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Se Casa La Bruja

GUEST POST BY THERESA GONZÀLEZ

 
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Have you ever wondered why it rains on a sunny day or why your ears suddenly start burning?

The mindless act of scratching an itch may be meaningless to some, but if that itch is on your palm, you better tuck it into your bra! An itchy palm means you’ll be coming into some money.

Even if next time you go out, you find a coin or a dollar on the ground, the deed is done. But, don’t just pick it up and put your winnings in your pocket. It’s yours if the coin heads up. If its tails, it is someone else’s treasure, so leave it for them. You must, however, flip it over to heads and say “suerte”, good luck, so they’ll recognize it when they see it. On the flipside, if you put your purse on the floor, you’ll lose or end up spending too much money. This superstition is practiced by most Latinos I know. There is always a designated place to leave your purse when you visit their home or we usually go out in odd numbers so we’ll have an extra chair at a restaurant to put our purses.

The Latino culture is rich with superstitions, or old wives tales. They are woven into our daily lives and we do them out of muscle memory. The thought of not performing the ritual puts us in a panic while we wait out our fate. We start counting the upcoming bad occurrences because rest assured, they will happen. The rule of threes must come to pass before the curse is lifted, and after the third thing goes wrong, we are free to continue your life as usual. However, don’t get cocky and think that things weren’t so bad, lest you bring on a whole new dose of malasuerte, bad luck. The thing about superstitions is that one thing always leads to another, which leads me to my next point.

The most widely known superstition is to knock on wood in the hopes that something bad doesn’t happen at the mention of it. For example, if you are telling someone of your good fortune, you’d knock on wood to prevent it from being jinxed. This superstition goes along the lines of “mal de ojo”, or evil eye, a curse meant to bring harm to someone or something you admire enviously. You can break this malady by touching the object or person. But if you are too far away, then make the sign of the cross with your eyes while saying, “Que Dios te guarde”, may God protect you. This ritual is especially important when we are meeting a new baby. Everyone must caress the baby as to not inflict harm or injury. If a baby catches mal de ojo, she or he must be seen by a curandero, a spiritual healer, to ward off the evil eye by curing them with an egg.

To perform a limpia de huevo, the egg must be passed all over the baby’s body while the healer prays away the bad vibes. Then the egg is cracked into a glass and the curandero interprets what or who gave them the evil eye. Measures must be taken to prevent another hechizo, or spell.

We’ve all been scolded for going outside barefooted after we’ve taken a shower, and we’d never dare leave the house with wet hair because we will, without fail, come down with a nasty cold that only Vivaporú,  Vicks VapoRub, can cure. We’ve all experienced life enough to know that sickness is caused by germs and viruses, so why is it physically impossible to at least put on a pair of socks if we have to get something out of the car at night? I’m sure you can hear your mother yelling while you read this. You will inevitably get the hiccups and have to wad a red thread with saliva and wear it on your forehead until they pass.

Again, as adults, we know that all you need to do is gulp a full glass of water, but we all wonder where we left the spool of thread at the first sign of discomfort while we thank the heavens we’re not in public. I am convinced that Latinos own this one because my non-Latino friends who show up to work with wet hair knotted in a bun don’t understand why I check up on them throughout the day.

Who knows where all these rituals come from?

They don’t make scientific sense, but we can’t help but play along. God forbid, (knock on wood), we tempt fate and find ourselves in dire straights. When it rains on a sunny day, people from Latin American countries say “se casa la bruja”, the witch is getting married. Most people will run for cover when it rains which explains the meaning. If you knew of a witch getting married, you’d probably want to hide and take no part in it so she won’t cast a spell on you. This is not a ceremony you’d want to witness but you can’t help but stare out of curiosity. Another interpretation is that the devil is beating his wife when this phenomenon occurs.

The Sun’s heat represents Satan and the rain is his wife’s tears.

I’ve always been fascinated by these wonders because throughout my life they’ve usually rung true. They seem to have a connectivity to one another; superstition to ritual, beliefs fluidly passed down to the next generation, mutual understanding amongst your Latino peers regardless of country of origin. For example, my grandmother used to tell us not to pluck out our gray hair because you will grow more and that the reason you get gray hair is because we worry too much.

Maybe she started going gray because she was getting old or maybe we worried too much because of the responsibility of adulthood. Either way, we all think twice about plucking out those suckers when we see them in the mirror. So instead, we get our hair colored or we cut it really short. We cover, we mask, we complain, but we never pluck.

Here are some of my other favorites and some that friends, family, and acquaintances have shared with me.

Sweeping
  • Never sweep at night
  • Never sweep dirt out the door
  • Never sweep someone’s feet for they will never marry
Silverware
  • If you drop a fork, you’ll have company soon
  • Never stir anything with a knife for it will bring bad luck
Pregnancy
  • Never sleep on your back because setepega el niño, your baby will get stuck
  • During an eclipse, wear red undies and put a safety pin over your belly button to prevent birth defects
  • Don’t raise your arms over your head because the stretching can strangle the baby
  • A pregnant woman’s saliva will help the swelling and pain of a bee sting
The Body and Personality
  • If your joints ache, rain is coming
  • Take a spoonful of sugar if you get a susto, a scare
  • A limpia de huevo can cure all unexplained ailments
  • If children are acting up, Ahí viene el norte, a cold front is coming or there will be a full moon that night
  • If you want to keep a man or take him away from someone else, cook him some food with a drop of your menstruation blood

P.S. The next time your ears are burning, try this remedy. Bite your tongue while you curse the one who is hexing you. I can’t explain why it works, but it always does!

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Theresa González is a Bilingual/ESL teacher. She also advocates for children with autism and has a son on the spectrum. Theresa is an avid reader, pop-culture enthusiast, yoga novice, and loves to discuss Latino life. She is the editor of #OwnYourEnye, an interactive workbook about all things related to the Latino identity. She lives in Houston, TX with her husband, sons, and dog, Shadow. Find her @thezgonzo and @lamaestrabilingue on Instagram.

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