Tag Archives: pregancy

The more salsa you eat while pregnant, the hairier the baby

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexican
Age: 54
Occupation: Health Care Executive
Residence: San Diego
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/18/2020
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish

Main Piece

Informant: Some Mexican families believe that when you are pregnant the more salsa you have the hairier the baby is gonna come out. I didn’t like salsa a lot, and I was pregnant at the same time as my cousin and she loved salsa, she would chug it. So our family would joke that her baby was going to come out with a full head of hair and mine was going to be bald. 

Interviewer: Was it true?

Informant: Yeah, all my cousins’ kids had a lot of hair, even on their back- they looked a little monkeyish haha. Mine had hair but it was normal hair, no back hair though. Plus, it all falls off so does it really matter at the end of the day? … Do you want your child to be born with hair? If you did, then eat salsa! I also think about pregnancy cravings and trying to make something out of it. It reminds me of the saying that spicy food puts hair on your chest, but in this case it is a baby. 

Background

The informant is my mother, a Mexican woman who is first-generation and the oldest of 3, who was born and raised in San Ysidro,CA  a border town just north of Tijuana, Mexico. Influenced by memories and conversations with her great great grandmother, many of her practices, customs, and beliefs were passed down from her maternal side of Mexican customs. Fluent in both English and Spanish, the informant has always felt conflicted about her culture as she wanted to fit in with American customs but wanted to preserve her Mexican heritage and traditions. The informant had her first child when she was 18, and worked her way as a single mother with two kids to attain her Master’s Degree and is now the Executive Vice President at a non-profit health clinic that serves the community she was raised in.

Context

It is often a running joke in our family that the informant is the only one who could not handle her spice, and when this is brought up my family jokes that she is the reason all of her children came out to be bald. Wanting to learn more about this joke and its superstitious origins I asked her about it in the interview that we had. 

Analysis

I think this superstition is impacted by the dietary qualities of Mexican food as well as pregnancy cravings that many expecting mothers have. Usually, the spicier food or salsa you eat the tougher you are viewed to be, and this thought could have transpired to create the origins of this folklore. I also think it has to deal with the masculin stigma revolving around what “toughness” constitutes, and usually hair is a more masculine trait so the tougher the baby the tougher/more masculine the baby.

The Pregnant Woman Ghost

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 23
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: March 21st, 2013
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Informant Background: The informant is a student in Los Angeles. His family is originally from Indonesia. His parents moved to the United States and they now live in New Orleans. He speaks only English but he said his family still practice many Indonesian traditions especially folk-beliefs. He travels back once in a while to Indonesia to visit his relatives.

 

Okay, so there is this woman who was pregnant but she wasn’t married…she doesn’t have family or relatives…then when she was giving birth to her baby she died ‘cause the baby somehow came out of her back. …And then she became a ghost who looks like a woman but she has this bleeding hole in her stomach. She would appear with long black hair over her face while holding her dead baby …you know like those Asians ghost you see in movies where it’s like a girl with super long drapy hair in front of their face.

The informant heard about this story through his relatives in Indonesia. He is not quite sure what situation the ghost would appear but he said that she is one of the well known characters in Indonesia traditions.

 

 

I think this ghost story shows the improper ritual for two of life’s most celebrated moment: birth and death. The spirits of the mother and child transform into ghosts because they did not get a proper burial. It is also similar to other ghost stories where the ghost is created because the person died too young, in this case both of them.

The hole is a reflection the improper birth and death of both mother and child: the mother who died trying to give birth and the child who died before even being born. Souls or spirits can become ghost because of improper death or death rituals. Similar to other origin of ghost instead of being released into heaven the spirit stays on earth looking for family and relative for closure. It was both unconventional birth and death that leads to the belief of this ghost.

The absence of a proper burial is evident to the lack of family. The woman was pregnant without a husband, which is deemed unconventional and unacceptable by many societies. With no family she had no one to give her a proper funeral. Her ghost, in my opinion, is then her spirit that lingers around looking for family to give her closure.

I think this story could also be an indirect way to teach girls the consequences of going against traditions. Since the woman in the story did not have a proper wedding, she then was not able to give birth properly: going against tradition in this case not only lead to her death but an unsatisfying afterlife.