Author Archives: Timothy Chen

Mary Worth

When the informant was still growing up, he and his sister used to play a dare game at night. They would get a candle and take it upstairs. They would look for a dark room and place the candle at the center of it. When all that was set up, they would stare at the light and say “I believe in Mary Worth” 50 times. Supposedly, when they finished, she was supposed to come out and scare them. Supposedly, she looks the same as Bloody Mary. They actually never saw the face, but one time, he says, their mother pulled the shades down and one of them flew up. This was enough for them to believe in Mary Worth at that time.

Analysis: This dare game is similar to Bloody Mary in that it involves both a dark room and a woman apparition coming out after they say the name a repeated number of times. But in this case, instead of the usual 3, it increases to 50 and instead of a mirror, they stare into a candle. The differences seem to be local, as Mary Worth seems to be a substitute for Bloody Mary. Also it seems that the practice of the myth is not limited only to women, as the participant was a male and still believed in the story.

Three moon Werewolf

According to my informant, his brothers and sisters used to tell him that werewolves existed. But there was a specific condition for them to appear. In fact, he said, there were supposedly three full moons, and on the third full moon, the werewolves would appear. When I asked him how he could tell when it happened, he recalled it had something to do with the lunar cycle and how he used to believe that there were three types of full moons, each of which appeared at different times of the year. That every time this moon appeared, it would be a different type of moon. But on the third full moon, the werewolves would appear. They looked like conventional werewolves, bipedal wolves that seemed human in quality.


Looking at the origins of this story, it seems like my informant’s siblings used this story to scare him as a child. But the belief that strange things occur on a full moon isn’t an uncommon belief. As this article ( suggests, animals may tend to act stranger when the full moon approaches. Furthermore, on some supernatural websites, people believe that on the blue moon, which is what I assume my informant meant by third moon since he couldn’t recall what that actually meant, werewolves would appear due to the rarity of the occasion. I believe that this shows how earthly events can have an effect on our belief systems, and how something like the werewolf can be tied to it. Since people tend to be afraid of what they can’t understand, the blue moon makes the werewolf story even scarier.

El Cucuy

According to my informant, El Cucuy was a creature similar to the boogeyman with a red cape, fiery eyes , sharp teeth and sharp claws. In the middle of the night, if you were a child wandering in the streets, you were not supposed to be found by him. He would often hang out in a plaza and try to void his presence. If he ever caught a child, he would take him to his cave, where there would be many skulls and dismembered limbs. This was what remained of the kids he captured before. And nobody would ever know what happened to the children because they never returned.

My informant described this as a story to scare rowdy children into obedience. It also, he joked, made for a very good horror story with all the blood and mystery that happens. But more seriously, he also said that this story was told to him by his mother when he was a kid. Being someone who grew up a Mexican-American, this story scared him as a child and he always obeyed his parents.


This story reflects some elements of La Gerona, in that it is a story which is used to tame unruly children and make sure they respect the words of their elders. There also happens to be death involved when they get caught. But I feel that the main difference between the two is that while La Gerona is more sympathetic and tragic, El Cucuy seems to be more psychopathic and more intentionally killing children. This factor makes the story much more chilling than La Gerona, instilling more fear into the child the person is talking to. I think that this story seems to be a little exaggerated, especially the addition of the red cape, which seems superfluous. But since this story was told by his parents, I assume that this was a feature which was recently added either by the informant, who tends to exaggerate a bit, or by his parents.

Tooth Fairy story

This is a variation of the tooth fairy which my informant’s parents used to tell my informant and her brother. According to her parents, she had a tooth fairy named Sophocles while her brother had one named Socrates. In the night, if one of them lost a tooth,he/she would put it under their pillow. Then the corresponding fairy would come by, write a note, and leave money. It was usually a simple letter saying thank you, and in response, the person who lost the tooth would have to write a note back saying thank you for leaving a gift.

According to my informant, her fairy had 5 kids and a dog. Both she and her brother lived in the far away kingdom of Xanthus where, in her words ‘No ship, rocket, or plane could get there because it’s a magic kingdom’

My informant said that when she was young, this story excited her and made her believe in the myth. At one point, when she was in 4th grade, she wrote a story about her tooth fairy and she actually won a prize. Unfortunately, she forgot what it was. It wasn’t until her last tooth fell out in 8th grade that she stopped believing in the tooth fairy.


This version of the tooth fairy myth is specifically tailored to these children, in my opinion. In accordance with usual practices, the tooth fairy still leaves money under a person’s pillow and takes their tooth in the end. The differences lie in the backstory of these fairies, and that they differ a lot from most traditional narratives of the tooth fairy. The story is tailored to whet the appetite of children and get them to believe in the story. Furthermore, there are also many humanizing elements about the fairies, including having kids and dogs, which makes the fairies much more sympathetic to humans and make them resemble less of mystical creatures. In the end, I believe this was done so that my informant’s parents could keep the childish wonder alive.

Walang hirap walang ligaya

Translation: No pain no game


My informant says this was something her mom would often say to her while growing up. Due to a lack of affluence while growing up, her mom had to make a living in the city working several jobs while caring for six children. Her mom’s and dad’s family was also not very rich, so they had to toil in order to get to where they were in the world. This was a similar experience for my informant and her brothers, who had to balance both school and work in order to encounter success after graduation. Eventually, most of them were able to move to America and make a living there, which shows how hard work can pay off at the end of the day.

I believe the proverb has an important place in this family, as it recalls the youth of my informant and also reflects the past which the family had to overcome in order to reach success in America.  It also comments on the belief of the American Dream, and how social mobility can positively benefit people through hard work.