Tag Archives: Religion

King Cake

Text (traditional foods/folk belief)

“I bought King Cake one year. I thought it was just going to be a slice, but it was big enough for multiple people.”


My informant has attended the Mardi Gras parade twice and tried King cake once when she went with friends.

Q: “What is King Cake?”

A: “King Cake is a large type of cake in a circular shape but hollow in the middle almost like a rope that is decorated in icing and sugar of the Mardi Gras colors: green, gold, and purple. It typically has a tiny toy baby in the center of it that represents baby Jesus and is a symbol of a year of good luck and prosperity to whoever finds it in their slice”


King cake during the celebration of Mardi Gras is a collective ritual most people participate in to celebrate and participate in the cultural experience as well as hoping to find the plastic baby looking forward to prosperity in the coming year. Stemming from Frazer’s ideas of belief and sympathetic magic, this shows how non-scientific belief has an influence on the natural world implying good luck and warding off bad energy. It’s a form of homeopathic magic as “like produces like” or finding the baby Jesus produces good luck and prosperity. This custom is rooted in European traditions dating back to the Epiphany, a Christian holiday representative of the Magi visiting baby Jesus. Originally, a baby Jesus figure was hidden in bread and whoever found it would be king or queen for the day. After the spread of this tradition in New Orleans, bakers would add their own spin on the ritual varying decorations and selling the cakes during Mardi Gras season. The cake is very large and meant to be shared and eaten with others as a community bonding ritual that brings people together in celebration and festivities reinforcing communal cultural identity. This is an example of the ways folklore changes through time based on the cultural context of a community. Steering away from medieval societal structures, the context in which the toy baby Jesus was used changed from an aristocratic nature to an uplifting optimistic symbol of luck and prosperity brought by the baby Jesus. Also exemplary of religious folklore, this practice is a for Catholic belief to be communally shared, and enjoyed by festival participants bringing people together to cherish and understand more about the religious custom and how it has evolved through time.

CTR Ring


CTR Ring

The informant had been raised in a Morman family and society for most of their life and has many experiences with the cultural aspect of Mormonism and the type of folklore that had been embedded in them throughout their childhood. They describe the visual aspect of the ring when stating “It has a little green shield which stands for ‘Choose the Right’, which is supposed to remind you to do the right thing and make the moral choice whilst remembering to be a good person. The informant described the ring as being “mostly for kids and the younger group of the church.” They are to be given at any young age and “whoever is teaching the lesson that day will give them out after the service” as it is given by the church to wear. It is also dictated that the saying is used for multiple scenarios as “choose the right is a common saying in games like in mazes and how you would always get out by going right” The age that the rings are most commonly worn is between “late toddler years and stop around the age of twelve” therefore being worn for a large part of their childhoods.


The aspect of having a shield on the ring provides children with the chance to view the church and the society in that they are being raised in a protected environment where they can learn to grow and continue to learn the values of Mormonism. Engraving the acronym “CTR” on the ring and embedding the phrase ‘Choose the Right’ into their thought process allows the children to develop whilst remembering that they will always be protected as long as they do what is right by their culture and the church. The idea of incorporating the acronym into a ring is symbolic as rings are typically worn in a traditional manner when referring to marriage, therefore, using a ring to produce this message and phrase conveys the attachment that is built between the child and the religious group. This is similar to marriage as it possibly foreshadows the same Christian ideology of ‘til death do us part’ conveying that they are forever connected to the community, culture and religious upbringing and that the church will perpetually be linked to their being when ‘Choos[ing] the Right’.

Inevitable Adam & Eve


ادم سأل حوا: بتحبيني يا مرا

جاوبته حوا: ليش في غيرك يا خرا


Adam Sa’al Howaa’: Bit’hebeene ya mara?

Jawabat Howaa’: Laysh fi ghayrak ya khara?


“Adam asked Eve: Do you love me, woman?”

“Eve answered: Why? Is there anyone besides you, stupid?”

The informant is one of my family members who was raised in Lebanon by parents who spent the entirety of their lives there and gained an understanding of jokes that are told within households and gatherings.


