Tag Archives: pears

The Three Brothers and the Pear Tree

Main Piece:

Tres hermanos que iban caminando por un campo llevaban ya varías horas de camino y traían mucha hambre, y mucha sed. Y todavía les faltaba para llegar a su casa. Entonces a lo lejo vieron un arbol de peras, con muchas peras. Entonces dice uno de los hermanos, “Ay vamos,” dice, “Ya veo un arbol de peras. Vamos a comerlas.” Y ya se fueron caminando. Entonces dijeron, “Vamos a acostarnos un rato.” Y entonces se acostaron y se empezaron a relajar, y los tres estaban mirando hacía arriba a esas peras tan grandes y tan jugosas. Y el hermano numero uno dijo, “Ay que bonitas peras.” Y el hermano numero dos dijo “Uy, quién las pudiera bajar?” Y el hermano numero tres dijo “Uy, quién las pudiera comer?” 

Full Translation: 

There are three brothers that were walking in a field, and had been walking for several hours and were very hungry and very thirsty, and they still had a ways to go before going home. So far off, they see a pear tree with lots of pears. One brother says, he says, “Ay, it’s a pear tree. Let’s go eat them.” And so they go walking to it. And then they said, “Well, let’s lie down for a little.” So they lie down and start relaxing, and they’re looking up at the pears, the very big pears, very juicy. And so the first brother says, “Ay what pretty pears,” and the second brother says, “Ooh, who could get them down?” And the third brother says, “Ooh, who could eat them?”


My informant is my mother, who grew up in Mexico. This was a joke that she often heard from her father, who heard it from his father (my mother’s grandfather). When I asked her what the message behind the joke was, she said “the joke here is that all three are very very lazy. The first [brother] just admired them. The second asked who could get them down, and the third is so lazy he couldn’t even chew, that’s why he asked who could eat them.” My mother said that the moral lesson is that if you want something, you have to pursue it, and you can’t just let an opportunity sit in front of you without doing anything, which is what my grandfather always emphasized whenever he told her the joke.


This came up when I was asking my mother what kinds of jokes she used to hear when she was growing up in Mexico, and this was one that was told frequently in her household. 


This is a joke that my mother occasionally told me when I was growing up, and I thought it was interesting to see how it’s been passed down through the generations in my family, although I’m not sure where it was first heard. I think this joke is a good way to teach the notion that laziness isn’t going to get you anywhere, and I liked that it set up three different levels of laziness. First there’s the brother that only admired the pears without, which could be seen as fantasizing over something you want. The second brother, instead of trying to pick the pear himself, wanted someone else to do the work for him, but still reap the reward, and the third brother was so lazy that he couldn’t even gather the motivation to pick the pears, much less eat them. This joke pokes fun at the characters’ foolishness, and each one could easily be compared to someone in real life who is exhibiting the same behavior as the brothers.

Asian Pears with Honey Remedy

Background: Stella is a 55-year-old woman living in Cerritos, CA. She was born in Seoul and has lived in South Korea for the majority of her life until she moved here for college. She stays at home. Before that, she worked at a hair salon as a beautician. She is married and has two grown children.


Main piece:

So what do you usually do when you or your children are sick?

Stella: “I always always say eat some pears… Asian pears!.. with a little bit honey. It is cool… and feels good in mouth. It is soothing to throat and the best for when you have cold.”

Where did you learn this from?

Stella: “My mother, so your grandmother, tell me this all the time. It is old, old tradition.”

Does it work?

Stella: “Yeah! Always feels good. It has worked for generations and generations.”

Performance Context: I interviewed the informant over the phone, as she was in the Orange County area and I’m in Los Angeles. This folk remedy seems to originate from back when my mother was a child. She learned this from her mother and has passed it down to me.

My Thoughts: I love this home remedy – it reminds me of my childhood and maybe it’s also psychological, but this remedy always seems to work for me. I plan to pass this down to my children as well.


Don’t split pears

“In this family, there’s a mother, a father, a grandma, and an older brother, and a daughter. And they’re eating pears. And what you’re supposed to do, like you can never split a pear. You can only eat a full pear. And I actually remember, fairly recently, I asked my mom if she wanted to split a pear, and she wouldn’t. The story started off with the littlest child gets the smallest pear. It’s about filial piety. The elders get the best pears. And you also can’t split pears. Because that splits your relationships with people. Keeping the pear together keeps the family together.”


There are two different stories going on here: a tale about a family who gets differently sized pears depending on age, and a folk belief that it is bad luck to split a pear. My informant told them so that they were interconnected. The story of the family eating pears is related to filial piety – the head of the house gets the biggest pear because he deserves the most respect, and the size of the fruit diminishes until the youngest child has the smallest pear.

When viewed in this light, the belief that splitting pears with someone is bad luck makes perfect sense. If a pear represents filial piety and the relationships between family members, splitting it would be terrible for the family.