USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Venezuela’
Customs
Foodways
general
Holidays
Material

Venezuelan Hallacas

Context: The informant was speaking of Venezuelan foods eaten during Christmas, and she began to expand on this recipe and the history of the food.

 

Piece:

Informant: Ah ok um so one tradition that we Venezuelans try to do every year is hallacas. And hallacas is a dish that originally comes from when we were conquered by the spaniards and it was it is made with, it is like a tamale but it combines um chicken, pork, olive, raisin, and it is said that it is the leftover from the slaves, what they ate. And the tradition is that family gets together and one person prepares the inside and one person cuts the leaves um and it is actually wrapped in plantain leaves and it’s a tradition that goes from family from family, and there is a saying that the best hallaca is always from your mom. And every family has their own way of doing it.

Collector: Is there any specific part that this matters to you

Informant: I actually haven’t done it myself, but in my family I remember my mom would put boiled eggs on it and that is specific to region I am from, Puerto Ordaz. Other people will put other extra ingredients depending on the region or family.

 

Background: The informant, a middle aged Venezuelan woman, currently lives in Boston but lived the majority of her life in Venezuela. She still practices a lot of Venezuelan traditions, especially in her cuisine. The hallacas are an example of a Christmas dish in Venezuela.

Analysis: This recipe is very historically connected to the Venezuelan people. The dish is said to be made of the scraps that the slaves were left to eat during the Spanish reign. This implies that this tradition has been practiced since then and continues to be a major part of the Venezuelan cuisine. It also reflects how history is important to the Venezuelan people, as it is displayed in the recipes of their dishes. The community aspect in the cooking of the dish is also very unique, as it brings together the family to work together during Christmas time– a time that is typically focused on family. It also has multiplicity and variation within the recipe, as it becomes personalized to the family and/or the region they are from.

Contagious
Customs
general
Material
Protection

Venezuelan Salt Passing Superstition

Context: The informant was speaking about niche Venezuelan traditions.

 

Piece:

Informant: The other thing in terms of beliefs is when passing the salt, if someone asks you to pass the salt, you don’t give it to them directly in the hand because it is believed that if you do that you will fight with that person, so you essentially put the salt on the table instead of passing it directly.

Collector: And this is what you do?

Informant: Oh totally!

Collector: And who did you learn that from

Informant: Oh my mom, always. I believe it is only a Venezuelan thing— I know people from other places in Latin America and they don’t do it

 

Background: The informant, a middle aged Venezuelan woman, grew up in Venezuela and still practices many Venezuelan traditions. This belief is a superstition she strongly believes in, unique to Venezuela.

Analysis: This piece is a superstition that connects to other folkloric beliefs regarding salt. This belief/superstition probably stems from the taste of salt and how it is tart and not exactly enjoyable– implying that by passing salt, it passes bad energy. This piece is different from salt ideologies spread in America. For example, if you spill salt you must throw it over your shoulder or else there is bad luck. There seems to be a similar connotation to salt, and it conveniently correlates with the salty flavor that implies discomfort.

Digital
general
Humor

Venezuelan Power Outage Meme

Context: This meme was sent to me after we discussed the usage of Whatsapp in by Venezuelans to spread jokes, especially concerning the current Venezuelan humanitarian crisis and recent power outage that swept the nation in March 2019.

Piece:

venezuela meme

Exact Translation: What is the sensation of living in Venezuela? Something like this but without light.

Holistic Translation: What does it feel like to live in Venezuela? Something like this but without power.

Background: The informant is a middle aged Venezuelan woman who lives in Boston. She sent this meme via Whatsapp to me as a part of a meme chain. She initially received it from a family member who also sent it through Whatsapp.

Analysis:This meme is part of the new wave of folklore being spread through the Internet. In particular, Whatsapp, a communication app, has become a way for people to communicate globally without the restriction of being in different nations. Whatsapp usage is widely used by Venezuelans, and in recent years has become the mode of communication for families who have migrated due to the dictatorial regime. Whatsapp is not only used for regular communication, but also to share jokes and memes among the Venezuelan community. The informant stated that they receive new jokes or memes daily from family members and continue the pattern by sharing to more contacts.

This meme in particular is a great example of a Disaster Joke. This form of joke is used as a coping mechanism surrounding a traumatic disaster or situation in order to release stress or tension. This joke insinuates that living in Venezuela– which is currently dealing with massive food shortages, high crime rates, lack of medicine and massive power outages– is like being stuck on the edge of a cliff, which is bad enough, and then not having any power. This meme is humorous because of its extreme imagery relating to the already horrifying situation and then the addition of the power outage on top of the bad crisis, showing a form of ironic humor. It is remarkable that a community undergoing such horrific circumstances has the ability to deal with it in such a lighthearted way, most likely because it is the only true way to cope.

 

 

Legends
Narrative

La Llorona in Venezuela

Informant: Are you allowed to use ghost stories for your project?

 

Interviewer: Yeah actually, I thought more people would tell me ghost stories but it’s only been like one.

 

Informant: Because back in Venezuela a really well known one is the legend of La Llorona.

 

Interviewer: What? That’s a thing in Venezuela too? I thought it was a Mexican thing.

 

Informant: Well, everyone I knew there knew La Llorona, so I’m guessing it’s a South America thing.

 

Interviewer: Yeah yeah, that’s cool. I think it’ll be interesting to see how it differs to the legend I’ve heard back home. Can you tell me how you remember it?

 

Informant: Basically, La Llorona, she was this young woman that fell in love with a soldier, and they have a child. Then the dude leaves, to war or something, and never comes back. The woman has no idea of how to take care of a baby by herself, and she gets so frustrated from the baby crying that she eventually kills him with her own hands. She becomes insane, and even starts kidnapping other people’s kids to kill them as well.

 

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s kinda different from the version I know. I remember her having 3 kids, and them.. Getting lost or drowning in a river, I think? She kills herself out of sadness, but doesn’t really pass on because of the regret. And when her spirit shows up, she screams “Ay, mis hijos!” (lit. “Oh, my children!”), which is why the spirit was named “La Llorona” (lit. “The Crying Woman.”)

 

Informant: Ah yes she also cries for her children in the version I know, I guess thats why the name is the same everywhere. But I think to us it was mostly a way to scare kids into behaving. My mom always said that if I wasn’t good the Llorona would kidnap me.

 

Different Versions

Most notably, the legend of La Llorona is being adapted into a modern horror film The Curse of La Llorona (2019). The legend has been adapted into film several times before, though. This particular film seems to be loosely based on the Mexican version of the folktale, according to the synopsis.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4913966/


A written version of the legend of La Llorona is featured in José Alvares’s Leyendas Mexicanas (1998).

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