Cover image for Dictionary of Chicano folklore
Dictionary of Chicano folklore
Castro, Rafaela, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvii, 332 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GR111.M49 C37 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Dictionary of Chicano Folklore charts the rich religious, social, artistic, and cultural heritage of Mexican Americans, who continue to evolve the customs and rituals connected to their Spanish and indigenous roots and the Spanish language.

âeuro;¢ Over 200 A-Z entries defining historical and contemporary terms, customs, legends, and rituals

âeuro;¢ 44 photos

âeuro;¢ Extensive bibliography

Author Notes

Rafaela G. Castro works as a librarian at the University of California Davis, Davis, CA.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

For the student, teacher, librarian, historian, storyteller, or researcher seeking details about Latino lore, this book provides 228 alphabetically arranged entries on literature, drama, media, art, society, religion, medicine, and history. Coverage includes the most common topics--"La Bamba," Cinco de Mayo, Quetzalcoatl, Tejanos, Tinworkalongside less common terms, such as Curanderismo (healing), Palomilla (group of friends), Sobador (masseuse), and an entry for Teresa Urrea, a psychic and healer. A five-page introduction differentiates between Chicanos and Mexicanos and clears up misconceptions that folk culture is solely the province of the primitive peasant. The text appears in clear fonts that pair roman with italic type for frequent citations and terms in Spanish, which Castro translates. She offers no pronunciation guides, which would benefit an English-speaking audience. Page layout is pleasant and easy on the eye. Cross-referencing and end-of-entry sources are balanced and proportional. Illustration is adequate, including black-and-white photographs and drawings as well as a spectacular, crayon-bright cover featuring a painting of a present-day couple contemplating La Virgen de Guadalupe. Castro lacks the succinctness and punch of an experienced writer. Her diction and rhetoric are muddled; paragraphs are overlong. However, she makes up for rhetorical faults with an enthusiasm and expertise in a wide range of examples, language quirks, and data that appear to spring from extensive reading in primary sources. In entries such as La Leyenda Negra and La Llorona, she is particularly adept at dispelling false or overly hasty assumptions about Chicano culture. The 56 pages of back matter offer an impressive bibliography and meticulous indexing. The lack of Internet sites is a puzzling omission. Overall, this useful dictionary presents basic concepts in an attractive, reasonably priced compendium. Its appearance at this peak moment in multicultural education should please purchasers seeking timely, informative reference materials that suit the needs of the general reader and student as well as the expert. The dictionary should satisfy the most discriminating researcher and find a place on shelves of public, school, and university libraries as well as in the collections of purveyors and performers of world and Chicano folklore.

Library Journal Review

This inclusive lexicon offers terms associated with the Chicano population and its history, experiences, and customs, though the focus is on Mexican Americans who came of age in the 1960s in the Southwest. The entries, which combine English and Spanish terminology, include definitions, commentary, and citations to Chicano folk narratives, arts, folk drama, and popular culture as well as the broad cultural studies already available. These entries give context to expressive behaviors and artifacts (urban tales, dance steps, joke cycles, dress fads, folk remedies, spiritual beliefs, holidays, foods, etc.) as well as words that have been absorbed into everyday English (burrito, coyote, frijoles, tamales, Los Lobos, etc.). Castro, a librarian at the University of Oregon, derived her material from scholarly studies authored principally by Chicanos and recognized scholars, including such notables as Mark Glazer, Aurelio Espinoza Jr., and Americo Paredes. This work complements such reliable sources as Michael Heisley's An Annotated Bibliography of Chicano Folklore from the Southwestern United States (1977) and Olga Najera-Ramirez's Greater Mexican Folklore in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography (1987), both older books. This excellent volume will find an audience with folklorists, scholars, regionalists, and library researchers and will likely become indispensable for both educators and students.DR.K. Burns, Hatboro, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

