Category Archives: Superstitions

Stock Market Superstition

General Information about Item:

  • Conceptual Folklore – Superstition
  • Magic Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Tony Shen
  • Date Collected: 02-21-2018

Informant Data:

  • Tony Shen was born in Mountain View, California on June 25, 1996. Tony has stayed in California his whole life, only moving once to a city close to where he was born. Tony started swimming when he was eight years old, because he wanted to try something new and not be lazy. Tony is a senior at Dartmouth College, and is wrapping up his swimming career forever in a week. After graduation, Tony is working at PWC.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: The high stress levels of swimming can be a lot for people, so having something to do that helps take your mind off of the meet to come is helpful.
  • Social Context: This superstition was recorded during a one on one interview on the bus ride to Ivy League Championships. Tony described a ritual that he does the week leading up to his big meets. Tony noted that another member of the Dartmouth Swim Team, Jimmy Patrick, also participates in this ritual with Tony. Ever since trying it Tony’s sophomore year, and Jimmy’s freshman year, it has been something to get their minds off of racing so they can relax.

Item:

  • Tony and his teammate, Jimmy, check the markets eight times a day the week before a big swim meet.

Image of iPhone Stocks App:

Transcript:

  • “The week leading up to our big swim meets, Jimmy and I find it imparrative to maintain mental fluidity and stability. To accomplish this, we check the markets, at least eight times per day. We find that this activity both sharpens our wits, as well as takes our mind off of the meet to come. Since we started doing this, it has helped me perform better in every swim meet.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • It seems kind of crazy, but being financially aware is such a big part of Dartmouth culture, so we’re able to distract ourselves from tense meets by focusing on this other big part of Dartmouth culture.

Collector’s Comments:

  • It seems as if this superstition reflects Freud’s theory of folklore being a sublimation of our subconcious neurotic behaviors. Checking the markets 8 times a day certainly seems neurotic, but by satisfying this other part of the subconscious, they don’t have to worry about the tension of swimming.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Luciano

Tags/Keywords: Conceptual Folklore, Magic Superstition, Markets, Freud, Neuroses, Swimming

Bears (Brittany Champagne)

General Information about Item:

  • Genre: Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country where Item is from: USA
  • Informant: Katie Harris
  • Date Collected: 11-2-17

Informant Data:

  • Katie Harris is a member of the class of 2019 at Dartmouth.  She is from central Illinois, specifically Lincoln.  Katie described her home as super rural and full of many families. Illonois to her is a “typical mid-west state,” the families are very close knit and tend to stay put rather than have a lot of new families moving in. She is from an area surrounded by a lot of farming and a love for the outdoors. Both her parents introduced her to hiking early on. When she was 3 years old and didn’t have a choice her parents would strap her to their back and go on hikes. A family vacation in the Harris household always seemed to involve hiking and led to Katie’s love for the activity.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context: Bears are large problem amongst hikers.  This superstition is acted on proactively as well as consciously when moving from camp site to camp site.  Anything that gives off a strong scent is understood to be either left at home or stored away from the campsite to avoid inviting bears.  Animals have keen senses and strong smells can easily peak their curiosity.
  • Cultural Context: Safety is a main concern out in the wilderness.  Controlling all variables  possible can help to ensure better safety to you and those you are traveling with.  Hikers understand the need to avoid anything that has been proven or hypothesized to provoke dangerous circumstances.  Survival is one of the most important things to be aware of when in a new environment where you are not the only inhabitant and by removing heavily scented materials you are better equipped for survival.  It is better to be over prepared than retroactively regretful for not taking part in these superstitions.

Item:

  • Bears are said to be attracted to strong scents like perfumes and garbage
  • You must avoid wearing perfumes and tie garbage, or anything with a heavy scent, on a branch down wind from your campsite

Informant’s Comments:

  • “Everyone I’ve ever hiked with understands the importance of putting garbage bags away from camp.  Keeping strong scents away from our campsite decreases the chance that a bear will come looking for food where we are set up.  It is important to remember the dangers that surround you and actively try to avoid them.”

