Category Archives: Superstitions

Hiking in the Morning

Title: Hiking in the Morning

General Information about Item:

  • Superstition, Tradition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States/Canada
  • Trail of Origin: Chilkoot
  • Informant: Sam D
  • Date Collected: 10-29-19

Informant Data:

  • Sam D is a 40 year old male from Juneau, Alaska. Sam grew up in Southeast Alaska, and currently works for the state government. Sam hiked the Chilkoot trail in 2015.

Contextual Data:

  • Historical Context: First used by the Tlingit people of Alaska as a trade route, the Chilkoot became an important trail for miners and prospectors coming to Alaska during the Klondike gold rush in the 1890s. The trail was mostly abandoned after the end of the gold rush in 1898, until the trail was restored for recreational hikers in the 1960s. Currently, the trail is a popular recreational hike, and stretches between Skagway, Alaska, and Bennett, British Colombia. (Source) Dyea is a small town a north of Skagway, between the residential part of Skagway and the entrance to the Chilkoot trail.
  • Cultural Context: Currently, there are a number of public cabins and campgrounds located along the Chilkoot trail, maintained by the US and Canadian governments. These are areas where hikers will often congregate, and rest for the night. Sheep Camp is one such area.
  • Social Context: Sam mentioned this superstition when asked about his experience hiking the Chilkoot, and any advice he would give to someone hiking the trail for the first time.

Item:

This is a superstition about the time of day to hike the section of the Cilkoot Trail leading to the Chilkoot summit, colloquially known as The Golden Staircase.

When you hike the summit of the mountain, there is avalanche danger, unless you hike in the morning.

Transcript:

  • “They [the American Park Rangers] make everyone leave [Sheep Camp] at about 5 AM the day they hike the Golden Staircase. The earlier in the day you do it, the less likely it is for avalanche problems. It’s not much of a problem in the summer, but they have a routine of it.”

Collectors Note:

This is a magic superstition, that uses the law of similarity. The hikers climb the mountain in the morning, like the sun rising to the top of the sky in the morning.

This may also be a practical piece of advice that extends beyond the law of similarity. During the day, snow exposed to the sunlight melts, creating a heavy, unstable slab of snow that is more likely to break off in an avalanche.

Collector’s Name: Soren Thompson

Tags/Keywords:

  • Landslide
  • Superstition
  • Chilkoot Trail
  • Thru Hiking

Passing Salt (Version 2)

General Information about Item:

  • Mexican Superstition
  • Language: Spanish
  • Country of Origin: Mexico
  • Informant: Jennifer Lopez
  • Date Collected: 11-01-18

Informant Data:

  • Jennifer Lopez was born in Chicago but her parents originate from Mexico. She is currently studying Studio Arts modified with Digital Arts at Dartmouth College. Jennifer only speaks Spanish at home with her parents and siblings. Although Jennifer grew up in America, her parents made sure to instill the Mexican culture in her upbringing.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: This superstition is very similar to another one collected (Passing Salt (Version 1). These two superstitions are similar in a sense that they both involve avoiding bad luck through how one handles salt. However, Rosa does not have to throw a little salt behind her every time she passes the salt. A possible reason for the difference in the superstition could be due to the fact the informants come from different places in Mexico and thus slightly varying cultures.
  • Social Context: Jennifer heard this superstition from her mother as a child. She strongly believes in it and always makes sure to throw some salt behind her whenever she is asked to pass the salt. Jennifer believes that the social context behind this superstition is to promote good relations between friends and family. She continues to practice this because she does not want anything to get in the way of accomplishing good relations with other people.

Subgenre: bad luck superstitions

 

Item (translation)

When you pass the salt to someone, you must grab a little and throw it behind you or else there will be future problems with the person you are passing the salt to.

