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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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CUSTOM

WHEN MY FATHER DIED MY BROTHERS AND I HAD OUR TIES CUT BY THE RABBI.
THIS IS THE ONLY CUSTOM CONNECTED WITH ANY OF THE CHILDREN--ONLY THE
SONS. I THINK IT IS SUPPOSED TO SYMBOLIZE THE BREAKING OF THE FATHER
AND SON RELATIONSHIP, OR A SEPARATION OF A FATHERS' DEATH FROM HIS
SON'S LIVES. AFTERWARDS, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO KEEP WHAT'S LEFT OF YOUR
TIE AND WEAR IT PINNED INSIDE OF YOUR SHIRT ON THE LEFT SIDE FOR A
YEAR.

Submitter comment: THIS IS A JEWISH CUSTOM.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

James Callow Keyword(s): NECKTIES ; POSITION DIRECTION

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Death Funeral Burial
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time Year
ART CRAFT ARCHITECTURE -- Dress Overall body coverUpper body and arms

Date learned: 02-00-1979

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BELIEF

YOU'LL GET A PIMPLE ON YOUR TONGUE IF YOU LIE. MY MOTHER USED TO TELL
ME THIS, AND I BELIEVED HER.

Submitter comment: THIS IS A UKRANIAN BELIEF.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Body part Senses
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 02-00-1979

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LEGEND OF ST. BEATUS

IN THE MIDDLE AGES, THERE WAS A RICH YOUNG MAN WHO WENT AROUND
WITH HIS SWORD AND HELMET, LIVING AN EASY LIFE. IT IS TOLD THAT
HE CAME NEAR A BIG CAVE (AT THE BORDER OF LAKE THUN), AND HAD TO
FIGHT A BIG DRAGON. HE KILLED THE DRAGON, BUT WAS SEVERELY WOUNDED
HIMSELF. THERE WERE NO VILLAGES NEAR, AND HE TOLD HIMSELF THAT HE
WOULD BECOME A HERMIT IF HE SURVIVED. IN THIS LARGE CAVE, THERE WAS
A SPRING, AND BY DRINKING THE WATER HE BECAME WELL. HE THEN
STUCK TO HIS PROMISE, AND BECAME A HERMIT FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; TOLD AT COLLECTORS HOME ; SOUTHFIELD

Keyword(s): PLEDGE

James Callow Keyword(s): LAKE OF THUN, SWITZERLAND

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Religious hero

Date learned: 10-28-1970

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SUPERSTITION

OWLS ARE BAD LUCK. IF YOU SEE ONE, OR IF ONE FLIES OVER YOU, YOU'LL
GET BAD LUCK FOR A WEEK. IF YOU'RE WALKING, YOU'LL FALL. IF YOU'RE
WRITING, YOU'LL MAKE MISTAKE; IF YOU DRIVE CAR, YOU'LL MAKE ACCIDENT.

Submitter comment: HE LEARNED THIS SUPERSTITION FROM HIS FAMILY AND BELIEVES IN IT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

James Callow Keyword(s): PALESTINIAN INFORMANT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Measure of time Week Day Hour
BELIEF -- Bird
BELIEF -- Bad luck

Date learned: 02-00-1979

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CHRISTMAS BELIEF

IF A MAN DOES NOT ENTER THE HOUSE FIRST ON CHRISTMAS
MORNING, THE HOUSE WILL BE PLAGUED WITH SICKNESS AND
BAD LUCK DURING THE COMING YEAR. (THE STRONGER THE
MAN THE BETTER THE LUCK).

Submitter comment: THIS CUSTOM IS PRACTICED BY POLISH AMERICANS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; TOLD AT COLLECTORS HOME ; SOUTHFIELD

Keyword(s): FIRST ON CHRISTMAS

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.

Date learned: 10-25-1970

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CUSTOM ; BELIEF

WHEN YOU GET A NEW HOUSE OR A NEW CAR, MONEY (CHANGE) IS COLLECTED
FROM FRIENDS AND PUT INTO AN UNUSED CORNER OF THE HOUSE OR UNDER A
SEAT IN THE CAR. IT SHOULD LIE UNDISTURBED FROM THEN ON. THIS
BRINGS GOOD LUCK AND SAFETY TO A HOUSE OR CAR.

