Lunar Eclipse
Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

We had a total lunar eclipse tonight, February 20, 2008, viewable from both North and South America. My Mexican mother-in-law called my wife and told her not to go outside during the eclipse and to close all the windows so that no moonlight came into our home. Responding to my wife’s Americanized disbelief, my mother-in-law told her a tale of a long time ago when a distant relative had a miscarriage for failing to heed the pregnancy/eclipse warnings.

At about the same time, I was driving home from work and called my wife from my cell phone to warn her about the lunar eclipse—something I had remembered from my Mexican upbringing. She responded, “too late, my mom already called me to warn me.” We both tried but could not remember the Mexican reason for not going outside during an eclipse while pregnant.

Even though its probably just a Mexican myth passed down from generation to generation, I told my wife not to take any chances with our baby. We both stayed inside and I closed all the shutters and all the blinds like a good Mexican husband. As long as I could help it, no moonlight was coming in! Better to be safe than sorry. I love my Mexican culture and its effects on me! 🙂

I was curious, so here is what I found online about the Mexican Folk Beliefs regarding pregnancy, eclipse and other natural and supernatural things:

Burk et al. (1995) point out several Mexican American folk beliefs commonly identified in the literature that are culturally associated with “imbalances, nature and the supernatural” (p.44).

1. A primary example of this is the belief described by Burk et al. (1995) “that exposure of a pregnant woman to an eclipse will cause her infant to have a cleft lip or palate. The belief originated with the Aztecs, who thought that an eclipse occurred because a bite had been taken out of the moon. If the pregnant woman viewed the eclipse, her infant would have a bite taken out of its mouth. An obsidian knife was placed on the woman’s abdomen before going out at night to protect her. This belief remains intact hundreds of years later, the only difference being that today a metal key or safety pin is used for protection”(p.44).

Other Mexican folk beliefs include:

2.‘susto:’ (fright sickness) resulting from an emotionally traumatic event such as an accident or death;

3.‘mal de ojo:’ (evil eye) an illness usually affecting children, caused by excessive admiration or covetous looks by others without touching the child;

4. ‘caida de mollera:’ (fallen fontanelle) believed to be caused by handling an infant improperly, such as bouncing roughly, dropping, or removing from the breast or bottle abruptly;

5. ‘antojos:’ (cravings) the belief that an infant may have characteristics of an object that the mother craves during pregnancy if the craving is not satisfied (eg, the infant may have strawberry spots if the mother craves but dos not eat strawberries); and

6. ‘cuarentena:’ (40 days) the period following birth during which certain dietary and activity restrictions are observed to allow the mother time to recover from pregnancy, to bond with the newborn, and to prevent certain illnesses from occurring later in life (Burk et al., 1995, p.44).

Question: Have you heard of any other Mexican Folk Beliefs regarding Pregnancy?