Culture

Who Else Was Once Told ‘El Sereno’ Makes You Sick? Here’s The Story Behind It

Extra, extra read all about it: It seems like abuelita was right about “el sereno” — it might actually make you sick after all.

Who else was told “el sereno” would make you sick?

Many of us remember our moms and abuelas warning us about the nighttime phenomenon “el sereno,” which could allegedly make you sick.

“El sereno” is another term for “rocío,” translated to “dew” — A.K.A. those tiny drops of water caused by condensation. These drops form on cooler surfaces at night, meaning “el sereno makes you sick” is a lot like the saying “the cold will make you sick… so tapate! Or go inside.”

If you grew up hearing your family talking about “el sereno” like it was actually la chupacabra, you’re not alone. Who else remembers getting sick after playing with your friends past sunset one day? Someone just had to say “ese fue el sereno” right after, because “el sereno” takes no prisoners!

There’s no doubt the saying is part of Latino folklore, with many of us often hearing: “abrígate que está el sereno” at nightfall. Family members might have told you to cover up, or just put on a hat. El sereno is big on making you sick if your head is exposed.

The dangers of “el sereno” might actually not be a myth

While we might poke fun at the “el sereno” myth, it’s not so much of a myth after all. In fact, a new study published by The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology explains the cold might actually make you sick. Since “el sereno” is linked to nighttime’s colder temperatures, it’s just one more reason abuelita is always right.

The study describes how colder temperatures decrease the nasal cavity’s immune response against viral infections. This means your nose has much more trouble fighting getting sick during colder temperatures. Of course, this means boom — time to bring out the vivaporu and the Sprite.

“El sereno” may have actually started this way

Moreover, there’s another aspect to the whole “el sereno” saying that’s just as fascinating. Being a “sereno” was once similar to being a doorman or security guard. This profession began around the 18th century, and lasted until the 1970s. Interestingly, serenos roamed the nights — just like the infamous “cold that makes you sick” does.

Serenos became popular in Spain, and soon spread through the colonies in the Americas. When young colonial-time rebels went out at night, their mothers told them to “cover their heads so the sereno wouldn’t catch them.” Now, we’re told to cover our heads so the sereno (or cold) doesn’t catch us.

Notice any corrections needed? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com