Be Happy While Making Tamales


Informant: So, my tamale tradition, goes um, since I born, before I was born, every Christmas we make tamales together, as a family. So when I was old enough to be of use, my mom and my grandma were like come help us in the kitchen, so I was like ok. Then they taught me how to make the tamales and all the things we had to do, it’s just a family tradition we do every Christmas because we’re all together.

Informant: Ok, so um, my grandma told me that it was her mom’s belief, well, everyone’s belief that I know that’s Hispanic, that um when you’re making tamales you can’t be angry, or you can’t have any negative emotions because they believe it will affect the tamales, and to be honest it does, because one time we got mad at each other and the tamales did not come out well, but um, yeah. So you have to be happy, and make sure everyone is at peace, which is why it’s a nice time because we’re all happy.

Note: the informant said it takes roughly 6 hours to make Tamales.


The informant explained that tamale making at Christmas time is a family tradition that her family has been performing since before she was born. She commented that the practice of only having good feelings while making tamales is a shared belief amongst all of the Hispanic people she has met. She also said that to her, this tradition “means that we are all unified as a family and traditions are being passed down.”

Personal Thoughts:

Food is a very important part of many cultures. After all, nobody can survive without eating. In addition, the preparation of food is also a very social aspect of many societies. Thus, it’s not surprising to see traditions surrounding the preparation of foods. However, it is interesting to see the informant say that this tradition is true and has affected the quality of tamales she has made before. On one hand, this feels unscientific – how could bad vibes potentially affect a concrete result like food? On the other hand, many folk medicines considered the body and the mind to be connected. Perhaps a shift in emotions during the preparation of a food does have a genuine effect. Or perhaps, it’s just a placebo effect and an unknowing taste tester may find both batches of tamales just as good.