t know where the original reference came from for the blue or why blue would be associated or connotate good energy, but, um, people used to wear garters that would have like a blue ribbon in them, that would be taken off. So just like the bouquet would be tossed to the girls, or the single women, the garter would be shot to the single men. So that was something that was more prevalent like when i got married, and we used to sell the garters at the bridal store I worked in. But, we changed it because I think, I don’t know, it sort of became like people didn’t really wear garters, they were at one time I think women wore garters right? To hold up their stockings, and then of course with, I don’t know, more modern times we wore pantyhose or whatever and then you’d put a garter which was an elastic band with lace and a ribbon and you’d wear that up and it was this big thing like that the husband was going up his wife’s leg to get htee garter off and then he would like shoot it like a rubber band. So I always thought that was funny. At least at the store I worked at, I think moree post-2000, fewer and fewer people wore garters or did that with the bride, and so they still did the bouquet toss to indicate, you know, who was likely gonna be the next person to get married, but what we did at the store was to tie the blue ribbon in the bride’s hem, or her wedding dress, as a symbol of good luck that was always there. And then they didn’t have to worry about trying to find a way to wear something blue so to speak?

Me: Why do you think the tradition of shooting garters has decreased?

LR: Honestly, I think most modern brides would be like what the hell is a garter. I don’t know how easy it is to find them anymore.

Me: Do you think garters have the same meaning as bouquets, like do you think it was the next guy to get married? Or what do you think shooting the garter into guys signified?

LR: I mean I think that was sort of supposed to be the equivalent, instead I think for them it was like oh you’re going to be the next lucky schmuck who’s gonna get tied down. You know, you used to have all the bridesmaids or all the single women clamoring for the bouquet, and yet, it was like the opposite for the guys, it was a sign of shame or something to actually come forward to get it. Nobody wanted to get it because it meant they’d be tied down. I don’t think as many guys embraced the idea of looking like they wanted to get married.

Context of performance: This was told to me over a Zoom call.

Thoughts: This is a super popular saying, although I don’t know firsthand how many people follow it. I like the sentimental quality it brings to a period of transition in someone’s life as getting married can be seen as a rite of passage and these are the items that push you through the threshold, or liminal space. It’s interesting that these things bring you good luck moving forward in your life, more so because to me it suggests that it’s its own period separated by the wedding and these items merge the two stages of life, especially with something old and something new.