Tag Archives: period cramps

Folk Belief: Don’t Eat Cold Food while Menstruating

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Chinese/Vietnamese
Age: 21
Occupation: Student
Residence: Diamond Bar, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/26/20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

Informant: I’m not supposed to eat cold stuff when I’m one my period. Cause it, like, freezes or whatever. I’m not sure, but like apparently it freezes the flow and it makes you be in pain.

Interviewer: And that’s something your mom tells you.

Informer: Yeah that’s right, my mom tells me that.

Interviewer:  Do you know, independently, if that’s, like, true? If there’s scientific merit to that?

Informant: I’m not sure. I’ve never looked it up. Maybe I should have but I didn’t. I just do it. I mean in college, I’ll eat ice cream and stuff and I haven’t felt anything that different because of it but that’s something that my mom would tell me. I’ve asked her why and she just told me that if something was cold it would stop the flow or “freeze” it and that would be bad.

Background:

My informant is a friend and fellow student at USC. She was raised in the LA area but her family is ethnically Chinese and immigrated from Vietnam so she has multiple East Asian influences in her life.

Context:

I had set up a Zoom call with my friend because she said she had some examples of folklore that she could share with me. This sample was shared during that call

Analysis:

Apparently, this is similar to a Chinese old wives’ tale wherein you can eat all the cold things you want for three months but in the next three months you have to intake only warm things. Doing some research, this is a commonly held belief with some sources debunking it, some speaking in favor of it. Personal accounts speak to the accuracy on both sides.

Interestingly, browsing forums such as Quora, the respondents commonly say that the idea is a Chinese one and that they would hear it all the time in China. I suppose it makes sense in a certain way and if it’s been a belief that’s been held for a decently long amount of time before we had a better understanding of how the body works (any cold drink will become body temperature in your stomach very quickly), then I can see how it would continue to be propagated. What Chinese influence is present in this belief I can not say.

Running Faucets for Cramp Relief

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 19
Occupation: student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: April 24
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Context: I came home one day at the beginning of this year to all of the faucets running and I asked my roommate what was going on and she told me this story. So I asked her to re-tell me why she does it.

Piece: So basically, I don’t know where my mom… well let me tell the long version of the story. So you know when you are you they tell you not to keep the water running when you brush your teeth? They’re like “turn off the faucet to save water!” Well I would always say that, and my mom always left the faucet running when she brushed her teeth and I would be like, “Mommy, you’re wasting water!” And she has always said, “I have to leave the faucet running or I’ll gag or like throw up.” And I never understood that until I started like, when I’m on my period or nauseous for any reason and so I turn the faucet on and leave the water running. It’s supposed to help you like feel like less nauseous. Something about the sound of running water can like ease nausea. I feel like it might have been something my mom got from my grandma. It sounds like something my grandma would do.

Background: The informant is a 19 year old USC student of Pakistani and Indian descent. She is very close to her family and shares many traditions and beliefs with them. She learned this from her mother and does it whenever she gets her period cramps.

Analysis: This tradition is something I have never heard of before. It is a sort of remedy/ homeopathic healing technique. It is often said that water sounds are soothing, but this is the first time I have heard them help with pain. I have heard of soaking in hot water to ease pain, but it is interesting that this piece refers to sounds, which tackles the mental state rather than the physical.