Tag Archives: weather

Turkish Mountain Ghost Story

Background Information: 

The informant is an older person who grew up in Central Turkey in the 40s and 50s. They have now been living in the US for the last 30 years. They are describing things from their childhood. 

Main Content: 

ME: So could you tell me about the time you saw a ghost on the mountain, that you told me about a few years ago? 

NA: So one day me, my brother, and my father went to visit a farm that my father owned in a different village. We had to walk about 2-3 hours through very mountainous terrain to get there. We stayed there for a few hours and be the time we were leaving it started to get really dark. However, the people who worked on the farm insisted that we didn’t go, simply begging not to leave, they were telling us that the weather was going to be really bad, but my father said that we had to leave. The worker insisted that he let his son take us back on two horses, and my father said fine. We stated climbing on the mountains and it started raining, my father sends the son back with the horses because he was scared that something would happen to him or the horses. Anyways, me and my brother and my father kept going on foot. If there wasn’t any lightning, we couldn’t see in front of our step, and it was lightning constantly. We say two, well I remember seeing one person on a horse, but my father says that there was two. I’m not sure if it was just imagine or real, but they were behind these rocks. My father started yelling at them, and he used two speak all of the Kurdish languages. He used to speak two of them real good and the other one not so good. There was a lot of Kurds in this area, he was in touch with them all day every day, he lived with them for many, many years. The horsemen were not that far away, and he spoke with them in all three languages, and he still didn’t get no answer. Maybe there was nobody, but we all saw them multiple times in the lightning, and all of the sudden they disappeared. There was also a lot of hail, hail as big as eggs, pounding on our heads. 

ME: Wow that sounds incredibly scary, do you think that it was ghosts that you saw? 

NA: I don’t know exactly if they were ghosts, but they were not people. They would have responded to my father otherwise. The road was maybe as wide as a coach, its not even a real road, maybe like a trail, trail is even wider than that, so it was almost impossible for there to be anybody. Maybe it was just a hallucination, but we definitely saw something. Afterwards, my father sacrificed two lambs because we got out of that trouble. 


This conversation happened over a Facetime call. 


This story sounds like a classic example of a horror story. The dark, rain, thunder, and even hail. On top of that, they didn’t even have cars, the whole experience was either on horseback or by foot. It is so reminiscent of a generic scary story. Besides that, it is incredible that the informant still has such a vivid memory of what seems to be a relatively insignificant incident from almost 60 years ago. This leads me to believe that whatever the informant had seen that night was very convincing. Maybe it is possible that they saw the spirits of dead or lost travelers through the mountains, but it’s impossible to know. I think it is also interesting that their father sacrificed a lamb afterwards to thank Allah for getting them out of that situation. I’m not sure if he was more concerned with the weather or the ghosts, but either way it goes to prove that they found this to be a particularly dire situation. 

“Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight”

Informant Information — DD

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 68
  • Occupation: Professor
  • Residence: San Pedro, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: March 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant grew up in San Pedro, CA, a port town where a large proportion of the town works on/near the water. He has sailed as a hobby and professionally for more than 50 years. He is still active in his town’s boating community and keeps up with sailing magazines, books, news, etc. The informant shared this information with me in an in-person interview.


Can you tell me about the connection between sailors and the weather? 


Yeah, I’ve heard that one before. The saying goes, “red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning; red sky at night, sailor’s delight,” right? I first heard that one when I started sailing over to Catalina and up and down the coast. 

It’s supposed to mean that if the sky is red in the morning, there’s an impending storm that might make sailing tough if it hits that day. If the sky is red at night, the storm has already passed. 

I don’t really know how true that is, but I believe it and I’ve definitely heard tons of other sailors say it before. 


In this piece, the red sky is a sign and the time of day that it appears determines whether it is a positive or negative indicator. Strangely, I’ve heard both this version, as well as the complete opposite (“Red sky at night, sailor’s fright”). If true, this could be a very useful way to forecast the weather, but it’s a bit problematic that it’s so easy to mix up the rhyming, opposite meanings (fright and delight). 

