Tag Archives: signs

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.

Interviewer: 

Can you explain our Trojan Check color horoscope system? 

Informant: 

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. 

Interviewer: 

Do you have any recent examples? 

Informant: 

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. 

Analysis:

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. 

Text:

“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.”

Analysis:

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

Piece:

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

Filipino Utensil Superstition

Piece:

Informant: So what I remember is, like, y’know, like that one, if you drop a utensil, either like, a fork– if you drop a fork on the floor, then they were saying that you’re gonna have a visitor, it’s gonna be a male. And if it’s, ah, a spoon, then it’s gonna be female.

Collector: Do you know why, like, the fork and the spoon have genders?

Informant: Yeah, it’s kinda like, the fork kinda like, represents the male, y’know, and then– if it’s like the little spoon, then the young, young, yeah, young girl. And then if it’s the little fork, it’s like young boy. Y’know, something like that, so it doesn’t have an age or anything.

Collector: Right, right, where did you pick this up, just like–?

Informant: Yeah, I heard it from the people, y’know, like, my relatives, and folks in the Philippines, y’know–

Collector: Where in the Philippines are you from?

Informant: Um, I’m from Cavite City. Yeah, it’s like an hour away from Manila.

Context: The informant is the mother of a close friend of mine, and is an immigrant from the Philippines. She has lived in Southern California for roughly 40 years, while still maintaining close connections with her home country. After the interview, the informant then recalled a past incident in which she had dropped a fork minutes before her daughter’s boyfriend came for a surprise visit. 

Analysis: This particular omen, as she mentioned, she had picked up from not only her relatives, but the general folk as well, suggesting that it is a household belief. While transcribing the interview, I searched the internet for more information of who participates in this belief. One thing I noticed is that when I searched up the phrase “dropping spoon company,” the only sites I found that mentioned it were at least ten years old, the latest being posted in 2010. However, when I searched up “dropping spoon Philippines,” there were far more results, most of them posted much more recently. Nearly all of them involved lists of Filipino superstitions, which were then posted on Filipino websites. One could reasonably assume that many of these lists were written by younger people, and from there, infer that this belief is still very much alive. 

Overall, this omen, though a minor thing, seems now to be a point of pride for many Filipino people. This pride could be an enactment of “cultural intimacy,” which Michael Herzfeld describes as “the recognition of those aspects of a cultural identity that are considered as a source of external embarrassment but that nevertheless provide insiders with the assurance of common sociality”. Though perhaps not too embarrassing, this belief is certainly not a proven fact by any means, and so could be seen as superstitious or outdated. Despite this, many Filipino people seem to regard it as an identity marker, given its inclusion in many lists entitled “You know you’re Filipino when..” 

Herzfeld, M. (2005). Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State. New York: Routledge.