Author Archive
Childhood
general
Legends
Magic
Tales /märchen

El Cucuy

El Cucuy

            “El Cucuy takes bad kids with him. Mami says that if I say bad words or if I scream at jenny or if I’m bad in school, el cucuy is gonna take me with him. So I have to be a good kid… my mom told me this story when I was hitting jenny but she only tells me, el cucuy needs to take jenny too.”

My informant is a 6 year old little boy who is in the second grade. He has a younger sister which whom he’s always getting in trouble with. He lives with his mom and dad who do not tolerate any disrespect coming from him.

While looking at this story from an analytic angle, I have found that this story of “el Cucuy” is used to put fear into little kids so that they stay lenient and listen to their parents. El Cucuy is a Spanish word for the devil, so little kids are told that if they don’t behave, the devil will come for them and take them away. In some instances, the mom has the number of this individual and can personally call this evil identity to take the child away if he is behaving badly. This works to some extent because at a young age, little kids are pretty afraid if their parents are telling them they should be afraid, however, as the child matures/grows up, this no longer is an issue so this form of punishment is not that effective in the long run. Ultimately, little kids are the ones affected by this identity and it is set in place as a form to maintain obedience but my informant telling me that his own mother told him this is kind of alarming to me because I feel like this little boy is being psychologically tortured in order for his mother to receive obedience from him. However, this is a common thing that has been used among others in before years so I guess others have turned okay so I figure this psychological torture is not that bad.

Childhood
Festival
Folk Beliefs
general

Baptisms Can Determine a Child’s Future Fortunes

Baptisms Can Determine a Child’s Future Fortunes

“The way a baptism goes can either mean that the child will have good luck in their future or not. This though is specifically entirely in the hands of the padrinos(god parents) so the parents of the child must choose a good fit. The padrinos are said to have to buy the baby’s attire for the day, pay for the holy mass and then contribute in whatever else they want for the baby’s party. The padrinos also have to throw a “bolo”, this is money thrown in behalf of the baby and other kids then get to pick it up. The baby’s luck is measured by how lavish the attire is, and how much money the padrinos throw… they say that if the padrinos are being stingy about the party, then the baby will suffer terrible luck but if the padrinos don’t show any signs of stinginess and are willing to rip a hole in their pockets, then the baby will be very lucky… I don’t really know how this originated, what I do know is that everyone goes by the same rule. I know my mom talks about how this was something that had been happening since years ago back at home in Mexico. I don’t think it’s like something set in stone but I mean, everyone else is doing it so why not. And it also is kind of true. My mother says how I have really good luck because my padrinos gave a lot of money the day of my baptism, and I do feel like I’m pretty lucky, whereas my sister didn’t even have a party and she’s not doing as good as I am. I also did the same for my children and I hope that they choose good padrinos for their kids. I guess this is all a tradition that makes us who we are.”

My informant is a 41 year old Mexican descendant who was born in Mexico but has lived in the USA for the most part of her life. She maintains most of her ties to her Mexican culture while living in the USA so therefore, most of the things she knows has been passed down by her mother and other relatives. She does not necessarily learn her folk tales for different thing via a specific book or other published material, but rather from relatives in her daily life.

This was pretty fascinating to analyze because who knew that a baby’s future can be determined at such a young age. Furthermore, I found interesting that parents are solely responsible for what kind of future their kids will have, based on this tradition. It might be interesting to try and see where this tradition originated from because that way we would be able to see exactly why it is formatted the way it is. Regardless, I don’t think that just because it seems silly, it’s not entirely a myth. It may actually be true, and if so, it should be practiced because who wouldn’t want good luck.

folk metaphor

Ganale Al PRI

Ganale al PRI

            “’Ganale al PRI’ se refiere a anos atras en cuando la corrupcion en Mexico era demasiada que aunque toda la gente sabia que no votarian a favor de el partido del PRI, ellos de todos modos salian ganando. Entonces por eso se empeso a decirle a la gente muy terca que “ganale al PRI”… En realidad no me acuerdo donde fue que lo escuche por primera ves, solo se que es algo muy comun para nosotros los Mexicanos.”