The informant described this joke as “A very old joke told traditionally in men gathering as it’s too rude to be said in front of women out of respect” conveying that this was usually told in the public eye, yet not in front of women as it is seen as a ‘male joke’. She also stated that “They use this type of short funny jokes when men gather and drink Arak, the traditional Lebanese alcoholic drink” It is usually said by men that are older in age when choosing to discuss topics besides work and family as that was seen as “bad territory” when around family.


This type of male joke in Lebanese culture is most likely said in these environments to state dominance, however, in this instance, the joke refers to ‘Adam’ being the joke, therefore they are laughing at their own gender conveying that they feel safe in the space that they are in together and have developed a close bond. It is because of the irony in the story as the Christian religion encapsulates a large majority of the Lebanese population, therefore, using this type of humour allows the men to feel more connected culturally and see each other as a family. The story of Adam and Eve is most likely brought up to highlight the intimacy that a family might have with one another. However, this may be an allusion to arranged marriages as Lebanon and other arab countries have been known to use their children as transactions between businesses therefore the ‘inevitable relationship’ of Adam and Eve might have alluded to their forced marriages.

Si Dios nos de licencia: Proverb

Text: “Si Dios nos da licencia” “If God gives us permission”

Context: EC’s relationship to this proverb stems from her Mexican culture which has allowed her to have many experiences growing up with this proverb within her childhood and Mexican home. EC would hear her mom and older relatives/adults say it a lot when referencing to the future. She also grew up hearing this phrase within her Mexican Catholic culture as many religious individuals in her life would say it. Within her household, she would often hear her relatives using it as they would casually speak in Spanish. They often use it to express hope for a future opportunity or after confirming to attend future plans. Within her life, EC interprets this proverb as a way of saying that if God permits it, things will happen or become accomplished. Overall, EC thinks of this proverb as more of a reminder that not every day is promised and to always be grateful for every opportunity.  

Analysis: The overall cultural value within this proverb stems from Mexican Catholic households considering Mexicans tend to be more religion orientated. Based on religion, this proverb expresses personal values given the fact that the person who says this statement is most likely affiliated with religion, God, and in this case, the Catholic Church. I see this proverb as an overall expression of hope and trust. Given that this statement is said for future reference, I consider this proverb as a quality of trust that brings you closer to God given the fact that you are aware that a certain opportunity or event will only come true if God truly wants it or if he really intends it to happen. Coming from a Mexican household myself, I can relate to many similar experiences surrounding this proverb as it has been rooted in my mind as a hopeful manifestation to always put your faith in God.

Work Off On Holy Week

Background: The informant is a 59 year old woman. She was born in Pampanga, Philippines and moved to Los Angeles when she was 29 yearsold. The informant still frequently speaks to her family and occasionally visits her family in the Philippines. The informant grew up as Catholic in the Philippines, converting to evangelical Christianity during her time in Los Angeles. She was exposed to the tradition when living in the Philippines. 

Context: The context was during Easter, the informant brought up how he was raised. He seemed surprised at how it was different in America.


EM: For the Holy Week, you know Holy Week? It’s when Jesus, you know, suffered and died. We celebrate it for a week. Let’s say, you know, let’s say, for the whole week, there’s no work for the whole week. No class, no school, no work for the whole week.

Me: In the Philippines?

EM: In the Philippines. Not here. You know, all people work still, right? That’s what I remember: we don’t work. When I was there, still there, we don’t work the whole week, especially student, it was kind of like that.


Informant: She grew up with no work being normalized during Holy Week. When she came to America, it was extremely different from what she had previously experienced, and it took some adjusting to see everyone still working during the Holy Week.

Mine: It’s interesting to see how the same traditions are represented differently depending on the geographic location, revealing that, though the world is becoming more globalized due to the rise of the internet, there still remains a large amount of folklore tied to the physical location. In the Philippines, not working was considered the baseline expectation during the Holy week; in America, I have never heard of someone taking the Holy Week off work or other activities. Even Easter is not even afforded a three day weekend in most circumstances. The change in tradition is likely due to a different breakdown of religions in the two countries. In the Philippines, where the population is more homogenous, mostly everyone is going to be following the same faith. However, in America, pushing to have the Holy Week off work would reveal a government preference towards religion, leaving the choice to the individual. However, it could be seen as uncomfortable if nobody else is taking the time off work. Therefore, folklore can still be affected by social context, and extremely by who the group is made up with (is the group homogeneous or heterogeneous?) and where the physical location is.