Like the Tooth Fairy, (or Ratoncito Pérez- the tooth mouse- in Spanish speaking countries), Guatemalan worry dolls work their magic underneath a pillow. The difference is that the worry dolls do not require that you pay them with body parts. In fact, they ask for nothing in return.
Known as muñecas quitapenas, these teeny tiny little figures made out of scraps of paper, wood and fabric are trusted to take away the woes of little children. (Or adults if you are a child at heart).
They live in a little fabric pouch or wooden box about the size of the palm of a child’s hand. When the niño o niña has a worry that will not let them sleep they whisper their concerns to one of the little dolls. Only one worry can be given to one doll at a time. There are several dolls that cohabit the pouch however so if you have more than one worry at a time, no problem. The doll then takes your issue for you so that you can sleep, and makes it disappear in the night.
These are used in some children’s hospitals as part of treatment. It is a way of letting kids release the worries that are obviously out of their control. Sometimes the children are involved in making their own worry dolls, to make it even more personal and comforting.