“One time there was a lady named Maria, but people later called her ‘La Llorona’ ’cuz one night she used to go out with her sons. She drowned them in the lake and haunts people.”
This JEP informant heard this urban legend when he was five years old. His mother told him this as a bedtime story so that he would go to sleep. His mother learned about this legend from her mother. The informant believes that La Llorona exists even though he has never heard her haunting, because people have told him that she only screams in Mexico. (The informant has never been to Mexico and cannot confirm if the story about the woman’s screaming is true.) His mother, who is from Mexico, does not believe in the legend, though. As an aside, the informant told this story to his little brother to scare him.
“La Llorona” translates to “the weeping or moaning woman” in English. This legend tells the story of a woman driven by madness who drowns her sons in a nearby lake. She then haunts the locals as a ghost woman. This story could have possibly originated and spread greatly to explain the natural phenomena of noises caused by the wind. Also, the story serves as an entertaining, scary story that creates social ties among the listeners.
This legend is annotated. It can also be found at the following source: http://www.literacynet.org/lp/hperspectives/llorona.html