Tag Archives: Latino Culture

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.

La Vicks / Vaporu

Background: Informant, B.B. is a Mexican American mother of 3, who turns to home remedies before going out to buy medicine.

Main piece:

Interviewer: Is there any alternative to medicine that you’ve used?

Informant, B.B: Yes, my mom always claimed vicks vapor rub was the answer for any sickness. So when I had kids I began to use it too

Interviewer: What kind of sickness is it for? How does it help?

Informant, B.B: Usually for a cold, or congestion is when we would use it. When we noticed our kids had a runny nose, we would get the vapor rub and put a dot of it under each nostril. If we noticed they had a cold and a cough, we would rub it on their chest. My mom always told me that it helps by opening up the lungs allowing them to breathe.

Context: A interview between me and my family member. I asked her about any folk medicine or folk remedies she knows of or any she has personally used.

Thoughts: Vicks vapor rub has become a meme in the latino community because latina mothers first recommendation when their kids get sick is usually vicks.

Heal, Heal, Butt of a Frog

“Sana Sana Culo de rana. Si no sana hoy sanara manana.”

(Heal, heal, butt of a frog, if it doesn’t heal today, it’ll heal tomorrow.)


Interviewer: What is being performed?


Informant: Ritual Song by Steph Elmir (Genre: Childhood)


Interviewer: What is the background information about the performance? Why do you know or like this piece? Where or who did you learn it from?


Informant: It’s a nursery rhyme in Spanish, I love it because it is used after someone is hurt. My mom taught me this in Miami. It’s silly and makes children laugh.


Interviewer: What country and what region of that country are you from?


Informant: USA- Miami


Interviewer: Do you belong to a specific religious or social sub group that tells this story?


Informant: Catholic/ Hinduran/Lebanese Descent


Interviewer: Where did you first hear the story?


Informant: My mom. My home.


Interviewer: What do you think the origins of this story might be?


Informant: Frogs have magical qualities in Latino Culture and are considered good luck.


Interviewer: What does it mean to you?


Informant: It makes me feel safe. It reminds me of home and a good relationship with my mom.


Context of the performance– Conversation with classmate before class


Thoughts about the piece–  Relating childhood folkways is an emotional experience for most students living far from home. Mothers in many cultures use song to comfort their children. Here is a video of the song in Spanish, featuring Kermit the frog. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kw14B0sclFw

Is it culito (ass) or colita (butt)? That seems to depend on which country you are from: http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/colita-vs-culito/