USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘healing’
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 Beliefs
Folk medicine
Homeopathic
Magic
Musical
Protection

“Sana que sana” song

The folk song/chant: “Sana que sana, colita de rana. Si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.” (Magic healing song repeated at least three time or more if child is hysterical) The literal translation means “Heal, heal with the tail of a toad, if it does not heal today, it will heal tomorrow.” Obviously they are talking about a tadpoles tail or are being funny because a toad/frog does not have a tail, intonating something magical is about to occur. It works as a great distraction when your child gets injured and to stop him from crying because they are being imbued with the belief that the chant will actually make it hurt less especially if they say it in unison. Although my Grandfather tells me that the Chibcha Indians of Colombia, which he is a ¼, use dried out frog/toads all the time for healing and good luck and would even wear them around their neck (whole died out toad) for protection. He tells me that my mom went to Colombia at age 16 and she was given a necklace made out of small stones, which had a small, carved frog in the middle and was told to wear it for good luck and protection.

Analysis: Many frogs in Colombia have a variety of toxins, some medicinal, some deadly so there is more than simple folk belief there might be some factual basis for the song. Growing up my mother would always do the magical healing song “Sana que Sana” that her dad taught her whenever my brother or I got hurt and sprayed the area with Neosporin. She told me that when she was young, her grandmother (my great grandmother) who was a “botanica healer” would always sing the song while rubbing the injured area with some kind of balm. I do find the song soothing and silly at the same time, which is why it was probably so effective as a distraction. In terms of healing, the balm or Neosporin was probably what made it stop hurting and heal faster but rubbing an injury does stimulate endorphins to alleviate pain but the distraction is extremely helpful in stopping the blubbering and crying.

Customs
Folk medicine
Foodways
general
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Sorrel and Yams

The informant was born and raised into the American culture and way of life. Her mother’s side of the family is in touch with their Jamaican culture and heritage and as the informant grew older she was able to become more into with the beliefs and customs of Jamaica.

Jamaican views on Yams and Sorrel.

Informant…

“Sorrel is a drink that is used in Jamaica that has magical properties that are healing. When an individual becomes sick they will drink sorrel to heal, if they are injured they will do the same. Yams in this culture have a superstition on them where in a sense that they are said to give the ability to help an individual run fast.”

I asked the informant if she believes these things to be true about the two foods and she responded, “I am a track athlete here at USC, and I rely on my ability to be fast and I eat yams because in my tradition yams help you to be fast, but they are also delicious! I would consider myself to be fast and I believe they have helped in that aspect. I don’t think that yams gave me the ability to be fast I just think maybe the have enhanced it because I have eaten so many in my life. With the Sorrel, I believe that it is a form of medicine. When I can feel myself getting sick I will drink some Sorrel and hopefully start to feel better. I believe in this because it has worked for me in the past so I will continue to use it.”

Analysis…

Using foods as a means to achieve something is definitely not unheard of. It is totally normal to have food remedies to help with sickness or whatever other conditions we want to fix or enhance there is a food remedy. I have never heard something this extreme with food remedies. Yams will make you fast, that is a different and interesting concept to me. I think that this traditions is one of those traditions that the community has a superstition about, so it becomes true. With the sorrel that reminds me of hot chicken noodle soup or vitamin c. Whenever we feel a cold coming on we take proactive methods to try and prevent the sickness from taking its toll. The healing properties of sorrel, I connect with honey. Honey is used to heal sore throats and wounds similar to sorrel it comes from a long time ago and is still used today because it actually works.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
general

Healing With An Egg

This is one of the weird things he (my stepdad) actually did when we were kids…

So he would grab and egg and if we were sick, he would rub us down with alcohol and then rub us down with the egg wherever it was aching/hurting… focused on that one spot. So like for a headache, a stomachache, or if they had a leg injury—like issues where they couldn’t walk, and then he also had sage and a lot of other plants (that’s the only one I can remember by name), that he would burn, so it was kind of like incense and the smoke from that would also be spread over your hair and body. It was an actual like clump or branch, not small—but a bundle of sage, yerbabuena (I don’t know what the name of the plant is in English, but it translates from Spanish into “good herb”) and a few others. He would get a glass, usually like a taller glass, so you could see the different densities of the egg, and the cloud—the whites, and… depending on the shape of that, he could see what made you sick, like he would “read” it. I told him people did that during the Salem witch trails and died for it, but he really (thought) he could read it.

