Tag Archives: winter

A Day in my life on Christmas


My informant is a college student who lives in the same apartment complex as me. He is a communications major, 23 years old, and he is from Chicago. I asked him if he had any holiday traditions and mentioned what his family partakes in during Christmas. I was interested to see how similar his traditions are to mine and any other traditions I have heard, so here is what he shared with me:


“Okay so each Christmas my sister and I open our stockings first because when we were babies my mom bought us embroidered stockings with out names on them, then the presents are divided under the tree and everyone opens their gifts in order one person at a time, then we eat around noon, usually honey ham, green bean casserole, potatoes, and wine. Then we watch a Christmas or hallmark movie and then the day is pretty much over. But my sister having two kids has definitely changed things up.”


From the sound of it there are many Christmas traditions that families from all over share. My informant, as mentioned previously is from Chicago, but my family and I from California partake in a similar tradition. I think the main point of Christmas is to make each other happy and share a day with family giving to each other and enjoying the month leading up to this time. Christmas is the biggest holiday celebrated in the sense that stores will have sections dedicated to this time, and music will be played there are tree lighting festivals and little light shows you can go to to see the decorated houses and lights. Although there is a lot of history surrounding Christmas, the traditions that I have heard and the ones my family practices are not far from normal. These are all classic examples of holiday traditions that are practiced all around the world, even in different cultures. This kind of folklore can be seen in movies, shared from previous generations, and even researched in history books or music.

After further research, it could be examined that people would decorate trees in their homes with lights and colorful toys as far back as the 1500s. This goes to show that because these traditions have been documented and passed from different cultures and generations it still lives on and might even slightly change.

“In like a lion, out like a lamb”

1. Text (folk simile)

“In like a lion, and out like a lamb”

2. Context 

My informant grew up in the midwest in Indiana and frequently heard people say March goes “in like a lion, out like a lamb” in regards to the month of March. He explains how the month of March is usually very cold in the midwest, but by the end of March, there’s sunshine and good weather. He compares the cold to a lion that roars representing the “bad, ugly” weather while at the end of March, the lamb represented the calm, nice weather and the end of the harsh cold. My informant was raised in the midwest, in Indiana, as well as in Texas as his family all reside in Texas. He recalled how he never heard this saying in the south, only when he was living in the midwest. 

3. Analysis/YOUR interpretation

This folk simile was new to me and I originally wasn’t sure how to interpret it. However, given the context, the midwest, where it is known to get cold, is a representative of the lion as I’m reminded of a lion’s mane and the thick hair of a lion which may protect against the cold weather, the mane specifically known to protect the neck of the lion to survive the cold. Also, it should be noted that lions typically huddle together in the winter to stay warm interacting with other lions in their community for protection. Lions enjoy the snow, however, as it allows them to remain active without overheating. As for lambs, “out like a lamb” likely goes hand-in-hand with how lambs are typically born in the winter months and require more energy to retain a stable body temperature. In retaining stable body temperature, lambs usually call for sheltering during these winter months and have trouble withstanding. Also in terms of physicality, a lion’s mane, in comparison to a lamb’s coat, seems to be thicker and likely more protective against harsh conditions. In regarding the month of March to come “in like a lion”, seems representative of the initial feelings of being strong and protected, ready for winter, while regarding how March goes “out like a lamb”, is representative of the lion’s mane no longer being able to protect against the cold and fragility as a lamb is simply a baby (under 1 year) goat. The cold of march overtook the lion and left them as a lamb in need of protection and shelter. This saying is illustrative of midwestern weather as those not from this region may not understand that in the northern hemisphere March classifies as spring and not winter. But being a part of a region where march leans more towards winter weather, the folk simile makes more sense.


Main Text

GD: “Užgavėnės is a Lithuanian holiday, um, that’s translated to ‘The Before Lent.’ So, it takes place, um, right before the Lenten season, the weekend right before that, and what it is culturally is, um. It’s a festival in which we scare away the winter pretty much, and welcome the spring. Um, it’s been compared to, like, Mardi Gras and you’ll see as I talk more about it you’ll be able to connect that a little bit more, but um. The entire festival is just Lithuanian people getting together, making really scary masks and decorating them and going really big with these costumes and these like huge masks that they’ll wear, um, to scare away the winter. There is a structure that we construct that is usually a representation of winter, like taking place in like the form of a man or something or like a stick figure, uh, just this really large totem that we burn ultimately to just say ‘To the end with winter, here comes spring.’ And in the same light there is a little staged playing of a man and another man dueling pretty much, and one guy represents winter with the other guy represents the spring, and always the spring will overcome that and win against the winter.”