Collector’s Name: Ama Kyerewaa

New Swim Shoes

General Information about Item:

  • Material Folklore – Tools
  • Conceptual Folklore – Superstition
  • Conversion Superstition
  • Contagious Magic
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: John Hall
  • Date Collected: 02-19-2018

Informant Data:

  • John Hall was born in Manhattan, New York on July 15, 1998. John lived in New York City for a couple years before moving to New Jersey. John started swimming when he turned 11, because his younger brother has started swimming and he wanted to join. He is a sophomore at Dartmouth, and he swims sprint freestyle.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: In many sports, and life in general, people will do or wear things that they think can help. Even though the superstition may do nothing, it gives the person a sense of reassurance and confidence.
  • Social Context: The data was collected in a one on one interview in Baker-Berry library. John described a superstition and tradition he did with a friend on the days of swim meets. The folklore was created to help bring good luck before the meet. He started doing his superstition in 7th grade, and has continued to do it since then.

Item:

  • John would wear the same shoes for every meet until he did bad. Once he did bad, he would go purchase new shoes to wear for meets until he did bad in the new shoes. He has done this with his friend for years.

Image of Flip Flops (Deck Shoes):

Transcript:

  • “Starting in 7th grade, my friend and I bought the same flip flops for a summer swim meet. We wore them to every meet until we did bad in the meet, then we would switch to wearing a different pair of shoes on the day of the meet. As soon as we did bad, we would switch to a new pair, to help bring good luck. The bad shoes would still be worn, just not during swim meets. “

Collector’s Comments:

  • I thought it would be expensive to maintain, but deck shoes are only a couple of bucks.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Luciano

Tags/Keywords: Material Folklore, Tool, Conceptual Folklore, Conversion Superstition, Contagious Magic, Swimming

Licking Goggles Superstition

General Information about Item:

  • Conceptual Folklore – Superstition
  • Magic Superstition
  • Practical Magic
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Paul Cane
  • Date Collected: 02-20-2018

Informant Data:

  • Paul Cane was born in the UCLA hospital, on May 31, 1997. Paul has lived in California his whole life. Paul started swimming when he was eight, and changed to a year-round swimmer when he started his freshman year. He is a junior swimmer at Dartmouth College, but went to Georgetown his freshman year before transferring.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: The cultural context of this folklore represents the rituals people do to make sure they are prepared for their sport. In swimming, goggles become very foggy quickly, and it can make it hard to see when you race. There are certain ways to help it so that it does not get foggy.
  • Social Context: The data was collected during a one on one interview in Baker-Berry library. Paul described a ritual he performed back when he first started swimming. He actually started the ritual himself, and spread the folklore to all his friends who were swimming at the time.

Item:

  • Paul would lick the inside of his goggles before every race. He did this so that his goggles would not fog, and he shared it among all his friends and teammates.

Image of Paul’s Swim Cap and Goggles:

Transcript:

  • “It sounds kinda gross, but when I get on the blocks, whether they are foggy or not, I will lick the inside of my goggles I wear every week to make sure they are clear and I can see. This ritual before races started because one time when I was 10, I didn’t do it, my goggles fogged up, and I couldn’t see. So since then, I have done it ever since. I instantly told all my friends that licking the goggles would make sure they would not fog up, and they started doing it too. Since then, my friends and I will always lick my goggles before I race.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • It works!

Collector’s Comments:

  • This superstition seems like an example of James Frazer’s practical magic, and an example of substituting magic where the actual scientific cause is unknown. Apparently, there is some scientific basis for saliva working like a barrier against moisture forming on the goggles, so the magic superstition does have some scientific basis.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Luciano

Tags/Keywords: Conceptual Folklore, Magic Superstition, Practical Magic, Goggles, James Frazer, Swimming

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

Special Handshake

General Information about Item:

  • Poly-modal Folklore – Ritual
  • Body Folklore
  • Magic Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Brandon Liao
  • Date Collected: 02-20-2018

Informant Data:

