34 Weird and Wonderful Mexican Superstitions to Know

Mexican superstitions are as much a part of the culture in Mexico as the traditions and heritage. Many have been passed down for generations and despite the fact that a lot of people know that there is no truth behind having to do something a certain way to prevent bad luck, people do them anyway. 

Arguably each and every country and culture harbors some of its own unique superstitions and Mexico is no different. While traditions are practices that are passed down through the generations of culture, superstitions have more of a link to the paranormal or the unknown. 

They are used to justify things that are often beyond our control – i.e. doing this can lead to good luck/prevent bad luck, etc. The older Mexican generations are particularly superstitious and anyone with a Hispanic abuela/abuelito will attest to that. 

Many Mexican superstitions have roots in indigenous or Catholic practices, and even when people know that there is no truth behind them, they often follow them anyway out of habit. 

In the West, we have superstitions like it being good luck to gift someone a rusty old horseshoe, but bad luck to pass someone on the stairs. Mexican superstitions are often much more unique, and some of the most interesting ones are explored here.

34 Weird and Wonderful Mexican Superstitions

Burping expels sickness and evil 

Tzotzil people force out burps at this church to expel evil and sickness from their bodies
Tzotzil people force out burps at this church to expel evil and sickness from their bodies

Mexico is home to 68 different indigenous groups, including the Tzotzil people. Many of the Tzotzil people living in Chiapas state use carbonated drinks like Coca-Cola and Sprite in their prayers and religious ceremonies. 

If they or a family member is sick, they head to the church of San Juan Chamula in the indigenous village of Chamula and pray to their chosen saints to ask for healing. As part of their prayers, they light candles and guzzle down bottle after bottle of Coca-Cola while forcing out burps.

The burps are believed to be evil being expelled from the body and that evil is seen as the cause of the sickness.

Be careful about passing the salt 

You need to be careful about how you pass the salt to someone when you are at the dinner table in Mexico, whether you are at a restaurant or at someone’s house. It is considered bad luck for salt to be passed directly from one person’s hand to another.

There is even a name for this: “la mal sal”. (The bad salt). So instead, you need to place the salt on the table close to the person for them to pick it up themselves.

Keep your kitchen brooms upside down

Keeping an upturned broom close to the door of your house is supposed to deter unwanted house guests. This is mostly to keep away bad and menacing spirits but many abuelitas will also tell you that it should stop people that you don’t like from coming over and annoying salespeople, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. 

You need to exercise caution when sweeping floors 

As far as my Mexicans are concerned, you need to be a little strategic about when and where you mop or sweep the floors. if you sweep the floor at night, you are inviting bad luck into your life. 

If you sweep at the feet of a single person, it is said that you are sweeping away their chances of romance and a successful relationship, and if you sweep dirt out of the front door, it is said that you are sweeping good luck away.

Mexican New Year Superstitions

There are many Mexican superstitions focused around New Year’s Eve. For example:

  • Eating 12 grapes in quick succession at midnight means that you will have a successful year ahead

  • Running around the block with your suitcase means that you will travel a lot in the New Year

  • Wearing red underwear means that there will be a lot of passion in your life during the New Year

  • Wearing yellow underwear helps ensure you will find a new, romantic relationship in the New Year

Licking a piece of red string can get rid of the hiccups

Have the hiccups? Why sip water or wait for it to pass? 

Instead, you can lick a piece of red string. Doing so, and then placing it on your forehead (or the forehead of whoever is hiccupping) is supposed to get rid of your hiccuping spell immediately. 

If the piece of red string is so long that it dangles down from your forehead onto your face, even better. Looking at the moistened red string is supposed to get rid of the hiccups even faster. 

Aliens hang out at Tepozteco

El Tepozteco is an archaeological site in the Mexican state of Morelos. There is a small temple here that is dedicated to Tepoztēcatl, the Aztec god of the drink pulque. 

