I recently spent the day with my aunt. While we had lunch, she recounted a legend from her childhood in El Salvador:
E: “El cucuy es una criatura q vive debajo de la cama q se lleva a los niños q se portan mal, se dice que vive en armarios también. Nadie sabe la aparencia real del cucuy, pero muchos dicen q tiene las orejas como las de los murciélagos y los dientes afilados. Cuando los niños se portan mal, los padres le dicen a sus hijos que el cucuy llegará y los comerá. De niño a menudo se escucha a los los padres cantar una canción de cuna q dice: “Duermete mi niño, duérmete ya/Que viene el Coco y te comerá.” Practicamente es una historia q los padres inventaban para hacer q sus hijos se portaran bien, inculcándoles temor se ser castigados por un ser sobrenatural sino lo hacían”
E: “The Cucuy is a creature who lives under beds and kidnaps misbehaved children, it is said that he lives in closets as well. Nobody knows the Cucuy’s real appearance, but many say he has the ears of a bat and sharpened teeth. When children misbehave, their parents tell them that the cucuy is going to come and eat them. As a child, the parents are often heard singing a lullaby that says, “Sleep, my child, go to sleep, and the Cucuy will come and eat you.” It is practically a story that the parents invented to make their children behave well, instilling fear of being punished by a supernatural being if the children didn’t behave.”
My aunt heard this story from her mother, who would sing the lullaby to her. However, the legend of the Cucuy was not a very memorable legend for my aunt. She couldn’t give as many details as she could for the legend of la Sihuanaba. The Cucuy is just the Salvadorean version of the boogieman. The legend helps parents ensure their children behave. The one thing I found fascinating was the Cucuy’s shared characteristics with a bat. In El Salvador, bats are a common occurrence. Just like in Los Angeles possums run free at night, in El Salvador bats own the night.