As a third-generation Mexican American, I didn’t grow up with a ton of old-school superstitions from my mom or grandma. Even so, I was definitely exposed to a few crazy Latino superstitions, including the old wives’ tales (or cuento de viejas) on this list.
Whether or not you grew up in a Latin American country, there’s no escaping certain cultural stories that get passed from one generation to the next. La Llorona and El Cucuy, anyone?
While some superstitions transcend cultures, like avoiding black cats or breaking mirrors, the following myths are rooted in Latino culture.
Did you grow up hearing these Latina superstitions? Have any of them ever proven to be true for you? I can’t say they have for me, but quién sabe?
I’ll never ever forget this one about la bolsa. Years ago I had put my purse on the floor at a baby shower and my sister-in-law’s mother almost had a heart attack. For the next 20 minutes, she went on to tell me about all the bad things that would befall me if I didn't take it off the carpet and how horrible it would be for me to lose all my money. As a practical matter, I no longer put my purse on the floor (it keeps my handbag from getting dirty) and I use magnetic purse hooks when I go out. After all, why take chances? 😉
It sounds pretty bizarre that anyone would mad-dog a baby, but Latinas have heard this one a million times. As if mama didn’t have enough to worry about, she has to make sure nobody touches or stares at her newborn too much for fear of “mal de ojo,” which could end up making the baby sick or worse. The only way to prevent it is with an azabache bracelet or charm. It’s quite practical not to have too many people touching a newborn (germs!), but just to make sure, you can always get this protection brooch to pin on baby’s diaper 😉
While on the subject of babies, Latina moms know that you should never cut little mija’s hair before she’s been on the planet for at least a year. This is an old wives’ tale in many cultures, but I know a lot of moms who still believe this. There are a few reasons: If you cut your baby’s hair too soon it’ll never grow back; if you cut it before they learn to walk it will delay their ability to walk; and if you cut it before they learn how to talk, they’ll never speak!
All the single ladies: Make sure you don’t ever get in the way of someone sweeping the floor with a broom unless you don’t want to get married. Oh, and to ward off any bad spirits, unwanted visitors and potential bad dates, make sure you keep a broom in your house upside down behind a door.
Have you ever seen a full glass of water on top of fridge or even behind a door in a Latina’s home? Chances are it’s to absorb negative energy or bad spirits. Growing up I had a Mexican neighbor who did a variation of this—she filled old milk gallons with water and placed them all around her lawn. In reality, she was trying to keep my dog off her lawn. It never worked. 😉
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