“’Beat the PRI’ refers to years ago when corruption in Mexico was big and even though all the people knew they were not going to vote for the PRI party, they still ended up winning. Therefore, we began to tell really stubborn people, “beat the PRI”… to be honest I cannot remember where exactly I heard this for the first time, all I know is that it is something very common for us Mexicans”

The informant is a native Valparaiso, Zacatecas; in the country of Mexico. She was born in the year of 1952 and lived in Mexico until the age of 26 which was when she migrated to the United States of America. As a native Mexican, proverbs, myths and other sorts of folk tales she knows, all have been influenced by her Mexican culture. Furthermore, she learned most of her proverbs from the household setting, from family members, friends and others who she was in direct contact since according to her, she had no recognition of what a TV was; media did not influence her knowledge of folk tales, people who she had contact to were the ones to influence her knowledge of folk tales. She grew up hearing these proverbs and other folk tales constantly on a day to day basis from people all around her. Because of the constant exposure, the proverbs and other folk tales have now become a part of her daily life vocabulary.

The fact that the informant does not recall where she first heard the proverb or who she first heard it from can hint that this may have been because the proverb is a really common line for the Mexicans residing in Valparaiso, Zacatecas; the place where the informant grew up in. This specific proverb takes upon a very literal situation, the corruption among a specific electoral party and then uses it to sort of mock any future situations which may relate to the same task. In my opinion, I find it to be a brilliant way to make fun of a very difficult time in Mexican history while still using the proverb to not forget about the time either. I guess this proverb serves to keep that part of Mexican Culture reality alive and by it being kept as it is, it is in some way there to make sure that future generations know about a time when corruption among the electoral party PRI was very present.

general
Tales /märchen

How Mexicans Became Catholic

How Mexicans Became Catholic

“Bueno, pues nosotros nos hisimos catholicos despues que llegaron los espanoles. Antes de que ellos llegaran eramos unos salvages. Si veiamos una flor, lo considerabamos como un dios, es mas, todo lo que nosotros veiamos para nosotros era un dios. Cuando llegaron los espanoles, los aztecas empesaron a hacerse catolicos, unos afuerza y otros no. como muchos no se querian hacer catholicos, la virgin maria se le aparecio a un indio, y de ayi fue cuando ya todos empesaron a aceptar la religion… esa historia la fui aprendiendo de mi mama. me acuerdo que de chabalos, mis hermanos y yo le desiamos que porque teniamos que ir a misa y ella nos desia que porque si no hibamos, se nos iba a apreser la virgin llorando.”

“well we became Catholics after the Spaniards came. Before they came, we were savages. If we saw a flower, we would think that it was a God, actually, anything we saw, would be a God to us. When the Spaniards arrived, the Aztecs began converting to Catholicism, some by choice and others by force. Since not many wanted to convert, the Virgin Mary showed up in presence of one of the Indians and that’s how everyone started to accept the religion…that story was taught to me by my mother. I can still remember that as a child, my brothers and I used to tell her why we had to go to mass and she would say that because if we didn’t go, the Virgin Mary would appear before us crying.”

The informant is an 85 year old male who has lived all his life in Mexico. He has been brought up on tales of the land. He never attended school, so all his knowledge has been passed down by his parents and other family members in his life. Since he has no other knowledge, he doesn’t really question the information, but rather takes it as the only truth. He has also never left his hometown village so the only information he knows is the information that pertains his village in particular.

This story is fairly interesting because the story is fairly similar to the one the Catholic Church gives when explaining how they were able to covert the Aztecs and other indigenous people into Catholics. Also, the fact that this informant learned this story from his mother can show that the system into which the informant was brought up into was a matriarchal society. Ultimately, the fact that this informant said his mother was the knowledge giver and not the church, even though the stories are similar, shows that maybe the Catholic church is doing a good job in disseminating their information to the public, whether it be reality or not.

 

folk simile
Folk speech
Proverbs

El Que Madruga, Dios Lo Ayuda

El Que Madruga, Dios Lo Ayuda

“El que madruga dios lo ayuda translates into the English saying, early bird catches the worm or something like that. But for us, we don’t use birds or worms, we use god, haha… anyway, this is a saying that just about anyone uses so that people are on time but I think since it used the word ‘God’ it may have be made so that we get up early to go to church I guess. Anyway, I heard this all the time from everyone, especially my mother who wanted me to be up at the crack of dawn doing chores and stuff and now I too catch myself telling my daughters the same thing. I guess since it was so common in my life growing up that I now use it in my own vocabulary.”

