My daughter had chicken pox recently, quite badly, and was covered in horrid itchy red spots for days. One of the treatments I’d read about – book, website, parents’ forum, can’t remember where – was a camomile bath, using an infusion made with teabags – easy peasy. It seemed to help a bit, but the poor thing was miserable again soon afterwards.
One morning while she was ill, my husband was chatting to his friends in the bar where he has breakfast (as they do here in Andalucia) about her sufferings, and one of the (older, female) clients was horrofied that we’d given her a bath. She told him that bathing a child with varicella could kill them – the infection will get inside their body – “se mete dentro la enfermedad y su puede morir“.
Where does she think the spots came from in the first place? A pox-devil with an evil magic wand? My husband’s aunt backed up this theory (as did a friend’s husband), adding another priceless piece of antiquated nonsense that women having their period shouldn’t have a bath or it will make them go blind – something about regla and ciega. Boy am I’m glad I wasn’t around for that one.
These extraordinary pseudo-medical assertions brought a smile to my face for the first time in days of constant toddler whinging, so I thought I’d find some more nutty superstitions to share.
When a baby is 40 days old (it’s never a month here, or 2 weeks – 40 days! 15 days! Why?), you should trim its nails for the first time (surprisingly sharp, they really can cut you) and then throw down a well for good luck. Not sure how much the owner would like teeny-tiny razor blades appearing in his drinking water.
My friend Lucy told me her her suegra (mother-in-law) was horrified that she didn’t wear a faja (girdle) after giving birth. I think mine knew better than to suggest that to me after I bore her grandchildren.
Lucy also heard another theory, that your pregnancy antojos (cravings) can give your children related birthmarks: eat too many strawberries, and your baby will bear a fruity-shaped mancha.
Lesley’s suegra puts the end of a cucumber on her forehead to ward off migranes.
If you live in Spain, you will inevitably have been regaled about all the uses of olive oil, other than cooking: it is the best thing for cradle cap (newborn baby’s dry scalp), stretch marks, constipation, and a host of other problems.
I’d love to hear any more crazy Spanish cures or typically melodramatic (“it will kill you”) medical theories.