Tag Archives: church

Walking on Knees


S: “There’s a big one actually. They like do it in my dad’s hometown a lot and in a lot of Mexican hometowns where like there’s like a main cathedral or like church and that one has to do with like praying to God for like good fortune. So like whenever there is something you pray to God for like really, really, badly for. Like in terms of super superstitious, I know a lot of sick people have done this. Like ‘Oh God, like let this surgery go well’ or like chemo, for example, ‘Let this chemo go good and I’ll be cancer free in the next year’ and blah blah blah, like ‘Oh please God, I’d do anything!’ And once this happens, in terms of superstition. Once like God, I don’t want to say grants their wish, but like, you know, God wills whatever they prayed for to happen, they now have to walk on their knees to the church. So usually at the church there is this big like entrance way to the church and sometimes it starts ever further. Like you have to go crawl on your knees from the road like a mile or so away from the church, and the road is rocky so your knees are like busted, torn to shreds, and walk all the way to the alter where the Virgin Mary is and offer like a flower or light a candle of something, you know? Or that’s like a really big thing they’ve done in like my hometown. My dad actually did it himself but like here, when I was like younger he had a health scare I think, like ‘Please let this be good’ and once it came like it was ok, like he carried me, I was like four I think, he carried me in his arms and he crawled to the alter holding me. So that’s like a very big one.” (omitted a fair amount of “like”s)


S is a Mexican American born in Long Beach, California. His parents are from Mexico. S knows of this tradition through his parents, with some personal experience by his father as spoken above. The “hometown” spoken of towards the end of the text is El Sabino Guanajuato. S’s take on this tradition is that it’s religious, serious, and also represents faith in a sense. He also uses the term “superstitious thinking” from his psych class to describe it.


This action is like praying but almost also like making a deal with God. It could be a luck ritual with the physical performance part of this ritual being the crawling/walking on knees to the alter in a church. According to my mom, my grandmother also did this when my uncle got drafted. He came home safely so my grandmother got on her knees and crawled to the alter. This ritual goes to show how religion and belief could also work with superstition to give luck (good luck/blessings in this case).

Star Tipping


My best friend was raised Mormon, and all of the kids at his local Mormon sect would play “star tipping” in the field behind the church at night. He states that he doesn’t remember any significance to the practice, just that it was a game that they played. To star tip, he and the other youth at the church would pick a star in the sky and stare at it while spinning around until they fell. He is a college student, transgender, and of European descent. He left the church when he turned 18.


SS: At the specific church building that we went to, there was a big field in the back and at night after a youth activity, sometimes we’d go out there and do star tipping.

SS: And so you just pick a star. Sometimes it happened to be an airplane, but you pick a star and you look at it and then you spin in circles. Well, it’s still looking at it until you fall over and all the youth would do it.

SS: And I don’t know anything more about it other than it was something that we did.


This might just be a simple children’s game, but it is notable for the fact that it was a game shared amongst the entirety of the children among their sect, with a specific name for it. Looking online, there doesn’t seem to be much by way of “star tipping” aside from a few Tumblr posts from an ex-Mormon who mentions it in the tags.

Aside from “entertainment value,” this game may have been encouraged by the church as a way for the youth to connect with each other. Given the celestial cosmology of the Mormon faith, in which those in heaven occupy the “heavens,” this might have been a way to connect a game/practice with Mormon belief. Aside from that, the game may have been a way to pass time in the long, often boring late hours of Mormon seminary.

El Conono


M, 56 was born and grew up in Tijuana, Mexico. His father is from Baja California Sur, Mexico. The capital of this state is La Paz. The people that live in this region are known as ‘Choyeros’ and they have a very niche folklore.


“Esta es una historia real. ‘EL CONONO’ era un señor que tenía labio leporino (hablaba gangoso), y era muy conocido en La Paz en los años 50’s, 60’s,70’s. Vivía con sus padres aun siendo adulto; todos lo conocían, hacía favores, barría las calles, iba por mandado, etc.

Un día fue a la iglesia con su mamá y el padre de la iglesia le dijo por el micrófono de la iglesia: 

‘Hijo, Conono, hinqué a su mamá’ y Conono voltio a ver al padrecito y le contesta en voz alta, donde todos oyeron: ‘hinque a la suya padrecito…’!”


This is a real story. ‘Conono’ was a man who had a cleft lip (he spoke nasally), he was very well known in La Paz in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. He lived with his parents well into adulthood; everyone in town knew him, he would do favors, sweep the street, run errands, etc. One day he went to church with his mom and the Church Father said through the microphone: “My son, Conono, ‘hinque’ your mom”; Conono loudly responded: “’hinque’ your own mom, Father!”.


