Tag Archives: Magic superstition

Chopsticks in Rice

Title: Chopsticks in Rice

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Folklore: Korean Superstition (Bad luck)
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: Korea
  • Informant: A.A.
  • Date Collected: November 10, 2018

Informant Data:

  • A.A. was born in Seoul, South Korea where he lived with his grandparents in the middle of the country. When he was three years old, J. moved to Tijuana, Mexico, before eventually immigrating to the United States and settling down in the Los Angeles, California area. Currently, J. is Junior undergraduate student at Dartmouth College. He is double majoring in Psychology and Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context:

    Whenever J. and his family would get together for dinner, one of the foods that they would consume often is rice. As J. finished his meal, he put down his chopsticks and placed them upright in the bowl in front of him. His mother, who noticed this, quickly grabbed the chopsticks out of the bit of rice left in the bowl and placed them on the table. She scolded J. for his actions and told him to never put his chopsticks in his rice bowl in the upright position. Confused, J. asked his mother why she did that. She explained that by putting the chopsticks upright, he was attracting ghosts and other unclean spirits into the house because it is reminiscent of incense that gets laid out for the dead. Frightened, J. never puts his chopsticks in a rice bowl in the upright position.

    Cultural Context:

    Korean cultures focus a lot on life after death and the soul of a person. This superstition is one that is true to belief as many Koreans still believe this today. Koreans believe that even after death, spirits and ghosts have the ability to come back to earth and live amongst living humans. Incense is one of the ways that spirits can come back to the world and communicate with people.

Item:

  • One is cursed with evil ghosts and spirits as a result of putting chopsticks in a bowl of rice in the upright position. This is thought to be symbolic of incense, which is used to attract spirits and ghosts back to the world. By doing this improper action, the person is inviting unclean spirits and ghosts into their home, and causing bad luck to themselves.

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

Chopsticks in a Rice Bowl

Collector’s Comments:

  • The superstition of the evil eye is the most common Korean superstition that is still believed and practiced today. It resembles a deep spiritual belief in the afterlife. This is also an example of magic superstition.

Collector’s Name: Clay Han

Tags/Keywords:

  • Korean. Superstition. Chopsticks. Rice Bowl. Magic Superstition.

Touching Butterflies, Touching Your Eye

Title: Touching Butterflies, Touching Your Eye

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Folklore: Korean Superstition (Bad Luck)
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: South Korea
  • Informant: Jamie Park
  • Date Collected: November 5, 2018

Informant Data:

  • Jamie Park was born in New York City, New York on October 22, 1997. Jamie lived in New York for a short time with her parents and sister, until they moved to Seoul, South Korea, where her parents initially immigrated from. The Park’s time in Seoul was brief and eventually they moved back to the United States, settling down in Rancho Palos Verdes, where Jamie grew up until she graduated from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. Currently, Jamie is a Junior undergraduate student at Dartmouth college, majoring in Studio art, with the hopes of going to medical school upon graduating. In addition, Jamie makes frequent visits to South Korea, as her parents moved back to Seoul in August 2018.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context:

    As a young girl, Jamie would often go around her yard and chase the butterflies that were flying around the gardens. Jamie’s grandma would yell at her in Korean to stop trying to catch the butterflies, because by touching the butterfly’s wings, if she were to touch her eye thereafter, she would go blind. Jamie’s grandmother would warn her that the butterfly’s wing contained a sort of magical dust that would spread into her eyes, and thus cause her to go blind.

  • Cultural Context:

    This superstition is one that has been around for centuries. This superstition has lost popularity, though, especially in recent years, but is still practiced in Korean culture today. In addition to being bad luck and causing blindness, the practical implication of this superstition has been to discourage eye infections by not touching your eye after putting your fingers on a foreign object. Thus, this superstition is not only to avoid bad luck, but also to avoid real health risks.

  • One can become blind by touching the wings of a butterfly and then proceeding to touch their eye. Koreans believe that this magical dust on the butterfly’s wings had the ability to cause blindness in people if it found its way into the human eye.

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

Collector’s Comments:

  • The superstition of the evil eye is not as popular as most other superstitions in Korean society. The superstition still has a roll in promoting good health. This is an example of magic superstition.

Collector’s Name: Clay Han

Tags/Keywords:

  • Korean. Superstition. Butterfly. Eye. Magic Superstition.

Ugly Dumplings

Title: Ugly Dumplings

General Information about Item:

  • Customary Folklore: Korean Superstition (Bad luck)
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: Korea
  • Informant: Jamie Park
  • Date Collected: October 17, 2018

Informant Data:

  • Jamie Park was born in New York City, New York on October 22, 1997. Jamie lived in New York for a short time with her parents and sister, until they moved to Seoul, South Korea, where her parents initially immigrated from. The Park’s time in Seoul was brief and eventually they moved back to the United States, settling down in Rancho Palos Verdes, where Jamie grew up until she graduated from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. Currently, Jamie is a Junior undergraduate student at Dartmouth college, majoring in Studio art, with the hopes of going to medical school upon graduating. In addition, Jamie makes frequent visits to South Korea, as her parents moved back to Seoul in August 2018.