However, instead of being associated with the fascinating Aztec history, Tepozteco is more commonly associated with aliens. If you venture here, many locals will tell you stories about how they have seen unidentified flying objects. 

For decades, many people in the area have reported seeing strange objects and colorful flashing lights. If you travel to Morelos during your trip to Mexico, perhaps you can find out for yourself whether there is any truth to this or not.

Adorable bird mural painted on a wall in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas

Hummingbirds help your dreams come true 

Over 57 species of hummingbirds are found across Mexico and you might be lucky enough to see them or hear their songs in your travels around the country. In the Yucatan peninsula, the Ancient Mayans believed that when the gods created the Earth, they gave each tree, rock, and animal a special task.

However, they forgot to assign the important task of making wishes come true. So, they carved a little figure out of a jade rock and breathed life into it.

That little figure was a hummingbird and it immediately set to work making people’s hopes and dreams come true. Even today, Yucatecans will say that if you see a hummingbird and make a wish, it will carry it away for you to make it come true. 

Mexican superstitions
Mexican superstitions

The Mexican evil eye (Mal de Ojo)

Many countries believe in the superstition of the “evil eye” including Greece, Turkey, and Mexico. In Mexico, this is known as “el mal de ojo” and it is said that people can make you sick or cause something bad to happen to you simply with a look.

If someone looks at you intently, or with extreme anger, they can pass negative energy on to you. Some people are so concerned about the mal de ojo that they purchase talismans to defend against it.

Babies and small children are considered defenceless and not strong enough to ward off the ill will of the evil eye themselves. So, superstitious parents may tie a pendant or a red string bracelet around the child’s wrist.

Mexican superstitions
Mexican superstitions: Fun street art in San Cristobal

Protecting babies from evil 

Super superstitious Mexicans often follow several practices to make sure that they do everything within their means to protect their children from any possible sickness or ill will. 

Common practices include putting the child’s underwear on inside-out, placing objects under the baby’s bed or hammock in the shape of a cross, or even, more disgustingly, rubbing the used underwear of the baby’s father on the baby for protection!

Different methods of “protection” are used in different parts of the country. 

Never let your purse touch the floor 

One of the more popular Mexican superstitions is if you let your purse touch the floor, you will lose money so you should always hang it up or place it on a chair or table. Whenever you enter a bar or a restaurant in Mexico, you will be presented with a little bag holder/coat rack to hang your things on.

This is for both superstitious reasons as well as simple politeness and good hygiene. (After all, you don’t really want to put your things on the floor where people have been walking.)

Never drop a precious tortilla!

Never drop a tortilla on the floor

Local folklore says that if you drop a tortilla, your in-laws will pay you an unexpected visit. So, exercise caution at all times when preparing a quesadilla, a burrito, or whatever. 

This is not only an unfortunate waste of food. The moment that soft tortilla hits the kitchen floor, your suegra (mother-in-law) might materialize at the kitchen window! 

Tortillas determine your relationship success

Older generations of Mexicans will tell you that how your tortillas turn out when you make them for the first time can really impact the success of your relationships. 

If you make tortillas and they puff up and turn out fluffy and delightful, you are ready for marriage and perhaps your soulmate is right on the horizon!

Unfortunately, the alternative is that if your tortillas don’t rise, you are destined to live with your parents forever. Perhaps you will become a classic cat lady with 8 cats (or the male equivalent). 

Who can be certain? The tortillas have spoken. 

Seeing the Bride in her wedding dress

Some Mexican superstitions are things that are shared with the rest of the world and that includes the belief that it is very bad luck for the groom to see the bride’s wedding dress before their marriage, or for him to see her on the day of the wedding

Black moths symbolize death 

Black moths are abundant in hot, humid parts of Mexico and cross the country, they are known as “mariposa de la Muerte” or the “butterfly of death”. They are much much larger than “regular” moths you may be used to seeing in your home country too, which is not ideal if you hate creepy crawlies.

It is generally considered bad luck any time that you see them, but if there is a sick person in the house and a black moth happens to find its way inside, it is considered an omen of death. So, if you ever see one of these moths in your living space, be sure to sweep it out promptly!

