Precaution for Sleeping Children Crossing A River

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 20
Occupation: Housewife
Residence: Central Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/13/12
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

My grandmother, born and raised in rural Southern Mexico (Michoacan), would often remind us of the dangers of loosing the spirit or soul. According to her, infants were especially at risk of having their spirits sucked out, polluted or given up by an infants weak constitution.

This is a retelling of one of her warnings from a cousin :

When you’re carrying a sleeping baby over the river who hasn’t been baptized, pinch it.

There was actually a river running very near my grandmother’s house and she demanded that all unbaptized children be woken up before crossing any running water. This was in part because before being baptized the spirit was not permanent and weak, but after receiving the holy spirit the infant would be protected. The other part to the danger was running water which has a tendency  to sweep away the unprotected soul and trap it forever in running currents. This precaution is still practiced by our family and most people we know from the same town as my grandmother, except they have adapted it to carrying sleeping babies over running water in cars, planes etc.