Tag Archives: Hispanic

Christmas Baby Jesus Cake

Text:

Informant: I know as a kid– I grew up in a fairly predominantly hispanic neighborhood– there was this cake. It’s like this big pastry, and each person gets a slice. One of them has the baby Jesus. It’s supposed to represent Jesus in everything. It’s also supposed to be good luck.  You’re like receiving him into your home, and the good luck that that brings.

Context:

I asked a group of friends if they had any holiday traditions. This was one of their replies. The informant is of hispanic descent.

Thoughts:

I grew up playing this game with my neighborhood at the holiday block party. I had no idea it had a specific connection to being a hispanic tradition.

La Llorona

Main Piece (direct transcription):

Mom: When I was 10 and 11, we rented a house in Luis Lopez, which is right outside of Socorro (New Mexico).  It was rural, and we lived right on a ditch.  We had some neighbors that were a quarter of a mile down the dirt road we lived on, and they were a Catholic, Hispanic family that were very superstitious.  They had crosses everywhere in their house, and I slept over there one night, and there were six or seven kids and the oldest was nineteen.  There were a couple younger than me, too, and one my age.  I spent the night, and all four or five of us were in one double bed, and at night they were telling me about La Llorona, and how she was real, and how she was wandering around the ditch near our house.  They told me that they heard her over at the ditch at night, walking, and it scared me to death.

Me: Can you tell me the story of La Llorona that they would tell you?

Mom: Yeah… From what I can remember, they told me that La Llorona tried to drown her children when her husband left her, and she went mad.  After she had already thrown them into the river, and they had drowned, she came to her senses and regretted what she had done.  She ran along the ditch, trying to follow the quickly flowing water to grab her children, but tripped and fell.  She hit her head on a rock and died before she could get to her children.  Now, she wanders around ditches calling for her kids, trying to find them.

 

Context: The informant, my mother, is a pharmacy administrator living in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She was originally born in New York but moved to New Mexico with her family at a young age.  Her father, a playwright and artist, was invested in his Native American heritage.  From her travels around New Mexico, moving from place to place when she was young, and also hearing stories from her father and my father, who is from Iran, she has gathered a variety of folktales.  My mom and I were talking about ghost stories, and she remembered the time when she was neighbors with a Catholic, Hispanic family.  The family was superstitious and believed in ghosts.

 

 

My Thoughts: I thought that this story was interesting because I also heard the story of La Llorona first from my peers in New Mexico, since a lot of the population is Hispanic there.  It’s one of the most popular ghost stories that I had heard throughout my childhood, and I thought that my mom’s story was especially interesting because she actually lived near a ditch.  The kids claimed that they had actually heard La Llorona walking around at night.  The story that the kids had told my mom when she was young is incredibly similar to the one that I had heard while I was in elementary school from my classmates.  Of course, there are some differences, and the way that my mom told the story would be different than how the children in Luis Lopez would’ve told her, because that is the nature of folklore, for it has form and variation from individual to individual.

For another version of this story, please see Kathy Weiser’s La Llorona-Weeping Woman of the Southwest (2017), which can be found here

La Llorona in Venezuela

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.

 

Different Versions

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.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4913966/


A written version of the legend of La Llorona is featured in José Alvares’s Leyendas Mexicanas (1998).

Hispanic Proverb-Game

Informant: Carlota Rodriguez-Benito. 20 years old. Spanish Heritage, born in Miami, lived in Mexico. USC student.

Informant:“El que se va de su villa pierde su silla”

Translation:“The one who leaves his or her villa looses his or her chair”

Informant: “If someone stood up from their seat, whether that be at school, at home, or anywhere, I would take that seat. When that person returned wanting that same seat, I would say the proverb to let them know that it’s their fault they left it and it’s mine now. I no longer use this proverb because I find it silly. When I was younger, however, I loved to say it because it was a funny game.

Thoughts: Carlota grew up in Miami but still used this proverb as a child. Miami has a very big Hispanic community so it makes sense that Carlota would say it. When I was younger,  just like Carlota, I would say this proverb. It is interesting that we both never say it anymore but still remember the experiences of it.

La IIorona

6) La IIorona

La IIorona is a mother that drowned her two children in a river, and she then committed suicide. Legend has it that she goes throughout Mexico looking and calling for her children; she always appears and wanders up and down the river.

Apparently “historically,” La Malinche gave birth to two sons by Cortes; The king and queen of Spain, fearing the Cortes is betraying them and building his own empire here in America, demanded for his return and used a beautiful Spanish lady to seduce him to come back. Cortes finally agreed and told  La Malinche that he is going to take their two sons, go back to Spain and leave her behind. La Malinche, realizing that she has helped the enemies destroy her people, she grew very desperate and prayed to her god to help her. The god told her that if she lets Cortes take her babies away, one of them will return and destroy her people.

Thus, the night before Cortes’ departure, La Malinche grabs her babies and escapes; however, Cortes soon discovers this and orders his soldiers to go hunt them down. They discovered them near a river. La Malinche stabs her babies in the heart and then the two falls into the river and dies. People later discovered La Malinche dead near/in the river.

Since then, rumor has it that she comes back as a woman in white dress, wailing all night long for her children.

(*For more information, see the film The Cry.)

My friend Miriam told me this story after I asked her to tell me some folklores of her culture. She is half hispanic so this is the story she told me. She could not remember a lot of the details really well, so I had to look up some of the informations myself. She knows this story just from growing up, her parents used to tell it to her, so that she’d be too afraid to go out at night alone.

I have heard of the story of La IIorona before and I have learnt about the history of Cortes and La Malinche but I never knew that there is a relationship in between the two, so honestly that was really interesting to learn.