Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
Caribbean Folklore for All
Categories: Cuba Inside Out

The majority of Cubans are pretty superstitious. It is funny and annoying at the same time. In order to understand Cubans we have to remember that their society is a mix of atheists, catholics and African religion followers. We have a strange combination of marxism, the Spanish church and West African roots. Some aspects of the Cuban life you can explain, others you have to experience without expecting to get any answers.

I am not proud to write that sometimes I show supertitious habits and I cannot help it. My husband made fun of me one time I saw an apple left at a corner in Toronto and, like any sane Cuban, I dared not touch it. Apples are usually offered to Santa Barbara (Shango in the Santeria religion). It is best to leave them where they were placed.

I got the same reaction from him when I told him that I do not step on broken eggs at a street corner as it is a  sign of santeria cleansing as well. A couple of old superstitions are not to pass under a staircase because it means bad luck or to knock on wood  if you say something you do not want to happen. Encountering a black cat in the middle of the night also means bad luck and stepping accidentally on street poo means good luck or wealth. I think I should be rich at this point…

Here is a list of a few ridiculous beliefs that some Cubans have:

– Freezing the name of an enemy: Some people believe that if you put a piece of paper in the freezer with the full name of the person who is trying to harm you no bad thoughts or actions from that person can hurt you.

– If you do not tell people about your future plans there is more chance to achieve them: the secrecy of some Cubans about leaving the country, getting paperwork done or getting a new job it is just unbelievable. “No se lo digas a nadie para que se me de”. This weird and misterious behaviour has broken a lot of friendships.

– The Bad Eye “mal de ojo”: Since you are born you are exposed to this evil eye. Mothers buy St Lucia’s eyes as an amulet and pin them to their babies’ clothing for protection. It was hilarious to find the picture below online.

– A big fly in the house means that you are going to receive an unexpected visitor.

– A little bit of rum is poured in the room’s corner as an offering for the dead. I confess that I do this one a lot.

– Placing your purse on the floor destroys your plans.

– Placing scissors on the bed will bring you a fight with a loved one.

– When the new year comes you take a full bucket of water and throw all the water on the street to “clean” your house from all the bad things. It is not a good idea to walk around at midnight in Havana on that night, unless you want a cold shower.

– Making a toast with a glass of water will bring you tears and spilling water accidentally on the dinning table is good luck.

– Wearing your clothes inside out means that you will receive a present.

– Getting a haircut on Candelaria’s Day (Feb/2nd) will make your hair stronger.

– You should not touch any santeria work left by a tree or along the coast.

I am sure that the list could go on forever but so far the results of not following these “rules” have not turn catastrophic for anyone I know. In my opinion, people who do not follow any of these beliefs are just more free and less complicated. Perhaps I will not dare touching that red apple at the street corner for the rest of my life but I am not impress with myself acting this way.



1 Comment to “Caribbean Folklore for All”

  1. Ola says:

    Santeria work? What does that mean?

    (I know what Santeria is, I just wonder what kind of work you’re talking about, here).

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