As each recent census has shown (and as the 2000 census will confirm) the US has a growing Mexican American (Chicano) population whose traditions are unfamiliar to non-Chicanos. Castro's dictionary is one moderately successful effort to bridge this cultural gap. The title identifies the book as a dictionary of folklore, but the nature and content of the uneven entries point to "culture" as perhaps a more appropriate description. For example, Castro explains the role of the abuelo (grandfather) in folk narrative, but when defining "adobe," only includes the history of this building material. She includes many Chicano foods: the definition of "taco" does not include any reference to folklore, but her explanation of "tamales" states without elaboration that families making them engage in a "folkloric performance." In references to food, Castro fails to mention the cultural significance of maize--a key ingredient in any discussion of Chicano culinary folklore. This basic cultural glossary lacks the depth its title implies, but it is suitable for general readers or lower-division undergraduates with no previous exposure to Chicano cultures. A. C. Barnhart-Park; Lafayette College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. xiii
El Abuelo (Grandfather)p. 1
La Adelita (Mexican Revolution Woman Soldier)p. 2
Adivinanzas (Riddles)p. 4
Adobe (Sun-dried Brick)p. 4
Agreda, Maria de Jesus Coronel de (The Blue Lady)p. 6
Agringado (Anglicized)p. 7
Aguinaldos (Christmas Gifts)p. 8
Alabados (Hymns)p. 8
Alambrista (Illegal Border Crosser)p. 9
Altarsp. 10
Arizona Folklorep. 12
"Ay Vienen los Yankees!" (Here Come the Yankees!)p. 14
Aztlanp. 14
Bailando con el Diablo (Dancing with the Devil)p. 17
Baile (Dance)p. 18
Ballet Folkloricop. 19
"La Bamba,"p. 21
Barbacoa de Cabeza (Barbecued Beef Head)p. 23
Barrio (Neighborhood)p. 23
Barriologyp. 24
Bato (Dude)p. 25
Bolillos (Bread Rolls)p. 26
Bourke, Captain John Gregoryp. 27
Braceros (Laborers)p. 28
Brujeria (Witchcraft)p. 30
Burritosp. 31
Cabeza de Baca, Fabiolap. 33
Calavera (Skeleton)p. 34
Califas (California)p. 35
California Folklorep. 36
Calo (Spanish Slang)p. 38
Campa, Arthur Leonp. 39
Camposanto (Cemetery)p. 40
Canciones (Songs)p. 42
Capirotada (Bread Pudding, Pauper's Grave)p. 43
Carpas (Tent Theaters)p. 43
La Carreta de la Muerte (Death Cart)p. 44
Cascarones (Decorated Eggshells)p. 45
Casosp. 47
Chanes (Water Spirits)p. 48
Charreadas (Rodeos)p. 48
Charros (Horsemen)p. 50
Chavez, Cesar Estradap. 51
Chicanismop. 53
Chicano (-a)p. 53
Chicano Parkp. 54
Chicano Spanishp. 55
Chili Queensp. 57
Chiquiao (Poetic Dance Tradition)p. 57
Chirrionera (Mythical Snake)p. 59
Chistes (Jokes)p. 60
Cholos (-as) (1990s Urban Youth)p. 61
Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May)p. 62
El Coco (Bogeyman)p. 64
Colchas (Blankets)p. 65
Colorado Folklorep. 67
Comadre/Compadrep. 68
Los Comanches (The Comanches)p. 69
Con Safos (Don't Mess with This)p. 70
Conjunto Musicp. 70
La Conquistadora (The Conqueress)p. 72
Corrida de Gallos (Rooster Game)p. 73
"El Corrido de Gregorio Cortez" (Ballad of Gregorio Cortez)p. 74
Corridos (Ballads)p. 75
Coyotep. 78
Creencias (Beliefs)p. 79
"La Cucaracha" (The Cockroach)p. 80
El Cucui (Bogeyman)p. 82
Cuentos (Stories)p. 82
Curanderismo (Healing)p. 83
Decimas (Poetic Narratives)p. 85
Descansos (Resting Places)p. 86
Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)p. 88
El Diablo (The Devil)p. 90
Dichos (Proverbs)p. 90
El Diez y Seis de Septiembre (The Sixteenth of September)p. 92
Dobie, J. Frankp. 92
Las Doce Verdades (The Twelve Truths)p. 94
Doctor Loco's Rockin' Jalapeno Bandp. 94
Don Cacahuatep. 95
Dona Sebastianap. 96
Duendes (Goblins)p. 97
Empacho (Indigestion)p. 99
Espinosa, Aurelio Macedoniop. 99
Fajitasp. 103
Fandango (Dance or Party)p. 103
Farolitos (Little Lights)p. 105
Fiestas Guadalupanasp. 106
Fiestas Patrias (Patriotic Festivals)p. 107
