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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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MENSTRUAL CUSTOM

AS A YOUNG GIRL I WAS TOLD THAT WHILE HAVING MY PERIOD
I SHOULDN'T WASH MY HAIR OR TAKE A SHOWER.

Submitter comment:

THIS CAME FROM A GIRLFRIEND OF MINE WHOSE NAME
I DON'T REMEMBER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): MENSTRUAL TABU

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

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CAN FOOD

DON'T CAN FOOD WHEN YOU ARE ON YOUR PERIOD.
BECAUSE THE FOOD WILL GO TO WASTE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): MENSTRUAL TABU AGAINST PRESERVING FOOD

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 10-00-1974

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TESTS

SMOKE ONLY BEFORE AND AFTER A TEST AND YOU WILL PASS IT.

Where learned: HOME ; MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN

James Callow Keyword(s): MAGICAL CONTROL ; SMOKING TABU DURING EXAMINATIONS

Subject headings: BELIEF -- School

Date learned: CA1963-1975

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VALENTINE'S DAY

DON'T SEW ON VALENTINE'S DAY. IF YOU DO, YOU'LL GET ST. VITIS
DANCE.

Submitter comment: THE INFORMANT HEARD ABOUT THIS SUPERSTITION FROM SOME OF HER
POLISH FRIENDS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Keyword(s): WORK TABU

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- February 14 Valentine's Day
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Typical Elements of a Festive Pattern
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 06-29-1964

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HOLIDAY

THROUGHOUT CANADA, EVERY DECEMBER 26TH, THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS,
IS KNOWN AS BOXING DAY. NO ONE GOES TO WORK ON THIS DAY AND
EVERYBODY JUST SEEMS TO RECUPERRATE FROM THE CHRISTMAS EXCITEMENT.
THIS IS RECOGNIZED AS A HOLIDAY WHICH ORIGINATED FROM GREAT BRITAIN.

Where learned: DETROIT

Keyword(s): CHRISTMAS ; HOLIDAY WORK TABU

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 26 Boxing Day St. Stephen's Day

Date learned: DATE NOT RECORDED BY COLLECTOR.

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SUPERSTITION

DON'T CUT YOUR FINGERNAILS ON SUNDAY, BECAUSE IF YOU DO, YOU WILL DO
SOMETHING YOU'LL BE ASHAMED OF BEFORE THE WEEK IS OVER-

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

Keyword(s): SABBATH WORK TABU

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses Hands, palms, fingernails

Date learned: 10-02-1969

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NEW YEAR'S CUSTOMS AND CELEBRATIONS

SEVERAL DAYS BEFORE THE NEW YEAR THE CHINESE WILL
PREPARE A PASTRY. THIS IS PREPARED BY THE METHOD OF
STEMMING. IF CHILDREN ASK IF THE PASTRY IS DONE
BEFORE IT IS FULLY COOKED, THE PEOPLE BELIEVE
THAT THE PASTRY WILL NEVER BE FULLY COOKED.

Submitter comment:

INFORMANT LEARNED THIS IN TAIWAN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT ; 4001 W MCNICHOLS ; LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT

Keyword(s): FOOD CUSTOM ; SPEECH TABU ; STEAMING FOOD

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Winter
Food Drink -- Pastry Sweet Dessert

Date learned: 02-02-1971

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VICTORY TABLE - CHRISTMAS DAY

ON CHRISTMAS DAY, MY MOTHER INSISTS WE STAY AT HOME. SHE
FIRMLY BELIEVES THAT THIS IS A DAY FOR FAMILIES TO BE TOGETHER
AND THAT IT IS NO TIME TO GO VISITING.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT SAID THAT HER MOTHER LEARNED THIS CUSTOM FROM HER MOTHER.

Where learned: PENNSYLVANIA ; DALLAS ; TOLD IN

Keyword(s): VISITING TABU

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- F122
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank

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BAD LUCK

NEVER LIFT THE ASHES OUT OF STOVE OR GRATE ON CHRISTMAS DAY.

Where learned: PENNA

Keyword(s): TABU

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 25 Christmas Also see F642, below.

Date learned: 11-13-1965

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IRISH LEPRECHAUN SONG

-WHERE IS YOUR PURSE
-THE PURSE, HE SAID, IT'S IN HER HAND,
THAT LADY BY YOUR SIDE
-I TURNED TO LOOK, THE ELF WAS OFF,
AND WHAT WAS I TO DO.
I LAUGHED TO THINK OF THE FOOL I'D BEEN,
AND THE FAIRIE IS LAUGHING TOO.

Submitter comment: THE FIRST AND THIRD VERSES ARE SUNG BY THE NARRATOR WHILE THE
SECOND VERSE IS SUNG BY THE LEPRECHAUN.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN

James Callow Keyword(s): BLINKING TABU

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Song
BELIEF -- Fairy Elf Goblin Gnome

Date learned: 11-22-1979

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IF YOU CUT YOUR HAIR ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, IT WILL BE A BAD YEAR.