Submitter comment: HE LEARNED THIS CUSTOM FROM HIS EX-WIFE, WHO IS LEBANESE, AND HE HAS
FOLLOWED IT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: 686 Properties attributed to specific numbers or numerals individually.
Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Home
BELIEF -- Product or activity of man or animal
BELIEF -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 01-00-1979

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CUSTOM ; BELIEF

WE USED TO TAKE AN EASTER EGG TO THE EASTER SERVICE, AND THE PRIEST
WOULD BLESS IT. LATER, AT HOME, EVERYONE EATS A PART OF THE EGG.
DOING THIS BRINGS HEALTH TO EVERYONE.

Submitter comment: COMES FROM SLAVIC CHURCH TRADITION (VIA MOTHER) AND IS FOLLOWED IN
HIS HOME.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

James Callow Keyword(s): HOMEOPATHIC AND CONTAGIOUS MAGIC

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Home
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Church
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Spring Planting Easter Sunday
Food Drink -- Typical menus for the various meals For meal hours, see F574.84. Special or festive meals
BELIEF -- Measure of time Eating For menu, see N222.
BELIEF -- Means of Causing or Avoiding Illness

Date learned: 01-00-1979

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CUSTOM ; BELIEF

ON THE NIGHT BEFORE EASTER, YOU TAKE MONEY (CHANGE) AND PUT IT INTO A
DISH OF WATER. NEXT MORNING, EVERYBODY WASHES THEIR HANDS IN IT.
DOING THIS BRINGS WEALTH TO THE HOUSEHOLD.

Submitter comment: TRADITION WAS FOLLOWED IN HIS FAMILY. IT COMES FROM THE SLAVIC CHURCH
TRADITION AND WAS INTRODUCED BY HIS MOTHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

James Callow Keyword(s): HOMEOPATHIC AND CONTAGIOUS MAGIC

Subject headings: 663 Holy Saturday
Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Home
BELIEF -- Magic of Speech, Sign, Color
BELIEF -- Good luck

Date learned: 01-00-1979

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CUSTOM ; BELIEF

OUR FAMILY NEVER LEFT DISHES IN THE SINK AT NIGHT BECAUSE IF THEY DID
MOTHER MARY OF CHRIST WOULD HAVE TO DO THEM, AND IT WOULD PLACE A
BURDEN ON HER.

Submitter comment: THIS COMES FROM THE SLAVIC CHRUCH TRADITION (VIA MOTHER) AND IS
FOLLOWED IN INFORMANT'S HOME.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: Favorites
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Daily Life
BELIEF -- Religious hero
BELIEF -- Measure of time Working

Date learned: 01-00-1979

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FATIGUE

WHEN YOU ARE EXTREMELY TIRED YOU SHOULD SLEEP WITH YOUR
HEAD POINTING NORTH.
THAT WAY THE MAGNETIC RAYS OF THE EARTH WILL FLOW INTO YOUR
BLOODSTREAM AND YOU WILL BE REVITALIZED IN JUST A FEW HOURS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: Favorites
BELIEF -- Remedy

Date learned: 02-13-1972

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WORMS

A TALL GLASS OF WATER IS PLACED IN FRONT OF THE PERSON TO BE CURED.
THEN A PIECE OF REGULAR SEWING THREAD IS USED TO MEASURE THE PERSON
FROM HEAD TO TOE THREE TIMES.
THEN THE PERSON SUSPENDS HIS HANDS IN THE SHAPE OF A CROSS
AND IS MEASURED FROM FINGERTIP TO FINGERTIP WITH THE SAME THREAD
THREE TIMES.
THEN THE LENGTH OF THREAD IS FOLDED IN HALF,
THEN FOLDED ONCE AGAIN IN HALF AND SO ON
UNTIL THE THREAD'S FORM HAS A LENGTH OF ABOUT 6 INCHES.
THE THREAD IS THEN HELD LENGTHWISE ABOVE THE GLASS OF WATER
AND SLOWLY CUT IN LITTLE PIECES
ABOUT AN INCH LONG.
AS THE THREAD FALLS INTO WATER SOME THREAD WILL STAY AT TOP
OR REST IN THE MIDDLE OR FALL TO THE BOTTOM.
DEPENDING ON WHERE THE THREAD RESTS, THE PERSON
PERFORMING THE CURE CAN TELL WHERE THE WORMS ARE IN THE BODY.
THIS CEREMONY IS CARRIED OUT FOR 3 DAYS IN A ROW.
AND ON THE THIRD DAY THE PERSON IS CURED
AND FEELING MUCH BETTER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: 686 Thirds / Thrice / Three / Triple
BELIEF -- Method of Curing