Collector’s Name: 

Brittany Champagne

Tags/Keywords:

  • superstition, scents, bears

Reading Coffee Grinds

Title: Reading Coffee Grinds

General Information about Item:

  • Genre: Customary Folklore: Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country: Greece

Informant Data:

  • Vungelia Glyptis was a 2017 graduate of Dartmouth College. Both of her parents are Greek (from the island of Chios). Her maternal and paternal grandfathers are actually from the same village. Everyone in her house speaks Greek, but she usually speaks English with her parents. They follow very old-school customs and superstitions.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context: Usually someone of the older generation will take the coffee cup that a younger family member just drank out of to study the coffee grinds. The older person may also teach the younger person how to read it so that it is something they can continue to do with family members in the future.
  • Cultural Context: Like many Western cultures, coffee is very popular and Greek coffee is especially unique. It is thicker and grittier than normal coffee so it often leaves an intricate stain, compared to American coffee which just runs right out of the cup. For this reason, this superstition could not be performed with other coffee.

Item:

  • After finishing a cup of coffee, someone, often Yia-Yia, will flip the cup over to let the grinds and excess drops run up the side of the cup. She then can look at the different patterns on the cup and “read” it. It is considered a skill that someone has, but the superstition says that one can tell their future based on the patterns on the coffee cup, similar to palm reading.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

This is a cup that has been flipped after drinking all of the Greek coffee. Someone who is trained to do so would be able to read the pattern in it to predict the drinker’s future.

Transcript of Associated File:

  • None

Informant’s Comments:

  • None

Collector’s Comments:

  • None

Collector’s Name:

  • Interviewed by Carmen Braceras
  • Published by Katie Spanos

Tags/Keywords:

  • Greek superstitions, Greek coffee, cup, grinds, reading, future, pattern

Saint Anthony

Title: Prayer to Saint Anthony for Lost Items

General Information about Item:

  • Genre: Customary Folklore: Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country: Greece

Informant Data:

  • David Lilla is a student at George Washington University in D.C. He is from Hummelstown, PA. His mother is Greek but his father is not. While no one in his direct family speaks Greek, they have lots of extended family in Greece and they celebrate Greek holidays.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context: When someone loses something and feels desperate in looking for it they may use this superstition. Not only the person who lost a possession may begin praying, but also close family and friends who also hope the person finds what has been lost.
  • Cultural Context: A significant percentage of the Greek population, including our informants, observe Greek Orthodoxy. Often if a Greek Orthodox Christian feels as if something is out of their control, they turn to God or a saint in prayer to help intercede. In this case, when they cannot find a lost item, they pray to Saint Anthony in hopes that he will help recover the lost item.

Item:

  • The superstition says that if you lose something, if you pray to Saint Anthony about it the item will always turn up. More religious people will follow this superstition.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

  • None

Transcript of Associated File:

  • None

Informant’s Comments:

  • None

Collector’s Comments:

  • None

Collector’s Name:

  • Interviewed by Carmen Braceras
  • Published by Katie Spanos

Tags/Keywords:

  • Greek Superstitions, Prayer, Orthodox, Saint Anthony, lost, help

Evil Eye

Title: Evil Eye

General Information about Item:

  • Genre and Sub Genre: Customary Folklore– Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country where Item is from: Greece

Informant Data:

Multiple informants shared this piece of folklore with us. They are Billy Kosmidis, David Lilla, Vungelia Glyptis, Judith Varlamos, Mary Wallenmeyer, and Lia Constantine.

