Author Archives: Carmen Villasenor Santiago

“Sana sana colita de rana”

“Well I remember that when I would get hurt as a young child my grandma and my family would always rub where I had gotten hurt or was in pain and say ,”Sana Sana colita de rana, si no Sana hoy, sanara mañana”. I think it’s almost like the placebo effect, I thought it was like a chant of magic, believing that it would like magically cure me. Now I do it to my younger siblings, or younger children in my family, because I think just the thought of being cured by magic or being reassured that everything is going to be okay tomorrow is very healing not only to the cut but to the spirit in a way.”
In Mexican folklore this is a very common thing to do to younger children, and it is important to realize how folklore comes in to make children feel better and how this idea of “having magic” is idealized in order to make sure the children have something to believe in.  Many folklore stories were made and said particularly for the children in order to give them stories to hear or have explanations for the many things in life that happen that are not always in our reach of control.

Sweeping blessings out the door

“I remember growing up my mom would tell me that when you are sweeping the floor in your house, uhm you are not supposed to sweep you know the dirt, directly out the door, you are supposed to sweep it into a pile and pick it up with a damp paper towel or some cloth or something and put it in the trash because If you sweep out the door it will sweep out the blessings from your home. My mom learned it from elders in the village she is from.”
For many families it is very important to make sure that their homes are safe and sound and always blessed therefore there are all these traditions in which they have sort of rituals to make sure that no bad omens enter the house and only blessings enter. The homes are seen as this safety harbor that protects the children and overall the families therefore taking extra steps in order to make sure its safe becomes a very common part of folklore.

Baseball white lines and peeing on bats

“Okay I got one: baseball, so basically it was self-inflicted but so when I was one I threw toy cars at my mom’s ankles like she was a catcher, then if she put on sesame street, I would go up to the TV and click the button until it went to baseball, and so like keep in mind this is before I could talk. Then as a child I would mainly read baseball stories or books, and then with my one friend we would always test each other on baseball trivia, well basically through all of this conditioning baseball became part of my culture. For example, I like hot dogs, seeds, hats, smell of freshly cut grass etc., because it all relates to baseball. My role models were baseball players like uhm David Eckstein. Also, my family really got around baseball cause of all the time that I forced them to spend spent at lessons or practices, teams, clubs, and all-starts etc. well you get the idea. To make it more obvious think of baseball as like my folklore or myths or history or whatever. So now we have many superstitions within this game like not stepping on the white lines and well (laughs hard) we pee on the bats.
The reason why we don’t step on the white lines is because it can be seen as an omen for bad luck, and well I think it derives from like the fact that if you step on them they might like erase and so it makes the foul line harder to see which is like bad. And the other one sounds so fucking weird so I don’t like to say it often, but anyways we pee on our bats when there is like a cold streak because it is supposed to get rid of the bad luck plus it’s a hell of a lot of fun to do!”

It is very interesting how to many people different things can seem as folklore or their culture to them such as baseball, and its important to acknowledge how important traditions are to people.  Therefore the definition of folklore becomes a little bit ambiguous because it is something we cannot control but there are different things that constitute to different people’s folklore beliefs and therefore they may vary.

Chinese as part of my culture

“There were definitely a ton of things about my ethnicity that influenced me so I don’t even know where to begin…I guess something that’s always been prevalent in my life is the actual Chinese language…I spoke it fluently as a kid but lost it as I grew up in school since my parents never really enforced it at home. They forced me for years to learn at Chinese school every Saturday morning, this happens to a lot of Chinese kids trust me, and I never really took it seriously until later when I realized how embarrassing it was that I couldn’t even talk to my relatives very well, it was so bad, yep bad times; but any who that also influenced me to take Chinese as a language in high school, not just for the “easy A” and all that you know? But because I actually felt like it was a huge part of my culture and like my heritage that I was missing and you know I kinda wanted it back, plus it sounds so cool huh?”

I feel like persons language is one of the most important aspects of their culture because it is through their language that they are able to communicate with other people who speak the same language. Therefore this form of folklore is important in being close with one’s own culture, this allows different people to find unifying factors with one another in the form of language so that they may be able to communicate and in this way pass on more folk stories.

Chinese New Year and Moon Festival

“As for celebrations… we always celebrated Chinese New Year and Moon Festival by eating special food or having parties with family friends or relatives. I always looked forward to these holidays! For Chinese New Year we’d get our red envelopes full of money from each of our older relatives as long as we recited the phrase “xin nian kuaI le” or happy New Year to each of them (laughs), and I mean common its fucking money for saying a small phrase. And we’d either have a nice meal out or like we’d all make dumplings together. Hm, then Moon Festival was marked by moon cakes – we’d try out all these different types but my favorite was always red bean, you should have one if you haven’t had it before!! I guess these were pretty significant in my life because it brought our Chinese community together more and like gave me at least some reason to be proud of my ethnicity as a kid when I really didn’t understand what was going on or anything like that, that’s why it is like so significant to me.”

I think that big family celebrations where the whole family is involved allow family members to come together and explore different aspects they were not aware of before and little celebrations in which they get like money or such makes the smaller children want to participate and learn more about their culture as they grow up. It’s folklore used to bring families together.