Date learned: 09-21-1969

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HEADACHE

ONE TABLESPOON OF HONEY CURES A MIGRAINE HEADACHE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Animal
BELIEF -- Method of Curing

Date learned: 10-23-1968

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BELIEF

TO KILL A WITCH- CLOSE THE BOOK, RING THE BELL, AND BLOW
OUT THE CANDLE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Witch Shaman

Date learned: 10-23-1968

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LENTEN CUSTOM

IT IS A COMMON CUSTOM AMONG CHRISTIANS DURING THE LENTEN SEASON
TO GIVE-UP OR ABSTAIN FROM SOMETHING THEY REALLY ENJOY.
CIGARETTES, CANDY, ETC.

Where learned: COLLECTORS HOME

Keyword(s): SELF-SACRIFICE

Subject headings: 663 Lent

Date learned: 03-07-1968

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TRAVELING CUSTOM

WHEN SOMEONE IS GOING ON A JOURNEY (WHETHER IT BE LONG OR SHORT ),
THE OLDEST WOMAN IN THE FAMILY GIVES THE TRAVELER A WOODEN STICK.
THE STICK IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SPECIAL, SHORT TWIG, THAT HAS BEEN
DRIED AND AGED IN A SPECIAL WAY. THE TWIG IS GIVEN TO WARD OFF
BURGLARY AND ILLNESS DURING THE JOURNEY.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; SOUTHFIELD ; COLLECTORS HOME

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

Date learned: 10-28-1970

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GIFT_GIVING CUSTOM

IF SOMEONE IS GIVEN A KNIFE OF SCISSORS OR OTHER SHARP IMPLEMENT
YOU MUST GIVE IT WITH A PENNY TO CUT THE BAD LUCK.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; BIRMINGHAM ; COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Street Trip Relations between relatives, friends, host and guest Social class Rank
BELIEF -- Fate Destiny Luck Chance

Date learned: 11-22-1970

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DESTINY

IF A PERSON GIVES AWAY A STRAIGHT PIN, HE SHOULD ALWAYS ASK FOR A
PENNY IN RETURN OR ELSE HE AND THE OTHER PERSON ARE DESTINED TO
BECOME ENEMIES.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; COLLECTORS HOME

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

Date learned: 03-10-1970

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NEW YEARS DAY BELIEF

IF THE FIRST PERSON TO ENTER A HOUSE
ON NEW YEAR'S DAY IS A WOMAN, THAT HOUSEHOLD
WILL HAVE BAD LUCK AND SICKNESS THROUGHOUT THE
NEW YEAR.

Submitter comment: I WAS TOLD THIS IS AN ENGLISH CUSTOM.

Where learned: TOLD AT COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Prayer

Date learned: 10-25-1970

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CROUP

TO CURE THE CROUP, PUT GOOSE GREASE ON YOUR CHEST; THEN PUT
A PIECE OF RED FLANNEL OVER IT.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT ; TOLD AT COLLECTORS HOME

Keyword(s): COLOR ; POULTICE

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Method of Curing

Date learned: 03-15-1970

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BELIEF IN THE EVIL EYE

IF SOMEONE HAS VERY VIVIDLY DARK BROWN EYES,
THEY MUST ONLY STARE AT YOU TO PLACE A HEX.
THE BELIEF IS ONE OF POLISH AMERICANS,
AND THE POLISH WORD IS OCZAROWANIA.

Where learned: TOLD AT COLLECTORS HOME

Subject headings: BELIEF -- Curse

Date learned: 10-25-1970

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