Author Archives: Nico Williamson

Las Mañanitas – Birthday Song

Informant: Valentina Williamson. 11 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City. My little sister.

Informant: “When the cake comes out at birthday parties everyone sings ‘Las Mañanitas.’ When the song is over, the person blows out the candle. After, we all chant ‘MORDIDA, MORDIDA! (BITE, BITE!) and push the person’s head into the cake!”

Collector: “Why do you push the persons head into the cake??”

Informant: “Because it’s funny! The face is covered in cake and we can’t stop laughing!


“Estas son las mañanitas

Que cantaba el rey David

Hoy por ser tu cumpleaños

Te las cantamos a ti!

Despierta, “Nombre”, despierta

Mira que ya amaneció!

Y los pajaritos cantan

Y la luna ya se metio! WOOOOOOO”

(Informant motions as if she pushes a head into the cake)



These are the dawns

That king David sang about

Today for being your birthday

We are singing to you!

Wake up, “NAME”, wake up

See that it already dawned

and the little birds are singing

and the moon has already set! WOOOOO”


Thoughts: It is really interesting that the birthday song in Mexico is much more romantic than the “Happy Birthday” song in the United States. In my opinion, this romanization is a direct reflection of the Mexican cultural values. I know that there are some slight variations from the version my sister gave me. Instead of “Hoy por ser tu cumpleaños (Today for being your birthday) some sing “Hoy por ser día de tu santo (Because today is your saint’s day).” The gesture of pushing someone’s head into the cake is something I did as a child too but no longer do it. Certainly, this only tends to happen at children’s parties.

For a full version of the song: “”

El Ratón Pérez

Informant: Valentina Williamson. 11 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City. My little sister,

Informant: “Whenever a tooth fell out, I would put it under my pillow and the “Raton Pérez” (Mouse Perez) would take it away and leave me money.”

Collector: “When did you first hear about the Ratón Perez”

Informant: “I guess I heard it from my parents. When my first tooth fell out they told me to place it under the pillow as and the ratón would exchange it for money.”

Collector: “Do you know why the ratón took teeth?”

Informant: “My parents told me he wanted my teeth because he collects teeth from all the children around the world. Also, all my friends had the same experience. We all believed in the ratón and would show off the money he gave us.”

Me: “Why did you believe in the Raton Pérez and not the tooth fairy.”

Informant: “If my tooth fell out in Mexico it was the Raton Perez’s job. If I was in the U.S. it was the Tooth Fairy’s job. Like once my tooth fell out when I was in New York and I believed the tooth fairy took it. It was all about where I was. HA HA!  I even thought they would meet up and compare their tooth collections.”

Thoughts: The Raton Perez and Tooth Fairy are classic folklore parents tell their children. What interested me the most from my sister’s performance is that she believed it was locational rather than sticking to one belief. I also know that in Spain they call it “Ratoncito Pérez” or “Little Mouse Pérez.”


Interesting read on the origins of the Ratón Pérez: “”

Día de Reyes

Informant: Valentina Williamson. 11 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City. My little sister.

Informant: “On January 6 Los Reyes Magos (The Three Wise Men) arrive! The night before, I leave my shoe next to the window and when I wake up I find a gift in it. It is like a small gift. Like last year I got candy and an iTunes gift card. I love this because I get gifts after Christmas (Informant smiles).”

Collector: “Why do they bring gifts”

Informant: “Emmm…Los Reyes Magos delivered gifts to Jesus when he was born. Los Reyes Magos bring gifts because of that”

Collector: “Do you do anything else to celebrate this day?!”

Informant: “Estem…. La Rosca!! How could I forget?! We usually have a dinner with my friends and family. After dinner, there is a very special dessert called ‘la Rosca de Reyes.’ Sometimes it has pieces of dried fruit in it but I don’t like that one so I make dad buy the other one. So we pass it around and everyone cuts their own piece. There is like a little baby Jesus hidden somewhere. Whoever gets the baby Jesus in their piece has to host a dinner and bring tamales! That person doesn’t really do it but we all them him or her to!”

