Tag Archives: Traditions

Chamorro “Titiyas”

Context: My informant is a 23 year-old woman who is of Chamorro descent. She grew up in San Francisco and moved to L.A. for college. She described a common practice for her family growing up surrounding food, particularly a snack called “titiyas”. Her Chamorro family passed on this recipe throughout the generations. She loves them because they remind her of her grandma. 

Transcription

Informant:

“So I’m really close with my grandma, I’m the favorite and vice versa hahaha. But, growing up we would always make different Chamorro food and one of my favorite snacks to have is called “titiyas” and they’re basically..  like sweeter and a little bit thicker than tortillas. Me and my grandma would have it with cheese or butter usually. Recently, I moved away from home and asked my grandma what the recipe was. She couldn’t give me any measurements or anything and said I just had to watch and taste. I mean that is how she learned and she was the oldest girl of 11 kids so she just learned by watching her mom. Sometimes she still sends me “titiyas” in the mail to eat the next day, I love it.”

Thoughts:

I loved this story from my informant! It reminded me a lot of how my Cuban grandmother makes “arroz con pollo” (chicken with rice), a popular dish for Cuban people. My grandma never has the right measurements and just goes off of how it looks and smells. It is so sweet how her grandma is able to send her “titiyas” still. My grandma also packs me the Cuban dish every time I go to her house.

It is interesting how this recipe had been in her family for so long and it had still not been written down. This shows how important oral tradition has been as well as how important sharing in person human experience is. Now with technology, you can talk to more people than ever before, but you lose the opportunity of experiencing all the senses with that person. Cooking together at home with family, there is nothing else like it.

El bolo

Background: Informant is a 22 year old first generation Mexican American

Main Piece:

Interviewer: Does your family have any traditions for family gatherings?

Informant: When we have a baptism, we usually have two piñatas. One is regular and filled with candy. But the second one is called el bolo. The second piñata is filled with money. Usually it is coins, but if the parents and godparents are nice it would be dollar bills. I think it is rare when its dollar bills though. Kids love running around trying to catch the coins, even when they get hit in the head they are determined to continue catching money. It is always fun.

Context: Interview with a family friend about family traditions.

Thoughts: I think the idea of one piñata is already fun. So I can only imagine having another one filled with money. I think I have heard of something similar to el bolo, but instead of money or candy, it is filled with toys. I think its interesting to see the creative ways people try to entertain their kids at parties.

Seal Beach “Rubies” Tradition

Main Piece: “Me and my friends, 8 of them, they were really close, and I didn’t become a part of their friend group until late middle school. But after I joined the group we all became super close and did everything together. One tradition that we had.. I don’t know it’s kind of hard to describe but, I grew up in Seal Beach. It’s a small town on PCH between Long Beach and Huntington Beach. It’s super low-key, no tourists, and no sketchy people. It’s a very small community and everybody knows everybody in the town and everyone feels really close to the town. At the heart of the town is a Main Street and a pier that extends out past the sand on the beach. At the end of the pier, there was a rubies that was there that we used to always go to and spend time and eat lunch or dinner. But then one day it closed down and everybody in the community was super sad and my group of friends especially was really bummed out about it, because it was one of our favorite places. They gated off the section of the pier where the Rubies was. The Rubies was closed down and nothing replaced it for about 10 years, and then one day the Rubies caught on fire (probably because of an arsonist or something) and the Rubies burned down to the ground. Because this fire was pretty drastic, they removed that part of the pier, but the fence that would section off the pier to where the rubies was is still there. And because this was such a huge part of our childhood, no matter where we were, if we were out on the town we would always walk to the end of the pier and touch the fence. We literally did it every time, and no matter what you had to walk all the way to the end and touch the fence. Even when I go back home for breaks and for the weekend, my friends and I still do this.”

 

Background: KS and his friends hold the town of Seal Beach very dear to your hearts. He mentions that it is a very big community based town, and it is very normal for people to never leave the town. In fact, he said that it was very common for families to raise children and then once those children grew up and finished school and such, they would come back to Seal Beach and raise a family of their own. KS said it was very normal for people to live and die in Seal Beach, because the community is so important to everyone there. KS also mentioned that the pier is a huge part of Seal Beach, and the Rubies was a great communal meeting point so the feeling of touching a very iconic part of Seal Beach, solidifies the love and appreciation for the town.

 

Context of the Performance: KS told me this tradition that he and his friends have while we were discussing some of our favorite traditions in our friend groups. His tradition is very community based and it is so unique to one specific place, that he really felt emotional telling this story of how much he loves his towns and his friends.

