The Legend Of The Worry Dolls From Guatemala

According to the tradition of the Maya from the high mountain villages of Guatemala,  they give worry dolls to children who are afraid or suffer from nightmares before going to sleep. They put them under their pillows and when they wake up, their worries are gone.

Worry dolls are an incredible part of a traditional Guatemalan legend. According to this legend, the exact origin of which is unknown, the doll preoccupies itself with the worry rather than the person, allowing the person to sleep peacefully.

So  when the person wakes up, the doll has taken on all the worries that would normally keep the person awake. The worries remain with the doll, who will need to be cared for to prevent it from being in pain.

The Legend Of The Worry Dolls From Guatemala

A beautiful and tender tradition to relieve your worries

Although there are many different types, in general the worry dolls are between ten and twenty millimeters in size. They are made by hand with a base of wood or wire. The face is usually made of cotton, cardboard or clay and the clothing can be made of wool or aguayo, a traditional Guatemalan fabric.

In Guatemalan culture  , these figurines were initially intended to ease anxiety in children before going to sleep, but today it is also common for adults to use them. They often keep them in boxes or cloth bags in groups of six, one for each day of the week, with one rest day. They are usually accompanied by the following instructions:

  • Concentrate on your worries or problems when you go to bed
  • Tell the doll what you want it to take away
  • Put the doll under your pillow
  • Stroke the doll’s tummy a few times so that your worries don’t hurt it. And in the morning your worries will be gone!

The dolls are used as dream catchers and amulets, giving you the chance to naturally rid yourself of your daily suffering. This wonderful tradition promotes a very healthy psychological habit that everyone should pursue every day: clearing your mind of your worries so you can sleep well.

Physically transferring your worries and thoughts to the doll one at a time, even if it is imaginary, can be a very useful way to manage your tension caused by your problems. It also makes you feel that you have control over your fears and thus prevent insomnia.

Cute Girl Sitting In Front Of A Tree Reminiscent Of Guatemala's Worry Dolls

Silly Billy,  a children’s story about worry dolls

The tradition is so strong that  there are even great stories about how useful these dolls are in  helping children manage their emotions and maintain their fears and tensions.

Silly Billy  is a story written by Anthony Browne who has brought the traditional legend of Guatemalan worry dolls to millions of homes around the world.

The story, told in full in a video, tells the story of a little boy named Billy who has a dozen worries that keep him from sleeping. After trying just about everything, his grandmother tells him about worry dolls and how to take away his worries. We hope you enjoy it!

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