Folk Craft/Superstition

“The Worry Doll, well I actually have multiple dolls, probably about 40 in total. They were a gift, brought back for me from El Salvador. The tradition is that the dolls are supposed to be carried by their owners at all times… so I have one in my car, one in my purse, and the rest at home. I tell the dolls my worries, and they serve as protectors and are believed to bring good luck.”

Pamela is a native Californian, though she has traveled throughout the world, and even lived for short periods in other countries like Germany and Japan, she could never leave California. Her mother was born in Arkansas and her father in Minnesota, they raised Pamela and her two brothers in the Hollywood Hills. Because she is my mom, I also have worry dolls and follow the same practice as her. My mother has passed many things on to me but the dolls are definitely a favorite treasure that we both value. Our housekeeper, Gladys, who is originally from El Salvador brings us home Worry Dolls each time she visits. The tradition according to Gladys is that the dolls are handmaid and then given as gifts by their creator, “El regalo… es muy muy importante porque la muñeca es una extensión de la persona.” Although my mom and I don’t make our own dolls, we have still given dolls to close friends to carry on the tradition of the worry dolls.

My mom admits that she occasionally shares her worries with the dolls, but rather she relies on them for protection. She keeps the dolls by her bed at home to also ward off bad dreams. Though the dolls have an intended meaning for Gladys, my mom has adopted many of those uses but has also enacted her own superstitions onto the dolls, like the protection from bad dreams. The dolls are supposed to make life more enjoyable and safer and I suppose their purposes depend on the particular person.

For my mom and I, the doll is a constant, there isn’t a day that we don’t carry dolls with us so I was certain that she would want to be interviewed about them, “They are now a part of my existence, and I have passed them on to friends that I feel need a little extra support in life.” My mom and I discussed the dolls at her home in Beverly Hills. After further investigation of Worry Dolls on the Internet, I mostly found Worry Dolls from Guatemala and have yet to find more information about Dolls from El Salvador.

Worcester News reported on Worry Dolls…

“Worry Dolls Help Neal in His Quest for the Title.” Worcester News 19 Apr. 2007. 24 Apr. 2007.