Whenever one of my grandmother’s or one of my grandmother’s sisters’ knees would hurt, we would always say that it was gonna rain the next day.
The interesting thing about this story is that every time her knees did hurt it actually did rain the next day. Sergio says that he can’t remember a time when her knees would hurt and the weather would be clear the next day.
Another friend of mine, Katya, who is a swimmer and had surgery on her left knee, once told me that when it is about to rain her knees also begin to hurt. She says that during her surgery they had to put a screw in and that the metal may have something do with her ability to also predict the rain. Perhaps the change in magnetism affects the metal in her knee somehow. I asked Sergio whether or not his grandmother’s sister ever had surgery on her knees, and he told me that she never has had surgery but that she does suffer from moderate arthritis.
Sergio also says that his father doesn’t trust his mother’s sisters’ knees because they haven’t always predicted the weather as accurately as Sergio remembers. Before Sergio was born, his father said that on various occasions her knees would hurt but nothing would happen after. Thus, he came to distrust her “powers” of foresight.
“The Winter Solstice Festival is very important to the Chinese culture. It is celebrated around December 21, the shortest day of the year. This festival celebrates longer daylight, which means that there’s more positive energy. For this festival, families get together and eat tangyuan. Tangyuan are glutinous rice balls that represent reunion. It allows families to reunite.”
My informant learned the item when she grew up in Taiwan. It’s an important Chinese tradition that most people participate in. My mom has been celebrating the Winter Solstice Festival ever since she was a little kid, and now my family celebrates it every year.
My family celebrates the festival on December 21. We have a huge family reunion with my aunts and uncles. We go to a Chinese restaurant to eat a delicious dinner, while catching up on everybody’s life. After dinner, each family separates and goes home. At home, my mom cooks tangyuan for my whole family. Usually, she makes several stuffed tangyuan and many small plain ones.
My mom enjoys this celebration because she loves family get-togethers. With the busy lives that everyone leads now, my parents do not get to see their brothers and sisters often. This festival is a chance for everyone to reunite. This celebration is particularly important to my mom because of the fact that we always have a family reunion on this day. This day also allows my mom to sit down with my family while eating tangyuan.
I think that this festival is significant to Chinese culture and Chinese families. I agree with my mom, and I think that families really don’t have very much time to sit down and talk to each other. Even family dinners are becoming so rare in American families. Parents are always working and children have extracurricular activities and large amounts of homework that keep them from eating at a set time. Also, this festival shows Chinese values. Chinese people value positive things, so the fact that after the winter solstice is over and there will be days with longer daylight is relative to their beliefs.
My informant told me a superstition passed onto her from her italian grandmother:
“To insure good weather, place statue of St. Anthony of Padova in the window facing outward.”
She told me that she does not usually follow this, mostly because statues of St. Anthony are hard to come by in the United States. In Italy, her grandmother had many little statues, and around the time fo the harvest she would put them facing outward in all of the windows. Although my informant does not practice this belief, she still believes in it.
I have heard many different superstitions about the weather, so this one does not surprise me. I was interested in the fact that my informant did not practice it, but stil does carry on the belief. I assume that the statue is placed facing outward in order to interact with the weather that is outside.
My source was raised on a farm in Nebraska, and during the winter, snowstorms can be frequent and it can get very cold. He remembered his father coming inside from running an errand. After removing his outermost coat and hanging up his hat, my source’s father grinned and used this folk metaphor to describe the temperature. My source found the comment amusing. He laughed and then left to find his dad a blanket to warm up with.
Many times, my source has described many hardships of being raised on a farm, mainly the chores. At one point, it was his responsibility to milk, feed, brush, and take care of the cows. A cow’s utter is not protected by hair, and under winter conditions can become very cold. It is important that the utter does not get too cold because the cow’s tits will actually become chapped, and the cow will become sick and stop producing milk. To prevent this, my source would be sent out and would have to rub a protective balm on each cow’s tits. My source distinctly remembers how cold they felt. Now, my source made sure to explain this to me, because if he knew a cow’s tits were freezing, it made him wonder how much colder a witch’s tit would be. And for it to be colder than a witch’s tit, then it must be seriously cold outside.
My source thinks that the metaphor was developed through similar reasoning. Also, he mentioned that this metaphor is mostly shared by people who live in colder climates, because he has rarely heard it since he moved to California over thirty years ago. In my opinion, I believe the metaphor was likely developed by a drunk who stepped out into the cold and decided to exclaim the temperature was colder than two completely unrelated words. Their friends must have found this hilarious and the metaphor would have caught on and spread by word of mouth.
My informant is a native of Brazil and is of Portuguese descent. According to her, her grandmother, from whom she learned this superstition, was a fervent Catholic and “knew hundreds of saints and their miracles and for every misfortune or mishap there would be some saint to pray to or a superstition to fix it!” She said superstitions were her grandmother’s specialty. She recalls of her grandmother: “If it was raining hard with thunder and lightning she would go around the house covering the mirrors: they attract the storm.”
I have never heard any superstition quite like this one, though I have heard others that associate omens with mirrors. Certainly I have never associated mirror superstitions like this one with Catholicism. This magic-superstition is probably either taken directly from native lore or is a hybridization of the lore of the Portuguese with that of the native land.
This is a phrase that Charlenes grandmother used to say to her some mornings when the weather looked a certain way. Charlene grew up in the city of San Francisco, as did many f her relatives before her, including her grandmother. In 1906 there was a huge earthquake in San Francisco, which caused a huge fire that destroyed most of the city. Charlenes grandmother was living in San Francisco at the time. She remembered that the weather was very grey and muggy that day. So, every time the weather was similar, she would say it looks like earthquake weather today.
Charlene said it would scare her because she knew exactly what that meant. Since Charlene had grown up in San Francisco she knew all about the earthquake, plus she had heard all of the stories that her grandmother had told her. The phrase relates to two different identities. The fact that her grandmother would say it and Charlene knew exactly what she was talking about, identified both a residents of San Francisco. They were both well aware of the history of the earthquake in the city. The fact that her grandmother was able sense earthquake weather showed identified her as part of the group of people who had lived through the 1906 earthquake.
When Charlene described the weather she said it was very muggy and foggy. I have spent a lot of time in San Francisco and it is muggy and foggy most days. But, Charlene said that it was a very specific type of weather that only people like her grandma could recognize. It seems quite difficult to distinguish between one foggy day and another, but Charlene said that one of the days that her grandmother said, it looks like earthquake weather today, there was an earthquake.