Mexican superstitions are as much a part of the culture in Mexico as the traditional food and Mexican traditions. 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.
This is particularly true of the older generations. Mexican abuelas are among the most superstitious people that you can find!
When it boils down to it, every country has its own superstitions and practices. Some weird and wonderful superstitions are practiced all over the world.
When it comes to Mexican superstitions, there are those that are commonplace across the country. Then, there are those that are native to a specific state or region.
For instance, superstitions believed by people of Maya descent in the Yucatan may be very different to the superstitions held by people from the north of Mexico. Some of the most common and the most bizarre Mexican superstitions are presented here.
34 Weird and Wonderful Mexican Superstitions
Burping expels sickness and evil
Mexico is made up of 68 different indigenous groups. The state of Chiapas is home to close to 300,000 Tzotzil people.
The Tzotzil that live around the town of Chamula often do not believe in modern medicine practices or they cannot afford it (or both!). So, when it comes to treating illnesses, they often look to spirituality or indigenous practices that have been followed for centuries.
One such practice is burping to remove any illness or evil from the body. If you ever happen to visit the church of San Juan Chamula in Chamula, you will see entire families sitting around next to dozens of illuminated candles.
They drink carbonated Mexican drinks and fizzy sodas like Coca-Cola. Then, they force out burps to try and expel the sickness and evil within…
Be careful about passing the salt
If you are dining out at a restaurant in Mexico or eating at someone’s house, you need to be careful about how you pass the salt to another person. It is considered bad luck for salt to be passed from one person’s hand to another.
In Spanish, this is known as “la mal sal”. (The bad salt).
The correct way to pass the salt is to place it back on the table first. Then, the other person will pick it up from the table themselves.
An upturned broom can keep away unwanted house guests
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.
However, many abuelitas will also tell you that it should stop people that you don’t like from coming over and annoying door 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.
You are not supposed to sweep at the feet of a single person as it is said that you are sweeping away their chances that romance and a successful relationship.
Wearing red underwear invites passion into your life
According to Mexican superstitions, wearing red underwear invites passion into your life. If your love life is unsuccessful, or you are in a long-term relationship that has become stale, wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve can help ensure that the year ahead is full of passion.
It is good luck to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve
There are many Mexican superstitions surrounding New Year’s Eve. One that a lot of people like to do, is to eat 12 grapes in quick succession as the clock strikes 12 at night.
Doing so is said to ensure that each of the 12 months ahead is positive, prosperous, and successful.
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 something else: aliens. If you venture here, many locals will tell you stories about how they have seen unidentified flying objects.
Many people in the area have reported seeing strange objects and colorful flashing lights. This has been going on for decades.
Is there any truth to it? Maybe if you go, you will be able to find out for yourself.
Hummingbirds help your dreams come true
You will encounter many stunning bird species when traveling through beautiful areas in the Yucatan like Rio Lagartos and Celestun. Many of them are native to this region and cannot be found elsewhere.
One stunning little winged creature that calls the Yucatan home? The hummingbird.
The 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, this is one of the more popular Mexican superstitions in the Yucatan. Locals say that if you see a hummingbird and make a wish, it will carry it away for you to make it come true.
The Mexican evil eye
The superstition of the Mexican evil eye is not exclusive to Mexico. In fact, many countries believe in the existence of some form of an evil eye or another.
The concept is perhaps most commonly associated with Greece and Turkey. In Mexico, the Mexican evil eye is known as el mal de ojo.
It is believed 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 Mexicans, particularly in the Yucatan, are so concerned about the Mexican evil eye that they worry about the well-being of their children and babies. It is often believed that babies are not strong enough to defend themselves against the ill will of the evil eye.
So, talismans are often used to defend against this. Most commonly, this exists in the form of a red string bracelet tied around a baby or child’s wrist.
Protecting babies from evil
Not everyone believes in Mexican superstitions. However, those that are very superstitious may do a number of things 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
If you let your purse touch the floor, you will lose money. When you enter bars and restaurants in Mexico, you will almost always be greeted with a little bag holder/coat rack.
This is partly just politeness and good hygiene. After all, you don’t really want to put your things on the floor where people have been walking. But at the same time, it is for superstitious reasons too.
Dropping tortillas means you will get an unexpected guest
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!
Your relationships are determined by how well you make tortillas
A lot of Mexican superstitions are centered around tortillas and other food items. One states 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. Perhaps your soulmate is lurking 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 Gatos (or the male equivalent).
Who can be certain? The tortillas have spoken.
The groom cannot see the bride in her wedding dress before the big day
Among Mexican superstitions, there are those that are shared with the rest of the world. One of those is concerning marriage.
It is believed 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. This is a superstition that seems to be relatively universal across the globe.
Black moths symbolize death
Black moths are abundant in hot, humid parts of Mexico. Across the country, they are known as “mariposa de la Muerte” or the “butterfly of death”.