  • Brandon Liao was born in Toronto, Canada on October 29, 1998. Brandon’s family now resides in China; however, Brandon has traveled all around North America and the world. After Canada, Brandon moved to Connecticut, California, China, and then finally went to a boarding school in Connecticut for his high school years. Brandon started to swim when he was six years old, because it was an after-school activity that was offered. He is a freshman at Dartmouth College, who is a swimmer on the Swim and Dive Team who specializes in freestyle and breaststroke.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: The cultural context of this folklore reflects how some people, especially in sports and swimming, need some extra help to get themselves ready before races. Whether that be doing a ritual, or maybe even drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks, people will go through many extremes to help prepare themselves.
  • Social Context: The ritual was documented during a one-on-one interview on the bus-ride to Princeton for the Ivy League Championship swim meet. Brandon described a ritual he does before the start of his individual races to help him get excited and angry. Brandon talked about how his best friend on his team, Cam, helped him come up with his folklore ritual. Ever since Brandon discovered this ritual, he does it when he needs to get excited and ready, so he does not do it every single time.

Item:

  • Brandon and his high school teammate, Cam, would do a unique handshake before each of their races.

 

Transcript:

  • “It has been working for me since I started trying it back when I turned 16. My friend Cam helped me come up with a way to help prepare myself for my races when I could not seem to get excited. Before a race, we decided to do a handshake behind the block because we were racing next to each other. Since then, we would always do the same handshake before each of our races. Since we started it, we have perfected the handshake, and it helps us get excited and ready to race.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • Although I am not teammates with Cam anymore, this handshake helps remind me of the experiences we had together and makes me feel supported in my races.

Collector’s Comments:

  • This folklore is interesting in that it is not shared by a large folk, but only 2 individuals (still large enough for this to be folklore), making it a very intimate ritual.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Luciano

Tags/Keywords: Poly-modal Folklore, Ritual, Body Folklore, Handshake, Swimming

Block Ritual

General Information about Item:

  • Poly-modal Folklore – Ritual
  • Magic Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Alie Hunter
  • Date Collected: 02-18-2018

Informant Data:

  • Alexandra “Alie” Hunter is a swimmer on the Swim and Dive Team at Dartmouth College, and is a member of the Class of 2021.  Alie Hunter was born in Toronto, Canada on September 8, 1999.  Alie is the first swimmer in her family.  She began swimming at the age of five, and decided to swim and go to college in America her junior year of high school.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: The cultural context of this folklore reflects the stress and pressure that many swimmers feel before they race.  The swimmers will help do rituals to calm down and relax before their races because of the environment that swimmers face. 
  • Social Context: The data was collected during a one on one interview in the RWIT studio/room, right after she finished her IVY League Championship meet.  Alie described a ritual that she does before every race.  Alie noted that every person, boys and girls, on the team would also do during their swim meets.  Their coach recommended it to the team as a way to help them build confidence and stay calm before their races.  This folklore ritual was created when Alie turned 12 years old.

Item:

  • Alie will stand on the blocks and look at her teammates at the other end of her lane before her races.  Her friends and teammates all make sure to be behind the lanes to cheer for the swimmer and give them something to look at before the race. 

Transcript:

  • Before my races, I will always stand up on the block and look at my teammates who are at the other end.  Until the starter says ‘Take your Mark,’ I will continue to look at my teammates as they cheer for me on the other end.  My Coach told us to do this when we were twelve to help us relieve stress and know that our team was there to help cheer for us.  My teammates and I started to do this before every race since then, and we make sure we are always at the other end of the pool for whoever is starting so they can see us.  The first time I tried this, it helped me go fast and stay calm, so I have and will continue to do it forever.” 

Collector’s Comments:

  • This song is pretty catchy.

Collector’s Name: Matthew Luciano

Tags/Keywords: Poly-modal Folklore, Ritual, Magic Superstition, Swimming

Hinman Window Superstition (Rick Gangopadhyay)

Title: Hinman Window Superstition

General Information about Item:

  • Superstition, Magic Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Informant #5
  • Date Collected: February 23, 2018

Informant Data:

  • Began to work for Hinman second term of freshman year on campus. Has been involved in several divisions of the FO+M but was drawn to FO+M due to work hours and flexibility.  Originates from Kentucky.

