Tag Archives: legends

El Cucuy is Everywhere

Background: The informant is a 26 year old female who lives in a suburb of Chicago. She was born and raised around the city with her grandparents, mother, and younger brother. Her grandparents, immigrants from Mexico, imparted most of their knowledge to the informant.

Context: The context was watching a horror movie and being reminded of a legend she was constantly told as a child.


VA: So, in Mexican folklore, there’s El Cucuy. It’s like the boogeyman. Mexicans threaten their children with El Cucuy coming and taking them away.

Me: Oh my. How does El Cucuy come?

VA: El Cucuy is everywhere, everywhere around you.

Me: Would you mom tell you this to scare you?

VA: Well, it was my whole family. My mom, my grandparents, all of them. It was how they scared children into behaving. Oh also, just anyone of Latin American culture like my babysitter from Central America. Basically, if you speak Spanish, chances are you know El Cucuy.

Me: What does he do to children?

VA: He eats children once they’re taken. Basically, if you don’t behave, you’re getting eaten. 


Informant: Her voice was extremely solemn when speaking about El Cucuy, likely still remnants of how childrenhood fears can continue to affect someone. Even at 26, she didn’t want to take any chances.

Mine: The boogeyman is a very common theme across cultures as a way to scare children into behaving. While it may not be scary to everyone, it seemed to hit something deeper for the informant. She told the story more calmly than her other ones, not making any humorous jokes, or pausing often. While it likely is still childhood fears sticking with her to some extent, it may also be because the informant has a younger brother and would have to tell him the story as well. In this case, the informant has been both the receiver of the tradition and has passed on the tradition. It brings up the interesting placement of the older sibling, in that they may become active bearers of their traditions much earlier than the younger siblings. 

Lady in the Alley

Informant: The informant is a very good friend of mine. She and I met in my sophomore year of high school. She is currently an undergraduate at Cal State Dominguez Hills. 

Context: The following transcript is a retelling of a ghost story that she heard from her aunt. Her aunt experienced this in early 1980s in Puebla, Mexico. My informant states that she believes it because this has not been the first time that her aunt has experiences something like this.

Story:This story was told by my aunt to me, and it was experienced by her in Jalisco, Mexico when she was very young. It occurred one day when she had stayed late with a friend out of school. By the time they left and were walking home, it was dark. She was walking with her friend, and they saw a woman walk into this dark alley. They were confused as to what this lady was going to do because it was a dead-end ally. Curious to see whether the woman might be lost, they approached the valley carefully, but to their surprise there was no one there!”

Analysis: Although, this encounter might seem like a huge misunderstanding, to my surprise I actually believe this ghost story. Although, Mexico is a beautiful place, it is also full of a lot of violence. Most of the violence is experienced by women. Therefore, when hearing this story, I believe it might be the spirit of a woman who is restless and looking for vengeance or peace. I think this is the reason why I believe in this. In today’s lore there are so many more legends that seem to be similar to what my informant’s aunt experienced all around the world.

To read another version of a woman in alley, which might be suspected to be restless ghost refer to the following: S.E Schlosser, 2007, “Spooky Canada: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, And Other Local Lore”, pp. 117

La Difunta Correa


J first heard about this from her Honduran brother-in-law that spoke about it during a get together. She enjoys talking about the legend because she believes it would bring others good.

The context of this piece was over a work shift when a song named “La Difunta” come over the music playlist.


J:” Wait what’s the name of this song? It sounds like I know it”

Me: “Uh its called ‘La Difunta,’ my boyfriend showed me it since hes into these types of songs”

J: “You know there’s a legend with that name, but its called La Difunta Correa. My brother-in-law told me about it the other day. I guess it’s a legend he had heard but it’s like a sad story. You sure you want to hear it? “

Me “Yeah I don’t mind”

J: “ So there was a lady called Correa, that’s her last name but I don’t remember her actual name. It was like Tiodolinda or something linda. But anyways she lived with her husband and their little baby son but one day her husband was forced to be a soldier. Correa was like so young and pretty and so once her husband left she was like so vulnerable. So she ends up following the way her husband had left and she even took her small little baby with her. After walking for like so long int the desert she ended up sitting next to some random tree. The thing is she never gets up! She died there. 
 Me: And what happened to the son?

J: He was still alive and was found by some people. But this is why she became like a really big legend, few years after she died, a farmer lost his cattle right where she had died and asked her for help and the very next day he got all of them back. So, people basically like think it was her answering his cries for help so now people like call to her when they need something. I thought that was pretty cool to hear”


I found this interview really interesting just because this lore itself was based upon an actual person. After doing some research, I discovered that it was created after a Deolinda Correa and that she actually lived in Argentina and passed away during the mid-1800s. This was especially interesting just because I got to hear and see how the lore was formed after an actual person and how it spread to different countries and regions with time. I also found it really interesting that it’s connected with folk Catholicism because people dub her a popular saint for the needy, so I thought it interesting to see how lower and religion connected in this sort of aspect.

Mooncake Lady: Chang’e

The interlocutor (ZG) is a high school friend of the interviewer. She and her twin sister grew up in a Chinese-American household in Los Angeles.

DESCRIPTION: (told over call)
(ZG): “I don’t know if this is what you want but there’s this mooncake woman story my mom used to tell me and my sister of her and her husband! Did she tell you this already?…Mm, okay. 

