“D” is a 19 year old female student at The University of Southern California. She is a Chemistry major and interested in pursuing Pharmacy after college. She is Vietnamese on both sides of her family and describes herself as very close with her sister, whom she shares many Folkloric traditions with. She played soccer up through high school and is currently active in the rugby community.
“D: So you know like the Udon noodles? Well udon noodles they take like forever to make. Ever since we were little my uncle who lives in Massachusetts, whenever he’d come down to California he’d come over and literally all the kids would help him make these noodles.
D: We’d only have them during Christmas time because they was the only time that he’d come by and were all together, so like different kids would do different jobs at the time and like make the noodles.
Me: Do you guys still do it every year?
D: Expect now that we’re all older we don’t really need him to be there, so like my sister would start it and me and my sister would run it and all my little cousins would come help.
Me: When he came and stuff you could all finish it up?
D: Yeah, yeah! We did it one year without him though.
Me: So this is obviously before the meal, so you all get ready and get together and do it. Are there any other songs or sorts of rituals you do during the proccess? Or is it the very first thing that you do during Christmas dinner?
D: No. But it’s the thing that we all look forward too.”
As “D” indicated, the tradition began with her uncle within her lifetime, being motivated by the fact that it brought the whole family together. The choice of udon noodles allowed a common goal for the whole family to work on as a team, while allowing each member to play a role in the eventual creation of the meal, reinforcing the group dynamic already contained by them being in a family. As “D” and her sister can now perform the role without their uncle, it may act the symbolize competency in an ‘adult’ task that was originally denied to them as children. Much in the vein of the carving of the Thanksgiving turkey, which is passed down from father to son, this task may be passed down to former helpers as they grow up.