 

Analysis: This tradition is very heartwarming and is a fantastic snapshot of how important traditions are in the realm of community and friendship. Unlike many communities in America, Seal Beach is very clearly a tight knit community that puts an immense value on community, friendship, and togetherness. The weight that this one restaurant has in this friend group and to the community as a whole, further accentuates that great emphasis on loving the community and each other. And while there are certainly some communities in the country that fit this mold, it certainly does go against the general American values of individualism. For me, the town I grew up in did not have this great of an emphasis on community, and it was still very much a community that favored individual success over being tight knit. So I find it fascinating that there are towns throughout the country that go against these American norms, and in turn create a very real and communal atmosphere for the population that lives there.

 

Horse Riding Tradition: “Never let a fall be the end of your ride”

Main Performance: “So at the ranch I ride at, there is this unspoken rule that everybody has to follow, it’s a tradition of sorts as everyone practices this at the barn. But basically, the custom is that if you fall off your horse, whether it be during an event, or while practicing, or even just riding out in the country, you have to get back on your horse afterwards. It is something that I have always been taught while growing up, and it was something that I saw every other rider doing at the barn. It was just expected that you never let a fall be the end of your ride.”

 

Background: GR grew up with a long history of horse riding, and that is one of her most favorite things to do when she has the free time and is able to make it to the barn. GR mentions that a big part of the tradition also is trying to earn the respect of the other riders at the barn who generally are either watching or riding horses themselves. Because this is a community built around the nature of never giving up as GR told me, making sure to get back up on the horse is huge to earning that respect form the more veteran riders. Additionally GR mentions that at the barn she was raised at, it was never okay to simply do things half way. It was expected that when you do something at the barn, you do it at 100% no matter whether or not you succeed, it is far more important that your effort is there. And GR also says that on the barn, while it was okay to not succeed every time, it was always preached that if you are going to practice something, you need to make sure you practice it right. Falling off the horse is the last thing the horse remembers, and GR said that its so important that you don’t end a session of a failure for the horse. GR said that undoubtedly this mindset of resilience and challenging yourself is a staple of her horse riding community.

 

Context of the Performance: GR told me this custom, while we were talking about the things we would do in our free time, and what types of hobbies we like to do. Since GR is from an area where horse riding is far more popular than in California, GR was able to inform me about some of the expectancies that come with riding horses.

 

Analysis: This custom is such an interesting tradition as I this idea of “you gotta get back on the horse” has definitely circulated in other parts of the country as a metaphor for never giving up. It is fascinating to see this saying and custom being used in a place where it is quite literal, and that getting back on the horse is so important not only for gaining respect and being a good rider, but also it is to help the horse not end the ride on a failure. In America, there is a huge cultural emphasis on never giving up and putting in 100% effort in the things that you do. This custom in the horse riding community is a perfect microcosm, and operates as a literal iteration of the belief that you must always keep trying even when you fail. Failure is a part of life, and seeing the fact that failure is accepted in this community as long as you get back up and learn from it, greatly represents the major American value of never giving up.

Turkish Superstition: the Evil Eye

evil eye

What is the Evil Eye?

P.N. – “So, the evil eye protects you, your family, your household, from evil.  And this is a myth, and also a glass object.  Every [Turkish] family has an evil eye in their house . . . My family thinks that if you tell somebody something good that’s happened to you, there’s gonna be envy there.  And they’re gonna somehow will nature to get rid of that opportunity for you.  The evil eye is meant to protect you from that.  So we have evil eye’s in different parts; like, for instance, we have one in our car to prevent a car crash.”

“We have an evil eye in front of our house.  You’re supposed to have an evil eye on top of the doorway to prevent bad things from entering.  One day, during the time when I was applying for colleges, it BROKE.  I remember, because my mom thought that that was a good thing.  “It’s done it’s job,” she said.  And so she put a new one up, and I got accepted into USC!”

“Another example was this: I was wearing my first ‘sexy dress’ in high school to this New Years ball.  I had a hair piece, everything. I looked good.  I was showing some cleavage.  My aunt put an evil eye in my jacket, and said it would protect me from the boys.  I still have it there in my pocket.”

What does the Evil Eye mean to you?

“The Evil Eye reminds me of my parents, because I have always considered them to be the most superstitious people.  And I guess when I think about other types of ‘evil eyes’ in other cultures, it feels like it brings me closer to those people as well.  There’s definitely a sense of identity with everything I’ve said here.”

Immediately, this made me think of the Jewish Mezuzah, which is a similar concept to the Turkish Evil Eye.  The Mezuzah, a small piece of parchment scribbled with specific verses from the Torah, is put on a family’s doorway to prevent any bad luck from entering the home.  When I brought up the Mezuzah to this person, she smiled, and informed me that she knew of the Mezuzah already.  The evil eye is definitely something that reflects one’s culture, one’s traditions, and one’s superstitions.  It’s for this reason that I am such a fan of the Mezuzah, as well as the evil eye now; it’s because I, as well as countless other people from a number of different cultures, can relate very strongly to it.  How different can two peoples really be, when they’re unified by so many aspects of life?