M is a Mexican immigrant from the state of Nayarit. She immigrated to the United States when she was young and resides in Southern California. She relays the superstitions of her culture to others and uses it as a conversation topic. She does this as a way of preserving her culture while being away from her homeland.
The context of this piece was during a road trip with M as we passed a cemetery while in the car.
Me:, ¿podrías contarme alguna superstición o tradición que tengas sobre los cementerios?
M: Bueno, en México, al menos en el pueblo del que vengo, creen que los cementerios son un mal presagio para los niños. Sí, creo que permiten que los muertos descansen en un lugar tranquilo, pero para los vivos, al menos, hace lo contrario. Es especialmente malo para los bebés o los niños más pequeños.
Yo: ¿Es específicamente peligroso para los bebés?
M: Sí, especialmente para los pequeños e inocentes bebés. Hay una historia en los cementerios que dice que si pasas por uno, ya sea en coche o simplemente caminando, debes llamar a tu bebé. Tienes que ir diciendo su nombre y llamándolo hacia ti. No importa si están a tu lado, debes llamarlos hacia ti y decirles que vayan contigo.
Me: ¿Hay alguna forma de llamarlos?
M: Puedes decir simplemente “Vamos, cariño, vamos” y luego decir su nombre. Tienes que hacer saber a los bebés que te vas y que deben irse contigo. Esto es porque se dice que desde que un bebé es tan joven y frágil su alma podría ser robada por un espíritu del cementerio. Por eso tienes que llamar al alma de tu bebé para que se vaya con su cuerpo.
Me: Well, could you tell me about any superstitions or traditions you have about cemeteries?
M: Well, in Mexico, at least in the town I come from, they believe that cemeteries are a bad omen for children. Yes, I think they allow the dead to rest in a peaceful place, but for the living, at least, it does the opposite. It’s especially bad for babies or younger children.
Me: Is it specifically dangerous for babies?
M: Yes, especially for small, innocent babies. There’s a story in cemeteries that if you pass by one, either by car or just walking by, you have to call your baby. You have to go around calling their name and calling them to you. It doesn’t matter if they are next to you, you have to call them to you and tell them to go with you.
Me: Is there a way to call them?
M: You can just say, “Come on, honey, come on,” and then say their name. You have to let the babies know that you are leaving and that they should go with you. This is because it is said that since a baby is so young and fragile its soul could be stolen by a spirit from the cemetery. That is why you have to call your baby’s soul to leave with their body.
Folklore surrounding cemeteries is a frequent topic across different cultures as its connections to the afterlife are strong. I found M’s interview interesting because it discussed a folklore that can be applied universally to any cemetery in the world. I like that folklore can be applied to any region in the world. I also found it interesting as M explained why it’s important to call for the name of the child as it is attached to its soul. It was also interesting to see the duality of cemeteries through M’s perspective. I always found cemeteries somewhat chilling, but I understood that it was someone’s final resting place so hearing about how cemeteries also take from the living.