El Cucuy


Informant: “So if you know about the Cucuy, that’s the one that my mom used to say. ‘Va venir el cucuy’ (the cucuy is coming) and I would be like ‘¡Ay!’. Which means the devil, it was like the devil is coming to get you. El Cucuy is the devil-like form so when kids were bad, the parents would say ‘Va venir el Cucuy’ and the kids would get scared because they didn’t want the cucuy to come. It would get used for both boys and girls. El Cucuy is usually compared to like the boogeyman but more like a devil and not like a person.”


Age: 51

From: Chino Hills, CA

Ethnicity: Mexican

The relationship between the informant and this piece is that her mom used to use this legend on her. The informant heard about this through first hand experience from her mother. She expressed how she was actually scared of the cucuy when she was younger and did not like when her mom would say that it was going to come to get her if she continued to misbehave. She interpreted it as a spirit-like thing that would do harm when she was little. 


This is one I have never heard about before. It is very similar to La Llorona with similar motive to it–which is to get kids to behave. If anything, I think it is worse that the cucuy is “more like a devil and not like a person” because hearing anything related to the devil when I was younger was considered tabooistic and shunned. I also think that this story or behavioral mechanism would have scared me more as a child than the La Llorona one. I feel like if I had to compare this to a more current day story, it slightly reminds me of slenderman in the way that it is going to come get you if you aren’t careful.