It is generally considered bad luck any time that you see them. But this increases tenfold if there is a sick person in the house and a black moth happens to find its way inside!
Mexican superstitions say that if you don’t sweep the moth out of your house promptly, the sick person will die. So don’t be surprised if there is a moth in the house and your Mexican friend drops what they are doing to get rid of it immediately.
Don’t go into the river at night. La Llorona is waiting
Arguably one of the more terrifying Mexican superstitions is that of La Llorona. This legend has terrified generations of Mexicans for decades.
The story has it that La Llorona (or the “weeping woman”) is a vengeful woman that can be found near bodies of water at night, mourning the death of her children. This story has been told even before the colonization of Mexico.
Whether or not La Llorona is based on someone who actually once existed is debatable. However to be sure, many prefer to avoid lakes, rivers, lagoons, and seas at night.
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.
In fact, many Mexican hotels and office buildings will not have a 13th floor. As you ascend buildings in an elevator, you will note that the numbers skip right past number 13.
Eggs and chickens can cure depression
Curanderos are Mexican folk healers 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.
The rituals are often performed with the intention of curing physical 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 Chiapas coffee grains. 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. Then, a spritz of perfume is sprayed over the patient.
Umbilical cords are sometimes buried
Some rural communities in Mexico follow superstitious practices following the birth of a child. The women take their umbilical cords and then bury them under a tree in their hometown.
In doing so, they are said to be helping their 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.
Fizzy drinks can cure a stomach ache
One of the lesser-known facts about Mexico is that the country is the second-largest consumer of fizzy drinks in the world. Mexico comes second only to its northern neighbor, the United States.
A lot of people believe that drinking fizzy drinks cures stomach aches. Mundet Apple soda and Coca-Cola are commonly used for this.
Bread cures all
If you are frightened or anxious about something, Mexicans will often tell you to go and eat a piece of bread. Often, you will be given a pan dulce (sweet bread) or something.
Whatever it is that has scared you could range in severity from an earthquake to simple anxiety about filing paperwork or an exam. But since Mexican breakfast conchas are such a wonderful sweet pastry, it is worth a try, right?
Travelers need to walk with an empty suitcase on New Year’s Day
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are causes for big celebrations in Mexico, much like the rest of the world. There are many Mexican traditions around these occasions.
One is that if you eat twelve grapes as the clock strikes twelve, you will have a lot of luck and success in the year ahead. Another says that if you run across town with an empty suitcase, you will travel the world in the near future.
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?
As far as Mexican superstitions are concerned, there are no logical reasons for this. It couldn’t possibly be tinnitus or any other plausible ailment. Instead, it means that someone is gossiping about you.
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.
An itchy palm means that you will be coming into some money
According to Mexican superstitions, an itchy palm means that you will be coming into some money. However, there is a caveat.
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!
You should never try and cook tamales while you are angry
Mexican superstitions say 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.
So, if you are shaking with rage while you are cooking, or you are furiously angry, 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!
Not eating what you crave during pregnancy comes with side effects
There are many Mexican superstitions surrounding pregnancy. One that aspiring and expectant moms-to-be will appreciate is the one about the importance of eating whatever you please.
Legend has it that if you don’t give in to your food cravings while you are pregnant, your baby will be born with bumps or spots. This may well be an old wive’s tale.
However, this is one Mexican superstition that a lot of people decide to listen to. “Yes I will have that second slice of cake and I don’t need to feel guilty about it. I am doing it for the baby’s health.”
Being angry during pregnancy has side effects
Another more obscure Mexican superstition about pregnancy is that being angry while pregnant comes with side effects. 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. However, in some ways, this is good advice.
After all, when you are pregnant, it is not good for your or the baby’s health to be angry. Actually being enraged isn’t ever good for your health period. But in this time more than ever, prioritize self-care and don’t let yourself get angry about anything.
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.
It is good luck to burn a doll of an old man on New Year’s Eve
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.
You should never give someone the gift of scissors or knives
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.
According to Mexican superstitions, 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!
FAQs about Mexican Superstitions
Do you have any questions about Mexican superstitions or beliefs in Mexico? The answers to some frequently asked questions on the topic are detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information you are looking for there. If not, feel free to reach out!
What is good luck in Mexico?
There are various actions in Mexico that are supposed to bring you good luck. Burning a doll in the form of an old man on New Year’s Eve is said to resemble leaving your bad luck from the previous year behind, in exchange for good luck in the New Year.
Wearing yellow and red underwear resembles good luck and eating grapes on New Year’s eve guarantees a successful year ahead.
What is a good luck charm in Mexico?
According to Mexican superstitions, 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.
They often depict people praying, animals, or other symbols that have meaning behind them.
What are some Mexican beliefs?
Most Mexicans are Orthodox 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) as people that are able to help them with various ailments and life problems.
Had 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?