Indigenous Caribbean Network

I'm not sure if this is the proper group for it, but I figured that a thread discerning certain traditions retained within our own families are perhaps Taino in origin. If not it is still good to learn where various traditions stem from in relation to our family and cultural backgrounds

I'll list some:

A child's hair is not cut until they can speak.

It is not good to be like El Mucaro awake at all hours of the night, because that is when lo malo sale. (Coincidentally, my mom calls me un Mucaro and constantly gets on me for the reason mentioned above.)

You're not supposed to sweep at night.

You're not supposed to whistle in the house as that is seen as a way of calling lo malo (trae mala guero). (I have heard Haitians mention the same thing, so it is possible that this might be African or Taino in origin. Who knows maybe it is European in origin.)

You do not I repeat do not, touch a pregnant woman's belly. You don't know the touchees intentions for doing so.

If you hear someone calling your name and no one around you has done so, it is the dead calling you. You are to pray. Namely an Our Father and a few Hail Marys and a Glory Be (at least that is the way I do it.).

You do not out touch someones head/hair. If they do, you "dust" your head off. It is in many ways for the same reasons you don't touch a pregnant woman's belly.

Maybe this one stems from my being Catholic, but you do not allow anyone other than the parents to keep the candle given at Baptism.

When someone gives you too much of a compliment it means they want something you have. (I'm going to go out on a limb and say this is probably European in origin, but some Egyptians I've met believe the same thing.)

You save the babies hair and milk teeth when they fall out.

After giving birth, women drink a concoction known as 7 Jarabes/Aceites. It is supposed to clean you out of whatever may be left over. It is not done immediately after giving birth, but some time after. I don't think this is Taino, but at the same time I don't think it is African or Spaniard either. Hhhmmm... a hybrid perhaps ?

As gross as this sounds, you purge yourself monthly or every other month (I think it is every other month in practice.). It is meant to clean your sistema as well as your blood.

If going to someone else's house or going out to eat and you don't know how the food is going to sit with you, eat a Culantro leaf to avoid stomach upset.

Refresco de Jagua is good for your kidneys.

While this isn't really a tradition, I know in my home the method of eating is not fixed. There is no "Don't eat the cookies, because it will spoil your dinner. ". If you're hungry you go to the kitchen and get something if you are hungry. When there are parties the table is not really used. Typically most people are either standing, sitting on chairs etc. while eating. Most often children are the ones who use the table whereas everyone else is spread about. Not to mention this is the time when everyone decides to tell a story of when such and such was younger etc. (I've also noticed that this often happens when cooking as well.). Not to mention the music is typically close to full blast people are talking and everyone ends up dancing with someone older in the family (ie, boys will dance with their moms, their grandmas etc.). You offer the utmost level of hospitality, going so far as not eating yourself and serving everyone while astutely observing everyones reactions while eating. A good guest (typically a family member) relieves the host/ess of their duties and invites them to sit down and eat while they serve. You never kick someone out of your house even if it is past midnight and even invite them to sleep over (I think this is a universal.) You always offer people to take TONS of food home with them (para que no digan). Good hospitality equals a reciprocated invite.

When eating on a daily basis or even at a party, all the food is kept in the kitchen. Plates with the finished dishes are brought out on individual plates. The closest thing you will find on a table is salad, other than that there is no pass me this and or that. The typical phrase heard in the Puerto Rican home is, "Si quieren mas dejanme saber" or "Si quieren mas, vayan y sirvense.". Not to mention you pray before every meal.


Things I've read :

I know from what I've read that El Baquine is African in origin.

Anything else others might want to add ?

