Friday, June 14, 2024

But what does it meme? Halloween and Day of the Dead edition

Want to know what’s funny in Mexico lately? If so, you’re in luck: it’s that time of week again – time for Mexican Memes! In preparation for both Halloween (celebrated in some places in Mexico) and Day of the Dead (celebrated everywhere in Mexico).

Here are some seasonal Mexican memes to enjoy and share!

Meme Translation: “Booo!… Booo!… Booo!… Haiga → Aaaah!”

What does it meme?: The “boo” and the “aaaah” are self-explanatory enough, but what the heck is “haiga”?

If you’ve made it into at least the intermediary levels of the Spanish language, then you’ve probably faced the dreaded subjunctive mood. For the verb “haber” (used both for “perfect” tenses and to mean, basically, “there is/there are”), the correct subjunctive third-person form is “haya,” as in “No creo que haya.” → “I don’t think there are any.”

Improper speech (think “ain’t”), however, abounds in any language. And for this verb, “haiga” is one of those words that grate on the ears of sticklers for proper speech. It was enough to make that guy jump, anyway!

Meme Translation: “You think your job is horrible? I have to lick everything that falls on the floor!”

What does it meme? When food falls on the floor in Mexico, the devil licks it – that’s why you shouldn’t eat it! That’s what Mexican parents tell their children, anyway, to keep them from scooping up whatever they dropped and shoving it in their mouths.

So next time you hear, “¡No lo vayas a comer, ya lo chupó el diablo!” (Don’t eat it – the devil’s already licked it!) You’ll not only know what they’re talking about, but you’ll know why the devil’s job satisfaction is, apparently, at an all-time low.

Meme Translation: “Wait! I forgot to put your hair in a ponytail… Too tight?”

What does it meme? Ask pretty much any woman in Mexico how they wore their hair in school, and they’ll probably tell you about the face-lifting tightness (with gel!) of the ponytails their mothers would style for them.

In most schools (private and public), anyone with long hair must wear their hair in a ponytail or braid… “down” is not an option, especially at the lower levels. A tight ponytail held in place with gel serves several purposes: most importantly, it helps prevent the spread of lice. But it’s also good to keep kids’ hair out of their faces and from becoming yet another thing that could distract them from their schoolwork. 

In this meme, we’ve discovered the secret to what turns a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern: a nice, tight ponytail!


Meme Translation: “Can’t stop eating bread?…Self-Help Group’ Cinnamon Rolls’…Meetings Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m…Information: [email protected]; Helpline: 1-800-CINNAMON ROLLS”

What does it meme?: As I mentioned a few weeks ago in an article about the holiday marathon, this is not the time to go on a diet. Why? Well, partly because you’ll miss out on the tasty, warm, sweet bread of the kind that only Mexican panaderías can make, perfect for the crisp fall weather.

Unfortunately, these veritable delicacies don’t do much to maintain your waistline, and you’ll often hear people lamenting their inability to skip their “pan con café” on chilly nights.

An adorable anecdote about this meme: it was shared in the parent group of my kid’s class, and the mom who sells bread outside of the school immediately responded with her zinger: “Those groups are satanic! Don’t pay any attention to them!” 

Meme translation:La Llorona when she gets to my neighborhood: ‘I wonder when they’ll pave this road, I’ve fallen three times already.”

What does it meme?: There are many great things about Mexico, but its well-kept streets are not one of them (at least in most parts of the country; Orizaba is one exception).

Especially in poorer or middle-class neighborhoods, some of the roads are simply gravel, making tripping and hurting yourself a pretty easy thing to do…throw in a few rain cycles, and all bets are off.

La Llorona is a famous spooky Mexican legend (you can read about her and others here) in which a woman wanders the streets wailing for her children. If she looks at you, you die instantly! But I guess it’s hard to concentrate on being spooky if you keep tripping over rocks. Perhaps an unpaved road is the best defense!

Meme Translation: “Put some tacos on the altar for me; I’m not coming back to chow down on mandarine oranges and pumpkin.”

What does it meme?: For Day of the Dead, a uniquely Mexican holiday, it’s customary to put a few staples on the altar for one’s departed loved ones to come back and feast on fruit, bread, guayabas, and candied pumpkin are all common choices.

But some people know what they like, and it ain’t fruit. I’d add a nice tall bottle of cold Coca-Cola to this order or maybe some beer. After all, they don’t get to come back for long – got to make it count!

Meme Translation: “Everything I touch dies.” → “Would you like to work with us?” → “Uh, sure…” → “Ha, what talent!…You start on Monday.”

What does it meme? This is one of those strips that works in any language, and, well… ’tis the season!

I hope you enjoyed your weekly dose of Mexican memes. See you next week!

Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website,

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