USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘latin america’
Legends
Narrative

La Llorona

The informant heard the legend of the mythological creature, La LLorona (“She who cries”) was heard when she was a child in Guatemala.


 

EO: La Llorona. I guess she–I don’t know if she was poor or tired of her kids… so she took her kids to a lake and drowned them. And then afterwards, she felt really bad, so she killed herself. And now she just goes through all eternity crying for her kids. And she screams like “Mis ninos! Mis ninos!”.

Is she supposed to be scary?

EO: I would say so. If I hear La Llorona, I would probably cry.

Where’d you hear that one from?

EO: Um, my mom. I don’t think I heard it from anyone else. My mom.

Why do you think she’d tell it to you?

EO: In Latin America, um, they tell stories to scare children into behaving.

 


 

La Llorona is a famous legend in all Latin America, and is one of many used by parents to teach their children about the dangers of the world.

For example, this is a film based off the folklore of La Llorona

Legends

El Viejito

A legend heard by the informant in Guatemala, El Viejito is an old man that abducts children.


 

EO: “In Latin America, um, they tell stories to scare children into behaving. So there’s this old man, they call him “El Viejito”, and he just always stealing kids. So if you’re misbehaving, he’s going to come and get you…steal you forever.

El Veijito?

EO: El Viejito, “The Old Man”. My mother told me about it many times to keep me polite and well-behaved.


 

The informant also told of other legends that were used as precautionary tales in order to use fear to keep children behaving. Others include La Llorona and La Sihuanaba.

Although “El Viejito” is a legend of Latin America, it literally translates to “little old man”, so there is bound to be confusion between the folklore and basic application of language. For example, “El Viejito” is a nickname Latinos use for  Senator Bernie Sanders.

Legends

La Llorona

Primary informant: “La Llorona, I think is just really a part of every, like, Latin American household, I guess. Um, and specifically, I didn’t hear it from my dad because he doesn’t really believe in that shit, but from, like, my aunts and my grandma, whatever. And, um, it’s basically, this lady who… it’s like, okay, myth, legend, I’m not sure which one, but it’s like this lady who had kids, um, I don’t know what happened to the husband, if it was out of wedlock, or he died or whatever– the guy’s not there and, um, she ends up having a lover and the lover doesn’t want kids or whatever, so she takes her kids and she drowns them, in the river, and he ends up not getting with her anyway. So she just- um, like, got, I don’t know, got really sad or whatever and just, like, walks around. They say- people say that they see her walking around, like, rivers or, like, places with children and she’s always, like, they can, like, hear her, like, crying or something and just being really sad and all of that.”

Secondary informant: “La Llorona, she’s forever cursed to stay on Earth and she—for eternity, to find the remains of her children. And that’s why she’s constantly near rivers, because she’s trying to find the remains of her children and she can’t ascend into the afterlife until she does. So that’s why she’s stuck here, that’s why she’s hanging around here and shit.”

Tertiary Informant: “The one that I’m more familiar with, her husband was cheating on her. And so to get revenge on him, she drowns her children.”

Primary Informant: “The variations of that…”

Tertiary Informant: “But in whatever… ends up, he never ends up with her…”

Primary informant: “And she eventually ends up drowning her kids.”

Secondary Informant: “She’s forever alone.”

Laughs

Primary Informant: “Yeah, forever alone.”

 

Both informants who shared information about La Llorona are of Mexican descent and heard this story from their families. This story was shared in the primary informant’s apartment. We spent the afternoon sharing stories and combining the information we all had about each legend. These stories are important to the informants because they have been passed on from the older generations in their families. Because they value their older relatives, they value and enjoy the stories they’ve been told.

 

Legends

Chupacabra

Primary Informant: “The Chupacabra, which is one that I heard from my dad all the time ‘cause he thinks it’s hilarious, um and basically, Chupacabra is like, like “goat sucker” and so, I don’t know if it’s just specifically from people in, like, the rancho or, like, the more, um, I don’t know, pueblo, village, type of areas that talk about this because they own animals. And it’s basically this kind of— they can’t, no one has seen it, but they have seen—or people have said they’ve seen it, you know, speculation – um, but it’s this kind of animal that comes and it, like, literally just, like, sucks or, like, sucks the blood out of and kills goats and other small animals like that, and so there was, I think there was an article recently where some guy was like, ‘Yeah I totally caught it.’ And it was just like a big ol’ rat or something, but that’s basically what it is, the Chupacabra. And so that’s the one he always talks about because he thinks it’s hilarious and thinks he can, like, scare us with that, you know.”

