Very Superstitious…


Mexicans are definitely a very superstitious bunch with a superstition or myth (mito) for every occasion. Perhaps the combination of Mesoamerican traditions and Catholicism have made this the case, but whatever the root, it is clear to see in everyday life. The local corner store hangs basil or other herbs at the entrance to ward off bad spirits, you see many people wearing red strings around their wrist for protection, there are tons of shops where you can buy every potion and incense and candle to rid you of evil spirits or bring you good ones and shock or “susto” is considered a serious matter that must be cured so as not to manifest itself as a physical illness such as diabetes.

I remember an old colleague telling me, “I’m not religious, I don’t believe in any of that rubbish, but don’t mess with Santa Muerte (the Saint of Death), because death is powerful.” This to me was a wonderful example of how superstition and belief in higher powers holds strong in Mexico even in many who claim not to believe.


The idea for this blog came about, when my boyfriend’s mum told me not to eat anything sweet after the shock of the earthquake a few weeks ago in Mexico City (apparently I was as white as the t-shirt I was wearing). She was so sure that we should not eat anything sugary, but that instead we should eat bread. Intrigued I looked this up on the internet in English and I found nothing. Switching into Spanish however, pages and pages of results came up. This got us talking, and it turns out there are plenty of other ‘mitos’ followed by Mexican families all over the country and many are things that you shouldn’t do for fear of something bad happening. When I probed people about where their beliefs in certain mitos came from, they nearly always said they knew someone to which the said bad outcome of doing something had happened, therefore they ‘knew’ it to be true.

Card readings, cleansings of people, cars and offices, these signs can be found everywhere.

Card readings, cleansings of people, cars and offices, these signs can be found everywhere.

Here are some of the most intriguing mitos that I have heard! There seem to be so many that are baby related:

  • If a women craves a certain food a lot when she is pregnant and she eats a lot of it, her baby will look like her craving. Thanks to Brenda at LaVitaminT for this gem! I also heard someone tell me the opposite, if, in fact, you don’t give in to the craving your baby will look like the unsatisfied craving.
  • If you iron clothes and then go and wash your hands afterwards, you will get arthritis
  • Going outside into sudden cold can turn you blind
  • If you go outside after eating to much you can get facial paralysis
  • Don’t sweep dirt out of your front door as you will sweep out good fortune with it
  • If you cut a baby’s fingernails before they reach their first birthday, they will have impaired eyesight
  • If a pregnant women goes out during a full moon the moon will eat her baby’s face resulting in the baby being born with a cleft palate
  • You must shave a baby’s head or they will have speech problems when they grow up
  • Eat chocolate if you get stung by a scorpion
  • A baby being admired too much but not touched will get the evil eye (mal de ojo). This can only be cured by the  admirer touching them or by taking the baby to  have a lympia (traditional cleanse).

I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg, please please send me all the ones you have heard or that your family have told you, I just love hearing them!

NB: I am not making comment on whether or not these are true, just simply fascinated by things I have never heard before. I would love to hear info and stories explaining them.


Photo Credit: Nikhol Esteras PhotographySusannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist. Her work has been featured in Condé Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, BBC Travel, The Independent UK, Afar and The New Worlder among others. Check out her portfolio here. Contact Susannah by email, info [at] mexicoretold [dot] com and join her on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.

40 thoughts on “Very Superstitious…

  1. I am moving to Mexico, soon. But this one made me laugh, if so all Canadians would be blind lol. Going outside into sudden cold can turn you blind.

  2. Love the post! Here are a few ones that I grew up with:
    – don’t ever put your purse on the floor, it’s bad luck and you will end up without money.
    -don’t walk barefoot in the house after been outside in the sun, you will get arthritis
    – don’t ever pass the salt shaker from hand to hand, it’s bad luck
    – don’t walk underneath a ladder, it’s 7 years of bad luck
    -don’t open an umbrella in the house, it’s bad luck
    -if you want to stop the rain, get outside with scissors and “cut” the rain pointing the scissor to the 4 cardinal points.

    I am pretty sure I will remember more later 🙂

    • WOW, thanks! I think some of these are universal too, like the ladder and the umbrella. Well we certainly had those in england! I love the scissors one! Gonna try it next time I want to go out when it is raining! 🙂

  3. I was just at Teotihuacán and saw many families taking infants and babies up the “Sol” pyramid. A local “informant” told me this is to bless the babies with the Sun’s energy. I am also fascinated by this topic.