Don’t go into the river at night. La Llorona is waiting 

La Llorona is one of the more terrifying Mexican superstitions and one that has terrified Mexicans for generations. The story of La Llorona pre-dates the Spanish colonization of Mexico and tells the story of a vengeful woman who can be found near bodies of water at night, mourning the death of her children who drowned.

Whether or not La Llorona is based on someone who actually once existed is debatable but people will jest that if you go to lakes, rivers or other bodies of water at night, she may be waiting.

Some even say that La Llorona will kidnap children that she finds around the water after dark. You know, to make up for those that she lost… 

Tuesday 13th is an unlucky day 

In Mexico, it isn’t Friday the 13th that is considered unlucky, but Tuesday the 13th (martes trece). The number “13” is universally and internationally associated with bad luck and in Mexico, like in the US and other countries, many Mexican hotels and office buildings will not have a 13th floor.

As you go up in elevators, ou will often note that the numbers skip right past number 13. 

Eggs and chickens can cure depression

Curanderos are Mexican folk healers/witch doctors that can be found in some parts of Mexico and across Latin America. They use a blend of ancient Aztec, Catholic, and Mayan traditions to develop various rituals said to cure physical and mental ailments.

If people feel depressed or anxious, curanderos believe that this can be cured with a chicken egg.

The curandero will brush the person’s head with a sprig of rosemary to dust away any negativity. Then, they will rub an egg over the person’s body before placing it in a glass of water and breaking it. 

The curandero will observe and analyze the shapes of the egg in the water, much like someone would when reading coffee beans. From that, they will tell the patient their predictions for their future, and the steps they need to take to get better. 

The ceremony is closed out by saying prayers and spraying the person with a spritz of perfume.

Umbilical cords are sometimes buried 

In some rural Mexican communities, a babys umbilical cord is buried under a tree in their new hometown after they are born. The practice is said to help the child set down roots, grow, and thrive within their community. 

Eclipses can cause deformities in babies 

Perhaps one of the darker Mexican superstitions is that eclipses can cause deformities in babies. If you are pregnant in Mexico and there is an eclipse, you need to wear a safety pin at all times. 

Ideally, it needs to be fixed to your shirt/dress as close to your belly as possible. If not, you risk your child being born with a cleft palate. 

Mexican superstitions
Mexican superstitions

Fizzy drinks can cure a stomach ache 

Did you know that Mexico is the second-largest consumer of fizzy drinks in the world, second only to the United States? A lot of people believe that drinking fizzy drinks cures stomach aches and will often drink Mundet apple soda or Coca-Cola if they feel like they are getting an upset stomach.

Bread cures everything!

Bread cures all 

If you are frightened or anxious about something, no matter the severity of the situation, Mexicans will often tell you to go and eat a piece of bread. Often, you will be given a pan dulce (sweet bread) like a concha or a cochito (a delicious, spiced pig-shaped biscuit).

Mexican superstitions

Your ears can tell you if someone is gossiping about you 

Are your ears feeling hot for some reason? Do you hear a ringing in your ears? This is sead to mean that someone is gossiping about you. (It couldn’t possibly be tinnitus or any other plausible ailment!)

Yellow underwear means that you will be lucky in love 

If you are single and you have been dating nothing but a string of toxic Mexican men or women, there is a simple solution. You simply need to wear yellow underwear! 

Yellow underwear in Mexico means that you will be lucky in love. If you have had a particularly bad dating streak, you might want to invest in a couple of pairs so that you can maximize your good yellow underwear fortune daily. 

Never scratch your palms!

According to Mexican superstitions, an itchy palm means that you will be coming into some money but… there is a caveat!

It is said that if you scratch your palm, you will never obtain the money so you just have to ignore the itch and resist the temptation to scratch it!  

Never cook tamales when you are angry!

Mexicans will tell you that if you try and cook tamales when you are angry, they will not turn out correctly. They simply will not fluff up as they should.

