Residence: USA, New York
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/20/2019
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Spanish
Informant: Are you allowed to use ghost stories for your project?
Interviewer: Yeah actually, I thought more people would tell me ghost stories but it’s only been like one.
Informant: Because back in Venezuela a really well known one is the legend of La Llorona.
Interviewer: What? That’s a thing in Venezuela too? I thought it was a Mexican thing.
Informant: Well, everyone I knew there knew La Llorona, so I’m guessing it’s a South America thing.
Interviewer: Yeah yeah, that’s cool. I think it’ll be interesting to see how it differs to the legend I’ve heard back home. Can you tell me how you remember it?
Informant: Basically, La Llorona, she was this young woman that fell in love with a soldier, and they have a child. Then the dude leaves, to war or something, and never comes back. The woman has no idea of how to take care of a baby by herself, and she gets so frustrated from the baby crying that she eventually kills him with her own hands. She becomes insane, and even starts kidnapping other people’s kids to kill them as well.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s kinda different from the version I know. I remember her having 3 kids, and them.. Getting lost or drowning in a river, I think? She kills herself out of sadness, but doesn’t really pass on because of the regret. And when her spirit shows up, she screams “Ay, mis hijos!” (lit. “Oh, my children!”), which is why the spirit was named “La Llorona” (lit. “The Crying Woman.”)
Informant: Ah yes she also cries for her children in the version I know, I guess thats why the name is the same everywhere. But I think to us it was mostly a way to scare kids into behaving. My mom always said that if I wasn’t good the Llorona would kidnap me.
Most notably, the legend of La Llorona is being adapted into a modern horror film The Curse of La Llorona (2019). The legend has been adapted into film several times before, though. This particular film seems to be loosely based on the Mexican version of the folktale, according to the synopsis.
A written version of the legend of La Llorona is featured in José Alvares’s Leyendas Mexicanas (1998).