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La víbora de la mar facts for kids

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La víbora de la mar (lit. The sea snake) is a traditional singing game originating in Mexico. It is a popular children's game in Mexico and Latin America, and also in Spain where it is known as "pasemisí".

The game

Children form a line holding each other's waist or clothing, and two other children raise their arms together to form an arch. Of the two children forming the arch, one of them is "Melón" (Honeydew or Cantaloupe) the other is "Sandía." (Watermelon)

The children begin to sing the song, as the "snake" begins to run (without separating) passing repeatedly under the arch. The lyrics of the song are such that the last of the word of each stanza can be repeated at will, and the children might decide to bring the arch down to "capture" someone. The fun in the game is not knowing when the arch will fall, "capturing" one of the children.

The children who form the arch then ask: "With whom will you stay? Melón or Sandía?" The captured child must then queue up next to the "fruit" of his choice, thereby forming another arch through which the line must pass.

Once all children that formed the original line are divided between "melón" and "sandía", the resulting queues must compete in a game of tug of war.

The Verses

The words to the song are:


In Mexico, it has become quite popular to play this game at weddings. In this variation, single men and women are often divided, the groom and bride standing on chairs to form the arch under which everyone passes. (The groom often uses the veil or train of the bride's dress). In this case, the song is not sung, and the rhythm of music is followed, which gets faster and faster, the participants struggling to keep the "snake" together, while running through tables, chairs and the couple. At the end of the game, depending on the sex of the participants, the bride throws from her chair the wedding bouquet, and the groom the garter. The bouquet used to be a symbol of happiness, but in today's practice the single woman who catches the bouquet is believed to be the next to marry. Same goes to the single man who catches the garter. In some instances, it is said that they will marry each other.

In Spain the game is known as "pasemisí".

Similar games in other traditions

Similar games such as these exist in other traditions as well. This game can be likened to "London Bridge is Falling Down" in English-speaking countries, and a similar game in Japan exists, played to a song called Toryanse.

  • Miaja, M.T. y Díaz Roig, M.: Naranja dulce, limón partido. Antología de la lírica infantil mexicana, El colegio de México. .
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