Posts filed under ‘Folklore’

Question of the Day

If it’s bad luck when a black cat crosses your path, what kind of omen is it when a slug crosses your path?


23 June 2008 at 22:45 1 comment

Door #5: Goatwatch 2007 — Looking for Love

When I got home tonight, I logged on to AIM for a few minutes and ended up talking to my friend Marilyn — another of the Gävlebock‘s fans. She wanted to know if I’d been checking the goat’s blog lately.

“No, not really. Has he been attacked yet?”

“He’s looking for a girlfriend.”

After the goat asked whether anyone knew any nice nanny goats, a helpful American, sent the him a link to Lucy, the Amazing Elephant Building in Margate, New Jersey.

I don’t want to stand in the way of true love, but after checking out Lucy, I really think she’d be a better match for Stoorn, the giant moose.

5 December 2007 at 23:44 Leave a comment

Bockens Återkomst (The Return of the Goat)

Yes, the Gävlebock is back, and he’s started posting on his blog.

Workers installed the goat at the Castle Square (Slottstorget) in Gävle today in preparation for the big opening-day ceremony on Sunday.

I’ve linked to the English version of the blog, but if you can you read Swedish, you might want to check out the Swedish version as well since there are some details that go missing in the translation — like the fact that the goats horns were a little mussed after his summer storage — or are contain amusing misspellings — such as the goat being “tiered” instead of “tired” after today’s intensive activities.

29 November 2007 at 22:04 Leave a comment

Talking Turkey about Thanksgiving Rituals

On yesterday, Adam Roberts interviewed chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill restaurant in New York City. I appreciated his more laid-back attitude to sustainability, but was a little more skeptical about some of his comments about Thanksgiving and tradition.

Are there any traditional dishes you refuse to cook because they’re beneath your standards?

What’s a traditional one — like jellied beets from a can?

Or marshmallows on sweet potatoes.

Well that’s a ’70s tradition. I don’t consider that part of our heritage.

But a lot of people do it.

A lot of people are misguided. That’s a 1975 sort of invention — or ’65.

It makes me wonder what dishes Barber does consider traditional. Turkey, obviously, since he gives advice on buying heirloom breed turkeys for your Thanksgiving dinner. Pumpkin pie? Green beans? Just how old must a tradition be to be legitimate?

The Thanksgiving holiday as we know it dates from the Civil War era, and it’s likely that the inclusion of turkey in the holiday meal dates from about the same time. Accounts of Puritan feasts describe meals that don’t anything like today’s Thanksgiving dinners: fish, roasted meats, cauliflower, syllabub, sugared almonds and chocolate.

So, go ahead and object to marshmallows on sweet potatoes because you don’t like marshmallows, or because you think they’re full of unhealthy ingredients. The argument that they’re too new an innovation to be legitimately traditional seems specious to me.

22 November 2007 at 21:11 Leave a comment

Lost in Transcription

One of Mark Liberman’s recent language log posts has turned me on to my latest guilty YouTube pleasure: foreign language music videos subtitled with a phonetic transcription of the lyrics that makes some sort of weird sense in another language.

Here for example is the Russian (?) German [so much for my linguistic acuity] group Dschengis Dschinghis Kahn singing their song Moskau, Moskau with the lyrics transcribed into an English-language approximation with lines like “Moscow, Moscow, please respect the caviar!” The “Golden Horde goes to Vegas”-style costumes only add to the appeal.

Liberman’s post contains links to other examples of this emergent video genre, which his informant, Ben Ostrowsky, has christened “Autour-de-mondegreens.” A mondegreen is a misunderstanding of a spoken or sung text. One of the best-known example might be the mishearing of “‘scuse me while I kiss the sky” as “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.” Note that some of the video links are definitely not work safe.

A pleasant surprise was finding that these sorts of videos have been popular in Sweden where they’re known as “Turkhits.” Swedish Wikipedia provides links to some of the these videos including the most famous, “Hatten är din” (“The Hat is Yours”), a Turkhits version of the Lebanese song “Meen ma Kenty/Habbaytek.”

17 November 2007 at 23:59 1 comment

Goatwatch, The Sequel

If you’ve clicked about this blog, you may notice that I have an inordinate fascination for an enormous straw goat in a Swedish town called Gävle*.

In Sweden at Christmas time, you can find small straw goats decorating people’s homes and Christmas trees. The town boosters in Gävle** decided to go the tradition one further and set up the world’s largest straw Christmas goat (Julbock, in Swedish) in the town square. They erected the first Julbock in 1966, and in the 40 years since more than half of the goats have been destroyed or damaged by anonymous vandals.

To find out more about the Gävle Julbock and the variety of ignominious ends it’s met over the years, check out my first Goatwatch post from last year.

According to the Gävle Christmas site, this year’s Julbock will be on display starting December 2, Skyltsöndag. Skyltsöndag is the Swedish equivalent of Black Friday, the first official day of the holiday shopping season. Outside the big cities, stores (at least other than grocery stores) are typically closed Sundays in Sweden. On Skyltsöndag — literally “Display Sunday” — stores decorate their windows with special holiday displays and open for Christmas shopping.

And for the first time ever, the goat will have a blog, apparently in his own voice. I can’t even imagine what he’ll post when the vandals try to burn him down again. Perhaps that’s the point. If the miscreants know the goat will describe the agony of his injuries, maybe they’ll think twice about trying to burn him down.

* An interesting bit of Gävle trivia: if you mispronounce the town’s name — that is, if you say yehv-luh, instead of yev-leh — you’re actually saying a common Swedish curse word.

** Yet another interesting bit of Gävle trivia: The Gevalia in Gevalia Coffee is the latinized version of the town’s name.

14 November 2007 at 22:20 3 comments

Happy Halloween!

I admit feeling a little guilty about writing a special Halloween post since I completely forgot this was anything other than a normal Wednesday until I checked the date on my watch this morning.

Nonetheless, I couldn’t resist linking to some of the most amazing jack-o-lanterns I’ve ever seen. All of these appear on Tom Nardone’s site. The past couple times, I’ve visited one of the local bookstores, I’ve leafed through his new book and laughed out loud at his wild and wacky pumpkins.

Here are some of my favorites:

31 October 2007 at 22:02 Leave a comment

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