Tag Archives: love story

Alley of the Kiss/El Callejón del Beso

Informant Information – SI

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 20
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant grew up in Mexico and learned about this legend on a family trip to Guanajuato. They were first told the story by their father and shared this information with me in an in-person interview. 

In this piece of folklore, a legend is set in an alley in Guanajuato, Mexico. In this alley, the space between houses is extremely narrow, with the balconies of houses across the street from one another nearly touching. 

According to my informant, a young woman and her parents moved into a house in this alley just after it was built. She had recently become interested in a suitor, but her father didn’t approve. She couldn’t imagine her life without him, so they began secretly dating. After the suitor learned that the house across from her family’s home was empty, he purchased it so that he could sneak into her bedroom and visit her at night. 

One night, the woman’s father caught the suitor in his daughter’s bedroom. In a fit of rage, he chased the suitor, who attempted to escape back into his house by jumping from her balcony to his. The father grabbed the suitor’s legs just as he tried to jump, causing him to fall off the balcony and break his neck. 

Horrified by her father’s violence and grief-stricken by the loss of her beloved, the young woman refused to ever move away or marry, and she lived in that house until her death as an elderly woman. 

Now, the alley is a popular tourist attraction, and couples that kiss under the balconies are said to be blessed by the spirit of the deceased suitor. 


This legend contains a tragic description of prohibitive familial expectations that result in a forbidden love affair. However, since it focuses on the gruesome nature of the murder and the father’s horror upon realizing what he has done rather than the reason that the lover was said to be an unfit suitor, this story seems to be more of a warning against prejudice and violence than against pursuing a forbidden suitor. 

It’s interesting that both the legend and associated magic ritual celebrate love instead of focusing on the tragedy that occurred. In this version, even the ghost of the deceased lover is a benevolent spirit that blesses couples that kiss in the alley where he was killed. 

For another version of this legend, see the version published in a tourist guide of Guanajuato: “Alley of Kiss Guanajuato.” Guanajuato Mexico City Guide, GuanajuatoMexicoCity.com, http://guanajuatomexicocity.com/Guanajuato-guide/Alley-of-Kiss-Guanajuato.html

Butterfly Lovers


H is a parental figure of mine who grew up in China and is currently living in California. 

This conversation took place over a weekly phone call with my parents after I asked them about stories that they knew from China. 


H: The Butterfly lovers –

Me: Oh not this one-

H: This one is actually pretty famous cause it has music, you know the flute. The Butterfly Lovers, which Dynasty I forgot, there’s a famous legend. So Zhu Yingtai comes from a very rich family, she’s the only daughter of the family. Because her brothers all went to school and she wanted to be like her brother, so she disguised herself as a man, a young man, and went to Hanzhou, a different city. Cause you know her family they lived in Shangyu, the same province as Hangzhou but Hangzhou is the biggest city, the capital city of the provence. There she met a fellow student called Zhu Yingtai, sorry Liang Shanbo. 

The womens name is Zhu Yingtai, the guys name is Liang Shanbo in Hangzhou at the same school. And they felt like they could chat and develop a very good friendship with each other. They studied together for like three years and the lady, Zhu Yingtai actually fell in love with Liang Shanbo. But Liang Shanbo didn’t know she was a girl so he just treated her like a brother. One day, Zhu Yingtai received a letter from her brothers asking her to come back home so she went back home. I think her father tried to marry her off to a rich family’s son so she went back home. And then, Liang Shanbo decided to visit her afterwards because he happened to go to the area. And then, he found out, after he went to her home, that she’s a lady and he fell in love with her and decided to propose for her, for marriage. But her, Zhu Yingtai’s family looked down on Liang Shanbo’s family because he’s from a poor family and they said she’s already engaged to this rich guy, rich family’s son. So Liang Shanbo felt really sad by this and he got depressed and died soon after.

Me: Oh.

