Folk Beliefs

Making Tamales–No Boys Allowed

LK explained that his grandmother and great grandmother would make tamales routinely at his great grandmother’s house.  His grandmother, great grandmother, aunts and mom would sit around the table and make tamales while telling stories.

While this tamale-making is a tradition in and of itself, LK shared a superstition present during the cooking.  LK explained that men were not allowed in the kitchen.  If there were men helping out in the kitchen or even simply standing in the kitchen, the women believed the tamales would burn and therefore be ruined.

LK’s family are Mexican Americans who were for the most part born in America.  LK’s grandmother and great grandmother were very superstitious women.  Therefore, it is not out of the ordinary for them to have superstitions regarding time spent in the kitchen.

Perhaps this superstition developed because the men would distract the women if they were in the kitchen and the tamales would actually burn–a kind of self fulfilling prophecy.  Or perhaps this superstition developed because the kitchen was a woman’s territory in Mexican American culture.  Their belief may have been a mechanism to keep the men off the women’s turf.

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