Tag Archives: placebo

Sana Sana Colita de Rana

Main Piece: 

“Sana sana colita de rana

Si no sana hoy

Sana mañana”


“Heal, heal, tiny frog tail

If it doesn’t heal today

It will heal tomorrow”


“Heal, heal, tiny frog tail

If it doesn’t heal today

It will heal tomorrow”


My informant is one of my friends who lives in Miami, Florida, and is of Cuban and Iranian heritage. As a child, my informant could always expect to hear this from her grandmother whenever she got hurt. “Sana sana colita de rana” is a popular rhyme often told to small children across Latinx culture as a way to console them after injuries (like falling and scraping their knees, for example). Along with the song, my informant added, “my family always accompanied it with a kiss on the appropriate wound, so I think it’s kind of the equivalent of when Americans are like ‘kiss your boo boos’.”


This childhood rhyme came up when I asked my informant if she knew of any Cuban sayings. I listed a different variation of this rhyme as an example, which she was able to recognize and provide the version she’d grown up hearing. 


I remember hearing this rhyme all the time whenever I got hurt as a kid, though I heard it differently. In Mexican culture, or at least how my mother told it to me, the rhyme went “Sana sana colita de rana, si no se te quita hoy se te quita mañana,” which translates to: “heal, heal, tiny frog tail, if [the pain] doesn’t leave you today, it will leave you tomorrow.” Either way, hearing the rhyme brings back nostalgia from when I was little. I agree with what my informant said about kissing the wound being equivalent to what American parents might do, and I think the addition of the rhyme also adds to the notion that this performance is mostly a placebo effect.

That being said, I think the rhyme is an important part of children’s culture, particularly in the way that the content doesn’t make sense; what does a frog’s tail have to do with healing, for example, a scraped knee? Why a frog, specifically, and not a medical professional? The nonsensical element here is key to children’s folklore because it allows them to comprehend the world in a way that only their folk group could understand and readily accept. However, another way to look at it is that the silliness of the rhyme helps the child focus less on their pain and more on trying to understand the contents.

For another variation, see Licea, May 12, 2019, “Sana Sana Colita de Rana – Spanish saying”, USC Folklore Archives).

Heal, Heal, little tail of the frog – Spanish Saying

Piece: “Something I heard a lot as a kid was Sana sana colita de rana, si no se sana hoy se sanara manana. Heard it from my grandma as a kid, she said it to me all the time, she’s a baller”

Background information: The informant is a very comedic student with an Argentinian background. Although he resides in the US, he strongly identifies with his Argentinian roots.

Context: This is a hispanic saying used whenever you got hurt as a kid. You’d run to your mom/dad crying about a new injury and they would say this while rubbing the area of pain. The informant heard this a lot from his grandma and it stuck with him because it’s a saying that’s used a lot in Latin countries. The saying translates to “Heal, heal, little tail of the frog. If you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.”

Personal analysis: I can personally vouch for the informant. I also heard this a lot as a kid. Every time I got injured I would run to my mom and she would say this saying to make the pain go away. Although there’s no healing happening, it was used as placebo to force you to think that if it didn’t heal today, it would heal tomorrow. Almost like a reassurance that everything would be okay. The saying served no real purpose except that it would make you stop crying as soon you heard it. The saying includes the line “tail of the frog” but I never got around to asking why it was mentioned.  I just accepted it and moved on.