Snow Day Magic Rituals

TG is a 25 year old graduate student and cultural forensic anthropologist. She grew up in Maryland and currently resides in Tennessee. She says this ritual occurred often in the winter months when she was in elementary school.

Context: TG experienced many snow storms throughout her life, the most notable one being the North American Blizzard of 2010. TG loved the snow as a kid, but like many other kids, loved no school more.

Transcript (discussed over the phone):

TG: When I was younger, maybe in third or fourth grade, whenever the forecast said there would be snow we would do three things: flush ice down the toilet, sleep with a small spoon under our pillow, and wear our pajamas inside out. If we did this then there was a greater chance that we would have a snow day.

Collector: How did you and your classmates know to do this?

TG: We were told by our teachers. They’d tell us to do those things so we could have a snow day, they wanted one too I guess. Oh! And everything had certain meanings to them, the ice down the toilet represented the snow, the spoon represented the shovel that was not big enough to shovel all of the snow, and to me the inside out pajamas just represented disorientation.

Collector: Did you actually do those things every time there was supposed to be snow?

TG: Oh my goodness of course! I didn’t wanna have school just like the teachers. I loved doing those little things and hoping we’d have a snow day.

Analysis: This is especially important when considering the geographical location of this superstition. It also being children’s superstition shows that children also have their quirky and interesting rituals that they do that reflect sympathetic magic. These rituals reflect how children are influenced by their teachers and families. These children will grow up to pass this on to the children in their lives.

Opening Windows in a Tornado

“Whenever there’s a tornado, you’re supposed to open up all of the windows in your house… which scientifically does not make sense, but you’re supposed to do it… you’re supposed to do it to balance out the anger of – the supposed anger of the storm… it’s thought that if you’re inviting it in, it will be less hostile to you…”

Background: The informant was raised in the lower midwestern region of the United States, specifically Kansas, and now goes to college in California.  He learned of this custom from his elementary school librarian.

Context: I was told about this tradition in USC’s Annenberg Hall during a quick interview.

It was interesting to sit down and hear about unique experiences of natural phenomena, especially as someone raised in a tropical country and subsequently California.  I have never needed to consider the stories and beliefs that people may hold who come from a different region in the United States who have to live through different natural disasters such as tornadoes.  The thought processes for “inviting” a tornado in to minimize its damage is compelling, and would definitely be unique to an area that experiences such weather often.

 “Lluvia antes de las tres, buena tarde es.”

TEXT: “Lluvia antes de las tres, buena tarde es.”

INFORMANT DESCRIPTION: Male, 58 years old, Mexican.

CONTEXT: This phrase was said in and is only applicable to Mexico City when it would be raining in the morning. He learned it from his mother who learned it from her mother. Said in the morning with knowledge that the rain would clear by the afternoon, which in Mexico was after lunch so by 2:30pm or 3:00pm.

ANALYSIS: Mexico City is the center of Mexico. It is like if you combined Los Angeles, New York and Washington D.C. all in one city. It is where politics, centralized government, and business has happened for many decades. Families have been living there for centuries. The city is a valley surrounded by mountains, the valley itself is already at a very high elevation, it is the coolest weather within a very tropical country. Therefore it has its own ecosystem/weather. These inhabitants have seen this pattern, that if it rains in the morning it will be lovely afternoon for hundreds of years, making this proverb very reliable and common. The informant grew up with it and it still applies. He would plan his day on it, if it rained in the morning he would make afternoon plans to be outdoors.

ORIGINAL SCRIPT: “Lluvia antes de las tres, buena tarde es.”

TRANSLITERATION: “Yoo-vee-ah ahn-teh-ss -deh-lah-ss treh-ss boo-eh-nah tah-rr-deh eh-ss.”

TRANSLATION: “Rain before three, good afternoon it is.”

THOUGHTS: I think it is really fascinating to be in a place with a climate that follows a pattern so closely. Sort of like a rainbow after the rain but you know it will always happen no matter what. I’ve spent time in Mexico City but never noticed this and am excited to go back and hopefully see for myself if it is true.