Author Archives: Carmen Villasenor Santiago

Throwing coins in the air

“On new year’s you are supposed to hold a handful of coins and right when it strikes midnight you’re supposed to throw the coins in the air and it’s supposed to…it’s like hoping for wealth in the new year. And also you were supposed to have a full plate of different kinds of fruit at your dinner table and this is supposed to symbolize prosperity in the New Year. I learned these from my mother as well where she learned them from the Philippines form the elders.”
Being well off – economically speaking – is very important to many people and therefore these traditions are created in order to feel like one can change their own fate by doing little superstitious acts.

Knock on wood

““Cuando dos personas dicen lo mismo al mismo tiempo, ellos tienen que hacercarse a ir a tocar madera para que no se queden cotorras”
When two people say something at the same time they have to make sure to go near somewhere that has wood and knock on it first, because the person who knocks on it last it said to like end up really old without being able to get married or “cotorras”. Since this came from Mexico it was very important in the past for women to find a good husband to marry, therefore if they had the bad omen to end up alone it would be bad.
In a society where ending up alone it was seemed as bad is important to realize that people come up with these kind of superstitions in order to scare women of ending up alone (which is bad to them). This kind of folklore is kind of entertaining because it bases it self on different fears that people have.

Coins inside dumplings

“I know one of the best things I remember of superstitions from my family is that my extended family and I made dumplings at Chinese New Year and put coins inside six of them because six to us is a lucky number. Then after we put the coins inside we cooked them and then like serve them out for the whole family who was over to eat at the celebration and well basically it was that whoever ate a dumpling and found a coin inside it, and hopefully not choked (laughs) would have good luck for the rest of the year until the next Chinese New Year where we would do it again. I liked this superstition because it allowed me to you know cook with family and have a good time and also I might get lucky and find a coin, plus dumplings are yummy.”
Being positive with family traditions in order to try to give off good vibes of having a good year is a very common form of folklore in ways that they try to find ways to be lucky the next year.

Evil cemetery gnomes

“Uhm well I guess when it comes to some stories that were passed down I know that I kept hearing from my grandma that garden gnomes are evil because people use them to trap souls in graveyards or something like that and that is why they are seen as scary or whatever. She told both my sister and me but I’m still more doubtful about it. And well the legend goes that the ghosts would come out at night from the graves at the cemetery and so rather than having them spook everyone they would place the gnomes there and I guess they would get trapped and such. Well all I know is after that I can’t see gnomes the same way you know?”
There are always ways that people try to think of protecting the death that have departed form earth and using gnomes in this case is the folklore that has grown in Latin America. It is a way to relieve the worries about the evil spirits that people will create.

Brides wearing white

“Another one of the stories that I grew up hearing was the reason why a bride wears white on the day of her wedding is to like symbolize her purity in entering marriage and also in many ways that it is the happiest day of her life. I learned this from my mom and dad and it’s supposed to be the bride being pure and such or whatever. And I guess a variation of this is how it became a folklore joke I guess because it goes like this: ‘a kid asks his mom why the bride wears white and she says because it’s the happiest day of her life and then the kid asks why the man wears black’. I guess it’s just funny the fact that people joke about a man’s life being over when he gets married.”
Jokes are a very important part of folklore too because they help relieve pressure from social expectations by being funny. And traditions regarding marriages are also very important because they are everywhere and they dictate how many people see their lives with their spouses.