Mordida

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Mexico
Age: 48
Occupation:
Residence: Minnesota
Date of Performance/Collection: April 12, 2017
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

A tradition is… what we call… “la mordida,” or “the bite” in Mexico. And basically, it’s when somebody has a birthday, and they get their birthday cake, and after singing “Happy Birthday” to the person, everybody shouts, “Mordida! Mordida!” which means “the bite.” Or, “Take a bite! Take a bite!” And so the person has to take a bite out of the cake without using his hands, just directly with his mouth, and when he takes a bite, usually people will push… their whole… will push their head into the cake so their whole face ends up with cake.

 

Context:

It’s just a funny, festive… it’s good-natured humor… you know, let people know that they are being celebrated and that they’re special somehow and they get, uh, cake on their face. Uh… and it’s just funny because everybody has a different reaction, and everybody ends up with a different face after they take the bite and get the cake in the face. And… I enjoy it, it’s fun for me, and I enjoy it because I think it makes a lot of people laugh… it makes the kids laugh… it makes everybody kind of enjoy, have a good time… uh… be good-natured, be relaxed, and… just kind of go with, uh, go along with the joke and… kind of, uh… just have fun while they’re celebrating the birthday.

 

Background:

I learned it when I was a kid. Actually, I got surprised by… I learned it because they did it to me, and I wasn’t expecting it, that’s how I learned it. And they did it to me at a restaurant, and I just didn’t expect it… the first time that I did it, so… uh… I was a little surprised, but I, uh, laughed, and it was funny, and… all my family laughed as well, and then, uh, of course, I couldn’t wait until it was the next person’s birthday so then I could it to them. So… that’s how I learned it, and then I… we kept on that tradition… um… with our family and with all our cousins and all our friends, and, uh… I haven’t stopped doing it since I was a kid.

 

Thoughts:

This tradition points to an emphasis on humor and lightheartedly poking fun at the birthday person– sort of a way of bringing them back down on their special day, but not in a malicious way. It’s a way for everyone to be in accordance about what must happen and come together to, in a way, gang up on the birthday person, while including that person in the joke.