Filigreep. 108
Flor y Canto (Flower and Song)p. 108
Folk Artp. 110
Folk Dancesp. 112
Folk Dramasp. 113
Folk Heroesp. 114
Folk Literaturep. 116
Folk Songsp. 117
Foodwaysp. 119
Frijoles (Beans)p. 121
Gavacho (Anglo)p. 123
Gesturesp. 123
Gomez-Pena, Guillermop. 125
Gonzalez, Jovitap. 126
Graffitip. 126
Greaserp. 128
Greater Mexicop. 129
Gringo (Anglo)p. 130
Grutas (Grottos)p. 131
Guerrero, Eduardo "Lalo"p. 131
Habito (Priest's or Nun's Habit)p. 133
Hilitos de Oro (Little Threads of Gold)p. 133
Hispanic Culture Foundationp. 135
Hispano Culturep. 136
Huelga (Strike)p. 138
Huesero (Bone Setter)p. 140
I Am Joaquin/Yo Soy Joaquinp. 141
Indita (Indian Chant)p. 142
Jacal (Hut)p. 143
Jamaicas (Bazaars)p. 144
Jaramillo, Cleofas Martinezp. 145
Jaramillo, Don Pedritop. 145
Kermes (Festival)p. 147
Klicas (Cliques)p. 147
El Kookooee (Bogeyman)p. 148
La Leyenda Negra (The Black Legend)p. 149
Leyendas (Legends)p. 150
Limpia (Cleansing)p. 151
La Llorona (The Weeping Woman)p. 152
Los Lobos (The Wolves)p. 154
Low Riderp. 155
Luminarias (Bonfires)p. 158
Machismop. 159
Mal Ojo (Evil Eye)p. 160
La Malinchep. 161
Mandas (Promises)p. 162
La Mano Negra (The Black Hand)p. 163
Mariachi Musicp. 164
Los Matachines (Dancers)p. 166
Menudo (Tripe Stew)p. 168
Lo Mexicanop. 169
Mexico Lindo (Beautiful Mexico)p. 169
Mica (Green Card)p. 170
La Migra (Immigration Officials)p. 171
Milagros (Miracles)p. 171
Mojado (Wetback)p. 172
Mollera, Caida de (Fallen Fontanelle)p. 173
Moradas (Penitente Chapels)p. 174
Los Moros y Cristianos (The Moors and the Christians)p. 175
La Muerte (Death)p. 175
Muralismo (Mural Art)p. 176
Murrieta, Joaquinp. 178
Nacimiento (Nativity Scene)p. 181
Naranja Dulce (Sweet Orange)p. 181
New Mexico Folklorep. 183
Nichos (Niches)p. 184
Ofrenda (Offering)p. 187
La Onda Chicana (Chicano Wave of Music)p. 187
Oremos (Christmas House Visits)p. 189
Oso, Juanp. 190
Otero-Warren, Nina (Adelina)p. 191
Pachuco Crossp. 193
Pachucos (-as) (1940s Urban Youth)p. 193
Palomilla (Group of Friends)p. 196
Papel Picado (Cut Tissue Paper)p. 196
Paredes, Americop. 197
Los Pastores (Shepherds' Play)p. 198
Pedro de Urdemalasp. 199
El Pelado (The Plucked One)p. 199
Los Penitentes (The Penitents)p. 200
Pichilingis (Elves)p. 201
Pilon (Bonus)p. 202
Pinatasp. 202
Pintos (-as) (Prisoners)p. 204
Placas (Insignias)p. 205
Pochismos (Americanisms)p. 206
Pocho (Half Mexican)p. 207
Las Posadas (Christmas Pageant)p. 208
Quetzalcoatlp. 211
Quinceanera (Fifteenth Birthday Party)p. 212
Quinto Sol (Fifth Sun)p. 214
Ranchera (Country Song)p. 215
Rascuache (Downtrodden Folk)p. 216
La Raza (The People)p. 217
Relajo (Joking Behavior)p. 218
Religious Folk Artp. 219
Religious Folk Practicesp. 221
Remedios (Remedies)p. 223
Retablos (Religious Paintings)p. 224
Los Rinches (The Texas Rangers)p. 225
Rio Grande Blanketsp. 226
Romance (Sixteenth-Century Spanish Balladp. 227
Santa Fe Fiestap. 229
Santeros (Saint Makers)p. 229
Santos (Saints)p. 230
Sarape (Shawl)p. 231
Sirena del Mar (Mermaid)p. 232
Sobador (Masseuse)p. 233
Sopapillas (Fritters)p. 233
Spanish Colonial Arts Societyp. 234
Spanish Marketp. 234
Straw Appliquep. 235
Susto (Shock)p. 236
Tacosp. 237
Tale of the Lost Minep. 237
Tamalesp. 238
Tatuaje (Tattoo)p. 240
El Teatro Campesino (Farmworkers' Theater)p. 242
El Tejano (The Texan)p. 244
Texas Folklorep. 245
Tin Tanp. 247
Tinworkp. 247
Tio Taco (A Traitor)p. 248
El Tiradito (The Outcast)p. 249
Tirili (Language of Hoodlums)p. 249
Tonantzin (Aztec Goddess)p. 250
Tortillasp. 250
Urrea, Teresap. 253
Vaqueros (Cowboys)p. 255
Vasquez, Tiburciop. 257
La Vida Loca (The Crazy Life)p. 259
La Vieja Ines y los Listones (The Old Mother Game)p. 259
La Virgen de Guadalupep. 260
Wedding Customsp. 265
With His Pistol in His Handp. 267
Yard Shrinesp. 269
Yardas (Gardens)p. 270
Zoot Suitp. 273
Zozobrap. 275
Bibliographyp. 277
Indexp. 315
About the Authorp. 333