Tag Archives: story telling

La Senora de Blanco

Informant: My informant is my Mexican dad, who grew up in Puebla, Mexico. Although he has had many experiences with seeing spirits or potentials ghost, he retells me an interaction that he had with potential with a ghost on a day that he went to work at the same apartment in which we have been living for the past 21 years. 

 Context: This event happened in 2019. The following transcripts come from a conversation between me and my dad (S). He retells the story of a potential ghost that he might have seen one day when he left to work, and how he recalls this interaction to not have been scary, but rather more of a surprise to him. He recalls that in this interaction, it felt almost as if he knew the woman in white, or at least they had interacted in the past. 

Text: 

Me: Oye papá, cuéntame algo interesante. Nunca te has topado con un fantasma o has oído de una historia de fantasmas? 

S: Si, si me he topado con uno. No se si te acuerdas pero te había contado tu y tu mama de esa señora de blanco que me la encontre aca abajo de la escaleras donde vivimos. Eran las 4:30am de la mañana y ves que me voy temprano al trabajo. Pos ese dia era como cualquier otro dia. Me bañe, me cambie, y los dejó dormidos. Iba yo bajando las escaleras y luego vi una señora de blanco. Era con una estatura de casi igual que yo, flaquita y como con vibra buena. Bueno y cuando me la tope, le dije buenos días. Y medio me contestó pero no le podía yo ver la cara para nada, porque estaba tapada como con un reboso. Y ves como los que se ponen aya en pueblito. Después, le abrí la puerta, y se pasó. Nomas que vez que yo camino para el carro. Ella se fue de la tercera, y yo me fui para la seis. Ni un minutos paso y ya no estaba! 

Translations of the text: 

Me: Hey dad, tell me something interesting. Have you ever encountered a ghost or have you heard of a ghost? 

S: Yes, I have come across one. I don’t know if you remember but you and your mom had told you about that lady in white that I found here downstairs where we live. It was 4:30 in the morning and you see that I leave early for work. Well, that day was like any other day. I showered, changed, and left you guys asleep. I was going down the stairs and then I saw a lady in white. She was about the same height as me, thin, and with like-good vibes. Well, and when I ran into her, I said good morning. And she half answered me but I couldn’t see her face at all, because it was covered as if with a shawl of some kind. You know like those in my little town. After, I opened the door for her, and she walked outside. You know how I walk to the car. She left through third street and I left to the other side of our street. Not even a minute passed and she wasn’t there anymore! 

Analysis: I believe this ghost story because there are so many people who have claimed to have seen a woman in white as well. Although it is of course not with the same textures of clothes or in the same place, it all just seems to be really due to the fact that my informant remembers every detail of it. Due to the fact, that my informant states that they weren’t really scared of it, but much more felt some sort of warmth to this spiritual being came to a surprise. If I had been in the shoes of my dad, I would have tried to not even talk to the woman, due to the fact that she was stranger. However, based on his spiritual encounter it proves to see that not everyone is prone to be scared of these experiences.

Harvest Festival in Chinese tradition

Context: My informant is a 26 year-old woman who is of Chinese descent. She grew up in Hong Kong and lived there until she moved to Pasadena at the age of 7. Listed below is an account of a Chinese holiday called “Harvest Festival”. She detailed her experience of the holiday growing up and where the story that surrounds the holiday comes from. She knows and loves these stories from personal experience.

Informant:

“There’s this thing called the ‘Harvest Festival’ which we celebrate on the harvest moon which is in September and basically there’s this tale behind it where earth had 10 suns, which was too hot, and this soldier would shoot down the 9 suns so there would only be one. The emperor then gave him an elixir that would make the soldier live forever, he said oh great, takes it home and marries the love of his life. He then went off to war and the wife, out of curiosity, drank the elixir and eventually became the moon. This was a curse so she couldn’t be with the love of her life. So now the story goes that he could never be with her since she is so far away but, on the day of the harvest moon, the moon is the closest to the earth so he can be with her. We light lanterns and they guide the way for him to see her. We eat mooncakes and walk around the street with paper lanterns on that day too.”

Thoughts:

I found this story beautifully mystical and extremely interesting. I was not familiar with any Chinese lore before talking to the informant about this and I am really excited to learn more. The symbol of the moon being eternal and also feminine is magical and I have always seen the moon in a more feminine light as well. I also find it fascinating that their holiday is centered around the moon. I am curious to know where this connection to the lunar calendar ties in. I would like to know where the lesson of the curse comes in. It might be connected to greed or not following one’s orders as the wife drank the elixir even though her husband said not to. I loved hearing the intricate beauty in this story and am excited to learn more about Chinese culture.

For another reference of this holiday, check here: 

https://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/mid-autumn-festival.htm#:~:text=The%20common%20customs%20of%20the,displaying%20lanterns%2C%20and%20regional%20activities.

The Hakawati

“A Hakawati is, simply put, a story teller. What makes Hakawatis different from other story-tellers is that they can share one story over the course of months. Additionally, Hakawatis are chosen by popular demand. If a Hakawati is unpopular, a new one comes in to try to entertain the crowd.

“Hakawatis throughout the Middle East have laid foundations for the stories of the 1001 Arabian Nights. The Arabian Nights stories borrow the story-telling techniques of the Hakawatis. Hakawatis came from all over the world, including Persia, Central Asia, and North Africa. Each region had its own twist to stories, which led to the Arabian Nights stories possessing not only Arabic stories, but also South Asian, Central Asian, Persian, Amazigh, and Turkic stories.

“Hakawati traditions are ancient, and are not ubiquitous today. Rabih Alameddine, my favorite modern Arab author, re-introduced the notion of Hakawatis to contemporary readers. In the book, Hakawatis told thousands of stories in coffee shops, holiday festivals, and even at the end of kite-flying competitions. The Middle East was a very different place back in the day.”

Background information: “I heard about Hakawatis from a Lebanese author, Rabih Alameddine. The stories Hakawatis told have been foundations for great Arabic stories encased in 1001 Arabian Nights. Rabih Alameddine is my favorite modern Arab author.”

Context: The informant told me about this in a conversation about folklore.

Thoughts: It was interesting to learn about a specific type of story teller; I did not know there were actually names for them. I had heard of 1001 Arabian Nights, but have never read it, so it’s interesting to learn about the foundations and inspirations for it. I can’t imagine sharing one story over such a long period of time, so these people must be masterful in their craft, in remembering bits and details and keeping the stories creative and compelling.

For another version of this description, see The Gulf News.