Background: The informant is a 26 year old female who lives in a suburb of Chicago. She was born and raised around the city with her grandparents, mother, and younger brother. Her grandparents, immigrants from Mexico, imparted most of their knowledge to the informant.
Context: The context was watching a horror movie and being reminded of a legend she was constantly told as a child.
VA: So, in Mexican folklore, there’s El Cucuy. It’s like the boogeyman. Mexicans threaten their children with El Cucuy coming and taking them away.
Me: Oh my. How does El Cucuy come?
VA: El Cucuy is everywhere, everywhere around you.
Me: Would you mom tell you this to scare you?
VA: Well, it was my whole family. My mom, my grandparents, all of them. It was how they scared children into behaving. Oh also, just anyone of Latin American culture like my babysitter from Central America. Basically, if you speak Spanish, chances are you know El Cucuy.
Me: What does he do to children?
VA: He eats children once they’re taken. Basically, if you don’t behave, you’re getting eaten.
Informant: Her voice was extremely solemn when speaking about El Cucuy, likely still remnants of how childrenhood fears can continue to affect someone. Even at 26, she didn’t want to take any chances.
Mine: The boogeyman is a very common theme across cultures as a way to scare children into behaving. While it may not be scary to everyone, it seemed to hit something deeper for the informant. She told the story more calmly than her other ones, not making any humorous jokes, or pausing often. While it likely is still childhood fears sticking with her to some extent, it may also be because the informant has a younger brother and would have to tell him the story as well. In this case, the informant has been both the receiver of the tradition and has passed on the tradition. It brings up the interesting placement of the older sibling, in that they may become active bearers of their traditions much earlier than the younger siblings.