Informant: When I was pregnant my mom- you know the news tells you when there is gonna be an eclipse– well she saw that and she told me that I needed to place a safety pin near my stomach inside of my shirt, near my stomach.
Interviewer: What was this for exactly?
Informant: It was supposed to be to avoid harming my baby–defects, birth defects. I don’t know of what kind. Maybe a lazy eye? I don’t know. Haha.
Interviewer: Were eclipses usually known to cause babies harm?
Informant: That’s what they say. I don’t think there is scientific proof on that. My guess is someone had a baby with a deformity and then they blamed it on the eclipse and it spread. I don’t know. I’m just guessing.
Interviewer: Did you do it?
Informant: The consequences of not doing it, even as silly as it sounded, was tugging against me. What if something did go wrong? There didn’t seem to be any logic to the request, but it was simple so I did it. My mom was happy that I followed, and there was a sense of protecting my baby and doing it in case something were to happen to her during the eclipse. I had it secured so it wasn’t gonna poke me, haha.
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.
During our interview, we were discussing all of the different experiences with folklore that she experienced when she was pregnant with her kids. She mentioned a safety pin and eclipse in passing, and I asked her to discuss it further as it was my first time hearing about it.
This form of folk protection is very rooted in the belief of superstition and fear of the unknown that expecting mothers can feel when they are carrying. Wanting to do everything to protect the child, the informant listened to the superstitions and how to protect the baby that were passed down to her from her own mother. This shows the flow of pregnancy superstitions via maternal channels, and the spread of cultural premonitions and protecting practices.