Category Archives: Superstitions, Beliefs and Bad Omens

Dominican Republic Superstitions / Supersticiones, Beliefs / Creencias and Bad Omens / Fucús

There are many superstitions, old wives tales and mystical beliefs in Dominican Republic as in all countries throughout the world. Here are listed the most unique and interesting to this island in the Caribbean.

Dominicans in general do not talk about the bad omens because it is said to bring more bad luck. Always remember, when a bad omen or fucú (also spelt fukú) occurs one must ward it off by making a cross sign with the index fingers remembering always to whisper, ever so softly, the word “zafa”. It is believed that by doing this you just MAY be safe if you happen to make a boo-boo and do or say the wrong thing. Don’t forget….

Asabache Amulets

Higa, Figa and Ásabache Amulets

Spanish seamen, being very superstitious, thought it brought bad luck to pass by some of the “cursed islands”. To deflect this bad luck some thought that by passing a cursed islands on the north side would bring better luck while others thought that passing by on the south side was better.

It was the perception that the devil brought storms and that many places were cursed. This is why the crew had to use something to protect themselves against this evil. Especially the evil eye.

The higa or figa, it is thought, was first used as a good luck charm, worn around the neck for protection. It seems that some were also quite large and they were also used to protect the animals such as horses or dogs. There have been many found in shipwrecks and along the beaches many of which are on display the Museo de las Cases Reales de Santo Domingo.

Asabache charms made from amber and black coral
Asabache charms made from amber and black coral

Ásabache or Figa

are small hand shaped luck amulets. The hand is clenched into a fist with the thumb sticking up between the index and second fingers.

These amulets have can be made from many different substances including coral, wood, ivory, natural crystal, jet and gold. They can be made from any material that could be formed into this fist shape.

There have been other items found, such as spoons and boxes, that are embellished with the figa.

In some countries the figa is considered to be obscene because of the hand gesture it represents.

Women & Children

Women, Children and Pregnancy

1. Luck | 2. Parenting | 3. Cures | 4. Menstruation | 5. New Mother | 6. Sex

Bad Luck / Good Luck

*When a baby is just born you say “God Bless You” to prevent the child from getting the evil eye

*Mal de ojo/ The evil eye is especially thought to cause illness in babies. It happens when somebody looks at a child with envy and makes compliments without without saying “God bless you”. If children become sick suddenly and without any physical reason and a doctor has no explanation is is for sure caused by mal de ojo.

*The “Ásabache” is a black hand or fist, sometimes a red and black bean that is used to ward off the mal ojo/ evil eye. Usually worn around the neck, even on a gold chain. Always a good baby shower gift.

*Never remove the ‘asabache’ until someone says it’s nonsense

*Put a small bracelet of beads on the child’s ankle or wrist to ward off evil and to bring prosperity.

*Be aware of brujas/ witches who try and eat babies (the legend of the bruja)

*The name is an important part of the person and can be used to bring evil to the person if it is known. Because of this a persons real name is usually kept secret. If your real name is known then you could be bewitched or sold to the devil by a Vendegete, or cursed by a brujo/ witch.This is why nick names, known here as Apodo, are given to children by their parents. These names usually are nothing like their given name but usually has something to do with their appearance. This way, by using the fake name it conceals their true identities from anyone trying to curse them.

*A small bag worn around the neck of little children is filled with garlic to ward off evil spirits, evil eyes and sickness.

*A small piece of black fabric must be tied around the right arm of a new born This fabric draws in and collects negative energy keeping it from the baby.

*In some areas of Dominican Republic prior to baptism they are given a baño/ bath to ward of the evil eye. This bath contains a mashed clove of garlic and three grains of salt added to the Agua Bendita/ Holy Water This mix is sprinkled on the child.

*If a child dies without being baptized they pass the time playing tricks on humans. For example, when you can’t find your eyeglasses or sewing scissors, even though sure you left them in a particular spot, it is probably because they were hidden by the duendes.(more on Duendes)

Parenting

*Some parents in Dominican Republic hang a baseball glove on the crib of a newborn baby boy as a good luck charm because they wish him to become a great baseball player.

*If you let a child see his or her reflection before they’re two years old they won’t talk.

*Do not get your baby’s haircut before he is one. If you do he won’t talk!

*If the hammock of the boy is rocked without him in it, this will cause the boy to become crazy.

*When a child bends over and looks at you from between their legs, it is said that they want another little brother or sister.

*Permitting a dog or cat, depending on who is telling the tale, to sleep on a child’s bed will make them not be able to have children

*Throwing a child’s milk or baby tooth on the rooftop when they lose it will make the new tooth come in strong and straight. (more information on this and the Ratoncito Pérez)

Cures

*If a baby is getting sick or congested take a hair off a menstruating woman’s head and tie it around the babies wrist for 24 hours and the child will not get sick.

*When a baby has hiccups, put a hair from the mother’s head on the baby’s head until the hiccups go away.

*To prevent hiccups when feeding a baby place a string from it’s blanket on the forehead.

*Whenever you say something nice about a newborn you must say que “Dios lo bendiga”/ God Bless. Not doing so may cause the baby to become ill or cause some other catastrophe.

Menstruation

*Do not eat guineos / bananas if you are menstruating

*Do not squeeze limons / lemons when you are having mensuration.

*Girls during the time of their development cannot eat green fruit or fruta agria/ sour fruit.

*If you pass over top of your husband when you are pregnant he will get all the morning sickness.

*A woman having her menstruation cannot enter a freshly seeded field because it will damage the crop
pregnant women are prohibited from eat cherries, lemons, codfish, and herring with fried eggs (typical breakfast)

*When a woman has her menstruation she cannot touch any cleaning products because she will get very sick.

Pregnancy

*Having as many babies as you can since they are all born with a loaf of bread under their arms.

*If your are pregnant and you hold a girl, and the baby kicks you will have a girl, and vice versa.

*You must never say no if a pregnant woman asks you for something that you are eating, if you do you’ll get a sty. To be on the safe side ALWAYS ask pregnant women if they would like some want of what you’re eating.

*A pregnant woman should not walk underneath a guanabana tree or eat guanabana as she may lose her child.

*Pregnant women cannot eat piña / pineapple.

*Do not look at anyone that is deformed while pregnant of the baby will come out looking that way.

*Pregnant women should not go into the ocean

*If you see a dead lizard in your house a woman will come out pregnant.

*If your face looks rounder, the baby will be a girl, and if you gain weight on your rear end, the baby will be a boy

New Mother

*New mother cannot have citrus fruits

*A women after having a child cannot wash her hair hair for 41 days or remove her socks for 41 days after giving birth.

*You must give a woman who just had birth sopa de gallina vieja / old hen soup.

*If you drop a spoon and the bowl of the spoon is up (it looks like a pregnant women) a new family member will be arriving soon.

Sex

*Having sex on a Good Friday (Easter Friday) is a bad thing. People who do, supposedly, will be stuck the rest of the