H: Yeah, he was, so Zhu Yingtai after she heard about the death, she told her family – she was resisting the marriage before but she told her family she decided to get married. So they, so she was all dressed up in red and they sent her by carriage to the other guy’s family because its not in her home town. And when her carriage passed by Liang Shanbo’s tomb, she said to stop and she wanted to um, bid him farewell. So she got off the carriage and kneeled by the tomb and you know, then suddenly the tomb, the sky changed color, the clouds came by, the sky changed color, and the tomb spilled open. And she decided to jump into the tomb, and the tomb closed itself and the sky was all cleared up. So I guess God was trying to help them. So, afterwards, they saw two butterflies came out from the tomb, that’s why they said they became butterflies.

Me: Ohhh I was about to say I don’t know where the butterfly lovers thing is coming from.

H: Because she jumped into the tomb and the tomb closed itself. Then they saw the butterflies and the butterflies lived happily in the flowers so they said they became the butterflies. Because the butterflies were always together so the local people thought it was their spirits together so they could never get separated. 


This legend is incredibly interesting to me because it mirrors the cliche in Mulan of hiding one’s gender whilst also mixing it with what reminds me of the story of Hades and Persephone. It is a classic example of star-crossed lovers and one that is popular enough that there is a famous violin orchestral arrangement that illustrates this tragic love story. However, this story ends with an assumed happy ending, even though both protagonists seem to die, they are still reunited. This legend also brings up the concept of reincarnation as the people assume that the butterflies that immerge are the souls of the lovers who are finally able to live together after they both pass. According to an online source, the carriage actually stopped because of a storm rather than the bride being able to ask to pay her respects to him. These lovers are traced to written records of the story in a book from 700AD about the Chinese empire with a brief mention of the lovers. The butterfly element seems to be added at a later date to represent the idea of metamorphosis and change that allows them to be reunited together. 

Su, Minjie. “The Butterfly Lovers: A Classic Chinese Love Story.” Medievalists.net, 13 Feb. 2019, https://www.medievalists.net/2018/02/butterfly-lovers-classic-chinese-love-story/.

A Handkerchief in Time

Kropp was a secret geek in high school. He thoroughly enjoyed sports, rap, and women but had a soft spot for cartoons. He says he would secretly want to be a superhero if he had the chance – “a dope superhero” at that. He is currently a USC student studying environmental science, is enrolled in the NROTC program and loves to skateboard. He has very close ties with his extended family. He hopes to one day commission into the navy as an officer.

Concerning his family, my friend has a large one. He has family crawling up and down the New England coast. One of our ROTC events requires us to dress up – the Ball. Both men and women put on their best outfits and dance the night away. At the event I saw that he was wearing a very old rustic handkerchief. It was a light blue with a dark silk blue border. But there were small stains and wear on the handkerchief. I asked him why he was wearing such an old dirty handkerchief.

“What…this is frikin dope. My grand-daddy gave this to me. So excuse…you!” he pointed. So I was curious and began digging. There is quite a story to this. His grandfather was in the Italian Army just after World War II came to an end. He met this beautiful Italian woman at a pier on one of his weekends on leave (break from military training). They talked for hours and hours. And of course, fell in love. After dating for a while, she had decided that she needed to move to America, that Europe was no longer somewhere she could withstand being. It was time she went to the free country. As he dropped her off to say good bye at the station, she gave him her handkerchief and said that if he was ever in America, to come find her. After the War ended he joined her in America and they had three-children, one of which is Kropps mother. Kropp heard this story from his grandfather. When he was growing up he would ask him to tell it over and over again. His grandfather would pull out his pipe and his old military uniform and retell the story – changing one small thing everytime.

“I’m giving this to my son one day…yah know, if I have kids or some sh**” Kropp said at the ball.

Analysis: Not only is this a beautiful story, with great depth and character, but it has moved someone two generations out of its relevance. Kropp took the real happenings of a couple and decided that it was something worth looking forward too. And now he values this timeless item. Maybe one day, he’ll have a story to add to the handkerchief.