Tag Archives: signs

Don’t Answer to Your Name


The informant,KO, is a sophomore and one of my closest friends here at USC. We met in our freshman dorm and often exchanged cultural stories since we had very different backgrounds. He spent the beginning of his childhood in Nigeria, and at age 7 he and his family moved to Toronto, Canada.

Main Piece:

Interviewer- So I know we’ve talked about it a lot but tell me about a superstition from your childhood or even now that has stuck with you.

K.O.- There are so many, Nigeria is very superstitious but there’s one that always comes to mind. So y’a know how sometimes you just randomly hear your name? You’ll be walking or just chilling, and you look around because you hear your name but no one’s there. It happened to me a lot when I was young, and my parents used to tell me never to answer. They said it was a witch calling my name to lure me out. I don’t know if I necessarily believed it, but I definitely thought about it when I would randomly hear my name.

Interviewer- Did you ever answer just to see what would happen?

K.O.- (Laughs) Uh yeah, and then I would be terrified some witch was going to come after me!


This folk belief that KO shared with me is based upon an occurrence that has likely happened to everyone at least once, including me. This type of belief can be considered a sign superstition or sign magic because it is based on an unexplainable event in real life that is viewed as a sign or warning. These folk beliefs can reveal a lot about the culture and people who live by them as they share amongst their folk. KO’s superstition shows the significance that witches and curses have in Nigerian culture and a societal fear of bad magic. It is common within all types of folklore for children to be the target of evil spirits or witches, so it makes sense that KO’s father would have heavily emphasized the superstition when he was young.

Trojan Check Horoscopes

Informant Information — KL

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 19
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 10, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant is a USC student that has lived on-campus and completed daily Trojan Checks every day. Over the course of the school year, we’ve decided that the pink and yellow Trojan Checks have the most significant meanings. I collected this information in-person, in my apartment near USC.


Can you explain our Trojan Check color horoscope system? 


Basically, we were talking about the different Trojan Check colors and how we couldn’t tell if there was a pattern or if the color was just randomized every day. As we kept talking about it, we agreed that pink was the best color and yellow was the worst. Then, we also realized that we both tend to have good days when our Trojan Checks are pink and bad days when they’re yellow. 

Now, I know that if it’s pink, I’ll have a lucky day, but I should be careful if it’s yellow. 


Do you have any recent examples? 


Yesterday was a pink day, and I took a quiz that was way easier than I thought it would be. But on the last yellow day, I stepped in gum AND spilled water all over my desk… cursed, to be sure. 


I have also noticed that pink Trojan Checks are lucky while yellow Trojan Checks are distinctly unlucky. Interestingly, this was brought up in a class discussion where several of my classmates had also acknowledged this phenomenon. I’m not sure if pink Trojan Checks just put people in a more positive mood while most people agree that the yellow Trojan Check is a pretty unfortunate color and feel discouraged by it, but the belief has definitely gained traction this year.

Pennies from Heaven

Context: Pennies are a form of American currency equaling 1 cent. Their low value makes them adaptable since people are generally not worried about conserving them. because of this, pennies have also become a common object of folklore-ish discussion.

Background Information: Informant’s grandmother died young, and the informant’s mother and father died when informant was in their twenties. Informant and Informants family are/were Christian and very relationally close to one another. The loss of their family has been very difficult for informant.

Informant: “My mother used to tell me that when my grandmother- her mother- died, that she would send pennies to her as kisses from heaven. Whenever we saw a penny on the side of the street, she would tell me grandma had sent it. When my own mom died, I went to the funeral, and I had paid a parking meter. When I came back to my car, the meter had broken and all these pennies littered the ground. I just bawled and bawled and bawled. Completely broke down crying.”

Thoughts: The presence of pennies is common folklore, and is often perceived as a sign of some sort when found accidentally. Whether or not the parking meter was a coincidence or not, the folklore surrounding the penny stands firm. The penny in this situation connects a member of a family group to the other members, even after death. The folklore is a unifying front, which unifies the member of this group and gives credence to the belief that the members of the group will continue to embody their group identity even after death.

The Cardinal

Context:  Subject of the interview’s mother passed away recently. Subject grew up in Rhode Island. 


“So my mother always kinda had an appreciation for death you know and the next life. She would always try to be somewhat funny but sentimental about it. She always said when she passed away she’d come back as a cardinal and that everytime someone in the family saw a cardinal they’d think of her.”


This is one piece of folklore that I found particularly touching and had me thinking about folklore related to death. Death is a concept that is impossible to truly understand, besides the literal emotional toll it takes on the people still living. It would make sense that, in order to ease that transition, the people who are in mourning to develop signs in remembrance of that person, to see a piece of their soul continue to live on in the world.  

Color Code of the Laces of Doc Martens


Informant: So i just know, like, like, lace codes, like how you wear your laces in a certain– certain colors mean certain things, so, like, obviously white laces mean you’re a white supremacist, I think purple is– I think purple’s skinhead– yeah, white’s white pride, blue is you killed a cop, red’s neo nazi, national front– yellow’s anti racist, oh, i think purple’s gay pride, black is no affiliation. Yeah, I remember that.

Context: The informant is a close friend of mine, and is a Filipino-American young woman. She considers this to be common knowledge among the punk scene, though she acknowledges that each lace color could be interpreted in many different ways.

Analysis: As someone who is not heavily associated with the punk scene, this was not common knowledge for me. After doing some research, I found that an individual color could have many different (and sometimes, completely contradictory) meanings, depending on the region. Furthermore, many different folk groups seem to use this color code. Even the punk scene has numerous subgroups, so it quickly becomes impossible to assign a universal meaning for any color. For example, though my informant told me that blue laces indicate that you have killed a cop, I have found other sources saying that blue laces mean you support the police.

Many of the meanings my informant supplied me with are quite heavily involved in either fascist or anti-fascist groups, which suggests that lace codes are most heavily used by those who consider themselves to be “anti-establishment”. The SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) website confirms that, generally speaking, red or white laces indicate belief in white supremacism.

Racist Skinhead Glossary. (2015). Retrieved 2020, from https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/2015/racist-skinhead-glossary