Tag Archives: Hispanic

Eggs, shoes, and nightmares.

A is a 59-year-old Hispanic American female originally from La Junta, a small town in Southeastern Colorado. A currently works as a background detective in Phoenix Arizona.

A informed me of this folklore over a dinner discussion. We were on the topic of family superstitions, and I asked A if she had any superstitions that she remembered her family believing in.

A: I was told by my parents that you’re not allowed to have eggs at night because you will have nightmares after eating them. They are only meant for the morning. I also remember you were not allowed to put your shoes underneath your head under your bed because that too would cause you nightmares.

Reflection: At first I had a hard time finding a correlation between these seemingly unrelated practices and nightmares. However, as A implies, the nightmares are induced by breaking the natural order of things. Like eating an egg (breakfast food) at night. Applying these same parameters, it can be assumed that keeping shoes underneath your head is harmful given that it breaks the natural order of shoes being on your feet. Based on my personal experiences being raised in a Hispanic family, there is often a strong emphasis on orderliness in the household and not breaking tradition. Perhaps these same values account for the superstitions present in A’s family.

Giving babies ”Ojo.”

A is a 59-year-old Hispanic American female originally from La Junta, a small town in Southeastern Colorado. A currently works as a background detective in Phoenix Arizona.

A informed me of this folklore over a dinner discussion. We were on the topic of family superstitions, and I asked A if she had any superstitions that she remembered her family believing in.

A: I was thinking about this a few days ago. I remember Nana and my aunts talking about giving a baby “ojo” by looking at them and falling over how cute they are it makes them sick if you do it too much. And then I read about it and I laughed because this is exactly what I remember hearing them talking about it, when I was little. I also remember in order for them to come back from the baby getting that, when you’re born they put a little bracelet on the babies made out of coral. I will call Nana to make sure but that’s what I remember. To help babies ward off the evil eye or “ojo” the babies would wear a little string with a piece of coral red coral. And then the mothers would put an egg in a cup of water near the bed to help them heal from the evil if they got it laughs.

Reflection: This folklore seems to be associated with the idea that too much of a good thing is a bad thing. It brings greater context into my own family, as I remember my grandmother scolding my cousins for fawning over a baby, and I never knew quite why. I find it interesting that specifically coral and eggs in water act as deterrent. Perhaps they both have an absorbent property that draws evil away when placed in the immediate proximity of a baby.

Calladita Luzes Mas Bonita

Main Piece: 

“Calladita luzes mas bonita.”


“Quieter you shine much prettier.”


“You shine brighter when you’re quiet.”


My informant is one of my friends who lives in Miami, Florida, and is of Cuban and Iranian heritage. Her grandmother would often take care of her and her cousins when they were little, and the above piece is a phrase she would say to them when they were behaving poorly or talking back to her. This is also a phrase that’s recognized across Latinx cultures as a form of expressing disapproval, and criticizing one for talking too much. My informant also noted that it was usually the girls who would be on the receiving end of this expression, and not her boy cousins. 


This piece came up when my friend and I were talking about the various ways that we would be disciplined and criticized by our grandmothers and elders in the Latinx community. My friend brought this phrase to attention as one of her memories, and I immediately recognized it because I’d heard a similar version of it when I was younger.  


This phrase seems to have been a staple of my childhood, part of which was spent in Mexico when I was young. My teacher in fourth grade would tell us the variation phrase, “calladitos se ven mas bonitos,” which translates to: “you [all] look prettier when you’re quiet.” Like my informant said, this phrase was used to criticize kids who were being rude or talking too much, but in my experience, it could also be applied to older people as well. The general message also serves as a warning to remind people to think about how their public image may be affected by their constant chatter. Like many proverbs, this tended to come from the mouths of our elders or anyone who seemed to carry a wave of authority, but that perception could have come as a result of them delivering the proverb. Additionally, it’s important to examine them because they can be representative of what kinds of behavior are accepted and valued in a culture— in this case, learning to hold your tongue. 

Regardless, I do agree with my informant’s observation that girls were more likely to be chastised for speaking too much rather than boys, and as she later added, it “Speaks to, for better or worse, the culture around propriety— not only in Cuban culture, but like Hispanic cultures.” From a young age, girls are conditioned from a young age to speak quietly and not to express more than their share of words. Introverted qualities are praised, whereas boys are given the liberty to talk as much as they want— maybe not constantly, as my fourth grade teacher scolded us, but extroverted behavior was encouraged, even expected for them.

Christmas Baby Jesus Cake


Informant: I know as a kid– I grew up in a fairly predominantly hispanic neighborhood– there was this cake. It’s like this big pastry, and each person gets a slice. One of them has the baby Jesus. It’s supposed to represent Jesus in everything. It’s also supposed to be good luck.  You’re like receiving him into your home, and the good luck that that brings.


I asked a group of friends if they had any holiday traditions. This was one of their replies. The informant is of hispanic descent.


I grew up playing this game with my neighborhood at the holiday block party. I had no idea it had a specific connection to being a hispanic tradition.

La Llorona

Main Piece (direct transcription):

Mom: When I was 10 and 11, we rented a house in Luis Lopez, which is right outside of Socorro (New Mexico).  It was rural, and we lived right on a ditch.  We had some neighbors that were a quarter of a mile down the dirt road we lived on, and they were a Catholic, Hispanic family that were very superstitious.  They had crosses everywhere in their house, and I slept over there one night, and there were six or seven kids and the oldest was nineteen.  There were a couple younger than me, too, and one my age.  I spent the night, and all four or five of us were in one double bed, and at night they were telling me about La Llorona, and how she was real, and how she was wandering around the ditch near our house.  They told me that they heard her over at the ditch at night, walking, and it scared me to death.

Me: Can you tell me the story of La Llorona that they would tell you?

Mom: Yeah… From what I can remember, they told me that La Llorona tried to drown her children when her husband left her, and she went mad.  After she had already thrown them into the river, and they had drowned, she came to her senses and regretted what she had done.  She ran along the ditch, trying to follow the quickly flowing water to grab her children, but tripped and fell.  She hit her head on a rock and died before she could get to her children.  Now, she wanders around ditches calling for her kids, trying to find them.


Context: The informant, my mother, is a pharmacy administrator living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She was originally born in New York but moved to New Mexico with her family at a young age.  Her father, a playwright and artist, was invested in his Native American heritage.  From her travels around New Mexico, moving from place to place when she was young, and also hearing stories from her father and my father, who is from Iran, she has gathered a variety of folktales.  My mom and I were talking about ghost stories, and she remembered the time when she was neighbors with a Catholic, Hispanic family.  The family was superstitious and believed in ghosts.



My Thoughts: I thought that this story was interesting because I also heard the story of La Llorona first from my peers in New Mexico, since a lot of the population is Hispanic there.  It’s one of the most popular ghost stories that I had heard throughout my childhood, and I thought that my mom’s story was especially interesting because she actually lived near a ditch.  The kids claimed that they had actually heard La Llorona walking around at night.  The story that the kids had told my mom when she was young is incredibly similar to the one that I had heard while I was in elementary school from my classmates.  Of course, there are some differences, and the way that my mom told the story would be different than how the children in Luis Lopez would’ve told her, because that is the nature of folklore, for it has form and variation from individual to individual.

For another version of this story, please see Kathy Weiser’s La Llorona-Weeping Woman of the Southwest (2017), which can be found here