Mexico Puts a Lock on Gossip

On a recent trip through Central & Southern Mexico, I had the opportunity to visit the gorgeous cathedral on the zócalo (the main square) in Mexico City, where I came across an interesting tradition of which I’d never heard.

I was actually on my way out of the cathedral when I passed a little table that seemed to be overflowing with red ribbons. As I was passing, a woman approached the table with another red ribbon in one hand but with a small metal lock in the other. Intrigued, I stopped and watched as she parted some of the ribbons revealing a metallic grid around which she clenched the lock she was carrying. She then took the ribbon, tied it to the lock, said a little prayer, and then left.

Now I was really intrigued. Stepping forward, I realized the the ribbon she had tied to the lock had someone’s name written on it. Confused, I turned to our Journey Mexico guide, Juan Carlos, who was already laughing at my bewilderment. “The ribbons tied to the locks,” he explained to me, “are placed here to stop people from gossiping against us. If you feel that someone is gossiping or speaking ill about you, you write their name on a red ribbon then tie it to a lock you’ve secured to this table.”

Apparently, once you’ve tied a ribbon to your lock, Saint Ramon Nonato, the patron saint of pregnant women and gossip and whose statue sits behind the table, sees to it that your slanderer is quieted. Needless to say, many in our group approved of this tradition and went looking for ribbon.

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