So basically, there’s this Chinese moon goddess named Chang’e, right? And she’s supposed to be really pretty, with like, long black hair, y’know? Anyway, my mom told us about how Chang’e was this woman who was kinda in love with this human guy named Houyi. Houyi’s, like, an archer, by the way, and he’s supposed to be, like, the best archer. So basically it’s about this husband and wife? And the husband, Houyi, did something courageous and legendary and was given a potion of immortality for it, I guess? And then he gave it to his wife, Chang’e, to hang on to it while he went out to go hunting or fight somewhere, and she was alone in the house. But then this OTHER guy came to steal the potion from her. I think his name was like… Fengmeng? But I could be wrong. So like, instead of giving it to him, she drank it, which caused her to become immortal. And then because she was now immortal, she floated up to the moon and became the moon goddess.

So now there’s a Chinese celebration or festival that kind of honors her, I think? And mooncakes are also kind of in her honor too! The salted duck yolk, yum, being like a little yellow moon of course!”

(ZG): “My mom grew up in Hong Kong, which is where she learned this story from her parents and from celebrating the Moon Festival. She moved to the U.S. when she was, like, 10 or something, I don’t really know. I don’t really remember when she first told this story to [my sister] and I… we’ve kinda just known it forever, I guess.”

As someone who grew up in two cultures with heavy folkloric traditions, I got the gist of what it’s like celebrating a tradition or a festival based off a myth. It’s really interesting to hear the different ways folklore can weave itself into a culture and pass itself down from generation to generation, withstanding elements such as migration to a different country or community as well as the test of time.




Informant: So… Trolls are what people think of when they think of Norway, I guess… But people don’t actually believe in trolls, I don’t think… It’s kind of like to make childhood exciting, I think. You know how we have these little hikes in the woods where supposedly the trolls live, and you know, they make all these little adventure trails for kids focusing around trolls. And at the cross country ski races there would be troll mascots, right? Mhm.

Interviewer: What are some characteristics of trolls? 

Informant: Maybe a little rascal-like. Not mean, but mischievous… Bushy. Lots of hair… And very small… Big nose. Big ears… Bad teeth… There are big trolls… But when I think of them, I think of them as little trolls… I don’t have a strong attachment to trolls I guess, I don’t know.

Interviewer: But they are like a national symbol? 

Informant: Yeah, they are… They’re in a lot of our fairy tales and stuff…  I don’t know if trolls are officially a national symbol… Or if it’s something people play off of ‘cause they think it’s cool, and it draws tourists. I don’t know. 


Interviewer: Do you know why trolls are such a big national thing?

Informant: I don’t know where it comes from. I’ve never really… Maybe it has to do with the nature in Norway… I’d be curious to know actually. 

Interviewer: So what’s up with all the troll statues everywhere? 

Informant: Oh yeah… I’ve never even thought about that… I don’t know why that is… Like there’s a big one in Oppdal, but Oppdal is such like a… Rural community, you know? I’m sure that tales are even more… What do you call it….? More prevalent, there. Like I’m sure there’s even more focus on tradition, and that traditions are even stronger in a place like that where it’s so rural and everybody lives on a farm almost.

Interviewer: Were trolls as prevalent when you were growing up?

Informant: Probably. Just not in my life, you know……? Actually! Growin’ up, I had kind of like a troll-looking doll that was really cute. That my mom would like knit clothes for, you know? And I would bring him as my mascot to gymnastic competitions and stuff. And my friend had one too and we’d play with them all the time. 


There is no denying that trolls are a large part of Norwegian culture. And yet, the informant does not feel much attachment to them as creatures or symbols; she does not have much information on trolls, nor has she given them much thought throughout her life. This suggests that the emphasis on trolls may indeed be primarily a tourist draw, as tourists may find more appeal in symbols than locals do. In “Early Travellers in Borneo” in Tourism in South-East Asia, Graham Saunders writes, “Travellers…today arrive with certain expectations. They carry with them an idea or image of Borneo, an image which tourist brochures have conveyed” (Saunders 271). Tourists have expectations pertaining to their destination. They are on the outside looking in, and may thus attach themselves to symbols that seemingly represent the place they are visiting; it makes a foreign place easier to understand and digest.

In his book Trolls: An Unnatural History, John Lindow writes, “For centuries…trolls were found only in the landscape of Scandinavia. They were ‘nature beings…’ Their home environment was a pre-industrial society in which people lived by farming and fishing, often on a small scale” (Lindow 9). Trolls largely originated as Scandinavian figures. They are thought to be encountered in nature, and Norway is a landscape made up of forests, fjords, mountains, rivers, and so on. Norway was also a rural place for a long time, and there are still active farming and fishing communities. Trolls may then fit the tourists’ expectations of what Norway is supposed to be like: rural and woodsy. The tourists’ expectations may in turn fuel what tourist brochures, etc. convey, as the tourist industry aims to draw more people in using the tangible symbols that seem to be working (such as trolls).


Sources cited above (Note: Also see Lindow’s book for further reading on trolls):

Lindow, John. Trolls: An Unnatural History. Reaktion Books, 2014. 

Saunders, Graham. “Early Travellers in Borneo.” Tourism in South-East Asia, by Michael Hitchcock et al., Routledge, 1993.