Tag Archives: Mexican folklore

El Chupacabra

Text: El Chupacabra 

My informant is the mother of a friend.

She said that El Chupacabra is a Latin American folktale about an unknown creature that sucks the blood out of living animals. El Chupacabra is mostly known for targeting the livestock of farmers, especially goats, hence the english translation of “the goat sucker”. There are different speculations of what it looks like, but the most common tends to be a sort of demented dog.

She also said the tale itself is at least a hundred years old, but became popular around 40 years ago when farmers began losing their livestock in a similar manner to that of a Chupacabra. People, mainly farmers, likely still tell this story as a warning of what to watch out for. El Chupacabra was used as something to scare children with in order to behave or else the Chupacabra would come after them. She thinks the Chupacabra whether real or not demonstrates the highly superstitious culture of Latin America as people quickly speculated the Chupacabra to be of an almost otherworldly nature rather than some animal. She personally believes el Chupacabra is likely just some animal that had perhaps gone undiscovered.


Upon analyzing the Chupacabra, it is a legendary creature or cryptid. The story of the Chupacabra is that it is mainly a monster that goes after farmers’ livestock. Although the Chupacabra is something that is not scientifically proven, people still speculate its existence.

I see this creature as a way to explain the unknown or the fear of something larger and powerful outside. While livestock could have been eaten by wolves or a large animal, the thought of the Chupacabra or a creature in place of a more rational explanation shows a part of the superstitious culture in Mexico that my informant mentions.

The Chupacabra is also used as a monster that parents or older people may use to scare their children, which diverts from it’s origins. Which show a development to its story on a surface level from a creature that is used to explain how livestock or farms get messed with to a monster that also want to potentially hurt humans, or in this case, children.

Ritual: el Día de los Muertos

When I asked my informant if they had any special holiday traditions or rituals, they thought of el Día de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead. S told me that this was one of their favourite holidays, they love the vibrant colours, the joyful celebrations, the delicious food, and the beautiful altars set up in honour of loved ones. S told me that when the sun set, they would stroll down the streets of their neighbourhood every year, watching families setting up their altars for their loved ones who had passed and they would see candles flickering in the night, incense burning, and pictures of happy faces. They would also see lots of marigold blooms set around the altars, known as ‘ofrendas’, and the flower’s bright orange colour and strong fragrance are to help guide the souls of the dead home. S said that their mom would always bring out a tray of fresh pan de muerto which is a sweet bread that is eaten on this holiday, and they all took a piece. They love this holiday because they always felt a strong connection to their ancestors and their culture during el Día de los Muertos, and they said that it will always be a special time for their family and them.

I have always loved hearing stories about el Día de los Muertos and I think that it is such an amazing way of celebrating the life of a loved one who is no longer with us. Growing up, every time the thought of dying and the afterlife came to mind, it would quickly spiral out of control and I would get very anxious and stressed out because I just couldn’t wrap my head around the concept of it. Not knowing what happens when we die is a scary thought and I didn’t really have a comfort to hold onto. This is why I think el Día de los Muertos is such a great holiday because it helps you feel so bonded to your loved ones, even if they were no longer with you. The belief that the spirits of the dead come back from the afterlife to visit and spend time with their families on Earth would have been a very comforting and reassuring thought for me growing up.

Rituals: Quinceañeras

My informant S told me about when they had their quinceañera when they turned 15. S said that quinces are a very valued Mexican traditional celebration of becoming 15 and that it is a big transition from being a child to becoming an adult. They talked about picking out the dress, and how it is supposed to show your personality. They showed me a picture of their dress and they wore a gorgeous baby blue gown that reminded me of Cinderella. S also talked about the quinceañera’s court, the quinces’ closest friends, and how their friends all wore beautiful dresses that were colour-coordinated to their gown. S told me about the dance number that they did together and how much fun it was for them. S also talked about one of her favourite moments, the father-daughter dance and how emotional it was. They had picked a really special song that meant a lot to them, a Spanish song that their dad used to sing to them when they were younger and S said it was a very memorable moment for the both of them.

Of course, I have heard of the tradition of quinceañeras and know what they are about, but it is always so special to hear about it from someone who got to experience it in their life. I have several other friends who have also had quinces and I loved hearing everyone’s different experiences and memories of them. From what I have heard about quinces, I know that when you are Catholic, the quinceanera goes to church before the party for a ceremony of blessings that renews the quinceanera’s commitment to God. I have never had a quinceañera but I did have a champagne birthday, which is the day you turn the age of the day that you were born. In my case, I was born on the 18th, so the day I turned 18 was my champagne birthday and I had a champagne birthday party with my closest friends.


Context: The interviewee, D, is 19 years old and they were born and raised in Mexico. They told me that when they were a kid, they accidentally made this gesture while trying to get their family dog to sit down. When D’s dad saw what they were doing, he asked them why they were cussing out the dog. D obviously did not know what the gesture meant, so their dad explained it to them. That’s how D found out that this gesture was basically a way of saying “F*** you” to someone.

Analysis: There are a lot of gestures that mean very different things depending on where you are in the world and so it’s important to keep that in mind, especially if you decide to travel internationally. When I moved to Canada from China, there were a lot of words and gestures that I didn’t know the hidden meaning of. I never knew this gesture was a way to cuss at people until D told me. However, I was unable to find the origins of this hand gesture because it’s rather hard to describe what I’m looking for online. I actually make this hand gesture quite often, but only towards myself and not other people thankfully as it’s how I check my nails and cuticles to see if they need fixing.

Joke/Riddle:How do you say pollo in English? And how do you say repollo in English?

Context: D also introduced me to this Spanish joke that they had learned from her childhood friends. D explained that “pollo” is chicken in Spanish, and “repollo” is cabbage in Spanish, so the joke is that people would answer chicken for the first question, and then rechicken for the second question. They told me that the joke would only make sense to people who were bilingual in both English and Spanish since it plays off of the similarities of both Spanish words and their English translations.

Analysis: After D explained the joke to me, I found it quite funny even though they thought it was silly since it was just a stupid joke they played on each other in grade school. It’s interesting how language works with jokes because they sometimes don’t work when translated. This actually reminded me of a joke that I heard from a family friend of mine that only bilingual people who speak both Mandarin and English would understand. You put up four fingers and ask the person what word you are putting up and they will usually respond with “four”. Then you bend your four fingers down and ask them again what word you are putting up and they usually get stumped, so you tell them that it’s “won-der-ful” putting emphasis on the “won” and pronouncing the “ful” similar to four. This is because the “won” sounds a lot like the mandarin word for bend is “弯”, so together it’s roughly translated to “bent four”.