Secondary Informant: “The one that I grew up with was, ah, the Chupacabra was like this fucking, um, government, um, experiment gone wrong that escaped and, uh, is this alien, this half-breed alien thing, you know and, that’s what I got…”

Primary Informant: “And, like, no one can find it?”

Secondary Informant: “Yeah, no one can find it, it’s just, like, this fucking thing…”

Primary Informant: “Roaming Mexico and Latin America.”

Secondary Informant: “Yeah, it’s like—it’s an abomination.”

Primary Informant: “Right.”

Secondary Informant: “To life.”

 

Both informants who shared information about the Chupacabra are of Mexican descent and heard this story from their families. This story was shared in the primary informant’s apartment. We spent the afternoon sharing stories and combining the information we all had about each legend. These stories are important to the informants because they have been passed on from the older generations in their families. Because they value their older relatives, they value and enjoy the stories they’ve been told.

The Chupacabra is a legend that has been around Latin American for innumerable years and almost anyone from a Latin country could tell you the story. It’s primary purpose is to explain away bizarre disappearances of animals on rural farms, but in all likelihood those animals were probably harmed by a coyote or a bobcat. Now the Chupacabra just serves as a tale to help scare children into proper behavior.

For more information on the Chupacabra:

http://www.princeton.edu/~accion/chupa.html

http://animal.discovery.com/tv-shows/weird-true-and-freaky/videos/legend-of-the-chupacabra.htm

Folk Beliefs
Legends
Narrative
Tales /märchen

La Malinche

Es la montaña Malintzin de un aspecto bello y hermoso que se levanta implorando lluvias de los altos cielos.  Y no es raro presenciar nubes que arrebata el viento, pero las de la Malintzin son seguros aguaceros.  Una vez consumada la conquista, los aztecas, al saber que Marina había muerto, trataron de recuperar su cuerpo.  Cuando lo tuvieron en su poder lo escondieron en muchos lugares tratando de evitar que cayera en manos de los españoles.  En una montaña descubrieron una cueva gigantesca, y en el caballo que le había regalado Cortés la montaron y la subieron al cerro y la internaron en el fondo de la cueva que sellaron con grandes rocas.  Apostaron guardias en puntos estratégicos para cuidarla.  Desde entonces los nativos de la montaña la llaman Malintzin y desde su cresta nos manda aguaceros.  Se mira una silueta que describe su cuerpo que dormido pide las lluvias del cielo.

Beautiful is the “Malintzin” mountain that rises above the clouds imploring the heavens for rain. It is not rare that the presence clouds are stirred by the wind, but the clouds of “Malintzin” are a sure sign of rain. Once the conquest had been accomplished, the Aztecs, having known that Marina had passed away, tried to recover her body. Once they had it in their possession, they hid it in many places in an attempt to avoid it from falling into the hands of the Spaniards.   In a mountain they discovered a giant cave, and on the horse that Cortes had given her, they mounted her body and they carried her up the mountain and placed her at the end of the cave and sealed it with giant rocks. They placed guards in strategic places to watch over her. Since then the natives of the mountain call her “Malintzin” and from the peak sends us rain. It is said that the silhouette that describes her body can be seen asleep beckoning the heavens for rain.

My informant learned the legend of La Malinche from his grandmother.  When he learned to speak at the age of three or four, he started asking many questions and becoming inquisitive.  He asked his grandmother where the rain came from, and she replied with the story of La Malinche.  This legend is not only known in his family though.  It is a common legend in Mexico and Central America.
My informant does not actually tell this story to others.  He usually hears it rather than share it with others.  He has no reason to tell others because in most cases, people already know about the legend.  Caleb considers this a legend that older people tell younger generations.  They use this legend to explain the reason we have rain.
My informant does not think that this legend is true.  The story of La Malinche and what happened may be true, but as far as the reason for rainfall, he does not believe it.  Even though he does not think that La Malinche is the reason for rain, he thinks it’s important.  In the future, he wants to pass it on to his children because it’s part of his culture.  To a certain extent, it’s even a part of him.  The legend identifies his people because of the struggle between early Americans and Spaniards that conquered the Aztecs.  It sets them apart from the Spanish because their beliefs are different.
I agree with what my informant said about the legend.  The legend, although it may not be the reason for rain, gives children an explanation for why we have rain.  Through this story, children from Mexico and Central America are able to learn about the hardships that the Aztecs had to endure when the Spaniards invaded their land.  Maintaining culture in a society is extremely important, especially since cultures are starting to mix and die out.  People need to know their heritage, the history of their people, and how they got to where they are today.  Culture is one of the few ways that we can still connect to the past.  These legends allow people to learn about historical figures that are important in a culture.

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