 

How did you come across this folklore: “I refer to these as “sketchy stories from my (step)father/sketchy things he did when I was a kid…”

Other information: “My dad has a lot of stories like these, but my mom was big on not sharing them, or letting us hear them—so I heard this in my teens, when were allowed (finally) to ask and he would actually answer… my mom said it would invite bad people/things to us or something…”

The healing comes from the idea that the egg will absorb the pain/sickness, which will then be transferred into the contents of the egg, and then be revealed in the glass to tell a reader the source of the pain/sickness. There are a number of groups that link eggs and healing, especially by way of transference. Folk medicine, although not based on any empirical scientific evidence, can still be effective, which is why many traditional practices are still practiced.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine
Folk speech
Gestures

Mexican Healing Chant

My informant taught me this chant in the context of our Forms of Folklore JEP class. I asked her if she was familiar with “sana, sana” and she said yes, and then finished the chant. She said that she learned this from her parents, and that they say this to her when she has been hurt. My informant said that this usually occurs at her home, but that it could happen anywhere. When asked if it works, she giggled and said, “well, it makes me laugh.” She repeated this as the reasoning as to why she likes and does it.

Material:

Spanish:
“Sana, sana, culito de rana,
y si no se cura ahorita, se cura mañana.”

Her translation:
“I hope you feel better,
if it doesn’t get better today, it gets better tomorrow.”

Word-by-word translation:
“Healthy, healthy, frog ass,
and if not cured now, cured tomorrow.”

While saying these lines her parents usually rub the inflicted area. You can hear her performing this here: Sana, Sana.

Analysis:

One of the most interesting aspects of this piece of folklore is perhaps what was almost left out, “culito de rana.” My informant giggled over it while reciting the chant in Spanish, and when translating it into English she left it out entirely. This piece, which Google Translate translates as “frog ass,” could have been lost entirely. This omission makes one wonder the reason behind it. Did she intentionally do so, for my sake and sensibilities, or did her parents tell her a simplified translation? The first option certainly makes more sense, especially considering her incessant giggles. So, more likely than not she felt uncomfortable sharing such material with me. To me, this emphasizes the early understanding of what is appropriate and what is inappropriate behavior and speech. The environment of the school reinforces and could be the source of her understanding of behavioral norms. Her teacher is extremely strict and reprimands the students for every false move—even speaking out of turn. There is no doubt that she would frown upon the use of vulgarity and that my informant would be punished for such speech.

The vulgarity (and my informant’s attempt to cover it) proves very interesting for analysis. It could be a part of the chant in order to allude to (and perhaps make fun of) magical workings that could involve such things as frog butts. With this in mind, the chant could be seen as a parody of a spell, or it could be the remnants of an actual healing spell.

Simultaneously, the laughter involved in the chant does not only point to discomfort but also to a bit of levity. Though her parents transmitted the chant to her, the authority didn’t confer seriousness. Instead, it could be taken lightly—my informant didn’t say that it worked, but that it does make her laugh. And perhaps this was the intended result (especially if the goal was to poke fun at magical workings).

Furthermore, and more particularly, the piece of folklore does something interesting—it offers the hope of recovery but not the promise that the recovery will be immediate. This statement is at least in a different tone than more traditional comforts—“you are okay,” “it isn’t too bad,” etc. Instead of that, it conveys that it may not be okay right now, that it may be bad, but that it will not be soon. This points to a different sense of time, and immediacy.

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

Sana Sana

My informant grew up in Texas and was raised by her white and Puerto Rican mothers.  This is a healing chant that her Puerto Rican mother would sing to her whenever she had a scratch

Sana Sana

Colita de rana

Si nos sena ahora

Senaras mañana

 

In English it translates to:

Heal heal

Little frog

If you don’t heal today

you’ll heal tomorrow

 

My informant had a version that she would sing:

Sana sansa

Colita banana

Si nos ahora

Blahblbala

(kiss)

 

This song is a way of calming down the child when the child is hurt, but also invoking a bit of magic to help heal the child.  This version of the song comes from Puerto Rico, a very tropical place where little frogs are common.  This is an endearment to the child that also reminds the mother and child where the family is from, especially since the mother has moved away from her home and culture.  The second one that my informant would sing is a parody of the original in fractured Spanish which she did not speak fluently as a child.  It combined the “a kiss will make it better” with the Spanish song, much like her home which was combined with American and Puerto Rican cultures.  She made it rhyme like the original but it gets more and more jumbled as she goes on.

Folk Beliefs
Folk speech

Sana Sana Culito de Rana

Sana sana, culito de rana
Si no sanas hoy,
Sanarás mañana

Translation:

Heal heal, little ass of frog
If it doesn’t heal today
It will heal tomorrow
 

This is a rhyme that parents, usually moms, will say to their kids when they get a little injury. My informant said that it’s like a mom kissing a boo-boo and that you can hear a lot of Latin mothers say this to their kids; he learned it from his. Sometimes there will be variations on it such as:

“sana, sana, culito de rana,
si no se te alivia ahora,
se te aliviará mañana”

Translation:
it heals, heals, little ass of frog,
if it is not alleviated to you now,
is alleviated to you tomorrow

Sometimes parents will change “ass” to “tail” or “bottom” for little boo-boos and keep it as “ass” for boo-boos that hurt a lot.

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