Contextual Data:

  • Social Context:

    Whenever Jamie get together with her entire family, whether it be for the holidays or social gatherings, they always make mandu, which are Korean dumplings. This traditional Korean dish is made with a beef or pork filling, with the outer dumpling pressed together by hand. Whenever Jamie would make this with her grandmother or mother, they would always remind her to make sure that she paid special attention to the ways in which she was making the dumplings. Both Jamie’s mother and grandmother informed her that the dumplings needed to look nice, as the appearance of the dumplings would have an effect on the appearance of her future children. They would tell her that if her dumplings looked good, her kids would be pretty, but if the dumplings were poorly made, her children would be ugly. Jamie took heed of this warning, and to this day, although she does completely believe in the superstition, still jokingly practices the idea of making pretty dumplings for the sake of her future children.

  • Cultural Context:

    This superstition is one that is not only common amongst Koreans, but many Asian cultures around the world. Like many Korean superstitions, the superstition surrounding the making of mandu is one that is handed down to children from elders. This superstition is also used as a means of disciplining children, as to not rush the process of making dumplings, but rather to take their time and pay attention to details.

Item:

  • If someone does not properly prepare their dumplings when making mandu, the product of their dumplings will have an effect on the development of their children. So, if one makes an good-looking dumpling, their children will be good looking, but if they make an ugly dumpling, their children will be ugly.

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

Informants Comments:

  • “I don’t really believe in this superstition now like I did when I was a child, but I still remember it whenever I make mandu.”

Collector’s Comments:

  • The superstition of the making of dumplings is still active amongst many Asian cultures today. It is passed down from elders to children and is an example of magic superstitions.

Collector’s Name: Clay Han

Tags/Keywords:

  • Korean. Superstition. Ugly Dumplings. Magic Superstition.

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

Teenage Idiocy on Tom Sawyer Island

General Information about Item:

  • Customary lore, magic superstition
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States
  • Informant: Sally Stires Korsh
  • Date Collected: 2/25/2018

Informant Data:

  • Sally Korsh is a retired commercial Real Estate lawyer who lives in Weston, Connecticut. She was born in Pasadena, California and grew up in the greater Los Angeles metropolis area. As a child and teenager, Sally visited Disneyland approximately 15 times due to her geographic proximity to the park in the 1960s and 1970s. She attended college at the University of California at Santa Barbara and law school at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. As a young adult, she visited Disneyland rarely. Her interest in Disney and visits to the parks were renewed upon her 1992 marriage to Kevin Korsh and the birth of their daughters, Johanna and Karina. Although Sally and Kevin moved to Connecticut shortly before the birth of their daughters, her parent’s lingering physical proximity to Disneyland resulted in approximately ten more visits to the park as a young mother with her family in the early 2000s. Her lifelong hobbies include Golden Retriever adoption and nature conservation.

Contextual Data:

  • Cultural Context: Tom Sawyer Island is an artificial island in Disneyland. It features scenes and character references to the Mark Twain novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Visitors are transported around the island on a railroad car. It was rebranded in 2007 to combine Tom Sawyer’s fictional universe with elements from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. In the 1960s and the 1970s, the island featured a settler’s cabin that was supposedly set on fire by Native American animatronics. The informant alleges that these Native American animatronics had the capacity to dance. These simplistic portrayals of Native Americans on Tom Sawyer Island were gradually removed in the late 1970s and 1980s.
  • Social context: The interviewee first observed this superstition as a young teenager during one of her many visits to the Disneyland parks in the 1960s and 1970s with her peers from school. The superstition became a popular and risky ritual among her male Middle School and High School classmates.


Item:

  • The informant alleges that many teenage boys she knew believed in the following magic superstition: if they were able to escape the confines of the railroad car on Tom Sawyer Island and dance with the Native American animatronics, they would get a girlfriend.
  • The following is a transcript of the legend as it was told to the collector in February 2018. Some words and phrases have been omitted from the original to allow for easy reading.

Transcript:

  • “A bunch of kids thought the greatest and most rebellious thing ever was hopping off the rail car on Tom Sawyer Island and going off to dance with the Native Americans. It was considered a pretty legendary accomplishment if you managed to pull it off without getting caught. One of my friends even told me the boys at my school said the idea behind it was that if you could pull the stunt off, you would get a girlfriend from all the attention.”

Informant’s Comments:

  • “This didn’t work for me, believe me.”

Collector’s Comments:

  • This item interested me as an example of how much our culture has changed since the late 1960s. I found it interesting to learn that at this time, such reductionist portrayals of Native Americans were the norm and kids joked around with them as a part of their lore.

Collector’s Name: Karina Korsh

Tags/Keywords:

  • Customary Lore
  • Magic Superstition
  • Teenage Idiocy on Tom Sawyer Island