Author Archives: Gabriela Dominguez

El Cucuy

El Cucuy

            “El Cucuy takes bad kids with him. Mami says that if I say bad words or if I scream at jenny or if I’m bad in school, el cucuy is gonna take me with him. So I have to be a good kid… my mom told me this story when I was hitting jenny but she only tells me, el cucuy needs to take jenny too.”

My informant is a 6 year old little boy who is in the second grade. He has a younger sister which whom he’s always getting in trouble with. He lives with his mom and dad who do not tolerate any disrespect coming from him.

While looking at this story from an analytic angle, I have found that this story of “el Cucuy” is used to put fear into little kids so that they stay lenient and listen to their parents. El Cucuy is a Spanish word for the devil, so little kids are told that if they don’t behave, the devil will come for them and take them away. In some instances, the mom has the number of this individual and can personally call this evil identity to take the child away if he is behaving badly. This works to some extent because at a young age, little kids are pretty afraid if their parents are telling them they should be afraid, however, as the child matures/grows up, this no longer is an issue so this form of punishment is not that effective in the long run. Ultimately, little kids are the ones affected by this identity and it is set in place as a form to maintain obedience but my informant telling me that his own mother told him this is kind of alarming to me because I feel like this little boy is being psychologically tortured in order for his mother to receive obedience from him. However, this is a common thing that has been used among others in before years so I guess others have turned okay so I figure this psychological torture is not that bad.

Baptisms Can Determine a Child’s Future Fortunes

Baptisms Can Determine a Child’s Future Fortunes

“The way a baptism goes can either mean that the child will have good luck in their future or not. This though is specifically entirely in the hands of the padrinos(god parents) so the parents of the child must choose a good fit. The padrinos are said to have to buy the baby’s attire for the day, pay for the holy mass and then contribute in whatever else they want for the baby’s party. The padrinos also have to throw a “bolo”, this is money thrown in behalf of the baby and other kids then get to pick it up. The baby’s luck is measured by how lavish the attire is, and how much money the padrinos throw… they say that if the padrinos are being stingy about the party, then the baby will suffer terrible luck but if the padrinos don’t show any signs of stinginess and are willing to rip a hole in their pockets, then the baby will be very lucky… I don’t really know how this originated, what I do know is that everyone goes by the same rule. I know my mom talks about how this was something that had been happening since years ago back at home in Mexico. I don’t think it’s like something set in stone but I mean, everyone else is doing it so why not. And it also is kind of true. My mother says how I have really good luck because my padrinos gave a lot of money the day of my baptism, and I do feel like I’m pretty lucky, whereas my sister didn’t even have a party and she’s not doing as good as I am. I also did the same for my children and I hope that they choose good padrinos for their kids. I guess this is all a tradition that makes us who we are.”

My informant is a 41 year old Mexican descendant who was born in Mexico but has lived in the USA for the most part of her life. She maintains most of her ties to her Mexican culture while living in the USA so therefore, most of the things she knows has been passed down by her mother and other relatives. She does not necessarily learn her folk tales for different thing via a specific book or other published material, but rather from relatives in her daily life.

This was pretty fascinating to analyze because who knew that a baby’s future can be determined at such a young age. Furthermore, I found interesting that parents are solely responsible for what kind of future their kids will have, based on this tradition. It might be interesting to try and see where this tradition originated from because that way we would be able to see exactly why it is formatted the way it is. Regardless, I don’t think that just because it seems silly, it’s not entirely a myth. It may actually be true, and if so, it should be practiced because who wouldn’t want good luck.

Ganale Al PRI

Ganale al PRI

            “’Ganale al PRI’ se refiere a anos atras en cuando la corrupcion en Mexico era demasiada que aunque toda la gente sabia que no votarian a favor de el partido del PRI, ellos de todos modos salian ganando. Entonces por eso se empeso a decirle a la gente muy terca que “ganale al PRI”… En realidad no me acuerdo donde fue que lo escuche por primera ves, solo se que es algo muy comun para nosotros los Mexicanos.”

“’Beat the PRI’ refers to years ago when corruption in Mexico was big and even though all the people knew they were not going to vote for the PRI party, they still ended up winning. Therefore, we began to tell really stubborn people, “beat the PRI”… to be honest I cannot remember where exactly I heard this for the first time, all I know is that it is something very common for us Mexicans”

The informant is a native Valparaiso, Zacatecas; in the country of Mexico. She was born in the year of 1952 and lived in Mexico until the age of 26 which was when she migrated to the United States of America. As a native Mexican, proverbs, myths and other sorts of folk tales she knows, all have been influenced by her Mexican culture. Furthermore, she learned most of her proverbs from the household setting, from family members, friends and others who she was in direct contact since according to her, she had no recognition of what a TV was; media did not influence her knowledge of folk tales, people who she had contact to were the ones to influence her knowledge of folk tales. She grew up hearing these proverbs and other folk tales constantly on a day to day basis from people all around her. Because of the constant exposure, the proverbs and other folk tales have now become a part of her daily life vocabulary.

