Residence: Altadena, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: April 8, 2012
Primary Language: English
The informant recounted the legend on Easter in the context of telling family stories. She acknowledges that it isn’t specifically tied to her family but could be from anyone’s family.
A mother is teaching her daughter how to cook a ham, and when she cuts the end off, and puts it aside, and puts the ham in the oven and bakes it. [The informant mimes these actions as she tells the story.]
And the daughter says: ‘Why did you do that?’
And she says: ‘Oh, I don’t know, because my mother did.’
So, the daughter goes to the grandma and she says: ‘Grandma, why did you do that?’
And she says: ‘I don’t know, because my mother did.’
And so, she goes to the great-grandma and she says: ‘Grandma, why did you do that?’
And she says: ‘Cuz I had a small pan!’
[Everyone at the table chuckles.]
Me: And when would you tell that story?
Informant: To your granddaughter? I don’t know. When you’re eating ham? [laughs] When someone asks “why?”.
This exists both as a general funny story to tell to the family but also as a piece of meta-folklore explaining how traditions come to be. It also follows the rule of three from Olrik’s epic laws. The daughter has to ask three mothers to get her answer about the tradition.