The urban legend of La Llorona

La Llorona is hiding in the shadows!!

No ghost story is told as often, discussed as excitedly, or interpreted as broadly as the legend of La Llorona in Latin America, amongst Spanish-speaking populations in the United States, and especially in Mexico. “La Llorona” means “weeping woman,” so it’s no surprise that she weeps throughout all of her stories. Aside from that one distinguishing feature, the ghost known as “La Llorona” is described in a variety of ways: numerous legends exist about what she looks like and does, and even more about how she came to be such a gloomy spirit.

Who is La Llorona, and what is her story? What is her nickname, and why is it so? According to Laura Bradley in Vanity Fair, the first written record of La Llorona dates from 1550 in Mexico City. However, there are hypotheses that her story is linked to Aztec mythology creation stories. According to legend, a woman named Maria married a wealthy man named Perez, or Father Perez, and had two children with him, Bartolo and Diego, many years ago. Their marriage hit a snag when her husband started spending less and less time at home, and when he did, his attention was all on the kids.  Later then, she finds him with another lady.  Some accounts indicate Maria drowned her two children out of wrath, but she quickly regretted it, crying out, “Ay, mis hijos!” (It means “Oh, my sons!” or “Oh, my children!”).  Maria is alleged to have drowned herself as a result of her ordeal. 

When she arrived at heaven’s gates, however, she was denied admittance and sent back to Earth’s purgatory as an evil spirit until she could locate her children. Now, the legend says, she floats over and near bodies of water in her white, funereal gown, forever weeping as she searches for her lost children. Some versions of the story say she kidnaps or attacks children; other versions, according to Bustle, say she attacks cheating husbands. Regardless, when you hear her cries, the directive remains the same: run away. 

Alex Lainez is a big fan who likes horror. He commented on the urban legend. He believes that the legend of La Llorona is based on a real story because he has seen her walking and crying and walking in her wedding gown in search of her kids on the internet.  He also says that if you hear her calling for her child and it seems like it’s near you, it means she’s far away, but if the cries sound far, it means she’s close.

The narrative of La Llorona is told to youngsters all over Latin America, with other versions spreading in Mexico and the United States. According to the National Museum Of American History, she has been identified as Coatlicue, an Aztec deity who was said to be heard sobbing for her Aztec children on the eve of the Spanish conquest, according to tradition. Some believe she is the reincarnation of a poor lady from Ciudad Juárez who stabbed and drowned her children in the Rio Grande to gain the love of a wealthy man. Another tradition claims that La Llorona is La Malinche, Hernán Cortés’ key interpreter, and lover. La Malinche was replaced by Cortés’ first wife (who had been waiting for him in Cuba) after the collapse of the Aztec capital, and she was swiftly married off to one of his Spanish comrades. La Malinche and La Llorona, whether considered as overlapping or separate figures, reappear frequently in Mexican popular culture, north and south of the border.

La Llorona is even told in the United States to scare children into good behavior, sometimes specifically to deter children from playing near dangerous water. Also told to children is that her cries are heard as she walks around the street or near bodies of water to scare children from wandering around, resembling the stories of El Cucuy. Although no one knows whether or not this urban legend is true, it appears to have given everyone in the Hispanic community shivers. It has been passed down from generation to generation and is still being passed down today.