My informant is a 41 year old Mexican descendant who was born in Mexico but has lived in the USA for the most part of her life. She maintains most of her ties to her Mexican culture while living in the USA so therefore, most of the things she knows has been passed down by her mother and other relatives. She does not necessarily learn her “cures” for different thing via a specific book or other published material, but rather from relatives in her daily life.

In my opinion, this is a very interesting proverb because it uses a concept that is similar to another culture yet makes it its own to mean the same thing. In other words, the proverb when said in Spanish directly refers to the culture’s religion and in English it refers to its surroundings yet when translated, they essentially mean the same thing. So even though the proverbs use completely different similes, the idea is the same. This is fascinating because one can see how one’s culture can determine how one explains a similar situation.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Using Baby Pee to Rejuvenate the Skin

Using Baby Pee to Rejuvenate the Skin

“Cuando la mujer esta embarazada, se le mancha bien feo la cara y si uno no se cuida, esas manchas nunca se van a quitar. La soluccion es de agarrar los panales del bebe cuando tengan miados y flotarlos por toda la cara. Si uno hace esto, en menos que uno acuerde, se le va aclarar la cara igual como la tenia antes del embarazo… este remedio lo aprendi de mi mama, ella despues de mi primer embarazo vio que se me puso mi cara muy fea asi que me dijo que me empesara a untar los miados del bebe. No me puso a discutir con ella sobre esto, porque en otras ocasiones, a mis primas tambien les funciono este tratamiento. No estoy muy segura de donde aprendio este remedo mi mama pero yo pienso que le apredio de mi abuela.”

“When a woman is pregnant, her face starts breaking out badly and if one doesn’t take care of those imperfections, they’ll never disappear. The solution is to grab the baby’s peed diaper and rub it throughout the face. If one does this, the face will go back to the way it was before the pregnancy began… this remedy was taught to me by my mother, she saw how bad my face had gotten after my pregnancy so she told me to start rubbing the baby’s pee on my face. I didn’t argue with her about this because I had seen the results of this remedy on other cousins of mine. I’m not sure where my mom learned this remedy from but I think she learned it from my grandmother.”

My informant is a native of Guadalajara Mexico. She was born and raised there until the age of 16 which was when she migrated to the US. She is now 42 years of age and has 6 kids of various ages. Even though she has lived most of her life in the US, she still maintains strong ties with her Mexican heritage through her mother. She is really attached to her mother and therefore most of the things she has learned have been passed on by her mother. She is now also sharing her knowledge with her oldest children and continues to bestow Mexican culture among all her children. Since she migrated to the US she has focused on working and after getting married, to being a housewife. She has not had any formal institutional education, so most of her knowledge comes from others in her daily life.

In my opinion, this seems like a really cool home remedy for something that would otherwise cost a fortune. However, since I have never actually seen the results, I would be pretty hesitant to try it out for myself. It is a pretty gross thing to do so I believe that it definitely takes a lot of trust to actually follow this home remedy. This therefore shows that the informant of this remedy, is willing to do whatever her mother says. The results of this remedy should be tracked so that a definite answer in regards to its effectiveness can be concluded. Even if this remedy actually worked, I don’t think I would be willing to rub pee all over my face but if it were my mom telling me to do this, then I would probably consider it. Ultimately, I believe we all are willing to do what our parents tell us to do, therefore keeping remedies that have been passed on from our ancestors alive.

Proverbs

Lo Que Menos Puedes Ver, En Tu Casa Lo Haz de Tener

Lo Que Menos Puedes Ver, En Tu Casa Lo Haz de Tener

“’Lo que menos pudes ver, en tu casa lo haz de tener’ se refiere a un refran que dice que no es bueno admirarse de la demas gente porque uno nunca sabe. Por ejemplo, si yo ando a dice y dice que hay unas chamacas bien locas que ni le hasen caso a sus padres, por andar de habladora, alomejor hasta mis hijas me salgan asi. Por eso es major mantener la boca cerrada porque como dicen, en boca cerrada, no entran moscas… este refran me acuerdo que lo desia mucho mi mama, no estoy segura si fue de ella en que lo escuche por primera vez pero se que ella lo usaba mucho tambien. Tambien he escuchado esa frase mucho en las telenovelas, alomejor se deve a que es una frase muy comun para nosotros.”

