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Folklore and Traditions               [back to index]

Have you ever wondered why some families celebrate holidays, eat foods, or sing songs that are different from other families?  All families have their own folklore and tradition: the things that people believe, do, know, make, and say. It’s important to preserve this heritage and share in these rich traditions with your family. Here are some stories and activities to teach you more about folklore and traditions, including how to celebrate your own.

  • “Why is the sky blue?” Many folktales and legends explain why certain things in nature are the way they are. You can make up your own folktale to explain something. Think of something you’d like to explain, like why the whale has a spout, or why leaves fall. Begin with "Long ago, …" and end with "...and that's why.”  Make illustrations to go along with your folktale.

  • Many folktales teach lessons about dangerous things and people. Think of a legend like la llorona and el cucuy, and then come up with a skit that demonstrates the lessons that can be learned. You might advise kids to listen to their parents or come home when it gets dark. How might you convince kids to stay away from something dangerous? Perform the skit for family and friends.

  • Ask your parents or another family member to tell you a folktale. Do you still believe the legend? Why? Discuss it with the storyteller, and talk about how things have changed. 

  • Many cultures have their own traditional folklore and stories. Ask a neighbor or friend from a different culture to share their family traditions and stories with you. Afterward, retell the story to a family member or friend.

  • Many people of Hispanic background make icons to represent special wishes and to ask saints for help or protection. These wishes, and the icons that represent them, are called milagros, which means miracle. You can make a milagro, too! Use things like tag board, construction paper, scissors, glue, paint and photographs to make your own milagro.  Remember to write a wish for the future on the back. Make a hole on the top of the milagro and tie a string to hang it up around your house. Invite friends and neighbors over to learn about your milagros and to share their own dreams for the future. Since milagro is made for a special purpose, you’re sure to hear lots of different stories.

  • Take a walk with your family. Have someone tell some legends about nature, like why the leaves fall or why the sun sets. During your walk, collect leaves, watch the sun set, or explore anything else you’ve heard a folktale about. You can even come up with new legends to explain the things you see as you walk.

  • Guatemalan legend has it that miniature trouble dolls, sometimes called worry dolls, can help solve problems. Draw or make some trouble dolls and keep them underneath your pillow. Should you or anyone else have any troubles during the day, tell one to each doll before you sleep. You might also write your worry on a slip of paper and tuck it underneath the pillow with the dolls. In the morning, the worry should be gone or the troubled resolved!
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