This story is somewhat of a legend because it is known that Conono was a real person from La Paz (you can google him); however, it is also a joke. In Spanish, the word hinque has multiple meanings: one, to kneel or bow, the way the father was trying to use it; or another, to thrust or bend over. The joke here is basically that Conono misunderstood the Father’s instructions and thought that he was telling him to perform a sexual act with his mom, to which he told the Father to do it himself. It’s only funny in Spanish because those listening to the joke should be able to know what version of ‘hincar’ is being used in a certain setting. Naturally, a church would not be the appropriate place to make it sexual.

Catholic Baptism

Background provided by BR: BR was raised in Miami, Florida. They are Dominican and have experience with the Hispanic culture in Miami. They were raised in a Catholic household.

Context: BR was approached about folklore, which they shared in the middle of the day. They explain how they were baptized later on in their life. 

Main Piece Transcription of interview (contains the context of particular performance and additional background information): 

BR: “ I didn’t get baptized when I was a baby, I got baptized when I wa about 13 years old.  And … umm … that was very interesting because I didn’t think that, that many kids hasn’t gotten baptized yet, there were lots  of  kids, my age that had gotten baptized, yet … there were a lot of people. And I was in a Catholic Church. And we wore … the ritual was, we go to mass. We kinda pray a bit and we are wearing all black robes. You go to get baptized in the water with the priest, and he … like dunks us in the water three times. Takes us out and and we’re officially baptized and we go to change into white robes … and that’s the end of the ceremony, really. The meaning of the dark robes is that  you’re full of sin. You come into the world full of sin cause The Original sin … of Adam and Eve and then once you’re baptized you’re cleansed  of all sin. 

Me: “Did you have to … uhh … do anything … before the actual, baptism, ceremony …  or ritual to … uhh prepare for it?”

BR: “ Umm … not really, no.  It was kinda just a spiel on what we’re gonna … do. And just classes to learn about Catholic religion.” 

Me: “And … just … umm … a … like … a couple questions that you think that your Dominican background …  or …. maybe other influences … that influenced when… or … how you got your baptism … performed” 

BR: “Ummm … I’m not exactly sure about that, I feel like my culture did really have anything to do with it, I feel like it was my parent’s decision not to baptize me early.” 

Analysis: The use of water as a form or baptism can be considered very symbolic because water is considered a fundamental element. The baptism is a literal and figurative representation cleansing ones sins by washing them away with water. This spiritual ceremony has multiple perfomative aspects such as the classes and changing robes. The classes may aid in educating, but may not change spiritual stances. The classes also seem to have less importance than other apsects of this ceremony. The changing robes is another representation of purity. After the baptism BR was cleansed of all sin and allowed to wear the white robe, which is representative of purity.

The Curse of the Church in Tlzazalca

PP is an 18 year old college student. She is a freshman communications major whose parents are from Mexico. PP has visited her hometown Tlzazalca in Mexico many times and heard about this curse from her family and the locals.

Context: The informant and I are roommates and I know she has strong ties to her Mexican culture and I asked if she had any folk legends to share as we drank tea on the couch. She has stayed in Mexico over summers and experienced them with her family.


PP: Basically, I don’t know when exactly this happened but I think it’s from the 1800s. The church in the plaza, it’s been there for so many years, it was built when the town was first created. It was supposedly the first building created there and church became really important to the town. But then people were not respecting the church. You kind of have to go to church there [in Tlzazalca] or else it’s taboo if that makes sense. What happened was girls would show up wearing really short dresses and stuff started to happen that were not considered Godly in the church. The priest was really pissed at the town and could not believe their disrespect because the town is supposed to be sacred. At this point he was falling out of the church like a lot of the other locals and he started doing satanic rituals to make them listen to him. He then cursed the town and that is why the town does not grow… By that I mean the town is so small and the population stays the same. As people continue to die, it would become a ghost town, and that is what the priest intended.

Thoughts/Analysis: This is an interesting version of stories were the Godly/heroic figure turns on the town. It reminds me a bit of Beauty and the Beast where the witch cursed the Beast for being selfish. This story is based on a social belief of people in the town. This story sits on the fine line between a myth and a legend because legends are based on social beliefs and might be true, myths are creation stories and would tell how the town of Tlzazalca stays so small.

For a variation of a very similar story, see:

Tayebi, N. “Kuldhara.” USC Digital Folklore Archives, May 8, 2018. http://folklore.usc.edu/kuldhara/.