Mexican Superstitions

Mexican superstitions run as deep as the rich cultural and religious history of the nation. Superstition and religion both delve into the realm of the unknown, using tradition and faith to give creedence to customs and claims that can't be verified in practical ways. While religion sometimes keeps superstition at bay, superstition has its own way of twisting stories and truths in order to keep the public in awe of its power. 

Superstitions Based in Part on Truth
One traditional superstition is that if a pregnant woman walks outside during a lunar eclipse, she runs the risk of giving birth to an infant who is part wolf or who has a cleft palate. This superstition is based, at least in a small part, on truth.

Babies born with a condition called hypertrichosis do grow excessive hair on their faces, necks and sometimes on their torsos and backs.  Hypertrichosis is a hereditary condition in which the eighth chromosome has been adversely affected. It has been given much publicity in the past 20 years in Mexico because of a family that shares the trait.

This superstition may have begun hundreds of years ago, when one of the first cases of hypertrichosis was found. The same may be true of a cleft palate, as this is a very common birth defect linked to vitamin deficiencies, congenital maladies and cell interference with certain drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.

Neither of these conditions can be blamed on a walk in the moonlight, but it may have been noted that a woman who experienced either of these conditions in her newborn had been outside during a lunar eclipse. Superstitions in place to counter this tragedy give the woman a chance to waylay this malady. If she must be out during a lunar eclipse, she can tie keys around her waist to reflect the light, thereby avoiding both problems.

The Evil Eye
Another common Mexican superstition has to do with the evil eye. Called "mal de ojo" in Spanish, the evil eye can cause all sorts of calamities to people and also to material items.

In reality, the evil eye can be condensed down to jealousy and desire. If a stranger looks upon your child or baby with either of these emotions in her eyes, she has just given your child the evil eye. To keep the evil eye at bay, whenever a person looks at a baby and offers a compliment, she must touch the child at the same time.

If a child is suffering from a high fever, crying fits, or nausea and swelling in some part of the body, it is generally thought to be due to the evil eye. If the person who gave the child the evil eye is located, she must pass three mouthfuls of water to the child to break the spell. A red bracelet can also be worn to protect against the evil eye.

Other widespread superstitions include the following:

  • Never walk beneath a ladder.
  • Never cross a black cat's path.
  • If you drop a tortilla, you will have lots of company.
  • If you cut a baby's fingernails before the age of one year, the child will have impaired eyesight.
  • Tuesday is unlucky; never start a journey or anything important on this day
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