  • Billy Kosmidis is a ’19 student at Dartmouth College and lives in Chicago. Both of his parents parents were born in Greece. His mom was born in Tripoli, in the Peloponnesian Peninsula in southern Greece. His father was born in a small town called Alexandria close to Thessaloniki, in northern Greece (historically Macedonian area). All of his cousins, aunts, and grandma live in Greece, and everyone in his family speaks Greek. Billy and his older brother grew up bilingual and were the first two in their family born in America. In his house, they follow many Greek customs and constantly switch between speaking English and Greek based on the topic of conversation or who they are talking to (his dad only speaks Greek to them for the most part). His grandmother spends half the year living in Tripoli and half the year living in Chicago with Billy and his family, so when she is around there is a peak in the number of Greek customs and traditions that are practiced in the house.
  • David Lilla is a student at George Washington University in D.C. He is from Hummelstown, PA. His mother is Greek but his father is not. While no one in his direct speaks Greek, they have lots of extended family in Greece and they celebrate Greek holidays.
  • Vungelia Glyptis was a 2017 graduate of Dartmouth College. Both of her parents are Greek (from the island of Chios). Her maternal and paternal grandfathers are actually from the same village. Everyone in her house speaks Greek, but she usually speaks English with her parents. They follow very old-school customs and superstitions.
  • Judith Varlamos is from Seattle, WA. Her mom is from Karpenisi in Central Greece, and she still has relatives who live in Greece. Her husband also speaks fluent Greek, and they follow many Greek customs. They are also practicing Greek Orthodox Christians. They own a Greek pizza place in the neighborhood.
  • Mary Wallenmeyer is a 55 year-old woman from Shermans Dale, PA. Both of her parents, her two sisters, and her one brother were born in Greece. Her parents were raised in a small village in the mountains of central Greece. Her father came to the U.S. first and worked for two years so he could bring the rest of the family to America. She was born a year after her parents were reunited in the U.S., and her younger brother was born seven years later. Her father and his siblings are deceased, but she still have cousins from his side of the family that live in Greece. Her mother has six siblings still living in Greece along with their families.  Growing up, Mary and her family spoke Greek at home and attended Greek classes. Her husband and children do not speak the language fluently, but they do understand some of it. Her family belongs to the Greek Orthodox church, which she says “ helps keep the ‘Greek’ alive in [their] lives.” Their family still prays in Greek and cooks many Greek foods. They are very proud of their Greek heritage.  
  • Lia Constantine is a ’21 Dartmouth student from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her Greek heritage is very much part of her identity. She relates to the family in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in a lot of ways. It is also something she has grown up with and that her parents and grandparents are very proud of, so she has inherited that pride. Both her parents are 100% Greek. They were both born in the U.S., but her dad lived in Greece for a period of time.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context: The Evil Eye can be given to people accidentally or on purpose. It can be given by strangers or “bad people.” People often aren’t aware of receiving the evil eye. This superstition is passed down from parents to their children. 
  • Cultural Context: The Evil Eye is recognized by the Greek Orthodox Church as a legitimate religious phenomena. It is said to be generated by the devil. It serves as an explanation for bad things that occur (especially illnesses or pain). 

Item:

  • The superstition is that if someone looks at you the wrong way, then you will have the Evil Eye. Side effects of the Evil Eye include: feeling ill, acting strange, crying, or feeling pain. This is an example of a sign superstition (If A, then B).

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

Segment of Interview with Lia Constantine

 

Transcript of Associated File:

    • Lia: My mom is superstitious about the Evil Eye so she always gets us little Evil Eye things or puts it in her car and stuff like that so I guess I don’t really believe that but they do… 

Informant’s Comments:

  • None

Collector’s Comments:

  • Lia Constantine was interviewed in person (as seen in the video). The others (Billy Kosmidis, David Lilla, Vungelia Glyptis, Judith Varlamos, and Mary Wallenmeyer) were interviewed over FaceTime due to their inaccessible location.

Collector’s Name: Interviews conducted by Carmen Braceras (Vungelia, David), Jess Valvano (Lia), Katie Spanos (Mary), and Ellen Pattinson (Judith, Billy). Webpage published by Carmen Braceras.

