Let the Puerto Rican Superstition Be: I will not wear bobby pins to sleep tonight

Let the Puerto Rican Superstition Be: I will not wear bobby pins to sleep tonight

 mom in graduation hat

My mom was a very typical Puerto Rican woman. She voted in every election and passed that habit onto me. She spoke Spanglish with gusto.   She loved rice and beans and dark, strong coffee. She was also very superstitious and a bit of a hypochondriac which she combined into a mega force of beliefs.  I was not to take a single step with just one shoe on, nor was I to open the refrigerator door right after showering.   We rejoiced when our palms itched and fretted when our left ear was hot. I grew up a hot mess of superstitions. I didn’t necessarily always believe them but there was a bit of joy in following the superstition protocols.

My mom’s birthday would have been today and there is no way that I can’t think of her many superstitions and beliefs. Lately, I have been doing something she would have been immensely worried about. See, when I was growing up, I was to never, ever wear bobby pins in my hair at night. It was unimaginable to sleep with pins in the hair. She was dead set against such an action.

In some old beliefs, it was considered lucky to find a hairpin. There was a famous, very successful basketball coach named Adolph Rupp. Just like any other sports player he had various good luck superstitions and rituals. One such belief was that he would have a very good game if he were to find a bobbly pin the day they played. My mom did not have that specific belief in particular. She did believe in wearing bobby pins when visiting other people’s houses so that one wouldn’t leave a stray hair behind. It was, in her opinion, unsafe to wear bobby pins at night. She always admonished me to take them out before I went to sleep.

Wearing bobby pins invited trouble. The metal somehow called out to the evil spirits. Plus, she was afraid that the bobby pins would pierce my brain. Considering that I was labeled as gifted, there was no way that we should tempt fate.   Fro the longest time, I did not ear bobby pins at night. I know many people do so. As a matter of fact many people advocate for its use when trying to calm a cow lick or keep a newly crafted hairstyle in place.   It was not until recently tat started sleeping with bobby pins in my hair. As someone with a natural set of extreme curls, it is advantageous at times to sleep with my hair pinned back. This way my hair is not crazy in the morning.  My mom didn’t have curly hair. Thus, she had no idea what I went through day in and day old with curls that had a will of their own.

I just got my hair straightened out a bit, again. I have been going back and forth the last few months with my hairstyles. I needed to pin my hair down to keep my new style in place. I didn’t take the pins out that first night and I have left them in thereafter each night. Every time I purposely leave them in I cringe a little thinking of my mom’s admonitions.  However, I truly had to and I don’t think I believe that they will pierce my brain. A part of me that has been overly conditioned to believe in those superstitions still wonders at that idea. Perhaps it is best to let some things be and not outgrow them as they keep us connected to some warm parts of our past.

Since it is my mother’s celestial birthday, I believe tonight I will take those bobby pins out so that she may indeed have some rest tonight. No need to worry her further considering that already I have been opening the umbrellas inside the house and I have, indeed been opening that refrigerator door right after showering.  I will let the bobby pin superstition remain in my consciousness and drive my actions tonight.

Rest well, tonight mom. Those bobby pins are coming out.

4 replies »

  1. This reminded me of throwing a surprise birthday for a friend only to have her shriek in terror when we yelled “Surprise!” We had scheduled the party for the day before her actual birthday and apparently it was bad luck to celebrate before the actual day.


  2. Some of us moms have the strangest (and sometimes most infuriating, if we ask our children!) ways of showing our love for our children, don’t we? Before I send my 20-something year olds unrequested advice or nosy questions, I always start with “Just call me grandma!”


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