There is actually some truth behind this. Cooking tamales is more of a complex, involved process than people realize and it is so labor intensive that it can literally take hundreds of hours to make a decent-sized batch of tamales.

So, if you are shaking with rage while you are cooking, it makes sense that your focus may not be 100% on making perfect tamales. Better to wait until you have calmed down until you are around hot pans and sharp knives! 

Pregnancy cravings

There are many Mexican superstitions surrounding pregnancy. One of the most famous ones states that if you don’t give in to your food cravings while you are pregnant, your baby will be born with bumps or spots.

So, if you are an expectant mom-to-be, you dont need to feel guilty about having that second slice of cake or going out for a hamburger – you are doing it in the interest of your babys health!

Mexican superstitions
Mexican superstitions

Being angry during pregnancy has side effects 

A creepy Mexican superstition about pregnancy states that if you are mad at someone while you are expecting, the baby will come out looking at the person you are angry at! 

If there is someone that you really despise, it’s probably an unimaginable concept that your baby would come out looking like an exact, miniature replica of them! Obviously, you want to be calm and relaxed throughout this period for yours and your babys health.

It is important to tell people about your nightmares

If you have a terrifying nightmare (pesadilla), tell someone about it. That way, you are guaranteeing that the events of the nightmare will not happen to you in real life.

This is very important. Nothing could be worse than having your hand gnawed off by zombies. It’s something you want to avoid if at all possible. 

Never share your good dreams

While you are supposed to tell people about your bad dreams, you should never share the details of your good ones. If you do, they won’t come true.

The burning of the old year

In some parts of Mexico, such as in the Yucatan state and the city of Merida, people burn a doll of an old man on New Year’s Eve. You can buy pinata-like figures of these dolls from various stores around town over the Christmas period

Many people also make them themselves. They may represent a random old person or a political figure. 

The burning of the doll, although it may seem a little barbaric, represents leaving the old year behind and welcoming the new one in. The doll is referred to as  “El Año Viejo” (The Old Year). 

As the doll burns on the campfire, people set off fireworks and tuck into delicious homemade Mexican food. My partner and I bought one (pictured above) but we became too attached to him, named him Juan, and now we will probably be moving him around our house for the next five years.

Never give knives or scissors as a gift

Gifting someone a set of knives or scissors is not the most usual gift anyway. However, if you have an aspiring chef in your life and you are thinking of purchasing some fancy knives, don’t. 

Gifting scissors or knives means that you will cut your ties with someone later down the line. Some people might even take it as a hint that you want to be rid of them! 

FAQs about Mexican Superstitions 

Do you have any questions about Mexican superstitions or beliefs in Mexico? I have answered some frequently asked questions on the topic below.

Hopefully, you will find the information you are looking for there. If not, feel free to reach out to me!

What is good luck in Mexico?

Various actions in Mexico are supposed to bring you good luck (buena suerte). This includes eating grapes on New Year, burning an “Año Viejo” piñata in the Yucatan, and wearing red or yellow underwear to attract certain types of relationdhips into your life.

What is a good luck charm in Mexico? 

Good luck charms known as milagros are supposed to keep people safe and protect them against evil spirits and bad luck. These are small metal religious charms that are often made in the images of people praying, animals, or other symbols that have meaning behind them. 

What are some Mexican beliefs?

Most Mexicans are Catholic and a lot of people here are very religious. So, many believe that they will have good fortune if they pray to their saints or show their dedication to religious figures. 

There are also a lot of other religions and Mexican superstitions about things that are bad luck and things that are good luck. A lot of people in some parts of Mexico (like Catemaco in Veracruz and Oaxaca) believe in curanderos (witch doctors) and Brujas and Brujos (witches and wizards) as people who are able to help them with various ailments and life problems. 

Final thoughts on Mexican superstitions

Have you heard of any of these Mexican superstitions before? What did you think of them? Do you have any superstitions that people believe in your own country? 

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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