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Jonathan,
It was interesting reading your article. I am an Ojibwe native from Canada and could relate to certain topics you were identifying in your article.
For example our hair , there are certain responsibilities and traditions in keeping our hair. The hair is believed
to be our strength. It is sacred to us. In terms of food, it is always blessed and a woman on her moon cycle
(her time) does not handle the food. She is very powerful and is cleansing at this time.
There are sacred ceremonies where we offer food as an offering. This could be traditional foods like fish,
berries, or wild game that was eaten by our ancestors many years ago. No one eats the food until the spirit
plate of food is prepared. The food is usually offered to the sacred fire. This is to feed our ancestors in the spirit world and to give thanks.
The "ELDERS" are served by the younger people and this is a sign of respect. Than the children are fed and everone eats together.
When someone is very ill in the community or family....it was said in the old ways to be quiet. There was to be no loud music or a lot of activity during that time.
When there is a death or (passing) in our community a sacred fire is lit for four days. Once the fire is lit it continues to burn for the four days and nights. We have fire keepers who watch the fire during that time.
The deceased body is kept in the community centre where family, friends, community come to pay their respects to the family and the departed one.
The sacred medicines are offered to the sacred fire and prayers for the family and loved one.
On the burial day..a feast is offered and a spiritual plate is offered...and family and friends and community members join in the feast.
There is someone with the deceased family member for the four days....day and night...during that time.
The body is not left alone at any time. People come all hours of the day or night to be with the family.
to show their love and support for the loss of their loved one. There is drumming and singing taking place at this time. These are our ways in which we practice our tradition and culture.
The body of the deceased is prepared in a special ceremony and cleansed with certain sacred medicines.
There are certain practices that are done in honor of the spirit of the deceased person who is taking that journey to the spirit world. These ancient practices are the families choice. Sometimes certain families have christian beliefs and a church service is prepared. This depends on the particular family in the community.
Our food is always blessed and shared and everyone is fed.
Our traditional peope cleanse their home with certain medicines to rid the negativity in the environment.
and that is feels peaceful and calm. These are our ways and respect is a sacred way to our people.
Meeg-wetch...hope this was helpful...
warm regards...Rain
Thank you so much for the information. I realized in reading your contribution that I forgot to mention certain traditions, for this I thank you.

In my home when someone passes, no music,parties,loud noise etc. is allowed. One is to observe silence in honor of the deceased. This somber attitude transfers to the entire year for close kin. Yet again this probably stems from my being Catholic.

On New Years, my family mops/cleans the entire house RELIGIOUSLY. Not a speck of dirt is allowed in the house. The New Year is supposed to be received with a clean home etc. You're not allowed to be asleep when the clock strikes Midnight, doing this indicates that you have not accepted the New Year and will be stuck with the Old Years baggage or something to that effect.

When a woman is on her Menstrual Cycle, she is not permitted to touch someone's head nor cut their hair. My mom follows this almost religiously. Hence when I was younger and she used to cut my hair, she would not allow herself to touch my head nor cut my hair while on her cycle. When one of my uncle's got sick after getting a haircut, my mom said it was because the woman was on her cycle when she cut his hair. Aside from getting sick, a woman on her menstrual cycle can mess up someone's hair growth etc. .

Another hair tradition is that when a baby recognizes their mother, her hair thins.

When a pregnant woman spits a lot, it means that the baby is going to have a lot of hair.

A woman's beauty is taken from her with each daughter she has. It does not mean the woman becomes ugly, but rather that her daughters take with them a portion of her beauty.
Jonathan,
This is quite interesting. Re: the hair. My mother and many other Taino women in Boriken would say" it's good to let a pregnant woman cut your hair because your hair will grow in beautifully!"
New Years Eve, my mother taught me and I my nieces to cleanse the house in and out. We would clea within, with herbs boiled in water, the interior of the house wouldd be smudged (desajumerio) with incense and herbs to clean out any old bad spirits and allow only the good spirits given to us. Our major guardians and al those deigned by el gran poder y Atabey to guard us in all our affairs. Atabey translates to Guadalupe and Yucahu is Creator, Jesu, el Espiritu (Graet Spirit).
this is most interesting. Oma'bahari, Rose Xochitl Ana O Quinones delValle.

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