Tag Archives: Chinese

Children Jumping on the Marital Bed (Anna Matusewicz)

Title: Children Jumping on the Marital Bed

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Folklore, wedding folklore
  • Language: Chinese, English
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Informant: Katrina Yu
  • Date Collected: 5-21-2019

Informant Data:

  • Katrina Yu is a 20-year-old woman who grew up in Hong Kong and is a ‘21 at Dartmouth College. She is very involved in sustainability on campus and currently lives with the interviewer at the Sustainable Living Center.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: This tradition is an example of if-A-then-B superstition as if children jump the bed, then the couple will have many children. The desired outcome of the ceremony plays into the desire for a couple to have lots of children and particularly boys in traditional Chinese culture. The bed setting is organized by the parents or grandparents of the groom so they can pass on their luck and fertility to the couple.
  • Social Context: I asked my friend Katrina if she knew about any marriage folklore and this is what she shared with me. She first learned about this folklore when she was around seven and was one of the jumping children on the bed, though she was eventually asked to get off the bed. This tradition generally takes place about a week before the wedding ceremony, though the informant reported her experience taking place immediately after the wedding ceremony, and is a part of a larger ceremony of preparing the marital bed. The process of setting up the marital bed is attended only by close family, including the jumping children, and is generally organized by the grandmother of the groom. The more children that jump on the bed the better as this will bring the couple even more children. Additionally, the genders of the jumping children matter and, in Katrina’s case, more boys were wanted on the bed as that is the gender of child that the couple wanted.

Item (Direct Quote):

  • “So the folklore is that once the couple gets married we go to wherever they’re living in the future specifically their bedrooms and everyone gathers in their bedroom and the children the little children probably like under 7, they all get onto the bed and they jump on the bed because it will help the couple have lots of babies and especially because the couple wanted like boys like a boy in the future like they wanted more boys to jump on the bed than girls they and they thought that could help. Obviously, I don’t believe it but it’s something fun.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • “I was one of the jumping children, and when I heard that they wanted more boys on I got really mad.”

Collector’s Comments:

  • I think this folklore is a really interesting case of homeopathic magic and says a lot about a couple’s hopes for their marriage.

Collector’s Name: Anna Matusewicz

Tags/Keywords:

  • Wedding Folklore
  • Chinese Lore
  • Homeopathic Magic

 

 

Behind Our Backs

Title: Behind Our Backs

General Information about Item:

  • Verbal Folkore, Proverb
  • Language: Chinese
  • Country of Origin: China
  • Informant: Sydney Zhou
  • Date Collected: 10-17-18

Informant Data:

Sydney Zhou is a senior Engineering student at Dartmouth College, pursuing medical school. She was born and raised in Plano, Texas. Her parents immigrated to the United States from China before her birth. Her parents were dedicated in preserving ties to Chinese culture for their children, even while attempting to assimilate into American culture and learn English. Sydney grew up celebrating Chinese holidays, as well as attending Chinese school to learn how to read and write Chinese.

Contextual Data:

Sydney heard this proverb from her mother in elementary school. She was having a difficult time dealing with her friends at the time. She was venting to her mother, when she told Sydney this particular proverb. Since then, Sydney has remembered it whenever she has to face a challenge with a friend that may not be speaking well of her.

Item:

Orally transmitted proverb:

背后说好话,才是真朋友

Bèihòu shuō hǎohuà, cái shì zhēn péngyǒu

He is a good friend that speaks well of us behind our backs

 

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

Transcript:

  • Bèihòu shuō hǎohuà, cái shì zhēn péngyǒu
  • The translation of my proverb is he is a good friend that speaks well of us behind our backs. I heard this proverb from my mom in elementary school. I was having a hard time with my friends and I was telling her about the problems I was having. My mom is from China and is always quoting Chinese proverbs. She told me this proverb after I told her about all my friend drama. I still remember it today when another issue with my friends comes up. This proverb means that you are supposed to trust your friend to do the right thing – even if you’re not there. You’ll most likely hear this proverb when your confronting difficulties in your relationships.

Informant’s Comments:

Sydney says this proverb is meaningful because she believes this exemplifies what a true friend is supposed to be. She believes that there are multiple dimensions to this proverb. There is the obvious meaning of what a friend is supposed to do – which is to speak well of their friend even when they are not there. However, she also discusses how friendship is a relationship that goes beyond pretense. It consists of a trust deep enough that one would not have to worry about what their friend is doing or saying when they are not there to witness it. She explains that this is an integral part of friendship, and this level of trust is something she looks for in each of her relationships in her life, friend or otherwise.

Collector’s Comments:

Sydney deals with constant stress as a pre-Med student and an Engineering major. She needs the stability of her friends to help her get through challenges, which is demonstrated through her remembrance of this particular proverb. The proverb follows an inverted if-then structure, giving the result first before the cause.

Collector’s Name: Rachel

Tags/Keywords:

  • Chinese
  • Friends
  • Company

Superstition #11: The Number 8 Brings Good Luck

Title: The Number 8 Brings Good Luck

General Information about Item:

  • Genre and Sub Genre
  • Verbal Folklore: Superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country where Item is from: China

Informant Data:

  • Tian Zhang is a member of the class of 2020 and was born in China. When Tian was 11, he moved to New York where he would be raised until coming to Dartmouth. Tian is agnostic and leans to the left politically. Tian fears insects and in his free time enjoys traveling, listening to music, and playing pong.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context: Tian learned that that number 8 was a lucky number from television shows growing up. Although he can’t remember which show he learned it from, he remembers that it was from a cartoon show.
  • Cultural Context: The number 8 is good luck in China because the number 8 also sounds like the words ‘wealth’, ‘fortune’, and ‘prosperity’ in Chinese.

Item:

  • Good Luck Superstition: The number 8 brings good luck.

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

Transcript of Associated File:

Tian_Transcript

Informant’s Comments:

  • Tian told me that he doesn’t obey this superstition because he doesn’t believe that choosing a number has any role in shaping reality. He says that the implications of choosing 8 don’t ever cross his mind when making decisions on which number to choose.

Collector’s Comments:

  • It’s interesting to learn that the number 8 sounds like words such as ‘wealth’, a clear indicator of bad luck. It would be interesting to research if a number like 13, widely considered an unlucky number in America, lends its roots partially to the way it sounds.

Collector’s Name: Gaurav Varma

Tags/Keywords:

  • Chinese/Good Luck/Superstition/Numbers/8