“Cuca” Brazilian Folksong

Informant-Beatriz Jacobs: My roommate, Beatriz Jacobs who is originally from Brazil and lives there with her family. This is a traditional folk song I collected during an interview.


Folk Song: “Cuca was as villain who looked like an alligator (PUT PIC) and kids would always watch shows that had Cuca in it because a lot of the television shows took from folklore. People would use Cuca to make kids do things. There is a popular song that my parents sang to me to go to sleep and it was about Cuca. It is very common in Brazil and there are multiple versions but this is the one sang to me.

Nana nenem

que a cuca vem pegar

papai foi pra roça

mamãe foi trabalhar

Desce gatinho

De cima do telhado

Pra ver se a criança

Dorme um sono sossegado

It does not translate very well into English but basically its:

Sleep little baby because Cuca is trying to get you

Daddy went to the farm

Mommy went to work

Come down little cat from the top of the roof

To see if the child sleeps a calm sleep

It is to make a child fall asleep but it is also creepy and supposed to make the children go to sleep and stay in bed. My parents would convince me to do things by telling me Cuca would eat me and I always obeyed.”


Thoughts: This song reminds me of a saying my mother said “now I lay me down to sleep I pray the lord my soul to keep and if I die before I wake I pray the lord my soul to take” which is an American proverb but is also creepy like this Brazilian folk song. It is interesting to see the similarities.


(picture of Cuca)