Tags/Keywords:

  • Evil Eye, Greek Superstitions, Greek Orthodox, Customary Folklore

Soju Bomb Toast

General Information about Item:

  • Genre and Sub Genre –  Customary folklore (superstition)
  • Language – English (Soju – Korean liquor)
  • Country where Item is from – South Korea
  • This is a self-collection

Informant Data:

The informant (myself) is a male from South Korea (age 23). He is a junior at Dartmouth College and majors in Computer Science. He left Dartmouth in 2014 June to start his military service in South Korea, which lasted from August 4th 2014 to May 3rd 2016. For the length of his service, he was assigned to a unit called Korea-US Combined Forces Command and worked at its C-1 Branch Surgeon’s Office, where he was an interpreter and executive assistant to a team of 16 Korean and US officers. He is now back at Dartmouth College. This is a self-collected piece of folklore.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context – The self-collection took place in Hanover, NH in November of 2018. The informant was sitting at a dinner party as an interpreter between US and Korean officers, towards the end of March in 2015. The command had recently completed a national-scale annual exercise and the “Victory Party” was hosted by the chief of C-1 Branch (a Korean Navy 1-star general) and his deputy chief (a US Air Force colonel). The atmosphere was euphoric and everyone present (around 70 members, both Korean and American, male and female, officers and NCOs) was happy that the exercise ended in a success and ready to enjoy the night with their comrade-in-arms. The party lasted from 6pm to around 9pm at the Friendship House in US Army Garrison-Yongsan in Seoul, Korea.
  • Cultural Context – The Korean military has a special word for these types of dinner parties within its communities: hoeshik. It is known for consuming large amounts of alcohol and hazing junior members. The hoeshik that the informant is recounting was a more special than usual in that it involved US soldiers. This fact may have triggered the Korean navy chief in the account to exaggerate some details in order to boast his masculinity and prowess at the drinking table in front of the Americans.

Item:

  • There was Korean-style pork-barbeque and a lot of Soju (Korean liquor) and beer at the party. Soon after everyone was seated, the chief and the deputy chief made some welcoming comments as usual. Then came the time for the toast. The chief, having served the Korean navy for more than 25 years, suggested a Korean-navy style toast to the Americans and the non-Navy Koreans. Everyone who was not a Korean-navy, including the informant, watched curiously. He first made a Soju bomb (Soju mixed with beer) in a glass. To truly mixed the drink, he put a few pieces of napkins over the glass and slammed the glass on the table. The drink fizzed in the glass and the napkin absorbed the contents overflowing. Then, he turned around and through the wet napkin towards the ceiling behind his back. Turning around and making sure the napkin was now stuck on the ceiling, he told the confused audience that it is a Korean navy custom: mix your drink, throw the napkin behind your back towards the ceiling, and if the napkin does not stick to the ceiling, you have to drink another shot. It is considered bad luck in the ship if the napkin does not stick and falls to the ground because it is similar to a sailor falling from the ship into the sea. He made everyone follow and made the toast.

Associated file (a video, audio, or image file):

 

Transcript of Associated File:

Everyone watched curiously what he [the navy general] was going to do. He made a soju bomb, which is just soju mixed with beer in special proportions, in a glass. And to mix the drink, he put napkin over the glass and slammed the glass on the table. The soju bomb fizzed inside the glass and then the napkin absorbed the contents in the glass, contents that were overflowing. Then he turned around the threw the wet napkin towards the ceiling behind his back. Turning around and making sure that the napkin was stuck on the ceiling, he explained to us that this is a Korean navy custom. He explained that you have to mix your drink… and if the napkin does not stick to the ceiling you have to drink another shot. So everyone tried that at the party, including the deputy chief (the US air force colonel) and everyone had a good time after that.

Informant’s / Collectors Comments:

The superstition at work seems to have elements of homeopathic magic (law of similarity) at work.

The informatn/collector had a unique opportunity of serving in a joint unit (a unit that has all four branches of the military). It was also combined, in the sense that it had both US and Korean soldiers. From his experiences, he got an impression that the navy outnumbers all other branches in terms of superstitions. Perhaps, this is because they have to live in a confined space for a long time when they sail and is often subject to whims of the violent weather at sea.

Collector’s Name:

Jeong Tae Bang