La Llorona

Category: Legend/Tale (Depends on if the person believes in spirits, but more of a Legend)


Summary: If a child cries too much they would be taken by la Llorona. La Llorona is a crying woman who does something bad to bad children. “[I]t’s always a woman and … she’s [always] weeping and generally 9 times out of 10, it was always involving children.”

*for more details read script below


L is my mom who was born in Mexicali, Mexico and then moved to the US with her family when she was young. She heard about la Llorona from her parents and interprets the story of la Llorona having to do with females crying and children misbehaving.


This oikotype of la Llorona doesn’t have to do with water like Carbonell says is included in many Llorona stories. Instead this Llorona focuses on females crying and children misbehaving, which are themes in other oikotypes as well. In a sense, this version seems similar to the Boogeyman but with a crying aspect. It does go with what Carbonell says is the more common role of la Llorona since she plays a role as the bad guy.

L implies that la Llorona kidnaps children with the part about the Olympics. This is more common with other oikotypes of la Llorona and the name itself shows hispanic identity since it’s in Spanish. On the other hand, there is the more unique interpretation L takes of la Llorona with her siblings when one of them cries a lot. Instead of calling someone a cry-baby, her siblings use la Llorona instead, which may also be a coincidence since “a female who cries” is literally the same name for la Llorona, the figure in legends. Since L’s family uses it to keep children from crying after a certain time it means that L’s family values one’s toughness and ability to adapt quickly rather than sympathise.

Interesting Side Note:

  • L also implies that la Llorona can be an aspect of God’s punishment on bad children in the latter part of the conversation.
  • As a Mexican American, I know parts of Mexican and Hispanic culture from my mom but definitely not all. I didn’t even know about la Llorona until I learned it off the internet and then asked my mom about her. Having this conversation let me know why my mom didn’t bring up these stories: they’re replaced by other, “American” folklore like “Stranger Danger!”, the Boogeyman, etc. Said replacement is an interesting side note.


Me: Ok, so what was this about la Llorona, like what-what’s the kind of story and then I guess how did you have it in your childhood and life?

L: So la Llorona, I grew up with it. My parents introduced it to us and I am the youngest of four and generally when the topic of la Llorona came up, it was not a good thing. Ok? You try avoiding having la Llorona brought up and the way it was brought up in my childhood was if… and I am the youngest of four siblings and if you got hurt, there was what parents would deemed an appropriate amount of time for you to sit there and ball your head out and cry and, you know, appropriately, you know, let people know that you’re hurt and you’re crying. But then if you went on beyond that reasonable amount of time and you were just doing a drama and you were just playing it up and you reached the excess point, they would politely say, ‘look enough is enough and if you don’t stop you’re crying at this point you’re going to be visited by la Llorona.

Me: And by they you mean your parents?

L: Your-your- no. My parents would say you’re going to be visited by la Llorona. And la Llorona is always a woman, as implied you know, from the verb, you know, weeping and it’s a woman plural, I mean it’s feminine because it’s la LloronA.

Me: Ends with an A.

L: So it’s always a woman and it’s always- she’s weeping and generally 9 times out of 10 it was always involving children. Ok? So that’s how I heard of la Llorona. That’s how it was used, but even amongst our siblings, even among siblings, it was not a good thing to be nicknamed or to be called out being la Llorona. And you would do this to push your siblings’ buttons, to get them irate. And that was the point where yeah- let’s say you pushed them, or you shoved them, or you skinned yourself playing soccer or-or you got a big bruise and you were just endlessly crying for no, you know, I mean ya it hurt, but then you’d go on and on and on. Well then, we would just nickname them like, you know, la Llorona. ‘If you don’t shut up about this, you know, you’re just la Llorona.’ It was a nickname amongst our siblings. More appropriately among us females because it’s a woman who’s weeping.

Me: So you and Tia [P].

L: Yes, me and Tia [P], and so my parents would use it, not a good thing. I would use it among siblings as a nickname, you know, kind of picking on you… to shut up… stop with the crying when it was excess. You would use it amongst siblings and me as an adult with you, my kids I really never had the occasion to use it. I contemplated it at times… but…

Me: Instead, dad would just be like, ‘No phone privileges!’

L: *laughs* Ya, I mean it-it’s- here in the United States you have other methods of controlling kind of, you know, bad behavior or excess, you know, crying or excess, you know, brooding. The only time I really contemplated it was as- as- a sign when we would go to the Olympics and we were among hordes of people and we really, I mean it would have just been a nightmare if any of you had actually gotten lost at one of the Olympic events with the thousands of people there. To hold tie to always, you know, be by a parent but we never really had to. There were other methods to do it. But that was the one time I kept saying, you know, maybe this is the time to bring out la Llorona just to instill the fear of God in them that they really, really have to hold on to a parent or else they’re going to get lost in the thousands of people…

Me: So like stranger danger.

L: Yeah, but I didn’t have to because we had stranger danger and I even saw that parents would put those little long leashes, I call them leashes and that’s probably not the appropriate name…

Me: *snorts*

L: But the little backpacks, right? With these long cords to attach to the parent or attach to the arm of the kid so the child doesn’t get lost. But we never even had to do that. So again, la Llorona, it was useful when I grew up by my parents, and it was not a good thing, and we used it growing up amongst ourselves as nicknames just to… uh…

Me: Mess with each other?

L: Yeah, push each others’ buttons. And again, as an adult I didn’t really have to use it because I had other methods other ways to try and curb that bad behavior or quiet that behavior we wanted.

Me: Gee thanks.

L: *laughs* Alright any other questions on la Llorona?

Me: Um…. Nope… not really. Gracias.

L: Ok, de nada.