Superstition – Spain

“Con salud!”

“With health!”

“Go with good health!”

Chris told me she learned this phrase from her mother-in-law, who is a Sephardic Jew and frequently speaks in Spanish or Yiddish. Chris explained to me that this saying is most commonly used to wish a person luck or congratulations when they have made some accomplishment. The example she used was when a person was planning on buying a new car that you wish them, “con salud!” She explained that her mother-in-law commonly uses it as a farewell and in response to someone’s plans or goals.

Chris explained that the significance in this phrase lays in the superstition of the “evil eye.” She said that the evil eye is always watching and is the bringer of bad luck. The evil eye is used as a scapegoat to make sense of the inexplicable. She said that if a person was suffering from cancer, that “it must be the evil eye.” She said that the phrase, “con salud,” is supposed to ward off the evil eye and protect the person who it is said to. Chris also explained to me that it is common for Sephardic women to wear jewelry with eye charms on them. She said that bracelets or necklaces with eyes as the charms are also supposed to ward off the evil eye. She also described how some ornaments and decorations for the house have eye symbols on them to protect the home. She noted the coincidence that wearing the symbol of the eye is supposed to protect you from the evil eye. This, she said, was in reference of God sparing the first-borns of the families who painted lamb’s blood over their door during the plagues of Egypt, in what is now called Passover. She tied this superstitious phrase to a traditional Jewish celebration and common cultural trends among Sephardic Jews.

This phrase reminds me of the tradition in Hispanic cultures to say “salud” after someone sneezes. The English counterpart for that would be “bless you,” or “God bless you,” implying that you need to protect your soul in order to live a happy and healthy life. The importance of faith in God is apparent in this Sephardic phrase, equating good health with a soul nurtured by religion. This phrase is therefore endearing and an expression of love for the ones you say it too. To me, it says “I wish for you the love and grace of God so that your enriched body and soul may live a healthy and fulfilling life.” This is such a simple phrase, and yet it seems to carry with it a great deal of meaning. It is a true expression of love and good luck to those whom you care for.