Tamales in Christmas

Main piece: 

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.

Interviewer: Can you tell me about the tamales? When you make them for Christmas? 

Informant: Oh of course! Well you know how it works. Everyone has to contribute in one way or another. For example, your mom and sister help me with the preparation and you and your dad put the money. And that way everyone puts their share. 

Interviewer: But isn’t there like a myth where if you get mad, the tamales don’t cook? 

Informant: That’s very true so don’t you dare get mad. 

Interviewer: But why? What happens? Or how do they not cook? 

Informant: They just don’t, don’t you remember 2 years ago we had to start over because your mom got mad and they didn’t cook. 

Interviewer: Oh yeah but maybe that’s just a coincidence? 

Informant: No it is real. And if you get mad you have to dance or they won’t cook. 

Background: My informant here was my grandma who’s staying with us during COVID-19. She was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but lives in the U.S. with us for the most part. She has been helping us make tamales every year for Christmas. She says that when she was younger, her family would circle around a table and each person a specific task in making the tamales. 

Context: I sat down with my grandma and asked her about this myth. I didn’t tell her it was for a project but I just brought it up and then recorded the interview above. The setting was first in the kitchen and then proceeded to the living room. 

Thoughts: I’ve heard of this myth in Mexico before from other family but my mom and grandma tell it to us all the time around christmas time. Getting mad is very bad so I usually just go to my room to avoid anything of the fuss. I don’t think it’s true. Maybe if you get mad, you don’t have the same desire or mood to cook and it’s easier to mess up. But I don’t think it has a direct relationship but I find it cool that it’s a very common myth in Mexico.