Author Archives: Carmen Villasenor Santiago

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.

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.

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.

Palm itching and dreaming of black

“Well since my family is Armenian there are like quite a lot of little beliefs that I have heard growing up from my mom or dad that they themselves probably got from their parents themselves. Like, let’s see an example of this is that when you dream about something black it means someone that you know or such is going to die. This happens because I believe the color black is just seen as like a color that attracts bad luck or bad omens in Armenia. Uhm and then another one that was also very common when I was growing up was like that when your palm itches it means you’re going to get money soon or like in the near. I guess these were just phrases that were passed down as tradition or something of the sort. I remember I used to always like when my grandma or my mom would tell me these stories because it made me think that Armenians were like the coolest people ever!”
The fact that cultures have such traditions make it important to see the superstitions that make people believe to have good or bad omens in life and it is interesting to see how devoted some people are to these beliefs.

Saint Nicholas Day

“Saint Nicholas Day which is before Christmas, I believe is the 13th of December, actually I can check that for you” (goes off to check), “December 6th sorry. And you lay your shoes outside and Saint Nicholas stuffs them with treats overnight.” “it was always a fun holiday to celebrate and it made me feel a lot more connected to my ancestral roots because it was something that my family did differently from other families, and it served as a reminder of my heritage…let me see, it also gave me a sense of pride in whom I was and who my family was, it made me feel like I was part of something more than just my family and just, just white as a race.”
“So like Christmas?” I asked
“Kind of its sort of like a prelude to Christmas, it was a delightful holiday it made my childhood fun, so the story of saint Nicholas is that there were three girls who needed money for various reasons and they came from a poor family, saint Nicholas heard of their plight and while they were drying their stockings one evening, he snuck over and filled their stockings with the money that they needed. And that is why we have Saint Nicholas Day to commemorate that act of kindness.”

I believe that this is a way that people kind of have a variation of Christmas in order to be able to adapt it to their own heritage and it would it some ways make them more united.  The way that different cultures manage to make variations of holidays in order to match them to their culture is interesting to hear about because it keeps their uniqueness there.  They are able to integrate their traditions and incorporate them into this type of folklore and that is a certain characteristic that many people manage to incorporate into their lives.