Where learned: UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; STUDENT UNION ; TOLD IN

Keyword(s): TABU

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

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PROVERB

WENN DER VOGEL FRISST, SINGT ER NICHT.
IF THE BIRD EATS, HE CANNOT SING. (TRANS).

Submitter comment: INFORMANT'S MOTHER AND FATHER USED TO SAY
THIS TO THEIR CHILDREN TO ENCOURAGE SILENCE
AT THE DINNER TABLE AS WELL AS BETTER EATING.
INFORMANT HEARD THIS IN REGENSBERG, GERMANY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FERNDALE

James Callow Keyword(s): CONVERSATION TABU ; FUNCTION ; TALKING TABU

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time Eating For menu, see N222.
PROVERB -- Proverbial Metaphor

Date learned: 11-24-1967

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YOU SHOULD NEVER MENTION A DEAD PERSON'S NAME IN VAIN
BECAUSE THEY WILL COME AND PUNISH YOU FOR IT BY HAUNTING
YOUR HOUSE OR BY PLAYING MEAN TRICKS ON YOU.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): NAME TABU

Subject headings: Person / Nickname
BELIEF -- Ghost Spirit Phantom Specter
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal

Date learned: 04-00-1983

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Entry filtered.

WHAT'S A JEWISH DILEMMA? FREE HAM!

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; WARREN

James Callow Keyword(s): BARGAIN ; CHEAP ; EATING TABU: PORK

Subject headings: JEWI

Date learned: 10-00-1983

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EL GATO (THE CAT)

EVERYONE SITS ON CHAIRS IN A LARGE CIRCLE EXCEPT FOR
ONE PERSON WHO HAS BEEN CHOSEN TO BE "IT." THIS PERSON
HAS TO GO TO SOMEONE AND PUT HER HEAD IN THEIR LAP AND
SAY "MEOW" THREE TIMES. THE PERSON THAT IS SITTING
MUST STROKE HER HEAD EACH TIME SHE MEOWS. SHE MUST
STROKE HER WITHOUT LAUGHING. IF THE PERSON THAT IS
SITTING LAUGHS, SHE BECOMES "IT." IF SHE DOESN'T
THE CAT MUST REPEAT THE PROCEDURE WITH ANOTHER
INDIVIDUAL UNTIL SOMEONE LAUGHS.

Where learned: EL SALVADOR ; CENTRAL AMERICA

Keyword(s): LAUGHING TABU

Subject headings: Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Bodily Activity
Ballad Song Dance Game Music Verse -- Dramatic

Date learned: 06-00-1984

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It is extremely bad luck for a bride-to-be to sew
even one stitch in her own wedding dress.

Submitter comment: Elaine first heard this warning as a young woman, when her
friend was sewing her own wedding gown. The bride's relatives
(Polish) warned her not to, as it would surely bring trouble.
They dismissed it as an "old-wives tale." Later, however,
her best friend died an unexpected and premature death.
She now believes this to be true.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DEARBORN

Keyword(s): Superstition, advice, tabu

Subject headings: ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Dress Overall body coverUpper body and arms
BELIEF -- Bad luck Crucial moment of life

Date learned: 00001950S

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It is bad luck to let your tears fall on the face of the dead.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): Coffin ; Corpse ; Crying taboo ; Tabu = taboo

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Death Funeral Burial
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: 03-00-1991

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The Legend of the Shoe Tree

This is the Legend of the Shoe Tree: If you drive down a
certain back road (road name not known) in Northville, Michigan
you will come across a tree with hundreds of shoes thrown up into
it. Legend has it that a murderer used to kill his victims and
leave his mark by throwing each victim's shoes into the tree. It
is also believed that anyone who touches the tree or anything in
it will be cursed and then die.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; LIVONIA

James Callow Keyword(s): Touching tabu

Subject headings: Favorites
BELIEF -- Outlaw Criminal Bandit Pirate
BELIEF -- Plant
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Curse
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 00-00-1990

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NAME TABU

DON'T CALL A BABY'S TEETH "TEETH," BECAUSE IF YOU DO,
THE BABY MIGHT NOT GET ANY MORE TEETH. CALL THEM
RICE GRAINS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): TABU

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness
SPEECH -- Common Word

Date learned: NOT GIVEN

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IF YOU SEW A BUTTON ON SUNDAY YOU WILL TAKE THE STITCHES
OUT IN HELL

Where learned: TENNESSEE ; NASHVILLE

James Callow Keyword(s): WORK TABU

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Typical Elements of a Festive Pattern
BELIEF -- Measure of time WeekDayHour
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 07-25-1968

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