The informant’s family originated in Cuba. Her mother was born and raised in Cuba but her father was born and raised in America. Her Cuban culture and background comes from her mother’s side and folklore that her mom picked up over the years and shared with her. The folklore from this informant comes from family stories that are shared amongst the family as lessons or as advice.
“Its a Promesa”
“My Abuela Nina had strange rituals that she would perform. Abuela Nina was involved with the Santeras who have beliefs that if they do different promesas then they would be given something by the Gods. Abuela Nina bagan to pull her eyelashes out at some point in her life and wouldn’t give an explanation to anyone as to why she was doing it except for “it’s a promesa”. She finally revealed that the Santeras taught her that if she never let her eyelashes grow back the Gods would do something in her favor. Abuela Nina also practiced other Santera traditions referred to as promesas as well. As her sons grew, she kept all of their hair, nail clippings, and teeth in jars. She would only give the answer “its a promesa” when asked why, but it is believed among the santeras that is someone were to get a hold of those things they could create voodoo on that person, so it was safer to keep them hidden in a jar.”
When I asked the informant what the Santeras specifically were she described them to me as witch doctors. They have strange voodoo, magic, are connected to the Gods in some way, and other traditions they practice they believe to work. I also asked her what a promesa is. She said that a promesa is translated as a promise, but to the Santeras it is a promise to the Gods or like a thing that you do for the gods. The informant also added that her Abuela Nina is said to be so weird or strange.
When the informant told me this stuff about her abuela Nina, I didn’t know how to respond. It was so different than anything I have heard before. The closest thing to a witch doctor that I have ever seen has been on the discovery channel so to hear about it face to face with someone who’s family knows a lot about it was interesting. Similarly to witch doctors, the closest form of voodoo magic I had ever heard about has been on movies. Hearing about Abuela Nina has expanded my cultural perspective and awareness. I think it is interesting that the informant has that in her culture and I was given the opportunity to be able to hear about it.