Contextual Data:

  • As new members come to work for FO+M, veterans among the group will pass down pieces of advice. This piece of advice stems from a superstition that has been passed down regarding closing time rituals for the Hinman window.  The origin of the superstition is unknown as well as when it was conceived.  If the protocol is not followed, then the negative result has historically inevitably occurred.

Item:

  • If an individual at the Hinman window does not close the window promptly and swiftly at the end of the hours for Hinman, then someone will show up at the end of the day and ask for service. If the worker closes the window swiftly, then no one will show up asking for service.  As such, this Hinman worker was instructed to close the window with conviction at the end of each day.

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

Transcript:

  • “It’s really true man, I’ve tested it.  Every time I keep the window even slightly open some new person shows up.  I don’t know… I don’t know to be honest.  Makes me start to be a little more superstitious these days.”

Collector’s Comments:

  • I used to work for a small business in Massachusetts that had a similar policy of locking the door exactly at closing hour, which was 8:30PM.

Collector’s Name: Rick Gangopadhyay

Tags/Keywords:

  • Superstition
  • FO+M

Unlucky 4 – Korea

Title: Unlucky 4 in Korean Culture

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Lore: Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: South Korea
  • Informant: Hyung Ju Nam
  • Date Collected: 02/22/2018

Informant Data:

  • Hyung Ju Nam is a Dartmouth ’21 from Rochester, Michigan. He is originally from South Korea. He is hoping to study Philosophy and Mathematics. He occasionally returns home to South Korea.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: The modern Korean language spoken these days has roots derived from Chinese language. Korean language is widely spoken in Korea and some numbers are still linked to their historical meanings. The culture has some numbers they consider unlucky because they are associated with bad omen.
  • Social Context: Many Koreans living in Korea are aware of the superstition around the number four. Hyung Ju observed this phenomena when he was still a child.

Item:

  • Four is now regarded as representing death. The number is pronounced in a similar way to the pronunciation of the word death when spoken in the old Korean language (Hanja) therefore it is viewed as an unlucky number. Some hotels have left their fourth floor vacant in an effort to avoid associating anything with the number four. Most hotels usually just skip the numbering of the fourth floor and go from the third to the fifth floor.

Informant’s Comments:

  • He used to believe in the superstition when he was young.

Collector’s Name: Taringana Guranungo

Tags/Keywords:

  • four
  • death
  • Korea

Lucky 4 (Zimbabwe)

Title: Lucky 4 in Zimbabwean Culture

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Lore: Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: Zimbabwe
  • Informant: Loveridge Bere
  • Date Collected: 02/22/2018

Informant Data:

  • Loveridge Bere is a Dartmouth senior who year grew up and attended schools in Masvingo, Harare and Bulawayo , Zimbabwe. His hometown is Masvingo where his parents’ home is. He moved to Hanover for his college studies in 2014.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: Month and days of the week are associated with their position in the cycle. For the days of the week, four is associated with Thursday, as Monday is seen as the first day of the week.This day is traditional called “Chisi” and is enforced by rulers. Zimbabwean traditional culture respects rulers and disobeying rulers results in bad omen. 
  • Social Context: On Thursday, people in the rural areas do not go to work in their fields.  The day is reserved for resting and it is a day that is traditionally dedicated to the chief of the village. People would sometime go and work in the chief’s fields to help him with his crops and at the end of the day people would have beer and fields and strengthen their community through the interactions.

Item:

  • On the fourth day of the week, Thursday, people rest from their work in the field. Children grow up looking to the day they do not have to labor in the fields leading to Thursday being their favorite day. As they grow up to be adults they still enjoy this day and in the end, four becomes a lucky number because of its association with Thursday. In some children’s games, four is seen as a new stage and is given special privileges. 

Collector’s Name: Taringana Guranungo

Tags/Keywords:

  • four
  • rest day
  • lucky