The fact that the informant does not recall where she first heard the proverb or who she first heard it from can hint that this may have been because the proverb is a really common line for the Mexicans residing in Valparaiso, Zacatecas; the place where the informant grew up in. This specific proverb takes upon a very literal situation, the corruption among a specific electoral party and then uses it to sort of mock any future situations which may relate to the same task. In my opinion, I find it to be a brilliant way to make fun of a very difficult time in Mexican history while still using the proverb to not forget about the time either. I guess this proverb serves to keep that part of Mexican Culture reality alive and by it being kept as it is, it is in some way there to make sure that future generations know about a time when corruption among the electoral party PRI was very present.

How Mexicans Became Catholic

How Mexicans Became Catholic

“Bueno, pues nosotros nos hisimos catholicos despues que llegaron los espanoles. Antes de que ellos llegaran eramos unos salvages. Si veiamos una flor, lo considerabamos como un dios, es mas, todo lo que nosotros veiamos para nosotros era un dios. Cuando llegaron los espanoles, los aztecas empesaron a hacerse catolicos, unos afuerza y otros no. como muchos no se querian hacer catholicos, la virgin maria se le aparecio a un indio, y de ayi fue cuando ya todos empesaron a aceptar la religion… esa historia la fui aprendiendo de mi mama. me acuerdo que de chabalos, mis hermanos y yo le desiamos que porque teniamos que ir a misa y ella nos desia que porque si no hibamos, se nos iba a apreser la virgin llorando.”

“well we became Catholics after the Spaniards came. Before they came, we were savages. If we saw a flower, we would think that it was a God, actually, anything we saw, would be a God to us. When the Spaniards arrived, the Aztecs began converting to Catholicism, some by choice and others by force. Since not many wanted to convert, the Virgin Mary showed up in presence of one of the Indians and that’s how everyone started to accept the religion…that story was taught to me by my mother. I can still remember that as a child, my brothers and I used to tell her why we had to go to mass and she would say that because if we didn’t go, the Virgin Mary would appear before us crying.”

The informant is an 85 year old male who has lived all his life in Mexico. He has been brought up on tales of the land. He never attended school, so all his knowledge has been passed down by his parents and other family members in his life. Since he has no other knowledge, he doesn’t really question the information, but rather takes it as the only truth. He has also never left his hometown village so the only information he knows is the information that pertains his village in particular.

This story is fairly interesting because the story is fairly similar to the one the Catholic Church gives when explaining how they were able to covert the Aztecs and other indigenous people into Catholics. Also, the fact that this informant learned this story from his mother can show that the system into which the informant was brought up into was a matriarchal society. Ultimately, the fact that this informant said his mother was the knowledge giver and not the church, even though the stories are similar, shows that maybe the Catholic church is doing a good job in disseminating their information to the public, whether it be reality or not.


El Que Madruga, Dios Lo Ayuda

El Que Madruga, Dios Lo Ayuda

“El que madruga dios lo ayuda translates into the English saying, early bird catches the worm or something like that. But for us, we don’t use birds or worms, we use god, haha… anyway, this is a saying that just about anyone uses so that people are on time but I think since it used the word ‘God’ it may have be made so that we get up early to go to church I guess. Anyway, I heard this all the time from everyone, especially my mother who wanted me to be up at the crack of dawn doing chores and stuff and now I too catch myself telling my daughters the same thing. I guess since it was so common in my life growing up that I now use it in my own vocabulary.”

My informant is a 41 year old Mexican descendant who was born in Mexico but has lived in the USA for the most part of her life. She maintains most of her ties to her Mexican culture while living in the USA so therefore, most of the things she knows has been passed down by her mother and other relatives. She does not necessarily learn her “cures” for different thing via a specific book or other published material, but rather from relatives in her daily life.

In my opinion, this is a very interesting proverb because it uses a concept that is similar to another culture yet makes it its own to mean the same thing. In other words, the proverb when said in Spanish directly refers to the culture’s religion and in English it refers to its surroundings yet when translated, they essentially mean the same thing. So even though the proverbs use completely different similes, the idea is the same. This is fascinating because one can see how one’s culture can determine how one explains a similar situation.