GD is a 19 year old Lithuanian-American second year student at USC studying Theatre and Classics. Her mother was born in Lithuania and moved to a Lithuanian community in New Jersey, where GD attended Lithuanian school and church. GD describes Užgavėnės as her favorite holiday growing up, attending it not only in America but also in Lithuania. She remembers waking up before dawn in order to peel potatoes in order to make pancakes specifically for the festival. GD believes Užgavėnės to be so important not only to her but also to her culture because it was one of the few pagan holidays that survived Christianization in Lithuania.


GD describes Užgavėnės as one of the more important holidays in the Lithuanian calendar with it originally being celebrated on the last day of winter before Christianization. It has been hastily Christianized and is now celebrated on the weekend immediately preceding Lent, but the traditions and meaning of the festival remain. GD describes Užgavėnės as being full of food like bagels and pancakes, and performers playing music as people dance.

Interviewer Analysis

Many traditional folk festivals and celebrations have been slightly changed in order to fit into the rising wave of Christianity, even Christmas retains many aspects of its original pagan traditions. It is unfortunate however that many of the traditions were lost in these re-skinnings, so it is nice to see that Užgavėnės, according to GD, was able to keep so many of its traditions. Festivals celebrating the end of winter and the coming of a sweeter season are a very common phenomenon especially in northern countries that experience harsher winters like Lithuania.

Baba Marta

Main Text

CS: “So the next one I was thinking of was the tradition of Baba Marta, which is like the first day of spring for Bulgarians. It’s like the first of March and you hang up these white and red like crochet, or like knitted things, like yarn and they sometimes look like people, sometimes they’re just abstract shapes. I don’t really remember what the shape is. But people always wish each other ‘Chestita Baba Marta’ or like happy first day of spring and Baba Marta is like baba of spring. I guess somewhat similar to the Baba Yaga story, there’s this grandma who is the incarnation of spring and shes just like a joyous type I guess.”


CS is a 21 year old Bulgarian American from California and is a third year student studying Computer Science: Games at USC. CS describes the Baba Marta holiday like Christmas, you do not remember your first one but it is an ever-present time in your life. CS loved Baba Marta as a holiday because he could look forward to seeing his family and having an excuse to eat. His father, aunt, and grandmother all celebrate it with him every year.


Baba Marta is a spring time festival celebrated in Bulgaria on March 1st. Confusingly it is also the name of a physical embodiment of springtime that comes to people as a joyous old woman.

Interviewer Analysis

Festivals celebrating the end of winter and the coming of a sweeter season are a very common phenomenon especially in eastern European countries with Slavic influences, even though Bulgaria’s geographical placement further south in Europe means that its winters would not have been as harsh as say countries like Lithuania. Lithuania’s Užgavėnės festival however is a very similar celebration, in that it celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of a more fertile season.

Ukrainian – Reuse Of Food Storage Containers

Informant’s Background:

My informant, AK, is a undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. He is a first-generation immigrant, and the child of Ukrainian and Russian parents.


I am a close friend of AK. I asked him if he had any folklore he could share and this was what he gave me.


AK: “I guess like you can make a story out of this, but essentially, like, my whole life, when I try and get food from my parents or my grandma or my grandpa and like I come over as a guest or something and they want to cook me food or something they like put it-like every Russian… uhm, and Ukrainian like puts this, like does this, so say like I want some food that you made or I’m offering you some food that I made, like (*laughs*) I don’t give it to you in Tupperware. I give it to you, like I give you some Russian soup in some like old yoghurt container that like I bought, that literally had my yoghurt in it and like now I’m using it as a container to put other food in it and store other food in it. Obviously like its washed, uhm, before like any other different new food is put in it, but it’ll be like a yoghurt container but what will actually be inside will actually be some like, uhm, leek soup or something. And that’s like pretty typical like classic Russian stuff that you’ll get. More so with older generations, I don’t think like anyone who’s Russian or Ukrainian now would do that.”

Informant’s Thoughts:

AK: “I think the reason why is that there was just a time, in Russia, where you had to be really resourceful, uhm, and that’s because of World War 2, and like, I don’t know, just when there was winter and stuff and you kind of have to bunker down and just use what you have, and like no one was really rich in Russia uhm back then, there was a lot less rich people, and a lot more poor people that were like struggling and stuff. So a lot of people were resourceful, and I think that just like became embedded into like their-their DNA and their way of life. And so it just bleeds through in this small little funny way.”


I think AK explained this quite well. This example demonstrates how people adapt their way of lives to the times that they grew up in, and to the situations that surround them. In this case, this resourcefulness is likely no longer necessary in the case of AK’s relatives, due to better living conditions, and the lack of a harsh winter to diminish resources, yet the traditional way of life the person grew up with is still performed, even if it will not carry on to AK’s way of life.