Context: We were sitting in a car eating fast food when the conversation turned into a discussion of dreams. The informant mentions superstitions she has heard growing up.
“I’ve had dreams where my teeth fall out. Like my tooth was loose so I touched with my hand it just came off no blood nothing. I just wanted to start crying I was like noo how am I gonna eat or how am I gonna smile. Like all these things flash through my head. But its really bad, you’re supposed to tell someone like the next day literally when you wake up you need to tell anyone that’s closest to you because it is bad if you keep it to yourself”
Background: The informant had heard this growing up from her family and she believes it. Whenever she has had a dream where her teeth are falling she tells whoever she can. She also shared that her aunt had a dream that her teeth fell out and that’s when her mom got sick. Since it happened to someone else she takes it seriously. She grew up in a Mexican American household.
Analysis: I, myself have had quite a few dreams about my teeth falling out and whenever it happens I usually tell my mom. I often wake up in a panic because the dream makes me very uncomfortable. My mom gets a little worried that something bad is going to happen. However, I had not heard that it was important to tell someone else or that is when something bad could happen. I believe it comes from this idea that if you keep bad things to yourself it may happen. Among Latino households, there is that common theme that teeth falling out represents sickness or death. Death in dreams could also be represented by dirty toilet or tub water. Death is a common fear therefore there are many possible signs that can hint at when death or sickness is close.
Context: I remembered my friend mentioning some superstition in regards to a fish so I asked her about it again and she explained and this conversation was recorded.
MG: What does the fish in your dreams superstition mean?
KR: “Okay… so it means someone close to you, or it could be actually you, is pregnant. Usually it’s someone close to you that you know. So say I dream it, it could mean my sister or my roommate is pregnant. Its kinda scary. Who knows if it is a coincidence or an actual thing but my mom and grandma have predicted all 4 of my sisters’ pregnancies with this fish dream thing!”
Background: Informant is from Memphis and grew up in a very superstitious family and she had recently been told that her mom had a dream of a fish so she is curious if anyone in her family is pregnant. She explained to me that this is an old wives tale that gets passed down but usually moms dream a fish and then find out their daughter is pregnant. However, this fish dream only applies to women because men do not have this dream.
Analysis: I thought the connection between fish and pregnancy was very interesting. I did try to research on the connection between pregnancy and fish but could only find concerns for eating fish while pregnant. An important connection I made was the fact that both her previous experiences involved her mom, grandmother. In many other cultures moms and especially grandmothers are seen as wise. They have that sixth sense and are able to pick up on signs. Additionally, this superstition discusses pregnancy which is a very scandalous topic and if a woman is young or unmarried she may be afraid to tell her mom or others. Dreams can reveal suspicions or even fears but sometimes they can also just be dreams without a meaning.
“sana sana colita de rana si no sanas hoy sanaras mañana por la mañana”
Translation: “heal heal, little frog’s butt, if you don’t heal today you will heal tomorrow”
Context: Informant and I were talking about childhood memories and she shared this healing charm her mom would do on her.
Background: Informant is a student at the UCI. She lives in a Mexican American household. She recalls this charm that her mom would do whenever she would hurt herself by falling while playing. She would run to her mom crying and her mom would say it and rub her “boo boo” in a circular motion. She doesn’t think it took the pain away but it made me feel better. When asked if she would do this with her kids, she nodded enthusiastically.
Analysis: This charm was performed on little kids as a way to acknowledge their pain but also help make them feel better. When a child goes crying to his/her mom, she can give him/her the attention that is needed and they can go back to playing. When translated it does not have the same rhyme and effect attached. It does not really make any sense, but in Spanish it does not sound so bad.
“I think it was called the circle game. So you put your fingers like this (forms a circle with the index and thumb finger and if the other person sees you get to hit them. We would always play this in school and we thought it was funny like oh you lost because I made you look”
Context: Informant did the circle game to me and I looked and we both started laughing. So later I asked her to explain the game to me.
Background: Informant is a fourth year student at the University of Southern California. She recalls playing this game in middle school. They would play this in class and whenever possible. She learned it from some of her other friends who did it to her. When she looked and everyone laughed she started trying to also trick her friends into looking.
Analysis: When I was in middle school we played the same game but I do not recall getting to punch anyone if I tricked them into looking. If someone looked the person got bragging rights. Online there are also more rules attached to this circle game. For example, it must be below your waist in order for it to be considered a fair win. Also, the person who is looking can break the circle if they remain eye contact and break the circle by putting their finger in between their circle. The variety of rules that are not always shared among all groups of people that know the game show how some rules pass on while others don’t however the gist of the game does still remain the same.
LR: “yeah i did the egg thing… my mom did it on me when I was pregnant like she cracks the egg. She rubs it all around and then she cracks it in a vaso [cup] and if there is telaranas [webs] in it than someone is wishing bad upon you”
Context: I was asking the informant about her pregnancy.
Background: LR is a master student at the University of Southern California. She grew up in a Mexican American household and has grown up hearing superstitious things. She has chosen to partake in this ritual because she wanted what is best for her daughter and also as a safety measure. She did not want to regret not listening to cultural superstitions.
Analysis: Eggs are very symbolic and they are often used to ward off the evil spirits, see Newall, Venetia. “Easter Eggs” THe Journal of American Folklore, vol.80, no. 315, 1967, pp. 3-32. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/538415 for more examples of how eggs are used. It makes sense that an egg ritual would be used while pregnant because during pregnancy because the mother and the child are very vulnerable to illnesses and evil spirits. Pregnancy is also regarded as very sacred since you are bringing in a new life into this world so it is important to take care of your baby.