  4. Interesting Never heard any of these before! One I remember when I was young: don’t cross your eyes when there is wind because you’ll stay cross-eyed. Also heard of the salt shaker one, and never do salud!/cheers with plain water it is bad luck, and always look into the other person’s eyes when touching their glass during salud!/cheers. 🙂

  5. cuando se le cae la mollera a un bebe…
    i have no idea if this is true…something about a baby’s softspot falling, resulting in a very irritable chilf

  6. Eating aguacate and drinking milk at the same meal will make you die.
    When I did publilc health nursing in San Antonio, Texas and worked with predominantly Mexican people, the babies wore ojo de venado to ward off evil eye.

  7. My grandma tells us if we have a bump on the side of our tongue it means we didn’t get something that we wanted

  8. A couple I remember off hand
    –rubbing baby urine on your face will rid the new mother of blemishes
    –rubbing breast milk on a new baby’s back will get rid of excessive hair
    –definitely the “ojo” …. When admiring a child you must touch them (pat on head) so nothing bad will happen to them

  9. My grandma used to tell me that if you spill salt, you come back when you die and you have to pickup the sail with your eyelids.

  10. When my friend was pregnant we were in traffic that was at a stand still. Someone walking by had a snake and thought it would be funny to scare my friend with it, she was driving. When she told her family they made her go get cleansed and sleep with an egg under her bed for a week or else her baby would be born deaf. Not because of the snake but because she got scared.

  11. I absolutely love this post! Here are a few i’ve heard over the 10 years i’ve been in Mexico:

    -Again with the avocado: Do not eat it when you are angry, it can kill you!
    -Do not eat watermelon when hungover, the high water content will hurt your kidneys (I laugh every time I hear this one)
    -If your food falls off your fork (or out of your tortilla) before it gets to your mouth, it is because someone else at your table craved it.
    -You must make eye contact while toasting (specially while clinking the glasses) to avoid having a terrible sex life.
    -Drink Milk if you have been bitten by a snake
    -No stepping barefoot on the floor… will result in a million terrible consequences from the common cold, to headache, to cold sores… if someone has it, it is always blamed on stepping on the floor barefoot.
    -Always beware the wind! You can catch it… or so i’ve been told!

  12. We had a Hispanic housekeeper and now noticing some strange things she did. Has anyone ever heard of getting dry dog food and putting in weird places? Found in closet, wrapped in bathmat under sink in bathroom, new pair of pantyhose wrapped with food, and in a pair of socks. Lol. Any one know why this would be done? Thanks

  13. Don’t sweep dirt out of your front door as you will sweep out good fortune with it is Jewish in origin (you are suppose to sweep it to the middle of the room because it was disrespectful to sweep dirt past the mezuzah) as well as the placing a red string on your wrist to ward of the evil eye. These were probably superstitions brought to Mexico and Latin America by New Christians (Conversos) forced to convert from Judaism during the Inquisition. La Cuarentena which is the quarantine of a mother after giving birth is Jewish in origins (see Leviticus 12:5) but it was also adopted by the Catholic Church probably sometime before the middle ages. It is known as the Churching of Women. La Cuarentana encompasses many superstitions involving baby and birth. I wrote an article about La Cuarentena and its origins. Let me know if you are interested.

  14. Here’s some I’ve heard.
    •Don’t bathe or even wet a baby after he hits his head.
    •Don’t sweep someone’s feet or they’ll never get married.
    •Don’t let babies see their reflection on a mirror or they’ll go crazy.
    •If you cut a baby’s heair before he turns a year old he’ll have speech problems.
    •Give a babies a taste of everything you eat in front of them or they’ll stay with the craving and “se les cae la mollera”
    •People get diabetes after a big scare or shock
    •People get hepatitis after a big scare or shock!
    When I was 4 I got hepatitis A in Mexico, the doctor told my mom to give me candy (I assume it’s was to counteract the nausea you get with the infection)
    Well my mom till this day believes I got hepatitis from the shock of moving to Mexico and because she wouldn’t let me have much sugar. 😑😑I’ve explained many times that hepatitis is a virus but she’s got her Mexican roots and thinking deep inside.

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