Thoughts: The Dia de Reyes is very important. Because Mexico is very religious, there is a strong emphasis on celebrating Christ. When I was a little kid, I didn’t get gifts from the wise men as it wasn’t something my parents did. As an older brother, however, I was actually the one who first put the gifts in my sister’s shoe. I wanted her to have the tradition. Since I’m abroad, my parents have kept it and my sister loves it.

Hide and Seek Game

Informant: Valentina Williamson. 11 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City. My little sister.


Original: “Una bolita de algodón patin paton melocotón sabes tu donde cayó con verdad y sin mentir con pura casualidad” (Pauses at each syllable)

Translation: A little cotton ball patin paton melocotón do you know where it fell with truth and without lying with pure chance.

Informant:  “When I play hide and seek with my friends we sing that song to decide who is going to count. We all put one foot in and form a circle. We sing the song while one person touches each foot during each syllable. Once the song is over that last person has to say a place they’ve been but think no one has gone to. Like if it landed on me I could say Paris! If no one from the group has been to Paris, I get out and don’t count. BUT! If someone else from the group has been to Paris they get out, don’t count, but I have to stay in! I then use my hand to move around the feet and we sing the song again. The last person to be in looses and has to count.

Me: “Do you know how you came to learn this song?”

Informant: “No idea, I think at school. We always sing it but I have no idea where it came from!”

Thoughts: I have never heard this song to play hide and seek before. When I was younger I recall there was a song about Pinocchio to see who would count. Incorporating the place a person has traveled to adds an educational aspect to the game. Certainly, children question each other about the places they’ve been to and therefore learn from such.

La Leyenda de la Luna – The Legend of the Moon

Informant: Maria Burguete. 20 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City.


Informant: “Un día, el dios Quetzalcóatl se transformó en forma humana para explorar la tierra. Después de un largo día se anocheció y el dios se sentó para descansar. Un conejo lo vio preocupado y se acerco a él sin saber que era dios. El conejo le preguntó que si se sentía bien. Quetzalcóatl le dijo que se sentía cansado por caminar tanto y tenía hambre. El conejo le ofreció su comida pero el dios le dijo que él no comía plantas. Al escuchar esto, el conejo le dijo que no tenía nada más para ofrecer, pero se ofreció a si mismo como comida. El conejo dijo que aunque no sea muy grande bastaría para llenarlo. Al escuchar esto, el dios estaba muy agradecido. Envés de comérselo, el dios regresó a su forma original, recogió al conejo y lo alzó tan alto que su reflejo quedo enmarcado en la luna. Al bajar, el dios le dijo al conejo que aunque su forma física fuera pequeña su retrato quedaría enmarcado en la luz por el resto de los tiempos.


One day, the god Quetzalcóatl transformed into human form to explore the earth. After a long day of walking, the sun went down and the God sat down to rest. A bunny saw him worried and came close to him without knowing he was a god. The bunny asked him if he was feeling ok. Quetzalcóatl told him he was tired from walking and was hungry. The bunny offered his food to him, but the god said he did not eat plants. After hearing this, the bunny said he didn’t have anything else to offer, but he offered himself as food. The bunny said that although he wasn’t very big it would be enough to fill him. After hearing this, the god was very appreciative. Instead of eating the bunny, the god transformed into his original form, picked up the bunny, and carried it so high that the bunny’s reflection was engraved on the moon. After coming down, the god told the bunny that although his physical form was small, his portrait would be engraved on the light for the rest of times.

Collector: “When did you first hear this legend and what does it mean to you?”

Informant: “I learned this legend in sixth grade Mexican History class. I vividly remember the story because that same day I made the effort to look at the moon and could see the bunny’s trace on it. I was literally mind blown! I enjoy this legend because it is a creative approach to explaining why the moon has its spots. When I first heard the legend, I was really moved by the story: a little cute bunny offers himself to a god and the god is moved by the bunny’s kindness. To me, it was really a story about kindness.”


Maria was my best friend growing up. We both went to the same school in Mexico and were introduced to this legend at the same time (6th grade Mexican History class with Ms. Fernandez). To be honest, I did not remember the legend as well as she did. I only remembered that the bunny was kind, the god threw him into the moon, and his reflection was engraved on it. Truly, the message of the legend is to teach children about kindness. Ever since hearing this legend, each time I look at the moon I see a bunny engraved on it.


For another version of this legend please see: “”  or “”