Proverb – Mexican

Tenga Cuidado del Cocui

Have Caution of Cocui

Beware of the Cocui

My abuela, grandma, used to tell me this when I was younger. El Cocui is the Mexican boogeyman.  She would say this to me when she wanted me to come with her.  She would also say this went she want to go to bed.  She said she was told the same thing as a child by her grandmother in Mexico.

Julie’s grandmother was born and raised in Mexico, so she grew up with a lot of Mexican traditions.  This is one of the many things that she passed along to Julie.  Julie could only remember the phrase.  She had heard an actual story of El Cocui, but not from her grandmother.  I have heard the story before from friends and in class, but I could not recall it.  The most that Julie could describe about the story of El Cocui was that it is the Mexican Boogeyman.  I found this particular interesting because Julie identified herself as Mexican, than German, but before I asked her any questions about El Cocui, she immediately put it in terms of American folklore.  This shows how two very similar stories can arise in two completely different cultures.  I do not know if one originated from the other, but it is quite possible that both the boogeyman and El Cocui were created completely independent of one another.

I had always heard of El Cocui in terms of a fairy tale, but I find it interesting that Julie’s grandma used it as folk proverb.  This is an example of how different pieces of folklore not only vary, but can also develop into know folklore.  As the folklore morphed, it also took on knew meaning.  As far as I understand it, the tale of El Cocui is used as a sort of cautionary, scary, bedtime story.  When Julie’s grandma used the phrase, it was used as a command.  I can understand how it would mean go to bed.  Several phrases are commonly used to replace “good night”, and often people have specialized phrase between two more of them, as in the case of Julie and her grandmother.  The part I do not really understand is how she used it to mean come with her.  The only explanation I could figure is that by saying beware of the cocui it was a way of scaring a child.  And, when a child is scared, they run to whoever is safe, like grandma.  So, it is essentially saying if you come with me I’ll protect you.

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