Rocking an Empty Cradle: Mexican Superstition

Leah Perez studies Latin American History at the University of Southern California. She was born in Gardena, California and moved to Torrance, California at a young age. Her parents are both Hispanic; her father is Puerto Rican and Mexican, and her mother is Mexican. Leah’s entire extended family speaks Spanish, and while Leah grew up speaking English, she has gained some fluency in Spanish by communicating with her relatives. Her immediate family observes Mexican traditions and has imparted many of these values to Leah and her siblings. In the excerpt below, Leah describes a superstition that discourages expecting parents from rocking an empty cradle:

Leah: “You can’t rock an empty cradle… its bad luck.”

Isabella: “Why? What are the implications?”

Leah: “It’s just bad luck… I think like, bad luck with your child… if you haven’t given birth yet. Like, if you have a nursery that isn’t inhabited yet. It might cause complications during the pregnancy.”

This superstition provides insight into Mexican values. It suggests a degree of anxiety surrounding pregnancy; and from that, one can infer that childbirth and reproduction are important hallmarks of life. This relates to the strong Catholic influence present in many Latin American communities. Catholicism recognizes the importance of reproduction and encourages its practitioners to have children as often as possible. Many of Leah’s family members have large families, which they regard as a symbol of prosperity.