Nationality: Mexican American
Residence: Franklin Park IL
Date of Performance/Collection: 3.16.20
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish
Background: Below is an account of this informant’s memory of a silly spanish saying that was meant to make you feel better. The informant is a mother in her 40s of Mexican Descent. She reflects on the how healing ritual below shaped both aspects of her childhood and parenting. Under the informant’s experience I have clarified the literal translation of this version of the saying according to google translate.
The main piece:
“Sana Sana Colita de rana, si no se Sana hoy, se aliviara mañana”
It means like when you hurt yourself.” Sana Sana” means heal heal, so it’s like you know we would say ‘there there’ if you were rubbing a boo boo. “Sana Sana” is like heal heal. Colita de rana means— literal translation — a frog’s…tail…butt? Ha! A frogs rump. It’s something about butts I think. “If you don’t get better today, you’ll get better tomorrow.” So someone would hit their elbow or arm, so you’d be like come here and rub it saying “Sana Sana…” Only my mom did that to me and… it felt better. And it would make me giggle. So I think maybe that’s why too: The touch and then it like makes you laugh, to think of a frog’s butt. It’s something I did with my kids too, out of habit I think. Not because I was trying to pass it on— it just felt like the right thing to do in the moment.
Literal Translation (google): heals heals Frogtail, if he does not heal today he will heal tomorrow
Context: This conversation arose from a video call where we were comfortable chatting with the informant’s mother for some time talking about her childhood. With the nostalgic memories in mind, I asked the informant to share what Sana Sana means, and what it meant in terms of her childhood.
Analysis: This another saying I vaguely remember from my childhood. The interesting part of this particular experience is how transformative a silly saying has been in the informant’s life. Not in the sense that her life changed because of it, but in the sense that it changed with her life. The transition between Sana recipient and Sana healer, seemed almost nature to the informant. So natural, that she didn’t even seem to notice why she began performing it with her children, it just happened. This for me shows how some of these simple sayings/ beliefs can be so casually ingrained in our identity.