Tag Archives: tradition


This informant shared a tradition their family follows due to their Jewish heritage. In the Jewish culture, it is very common to find a small piece of wood in the doorway of any home. This wood has an extremely important purpose as it is a symbol of blessings which sanctifies the house which it hangs on. A Mezuzah is a small, decorative piece which specifically hangs on the right of a doorframe from the perspective of the entrance of the home. Mezuzah actually means doorpiece in Hebrew, embodying the message that Jews proudly live in this home and are not afraid to show it. Mezuzahs have been around for thousands of years, connecting, protecting, and uniting Jews around the world. 

The Mezuzah tradition highlights a significant aspect of Jewish culture, deeply rooted in religious practice and family heritage. Usually the Mezuzah bears a parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah which serves as a symbol of blessings and sanctification for the home.  As individuals pass through the doorway adorned with a Mezuzah, they are reminded of their connection to God and their obligation to uphold the teachings of the Torah. The Mezuzah carries both spiritual and symbolic weight, embodying the Jewish people’s pride in their heritage and their commitment to living in accordance with their beliefs. Despite centuries of dispersion, Jewish communities worldwide have maintained the practice of affixing Mezuzah to their doorways preserving a tangible link to their shared heritage and faith.

St. Patrick’s Day Pinch

As a widely beloved holiday celebrated around the world, Saint Patrick’s Day has a cavern of intricate folkloric traditions dating back centuries. My informant recounted arguably one of the most popular traditions of the holiday which everybody follows to this date. As to most people’s knowledge, on Saint Patrick’s Day everyone is supposed to wear green to show their spirit for the holiday. However, as there are two sides to a coin, if you do not wear green on the holiday then you receive a punishment. Other than the humiliation one experiences by not wearing green, individuals are prone to being pinched countless times as a burden for not participating in the holiday. This burden lasts the entirety of the day or just until the individual puts on some sort of green attire.

This tradition highlights the cultural significance and playful nature of the folkloric custom associated with Saint Patrick’s Day. It stresses how the heritage of wearing green on the holiday serves as a widespread practice, symbolizing participation and celebration of Irish culture and heritage. The pinching tradition emphasizes the dual nature of this practice, wherein wearing green is not only a means of expressing holiday spirit but also a safeguard against receiving punishment in the form of pinching. This aspect of the tradition adds an element of lightheartedness and kinship, as individuals engage in playful interactions with one another throughout the day. 


Context: My informant is a direct family member

My informant says that Tinikling is “like a dance in the Philippines, you do with bamboo sticks”. She describes it as a traditional dance where two people are supposed to hold very long bamboo sticks on the opposite ends and there are two dancers coordinating together in the middle. It can be a very difficult dance, and it is a lot like a game. But it is still a performance.

My informant recalls that a lot of Filipinos kids (mostly girls) might learn this in school, or even outside of school because of the game aspect. And she notes that this tradition along with many Filipino traditions may stem from Spanish culture due to colonization.

It can be difficult to do it correctly, and you could easily trip if you and your partner make a mistake. But a lot of Filipinos have fun with this traditional dance.

She does remember this dance from her early years in school where it is thought so that it can be performed in a yearly school performance or presentation. She also interprets this dance as a fun part of Filipino culture. Because it is not strict to just performance but because it can be done by anyone even without it being something that has to be presented in a certain way.


Tinikling is certainly a folk tradition and folk dance. The dance is also performed at festivals.

Tinikling seems to be a part of Filipino culture for a very long time. And although it is a part of the history of colonization that the Philippines has endured, the tradition has seemed to be fully embraced and seen as something endearing and fun. It has been removed from the possible pain that the colonization has caused. Because the dance is flexible in its form, it can be done “formally” and traditionally through performances and yearly performances done at schools but it is also done at the homes in the Philippines or even right by the streets.

As my informant mentions, this dance is taught at many Filipino schools, it is well-known by many. The folk dance seems to be carried by pride, fun and even nostalgia. If this dance was not taught to someone in the Philippines, someone who does know could gladly teach it.

12 Grapes at Midnight on New Year’s Eve

Text: Every New Year’s Eve, the informant’s family eats 12 grapes within the minute-or-so leading up to midnight. Each grape represents one of the 12 months, and as they eat each grape they make a wish for that month. It is a way for them to bring consistent good luck into the new year.

Context: The informant has participated in this tradition every year as far back as they can remember, and their family is who taught it to them originally. The informant and their family are Argentinian and have always lived in Los Angeles. The informant said that this is their favorite New Year’s tradition because it becomes a fun competition between her and her siblings (as to who can finish the grapes the fastest) and looks forward to it every year.

Analysis: This is far from the first time I’ve heard of this New Year’s tradition, as it seems that many Spanish-speaking cultures partake in similar traditions. Potentially, I could see this tradition as an expression of optimism for the incoming year. I could also see this tradition as a way of trying to attract what you want into the new year, as in class we talked about how many New Years traditions revolve around manifestations during the liminal time that is the transition from year to year. In this case, the grapes might symbolize wealth or luxury.

Birthday Morning Tradition

Text: The informant’s parents wake them up with balloons and by singing the happy birthday song every year.

Context: The informant thought that everyone had this tradition when she was growing up. She learned that it was specific to her family at her 10th birthday sleepover party, where the informant’s friends woke her up that morning before her parents did, without singing or balloons. She refused to start the year off badly so she went back to sleep until her parents woke her up with the singing and balloons she was expecting. Additionally, her parents were the one’s who started this tradition for their family. They did not learn it from other generations. The informant has had this tradition every year since she can remember.

Analysis: Traditions like this, which are only between family, could be a way of creating a feeling of distinction from other families or people outside of the family. Since this family is the only one who knows the tradition, it is a way of expressing that they are an in-group. It is also a way of expressing love and affection from the parents to their child and making them feel special. Additionally for the informant, since she’s grown used to experiencing this tradition, not experiencing it on a given year is a sign that the year will be thrown off.