Author Archive
Magic
Signs

Brujo

This is a true story about magic:

“Your great uncle was a brujo (Witch). And he had killed someone. It was from my mom’s side of the family, I don’t know. My mom was small and lived with the mother of the uncle. The uncle had a fight with a neighbor, and killed them. The police were looking fro him at this point. He went to go visit my Aunt Rosa. She asked him what he had done. He asked if he could stay there for awhile. The police came looking for him. They asked if a man had entered the house. The police entered the house to search. My aunt responded no. He was in the kitchen and there was a bunch of bananas. He had transformed himself into the bananas. My Aunt asked where he had gone, and she saw him fall to the ground as bananas and transform into a man and leave.”

My informant is a service coordinator. She likes to help people. She also migrated from El Salvador to the United States. Most of her stories are from her mother or personal experiences.

I talked to my informant over coffee in our house.

It is interesting to hear a story explaining how our family comes from a line of witches. Another interesting thing is how the story changed from the last time I heard it. I have always wondered why my great uncle would turn into bananas. It is always interesting to learn about your family history.

 

general
Humor

Lebanese Donkey Joke

My informant heard this joke from her father.

So there is this gypsy that used to go around and buy donkeys. You know the gypsies are seen as kind of tricky. He bought this donkey from this man. He goes… uh… to another village to the bazaar. The gypsy was selling the donkey over there and he sold it. So this man so now he needs a donkey. So he went to the bazaar to buy a new donkey. So he found this donkey and oh my god he liked its color; it was blue and red. He said “I’m gonna buy this donkey.” He bought it for five times more than the donkey he sold. So he bought the donkey and was riding on it home. And you know the donkey knows it’s way to the house. This donkey was going without even directions, without gps. Just going right, left, right, woooo! So this guy came down and find out his pants are all red and blue. So he looked at the back of the donkey. And it was raining when he was riding. So what happened is the gypsy painted the donkey and sold it for more. Hahaha! He bought the same donkey!

My informant is from a Lebanese family. She is a college student at the California State University Northridge. She is very close with her father, often helping him run the family store. We sat down at a coffee shop to talk about folklore from her family.

The Lebanese culture has a lot of donkey jokes. It was interesting to see how the stereotype of gypsy gets passed down into this story. Gypsy are for the most part seen as subhuman. Another interesting thing is the simplicity of the joke.

 

Legends

La Siguanaba

She was a woman that went out every night to wash by the river. Everyone would hear her washing. But no one would go outside. They would see a woman that had long hair that would drag on the floor. She seduced the men. The story is often told to children to scare them into not misbehaving.

My tia Estella did not listen to my grandmother and went out at night. She was using the bathroom outside and she saw a tall women standing there. The woman had long black hair. And she was washing. My tia thought it was one of the neighbors washing. She approached the lady and when the lady turned to her she was a skeleton. My tia became mute and ran away from the women.

My informant is a service coordinator. She likes to help people. She also migrated from El Salvador to the United States. Most of her stories are from her mother or personal experiences.

I talked to my informant over coffee in our house.

The interesting part of this piece is the similarities between this and the Llorona of Mexico. It is also interesting because my own aunt experienced it. This story is a classic tale Salvadoran parents use to keep them from misbehaving.

 

Legends

El Cipitillo

My informant is a service coordinator. She likes to help people. She also migrated from El Salvador to the United States. Most of her stories are from her mother or personal experiences.

I talked to my informant over coffee in our house.

El Cipitillo is a boy that wears a large charra or sombrero. He has a little belly. He eats the ashes from leftover fires. The people that make tortilla over the fire would find footprints all over the ashes. He also likes children. If he touched you then you are left retarded.

The story of el cipitillo is often told to scare children from misbehaving. He is said to visit misbehaving children.

It is interesting to see at what lengths Salvadoran moms would go to keep their children safe. I grew up with these stories believing the to be true

Musical

Salvadoran Children Song

Sana, Sana culito de rana

Si no sanas hoy, sanaras manana

Translate to: Heal, heal, little bug of frog, if you don’t heal today, then you’ll heal tomorrow.

This song is usually sung to small children that have been hurt. it is a way to keep children from crying to when they get hurt.

My informant is a service coordinator. She likes to help people. She also migrated from El Salvador to the United States. Most of her stories are from her mother or personal experiences.

I talked to my informant over coffee in our house.

 

Folk medicine
Musical

Tortillita Song

Una tortillita para mama, una tortilito para papa, hechos a huego por que ya se van.

A little tortilla for mommy, a little tortila for daddy, put them on the fire because they are leaving.

The informant was taught this song by her mother-in-law. The song is sung to kids that have fallen hurt. You massage the injury a you sing the song.

My informant is a service coordinator. She likes to help people. She also migrated from El Salvador to the United States. Most of her stories are from her mother or personal experiences.

I talked to my informant over coffee in our house.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Mal Ojo

In El Salvador there is a belief in the evil eye or mal ojo. When giving it to someone it can cause harm. Babies are more susceptible to getting sick from the evil eye. The mal ojo goes hand-in-hand with “vista fuerte” or strong sight. If you have a string sight you can cause harm to others especially babies. This is why everyone is required to hold the baby, in order no to accidently kill it with the negative energy. Babies are also protected with a red string. (See a different part of this under evil eye)

 

My informant is a building engineer. He migrated to the United States form El Salvador when he was 16 years old. He grew up in a city in El Salvador. Lots of the folklore he has heard has come from his family.

This is interesting because the evil eye can either be  used as protection or to cause harm. The various ways that the evil eye is used is truly remarkable

Customs
Folk medicine
general
Magic

Pregnant Women in red

During a full moon or eclipse a pregnant women must wear a piece of clothing that is red. This is to prevent the baby form being born with a cleft lip. The red color is supposed to prevent negative energy from hurting the baby.

 

My informant is a building engineer. He migrated to the United States form El Salvador when he was 16 years old. He grew up in a city in El Salvador. Lots of the folklore he has heard has come from his family.

He heard this from his mother and other female relatives.

general

Salvadoran Poverb

Cuando esta piensa ( points to crotch area)

Esta no piensa (points to head/brain)

 

This basically means that when we let our sexual urges control us, we lose all cognitive reason. Mothers say this to their daughters in order to explain to them the consequences of getting caught up in sexual urges. My informant overheard his wife saying this to his daughters.

 

My informant is a building engineer. He migrated to the United States form El Salvador when he was 16 years old. He grew up in a city in El Salvador. Lots of the folklore he has heard has come from his family.

This proverb is an excellent example of the taboo nature of sexual relations are in the Salvadoran culture. There is this sense of preventing from the relations to happen versus acknowledging and offering support.

Humor
Proverbs

Salvadoran Joke Proverb

” No te mais, aquien temio”

Literal Translation: Do not be afraid, of he has been afraid

Joke translation: Do not be afraid, of he who has peed on you

The literal translation comes from the proper Spanish from Spain. The way it is used in El Salvador is they make the last word into two words turning it into “pee.” This joke is usually told to  friend or close family member that is having a bad day or is anxious. My father heard this joke from his friends.

I asked my dad for some folklore while walking to the store.

My informant is a building engineer. He migrated to the United States form El Salvador when he was 16 years old. He grew up in a city in El Salvador. Lots of the folklore he has heard has come from his family.

What is interesting about this piece is how a slight shift in space of a word can change the meaning of the whole proverb. Salvadorans are known for being jokers. They like to call it being “trucha.”

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