“’What you can least tolerate, you shall have it in your home’ refers to a proverb that states that it’s not good to talk about other people because you never know. For example, if I’m going around talking and talking that there are girls who are really crazy who don’t even listen o their parents, for being a big mouth, my daughters may end up being like that as well. That’s why it’s better to keep your mouth shut because as they say, in a closed mouth, no bugs go in… I heard this proverb from my mother who used to say it a lot. I’m not sure if I first heard it from her but I do know she used it a lot. I’ve also heard this phrase a lot in Spanish soap operas, maybe this is because it really if a very common phrase among us.”

My informant is a native of Guadalajara Mexico. She was born and raised there until the age of 16 which was when she migrated to the US. She is now 42 years of age and has 6 kids of various ages. Even though she has lived most of her life in the US, she still maintains strong ties with her Mexican heritage through her mother. She is really attached to her mother and therefore most of the things she has learned have been passed on by her mother. She is now also sharing her knowledge with her oldest children and continues to bestow Mexican culture among all her children. Since she migrated to the US she has focused on working and after getting married, to being a housewife. She has not had any formal institutional education, so most of her knowledge comes from others in her daily life.

It was interesting to collect this particular proverb because even though I’m not from Guadalajara, people in Zacatecas, from where my roots come from, also use this phrase a lot. This goes to show that some phrases aren’t necessarily original to one specific place, it can be homogenous to several locations. Furthermore, commonalities among different groups can help bring people together which is why I was able to get along so well with my informant.

Legends
Myths
Narrative
Tales /märchen

Getting Rich From Fire

Getting Rich from Fire

“Supuestamente se dice que si alguien ve lumbre en cualquier lugar, es que hayi ay un tesoro Escondido. En Zacatecas hay muchos tesoros escondidos porque cuando empeso la revoluccion, la gente escondia sus tesoros para cuando vinieran los soldados no les quitaran nada. Entonces pues a mucha gente la mataron, o los hisieron que se movieran a fuersas, asi que todos esos tesoros se que daron ayi. Por eso dicen que si alguien ve lumbre, es que el espiritu del que le pertenecia el Tesoro te esta llamando para darte su Tesoro… estas historias se cuentan mucho en el rancho y supuestamente asi fue como mucha gente se fue hacienda rica. Dicen que un senor era bien pobre y de un de repente, mando hacer una casonona y puso mucho negocios y pues dicen que de donde agarro tanto dinero para hacer todo esto de repente, asi que se tubo que haber encontrado dinero.”

“Supposedly it is said that if one sees fire in any place, it means that there lies a hidden treasure. In Zacatecas there are many hidden treasures because when the revolution started, the people would hide their treasures so that when the soldiers came, they wouldn’t take their belongings from them. But then they killed off a lot of people or forced them to move out so all those treasures stayed behind. That’s why they say that if one sees fire, it means that the spirit of the owner’s treasure is calling you to give you his treasure… these stories were told back in the ranch and supposedly, this is how many people stared becoming rich. They say that there was a very poor man and out of the nowhere he had a huge house made and also had a lot of businesses so they then say that where did he get all that money to make all that happen in so little time, he therefore had to have found some money.

The informant is a 61 year old man who was brought up and lived in mexico until the age of 26. He then migrated to the US and has lived there since. He never attended school, so most of his education came from knowledge others around him bestowed upon him. He also relies on many first hand experiences to account for the things he believes in. therefore, most of the stories he knows have been directly informed by himself.

This story is interesting because it is in a sense giving people hope in regards to somehow coming up on some money. It is also even more interesting to have found out that the story of lost treasures is very common to the village which lets one infer that the people living in the village tend to know the same stories as one another which means that essentially, what one in the village knows, everyone does. This then means that this society relies on learning from one another rather than by institutions. Regardless, this legend is really cool, because it gives one motivation to begin the haunt for a treasure that is somewhere hidden around the village.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Legends
Magic
Myths
Protection
Tales /märchen

