Tag Archives: rural customs

Alien Day Parade

Z. grew up in a rural town in Western Oregon called McMinnville. Nestled between farms and long stretches of highway, McMinnville is home to the Alien Days parade.

He spoke about the parade as one of the town’s biggest attractions. I grew up in Oregon as well, and many of my classmates and teachers growing up would make the drive to McMinnville once a year to go and celebrate aliens and their presence in the Universe and McMinnville, in particular. Z. said:

“Alien Days parade in McMinnville is a tradition–one of the biggest alien celebrations/congregations in the US, if not the world. Apparently there have been a bunch of sightings in the area and the local culture is super connected to it. People from all over visit, and share stories and perpetuate myths. That’s been going on forever as well.”  

The three-day long event gathers together people in a variety of alien-like costumes, participating in activities from trivia contests to story telling to barbecues.

The tradition has been happening since the 1950’s when one of the most famous photos of a UFO were taken in McMinnville on a plot of farm land. The photos are some of the only ones to have been taken that seem to have no explanation from the US government. The parade brings together people from all over to celebrate their belief in the myth of aliens who come to visit Earth from other galaxies. Because of their origin outside of our universe/reality, these stories could be classified as either legend or myth, depending on how you look at it.

To read more about the Alien Days parade, follow this link: https://visitmcminnville.com/about/articles/ufo-festival/

Offer Children to Aunts for Inheritance

M: Me, I: Informant

I: another interesting fact children because they had so many children because the life expectancy was shorter, if you wanted your child to inherit a home or do better and you have so many other, they would often gift a child to like an aunt or uncle who had a home so your {insert name} was raised by {insert name}

M: Oh so he was a ‘gifted’ child

I: Yeah, I don’t know if ‘gifted’ is the word, but he was turned over to {insert name} to raise even though his own mom and dad were right down the street. Kind of like an heir for her.

M: Gotcha, now does he, so he was raised by his aunt or the child is raised by the aunt or whoever they are turned over to, so that he can inherit. Um… what does that do to the relationship between the kid and the parents. Are they just the equivalent of an aunt to him?

I: Um.. no he knew

M: or those are still his parents?

I: he knows who his parents are, but he is raised by somebody, I guess it just kind of like common in the mountains you know. Not like in the city area, but like more in the rural areas

M: Rural Peruvian traditions. I’ve never heard of that one

Context: My informant was born in Peru and immigrated to the US as a child. Her parents grew up in a very poor, rural town in Peru. Practically all her family was from Peru. An important thing to note is that big families with lots of children were common because of the high infant And child mortality rate.

Analysis: Out of all my collections, this one definitely shocked me the most. This is probably due to the fact that this custom is so starkly different from anything in the US. Given how many children families would have oftentimes the younger siblings weren’t going to inherit anything. Thus, parents would ‘gift- more like offer-’ a child to a ’spinster’ aunt, uncle, or relative who does have property to raise so that they could inherit something. The child still knew who their parents were and knew their situation, but I think what startled me the most was how casually this was talked about and how I knew people who were ‘offered’ and never knew. I was really interested to find out the dynamics of the parent, child, relative relationship, however that wasn’t truly the focus so I’ll have to investigate some more at a later date. This was a custom only in the rural, mountainous parts of Peru, which tended to be less well off, financially speaking. This just shows the stark contrast between US culture and Peru’s rural culture, as much of the value of ‘parenthood’ in the US comes from raising and growing close to the children, whereas in rural Peru the focus was more on providing for them. However, I don’t think this would function in the US because of how difficult it would be having to deal with the legality of making the custom work in the US. This ultimately would prevent it from being spread and widely accepted in the United States. This custom, as many others, will only work in a particular, given environment.

Barber at the Wedding

Main Body:

Informant: This when I was growing up in India, this was still being done. And I’m not sure if it was all of India that was doing this but definitely a lot of Northern India. For some strange reason, when you got married, typically it was an arranged marriage, right? So, at some point, the girl’s dad would talk to the priest. They’d figure out what’s a good, an auspicious day for the wedding. But for some strange reason, and I don’t know what that strange reason is, the barber in the village, he would be the one to take the message about the wedding’s dad across to the groom and his family. It was always the barber. 

Then when you actually went to the wedding, it would always be at the girl’s place. So the girl’s family is already there, the whole extended family. And the groom’s family comes and they all meet and some money is always given or exchanged. So one of the first people who would always be recognized, and don’t ask me why, would be the barber of the girl’s village.

Interviewer: So, no matter what, this is one of you obligations as a barber? No matter if you know the girl’s family or not you have to be involved in the wedding in this specific way?

Informant: Yes, it’s like a village thing, you know?

Interviewer: So it’s a rural thing, it’s not an urban thing?

Informant: Good question, I don’t know the answer. So yeah the barber gets recognized by both families and he gets some money. Barbers typically were lower classes, so he wasn’t treated exactly equal but he would be taken along with the rest of the wedding party. 


The informant is my father who was born and raised in northern India in the state of Punjab and immigrated to America over 20 years ago. He was raised for a time in a rural village setting which is where much of our family comes from and this tradition is one he noticed being practiced in those rural, village weddings. This did not happen in his own wedding.


I am back home due to shelter-in-place. One night when my family was sitting in the study I asked my father if he had any folklore samples I could add to the archive. This was one of the ones he shared with me.


This is a very interesting tradition. I think it somewhat makes sense that when the two families finally meet that the barber is one of the first to be recognized because it’s the barber that relays the choice of date between the two families. So in a way, this could be recognizing the barber for their part in making the wedding happen. What is less clear is why the barber specifically is given that responsibility in the first place. It could be that a barbershop is typically regarded as a community center. It’s where everybody goes because everyone needs their hair cut. So it could be that the barber, knowing more people than most other people in the village would, is given the responsibility being a sort of “community representative.” Any elected leader of the village would not be given the responsibility as it would be “beneath them.” But the barber, being of lower class, would be the perfect candidate.


Pust is a pagan holiday that is celebrated in Slovenia in the beginning of every February. Designed to scare away the winter cold, this festival is mounted to celebrate the coming of Spring. Young men are the main arbiters of some of the festival’s central traditions, as they don terrifying masks and large suits made of animal furs. Most of the masks represent different characters that recur in Slovenian folklore which are generally localized to particular regions, the principle character being called the “kurent.” [the informant could not offer any more examples of such characters and what they represent.] These costumes are paired with belts from which hang many cowbells, and the young men enter the center of the village in a procession of aggressive dancing and grunting. The idea behind this is to scare away the dark, evil spirits of Winter, in the hopes that Spring will bring good tidings and a prosperous year of harvest. Pust usually takes place in the rural villages of northern Slovenia, the Gorenjska region especially.

More modern exhibitions of this festival in different parts of Slovenia allow all children to participate and go door to door begging for candy and money, much like at Halloween in other parts of the world.

Born and raised in former Yugoslavia, what is now known as Slovenia, the informant was continuously exposed to folk traditions that originated and permeated this region. The festival is a kind of protective ritual to ensure a short winter. It is riddle with celebratory symbols of dominance and fertility. For example, the suits are made from the pelts of animals these young men had killed, demonstrating their capability of providing for the well-being of the village.