Category Archives: Contagious Magic

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.


  • 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):


  • “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

Evil Eye Cure

Title: Evil Eye Cure

General Information about Item:

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

Informant Data:

  • Mary Wallenmeyer provided us with this piece of folklore. She 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.  

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context: This practice is used in people’s homes to cure people affect by the evil eye eye. The process can only be conducted by a “trained” individual.
  • Cultural Context: The Evil Eye is recognized by the church as a legitimate religious phenomena. It is believed that evil is generated by the devil. This belief serves as an explanation for bad things that occur, especially illnesses or pain.


  • The superstition is that if a trained person says prayers over clothing of the affected, then they will be cured. This is a magic superstition (If you do A, then B) and is also an example of contagious magic.

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

  • None

Transcript of Associated File:

  • None

Informant’s Comments:

  • None.

Collector’s Comments:

  • This interview was conducted over FaceTime, as Mary does not live nearby.

Collector’s Name: Interview conducted by Katie Spanos. Webpage published by Carmen Braceras.


  • Evil Eye, Cure, Contagious Magic, Greek Superstitions, Clothing, Prayers, Customary Folklore

Fork in the Tray

1. Title: Fork in the Tray

2. Informant info:

Chris Boone is an student at Dartmouth, part of the class of 2017. He is from Trumbull, Connecticut, and is studying government. He was a trip leader for some of the incoming freshmen. He tends to eat at Foco on most days.

3. Type of lore (Genre and Sub-genre): Customary, Superstition, Magic Superstition

4. Language: English

5. Country of Origin: Hanover, New Hampshire, United States

6. Social / Cultural Context: In most dining halls in Dartmouth, there are utensil dispensers that dispense plastic utensils one at a time. Sometimes, someone takes more than one fork and leaves the extra fork in the tray. When the next person comes to get a fork, there is a high chance that they will rather take a new fork than the one sitting in the tray. No one truly understands why people do this, but on certain days you can see multiple forks piled up in the dispenser tray in Novack Café.

7. Associated File: N/A

8. Transcript: N/A

9. Informant’s comments:

“Haha it is kinda funny how this is even a thing… I know I’m guilty of doing it a couple times. But when i go to get a fork from the dispenser and there is already one in there, it just makes me wonder… why was it left there? It just seemed… unclean… haha. It’s a very weird situation, many times i just tell myself ‘this is ridiculous’ and take the fork anyway. But I find it hilarious that people do this.”

10. Collector’s comments:

I believe the superstition of the fork in the tray exists due to a variety of aspects of the human psyche. The way I see it, when most people go up to the dispenser and see a fork already in there, they wonder “how long as the fork been there?” It could be anywhere between 30 seconds or all day. As the fork sits there, people assume its getting more and more unclean overtime, making it more desirable to just grab a new one from the dispenser. I just find it amazing how Dartmouth College students will drink beer after a ping pong ball that was recently rolling on floor of a fraternity basement falls into it, but refuse to grab that fork in the tray.

11. Tags/Keywords: Fork, Tray, DDS, Superstition, Magic

Same-Lane Warm-Up

  1. Title: Warming Up in Same Lane as Race
  2. Informant: Anna Kingsbury, 19, Female.  Anna grew up in Apple Valley, Minnesota, and was a member of the Eastview High School swim team.  She swam on the varsity high school team for four years and was a captain her senior year.  When interviewed, Anna discussed her experiences being a swimmer at a high school level.
  3. Customary, Contagious Magic/ Superstition
  4. Language: English
  5. Country of Origin: United States
  6. Social / Cultural Context: During warm up at a swim meet, Anna explained that you have to check what lane you will be racing in and then warm up in that lane.
  7. No Audio, transcribed Skype interview
  8. Transcript:“You alway have to warm up in the lane that you will be racing in.  You need to feel what its like to be in that lane, push off the wall, and finish.”
  9. Informant’s comments: Anna explained how there is something special about being in the water in the exact lane you’re going to race in.
  10. Collector’s comments:The idea that two thing that are in contact will always be in contact comes into play here.  By warming up in the lane you will later race in, you create magic through a connection with the lane that may help you in your race.
  11. Tags/Keywords: Contagious Magic

Women’s Volleyball Contagious Magic

Title: Energy Through Contact

Informant Data: Sarah Lindquist – 19 years old, female, born and raised in Mercer Island, Washington, Danielle Glinka – 20 years old, female, born and raised from Orlando, Florida

Type of Lore: Customary, Contagious Magic

Language: English

Country of Origin: United States

Social/Cultural Context: The volleyball team at Dartmouth strongly believes in energy through contact. So, whenever someone makes a good play or is playing well in a game, every one will try and touch them to get their good energy, allowing them to play well too.

Informant’s Comments: Informant stated that “this is why you see us touch each other’s butts all the time.”


Never Eat the Charms

Title: Never Eat the Charms

Informant info: Informant requested to remain anonymous. Informant attends Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH as a United States Army Veteran. Informant enlisted in the Army in 2005 and was a member of the Army Infantry 10th Mountain Division of Fort Drum, New York. Informant served in Iraq from 2006 to 2007. Informant is 28 years old.

Type of lore: Customary Folklore, Superstition, Contagious Magic

Language: English

Country of Origin: USA

Social / Cultural Context: Informant was interviewed at Dartmouth College. Informant was asked about certain superstitions or rituals that they had experienced during their time in the military. Informant explained that contained in their MREs (meals ready to eat) there are various different foods like dried sausages and peanut butter and crackers. There are also rainbow colored candies, however, you are not allowed to eat them. If you eat them it will bring very bad luck upon you like rain or getting hit by an IED (improvised explosion device).

Associated file: Informant requested to remain completely anonymous.

Transcript:  [I have recorded the item exactly how it was told to me in the interview]: So in the army you eat MREs. They’re like these… they come in these big heavy-duty plastic like round-like packages. And inside them are these like various dried and dehydrated, non-perishable foods that can survive the end of the world. Uh, they’ll have all kinds of things like these weird beef patties and raviolis and packets of cheese and peanut butter—peanut butter is like priceless—uh but one of the things in there is the charms. And you’re thinking like lucky charms but they’re just called charms. And they’re in like, they’re like these square rainbow colored candies um and I have no idea what they taste like because I have never eaten the charms. Um and uh you’re not supposed to eat the charms. You know they’re like the devils temptation. Have this sweet treat of wonderful goodness to make yourself feel better. But you can’t do it because it will rain terrible, terrible luck upon you. Like, uh, really bad weather. Or uh, you might go out on patrol and get hit by an IED, uh just all kinds of shit storms so just like don’t eat the charms. Everyone will freak out on you and say what are you doing? I’ve seen people get completely like dog piled for even like joking about eating the charms. They’re like lifesavers or jolly ranchers. They look more like jolly ranchers. But I wouldn’t know what they taste like because I’ve never eaten them. I mean I’ve eaten jolly ranchers just not charms because they’re evil.

Informant’s comments: During the informants response he commented on MREs which is an abbreviation of meals ready to eat. Informant told me that the following is a common superstition across all branches of the military. Informant also noted that they have witnessed people get punched and tackled for eating them.

Collector’s comments: Due to informants request to remain anonymous, I attempted to include various displays of emotions within the interview using parenthesis.