Saying “Bless You” Can Save One’s Soul

Saying “Bless You” Can Save One’s Soul

“Se acostumbra decir salud a alguien que destornuda por obediencia pero hora en dia, no mucha gente se sabe el verdadero significado. En realidad se le tiene que decir ala gente que esta destornudando, ‘Jesus le ayude” porque cuando alguien esta destornudando es porque el cuerpo se quiere desaser de un espiritu maligno… esta historia era muy comun cuando yo era nina. Mucha gente creia en todo esto porque eran tiempos en donde existia mucho la maldad, la brujeria y las brujas… yo no se a quien escuche diciendo esta frase por primera vez, alomejor porque era algo que alguien cresia escuchando… al parecer, ahora no hay tanta brujeria como antes, pore so talvez mucha gente ya no dise la frase como debe decirla. Pero yo la sigo diciendo, y la voy a seguir diciendo.”

“It is custom to tell someone bless you when they are sneezing as a sign of friendliness but now a days, not a lot of people know the real meaning of it. In reality, one has to say to the people sneezing, “may Jesus help you” because when someone is sneezing, the body is trying to get rid of a bad spirit from within… this was a very common story when I was a little girl. A lot of people believed in all of this because they were times where a lot of evilness existed, witchcraft and witches… I don’t know who I first heard using this phrase, maybe because it was something that one just grew up hearing… from the looks of it, now there isn’t as much witchcraft as there was before, maybe that’s why a lot of people now don’t say the phrase as it’s supposed to be said. But I still say it that ways and will continue to say I that way.

My informant is a Mexican native of 68 years. She was born and raised there and continues to reside there. In her times, life was much simpler; there were no schools so anything she had to know was taught by people around her. Even though her stories may not seem plausible, they are the kind of stories she grew up listening to so she will hold her faith to their truthfulness with no hesitation. She now continues to pass on the stories she know to her children and grandchildren.

This specific story was fascinating to hear because even though it may seem like one specific type of folk tale, it ends up incorporating several other folk themes. This story incorporates a sort of cure for evil spirits, as well as incorporating witchcraft and witch concepts. Witches are not scientifically proven to be real so therefore one can infer that this story may be a fallacy, however, just because it has not yet been scientifically proven doesn’t mean it’s false. Furthermore, the fact that my informant believes this story to be completely true, can only serve as point in favor to considering the truthfulness of this story. I however personally don’t believe it’s entirely a true story, but it is fascinating to see the kind of mythical identities that were incorporated into this story which tie in to the time of when this story originated.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Los Reyes Magos

Los Reyes Magos

“Los Reyes Magos are the three kings that came to visit Jesus after he was born. Supposedly they arrived January 6th so it is custom that kids receive gifts on that day as did baby Jesus many many years ago. Another big part of the Reyes Magos is that if you line one of your shoes next to the entry door, then they leave money inside of it. I now know that our parents were the ones who put that money in the shoes but back when you’re a little kid, you actually believe this myth. It’s seen as kind of like Santa Clause I guess. Oh and also, the crappier shoe you line up against the door, the bigger pay you get because supposedly the 3 kings give more money to the poorest kids. Anyway, I heard this story from my mom and my grandma, I think my mom was the one who first told me about this but it was probably because my grandma told her to start this tradition with me. I think they use this so that we don’t forget about the whole Jesus story because when believing in Santa Clause, kids can go away from their heritage and follow the more American version of it.”

The informant is an American born Mexican. Her parents and family all were born and raised in Mexico but she was born in the U.S. This essentially makes her a Chicana of 20 years. She grew up with the U.S customs yet still had really strong ties to her Mexican heritage because of her relatives and parents therefore, she fuses her American surroundings with her Mexican heritage. This can explain why she still practices some of the customs that are very Mexican originated.

In my opinion, I believe that my informant really hit the points I would try to make. This is that the 3 kings arriving to one’s house is a way that older folks of the culture can sort of preserve specific aspects and bestow them upon future generations. I find it interesting how the informant mentioned that the reason the mom may have kept this tradition alive may have been because her grandmother told her to do so. This is interesting because yet again, on can infer that this may be a matriarchal type of society in which the alpha male bestows important knowledge onto the young ones of the group. Overall this story is very interesting because it shows how one person can take part of a dual culture while still maintaining both at the same time. This is because the informant celebrated Santa Clause, a very American tradition, while also celebrating the arrival of the 3 kings which is a very catholic tradition, yet is able to distinguish both from one another.

[geolocation]