Tag Archives: Tradition

The Traditions of This Time of Year

4 Dec

December has arrived, and that means we have entered a time of year filled with traditions. For many, that means getting ready for Christmas and all of the trappings that go with it. For those of us in higher education, it means something different. This is the time of year that brings End of Semester traditions. There are many, but these are just a few.Panic

This is the time of year when students:

Ask if extra credit is going to be offered.

Want to know their average going into the Final.

Try to turn in an assignment that was due a couple of months ago.

Wonder why they have been given a zero for something they didn’t turn in.

Question the grade scale even when that grade scale was explained to them on the first day.

Ask if they can take the Final early.

Say that they have another Final scheduled at the same time, which is impossible.

Want to know if they can do an extra assignment to improve their grade.

The list could go on and on, but you get the point. This is the time of year when people panic about their grade and scramble to do something about it. Unfortunately, this is the time of year when it is too late for that. There was an entire semester to get things done.

I tell all of my classes that if you do what I say and do what is in the syllabus, then you will pass the class. I guess that doesn’t sink in until this time of year.

Boiled Custard, Dead Hogs and Black-Eyed Peas

3 Aug

Every Friday, a group of us guys has lunch together. Same restaurant. Same table. Usually, the same meals. Through the years, some people have taken to calling us the Mafia. We don’t get anything accomplished, but we think the world would be a better place if people listened to us.

One member of the group of full of old-time ideas about such things as the weather. For example, he says that if you hang a dead snake over a fence rail, then it will rain. It has rained a lot lately, so, today, I asked him if he had been killing snakes. His reply was that he hadn’t seen any snakes. Maybe, they knew it was about to rain, so they stayed out of his way.

Since lunch, I have been thinking about superstitions and traditions such as this. I have heard them all of my life, and they sound like something that you would find in the Farmer’s Almanac. I wonder if people in different parts of the country have different things like this. I mean, is the dead snake idea universal, or is it a southern thing?

There are a lot of southern things that have come down through the generations. Prominent in my family is the idea that you should eat black-eyed peas and hog jowl¬†on New Year’s Day.Black Eyed Peas

If you do this, then you will have good luck for the rest of the year. When I was a kid, I hated the idea of eating black-eyed peas, but my dad insisted that we do it. Surprisingly, I liked the hog jowl. Overall, I suppose it works. As a family, we have had pretty good luck.

Another tradition is making boiled custard at Christmas. When I say boiled custard, I don’t mean egg nog. This is completely different, and it is completely good. I don’t know what’s in it, and I don’t know why people only make it at Christmas. In my mind, anything that good is worthy of year round consumption. Being a strange child, hearing people talk about boiled custard always made me think of George Custer.George Custer

There is another tradition that is dying out, and I want to experience it before it does. In these parts, people have always killed hogs on the day after Thanksgiving. In the old days, my grandfather had a hog-killing on his farm. Obviously, it involves a lot of blood, but it was necessary to have enough meat for the winter. Also, they needed the hog jowl to put in the black-eyed peas for good luck.Hog Killing

Few people still do it, but the family of one of the Mafia members continue the tradition. This year, I’m taking part. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday. I bet the hogs wish they were out shopping.

These are all traditions of the south. Are they also traditions in other places? What’s the old-timey way of doing things in your part of the world?