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In Latin America, oral tradition is a fundamental pillar in preserving culture. We learn the recipes of our cuisine from our grandmothers, and the stories of our ancestors are told over dinner or while drinking coffee in the garden.
However, one of the ways to preserve the cultural identity of our people is through sayings, which let our customs and genealogies shine through.
And who has more sayings than Abuelita?
Take a look at Abuelita’s most common sayings when we’re sick:
‘Eso fue el Sereno’ (‘That was the Sereno’)
Before social media and video games existed, we spent our childhoods playing on the street in front of our houses and in our neighborhoods. If it rained, we played pirates; if it was sunny, we played ball and made-up stories for hours, even when the sun had set.
If we got sick the day after playing in the street, Abuelita would always say, “that was the Sereno.”
Since colonial times, the Sereno was the person in charge of walking the streets at night to watch over the neighborhood’s safety. The expression became popular in the streets of 19th century Mexico when those who walked the streets at night and feared for their safety would say “será el Sereno.” Over the years, the phrase was also used if someone became ill with a cold at night.
‘Yo le dije que no anduviera descalzo’ (‘I told him not to go barefoot’)
In Latin American countries, especially in regions where it is colder, our parents and grandparents insisted that we should never go barefoot. Over time we came to understand that our ancestors believed temperature change is one of the main reasons for catching a cold.
Abuelitas, in particular, often attribute flu or colds to walking barefoot. Thus, if someone gets sick, the grandmother says, “it was because he was walking barefoot.” Although nowadays it is well known that the flu is due to viral infections, this is a saying that you always hear in Latino households.
‘Es que le faltan vitaminas’ (‘It’s a lack of vitamins’)
Similarly, when we were children, grandma was always concerned about feeding us so that we would grow up “strong and healthy.” If for some reason, we fell ill, the first thought was always that we lacked vitamins.
It’s no wonder then to see an Abuela Latina bringing us large quantities of natural juices and food when we got sick.
Although culture and the sayings of our grandmothers have been part of our upbringing, today we know that there are things we can do every day to help keep our immune system healthy.
Good sleep habits, learning to manage stress, and a healthy diet that includes vitamins C, D, and Zinc are just a few ideas.