Full Moon Hair Cut

M is 44. She was born in Los Angeles, her parents are from Guadalajara, Mexico. She told me about this belief about when is the best time to cut your hair so it grows longer in peron.

“When the moon is full, that’s when you should cut your hair because that’s when it will grow longer. My mom told me that.”

https://www.almanac.com/fact/ive-heard-that-if-you-cut-your verifies this piece of folklore, noting that the moon has to be waxing and not wanning, otherwise the hair won’t grow as fast. This article from the New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2000/06/18/world/full-moon-haircut-breaks-italy-s-law.html also confirms this folklore is popular enough in Italy to cause some salon owners trouble when late night haircuts conflict with local business operating laws. For more general folklore about haircuts, see https://www.lovedbycurls.com/hair-talk/8-crazy-hair-cutting-superstitions/.

Dia de San Juan

M is 44. She was born in Los Angeles, her parents are from Guadalajara, Mexico. She told me this custom about St. John the Baptist day in person.

“El dia de San Juan… June 24th, you’re not supposed to go in the water, like not even take a shower. It’s a religious belief… I remember my mom always telling me I couldn’t even take a shower that day… I’m not sure why, I think because on this day water is holy?”

San Juan, or John the Baptist is associated with water because he baptized Jesus. Some observations of this day involve the opposite of what M told me, where people bathe and splash in bodies of water (see https://www.nativeseeds.org/blogs/blog-news/celebrate-dia-de-san-juan). For information about celebrations in Spain involving fire, water, and plants, see https://centromundolengua.com/the-night-of-saint-john-in-spain/.

El Duende

M is 44. She was born in Los Angeles, her parents are from Guadalajara, Mexico. She told me this story her grandmother had told her about el Duende in person.

“My grandmother had the experience of el Duende… when she was younger… so el Duende fell in love with her and would come braid her hair at night… but it was so tight it was hard to get them off… so when it happened, my grandmother was very beautiful and she would wake with these braids and not know why, so one night her mom stayed up and saw the Duende…but so how you get rid of the Duende is holy water and tequila and you collect these things and wait for the Duende when he comes to try and braid the hair. I’m glad I wasn’t around back then!”

This duende story is a variation of the Tata Duende, which appears to be very popular in Belize, but also among other Mestizo cultures of Mayan descent. He sometimes also braids the hair of horses. For more accounts of Tata Duende see, https://www.marc.ucsb.edu/research/community-voice/teos-way/duende

Spirit Room

L is 54. He was born in Chicago, Illinois. He was in the Army in his 20s and now works in private personal security. He studied theology in college. He told me this story about his Haitian great grandmother in person.

“She was a big believer in spirits. When my great grandfather died, she moved out of the room they used to share and left the room exactly how he would like it and she said he would come and visit and stay in his room. You were allowed in the room… if you dared to stay in it. I can’t recall anyone ever staying in the room… (laughs) my uncle Glover actually ran out of the house because he said he saw my great grandfather there and for the next two nights we all slept in cars. No one else ever saw him but we all believed in it though.”

In the Voodoo religion, the spirits of the dead are believed to remain active in the affairs of the living. L said neither he nor his family was worried the great grandfather’s ghost would do anyone harm, they just “didn’t want to mess with it.” For more information, see http://www.haitiobserver.com/blog/after-life-beliefts-in-voodoo-religion.html

Birthday Beheading

G is 39 years old, he was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and moved to Los Angeles three years ago. He explained why he did not celebrate birthdays growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness in a conversation with me.

“I don’t know if this is a legend of a myth… I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness and we never celebrated birthdays, and the reason we never celebrated birthdays was because in the bible every time someone had a birthday… well my parents told me… and I never researched to see if it was true… but someone would die, or there would be a fire or get decapitated and I always wanted a birthday but I was afraid I would die or be decapitated on my birthday. I think the first birthday I celebrated… I was in college, and it was my 21st birthday, I went to school in Savannah and my friends took me out to River Street. I was not scared, I was actually really excited… by that time I knew people weren’t dying on their birthdays!”

The Jehovah’s Witness website gives a few reasons for not celebrating birthday. The main one seems to be because it is considered a pagan celebration and there is mention of only two birthdays in the bible; in Genesis 40: 20-22 There is a beheading and a birthday thrown by the Pharoah and in Mark 6: 20-21 another beheading on Herod’s birthday. https://www.jw.org/en/jehovahs-witnesses/faq/birthdays/