Red Yarn to Cure Hiccups and Colic in Babies

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 54
Occupation: Health Care Executive
Residence: San Diego
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/18/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Main Piece

Interviewer: Where did you learn it from?

Informant: My first daughter was super sensitive to colic and hiccups and really her digestive system. She got hiccups all the time, and I didn’t know what to do with it, you can’t have a baby hold your breath they’re a baby. So I called my mom and she let me know what to do. 

Interviewer: What are the steps for this practice?

Informant: When your baby has hiccups or colic you wad a little bit of red yarn and you wet it with your saliva and you pinch it in your fingers to make it round. And then you put in on the forehead, kinda like where the Third Eye would be. And then they’re fine. I don’t know the science how why but it worked. Once the baby stopped you took the yarn off and there you go. Sometimes it took a few minutes, but you take the red dot off after it is done doing what it is supposed to do.

Interviewer: Do you know where your mom learned it from?

Informant: She learned it from her mom who learned it from her mom. Everything she told me was done on me. 

Interviewer: Does the practice have a name?

Informant: No, not that I know of. 

Background

The informant is my mother, a Mexican woman who is first-generation and the oldest of 3, who was born and raised in San Ysidro,CA  a border town just north of Tijuana, Mexico. Influenced by memories and conversations with her great great grandmother, many of her practices, customs, and beliefs were passed down from her maternal side of Mexican customs. Fluent in both English and Spanish, the informant has always felt conflicted about her culture as she wanted to fit in with American customs but wanted to preserve her Mexican heritage and traditions. The informant had her first child when she was 18, and worked her way as a single mother with two kids to attain her Master’s Degree and is now the Executive Vice President at a non-profit health clinic that serves the community she was raised in.

Context

My Mother and I often joke about how horrible babies we were, and she often tells us the stories of the different practices that my Nana would teach her to calm us down. One of the ones I remember vividly was this one, with the red yarn. Over the phone I asked my Mom about the different practices we would talk about to understand the context better. 

Analysis

I think that this example of folk medicine is a great indicator of Mexican heritage and identity. It has been passed down in the informant’s family for multiple generations and had a reputation of working, prompting the informant to use it herself. The use of a red yard is interesting, as it is a very inexpensive material that most women would have at their disposal in their home. The placement of the dot on the forehead and the reference to the third eye also indicate a sense of magic as well.