Tag Archives: rain

First Rain – A College Tradition

Background information/context of performance: DC is a 21-year-old student at University of Southern California, Santa Cruz. She grew up in Los Angeles and Alameda, CA, but is currently living in an apartment in Santa Cruz. Now that we’re back on campus, DC has been able to engage much more with UCSC culture and traditions.

DC: First Rain is another tradition that Santa Cruz has, but I think it’s the same for a lot of colleges. It still hasn’t happened this year though (laughs). Because it hasn’t even rained. It’s pretty sad, um, but I guess we still have a few weeks for it to happen.

Me: If there had been a first rain at UCSC this year, what would the tradition look like?

DC: It rains a lot in Santa Cruz usually. But a lot of students like to exercise by walking and running around campus, so maybe this came from that? I don’t know. But basically, like, whenever it rains on campus for the first time during the school year, everyone will run through campus naked. I think everyone runs from somewhere to Porter College, and the run ends there.

Me: Do you know anyone who has been able to participate in First Rain? Is that how you now about it?

DC: Yeah, I think I know a couple underclassmen friends who have? I’m not really sure. I think people mostly just know about it because it’s a big Santa Cruz thing. It just fits with the whole, like, hippie kinda reputation the college has. I remember Kayla is the one who told me about it in high school, when I decided to go here. Maybe they knew from their friends who went there in past years too.

Me: It might be too late for a First Rain this year, but would you do it next year?

DC: (laughs) Um…maybe! If my friends did it with me then I feel like it would be funny. And I’ll be a senior so I may as well since it’s my last chance. But I’m not, like, in a rush to do it. I think it’s funny though, I would definitely wanna see one before I graduate.

I have heard of this tradition occurring at multiple universities, but UCSC definitely has a culture that I feel like aligns with it tradition the most. The college is known to have a very free-spirited and artsy student body, so learning about their First Rain tradition was a fun way to see how that reputation is kept up. I also think it was very interesting to learn that First Rain has become less accessible due to the lack of rain in California, despite the fact that it was established when it rained very often during the Fall and Winter months in Santa Cruz. Hearing about this made me think about the relationship between climate change and longstanding folklore and traditions – if something like UCSC’s First Rain can no longer occur annually because the environment is much dryer than it used to be, I can only imagine how other cultural practices and traditions throughout the world have changed/become obsolete as a result of climate change as well.

Warding off rain

BACKGROUND: My informant, GO, is an international student from Italy who has spent most of her life living in Mexico. She and her family are fluent in both Spanish and Italian. Interested in her unique upbringing, I asked GO if she learned any superstitions or stories during her many travels. GO responded with this piece, a Mexican tradition she learned from her friends. 

CONTEXT: This piece is from a text conversation with my friend to discuss any superstitions she’s learned during her time in Mexico.

GO: A superstition in Mexico is that’d [if] you’re hosting a lunch outdoors, like in a garden or something, you have to stab four knives onto the corners of the garden bc otherwise, it will rain.

Me: Do you think it works?

GO: Lmao it hasn’t rained yet so yea

THOUGHTS: This superstition is something that I’ve heard in the past from another friend of mine. Though I think this fear of rain is interesting because, with other people I’ve spoken to, rain is a symbol of good luck and is welcomed at gatherings like weddings and parties. Particularly for my family, rain symbolizes change and growth and its appearance suggests that there are good things on the way.

Double Rainbow

Main Piece:

Informant: I’m starting the story now. Ok, well there is like a lot of different things that rainbows represent. One of them is that if you see a double rainbow, never look in between the double rainbows because that is the darkest point, or one of the darkest areas. People say that is where spirits and other things enter into the world.

Interviewer: So, it’s like a portal?

Informant: Yeah, it’s like a portal.

Interviewer: Whoa. Can you elaborate on that? Do you know anything else about it?

Informant: No, that’s just about it. I don’t really know exactly how she said it. But she said the singular rainbow, like we see in the Bible, represents happiness and peaceful, hopefulness. But this double rainbow is just like, not really cursed, but a darker version of it.

Interviewer: Like a shadow world?

Informant: Yeah, exactly. Like a shadow world.


The informant is a sixteen-year-old Native American girl from the Lakota and Navajo Nations.

She was born in South Dakota, grew up in Tennessee, and frequently travels out west to visit family and friends. She is a freshman in high school and frequently spends her time reading conspiracies and odd stories on the internet (don’t we all?).


During the Covid-19 Pandemic I flew back home to Tennessee to stay with my family. The informant is my younger sister. She was in the kitchen making a salad when asked if she knew any interesting stories or legends. 


Rainbows have played a significant role in narratives across time. From Noah’s Ark to Pride, they have been a beacon for hope and positive change. For others, an omen to be wary of. One common belief is that rainbows are a bridge, a portal between worlds, a path between heaven and earth. With the popularization of the multiverse, inter-dimensional travel, and long standing traditions that acknowledge the spirit world, it is interesting to imagine other worlds, especially the unseen one that lingers just out of sight.

Rock Hair Superstition

The following is from a 20-year-old USC student.  She is describing a superstition she was taught.  I will be represented by K and she will be represented by A.


K: So, tell me about some superstitions you have.

A: Uh, yeah, so… my… my grandma used to tell me, back in North Carolina, if it’s raining… with- when the sun is up, like it’s not cloudy and it’s raining- and you look under a rock, you’ll find the color of your future husband’s hair… It’s… true story.

K: So, what does this piece of folklore mean to you?
A: Uhm… to me it means that… uh, my husband’s going to have brown hair… and every day I look for him… Thanks Grandma!


This conversation took place in my living room with a group of people.  The informant brought up the superstition taught by her grandma and I asked her if I could record it for this project.  She agreed and we all listened to the story.

My Thoughts:

Like most superstitions, it is clear that this one is not necessarily accurate, but something fun to believe in.  The informant’s grandma told her about this when she was younger, probably trying to give her something to believe in and look forward to as a lot of adults do with kids these days.  We see this in a lot of Disney films with the idea of believing in a better future and looking forward to a happily ever after.  It is likely that this belief is meant as a happily ever after type.

A Cat Giving Birth


“They say that when the sun is out and it’s raining, a cat is giving birth. My mother would say it all the time, but I remember one time we were in the car and we were driving, I was a toddler. It’s raining and it’s sunny, and she would say, ‘Oh look, a cat is giving birth right now.’ I asked her, ‘How do you know, mom?’ and she was just, ‘It’s just true.’”


This conversation came when I was discussing the rain back where I am from, and this informant as well as another discussed their beliefs surrounding rain while the sun shines. The informant heard it first from their mother, when they were in the car and driving, as outlined in the description.


I found it interesting that I had two different people from two different cultures reflecting on this belief that there had to be something happening because it was raining and sunny at the same time. The closest thing I remember believing is that after a rain, or if there was a rainbow while it was still raining, there was a little leprechaun and a pot of gold at the end of it. My friends would make jokes about God peeing onto Earth, of course, but that was the most of it. I love that different cultures have different explanations, but I cannot begin to think what witches and rain and sun have to do with each other.