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“La Llorona”, a Mexican legend Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 in Entertainment, Spanish Culture

There are stories you hear when you are a child, and they scare you do death. In Spain we were always threatened with “El hombre del saco” (The man with a bag) or “El sacamantecas” to make you eat, vegetables in my case, or behave appropriately.

That must be the reason why I found this Mexican legend so interesting. “La Llorona” is the Spanish name for “The Weeping Woman”. Although this legend is originally from Mexico, there are several different versions in Spanish-speaking cultures in Central and South America. The basic story tells us about the ghostly apparition of a mysterious woman dressed in white, wandering at night and crying for her lost children: “Ayyy, mis hijos!” (Oh, my children!). According to this tragic legend, she was a woman who was abandoned by her husband or lover, with two children. In desperation for her lost love, she drowned her kids as revenge, but when she became aware of her act, she went desperately mad. She died, but her soul remains searching for her dead children. In some countries, seeing the apparition of “La Llorona” is an omen for the witness’ death in the near future, in a similar role to that of Banshees in Irish mythology. She is always depicted as an unmerciful killer, dragging children into water.

This legend is more than 300 years old, going back as far as indigenous Aztec myths.In some tales “La Llorona” is related to Cihuacoatl, the patron goddess of women who die in childbirth, predicting the fall of the Aztec empire and the loss of her people at the hands of the Spanish Conquistadors. In some other texts, “La Llorona” and “La Malinche” are considered the same person. “La Malinche” was the indigenous mistress of Hernan Cortés, also abandoned by him after his return to Spain. The story says that “La Malinche” killed their son when he married a Spanish lady of his own class (though there is no historic evidence of this murder).

We find different versions of the legend in Chile, Venezuela, Paraguay, Colombia, but this lady in white dress is a constant presence in their folklore. Children books, short stories, novels and films have been created based on her story. Nowadays, there is a new vision about “La Llorona”:  Chicano literature, studies and criticism have rescued her not as an evil figure, but as a female archetype for a strong, independent woman not restricted to motherhood and marriage.

Let me finish this post with a recommendation: I have recently watched a great film about this topic, directed in 1960 by Rene Cardona, “La Llorona” that you may enjoy. And we can even find references to her in “El chavo del ocho”!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QkngcduIUU

Chavela Vargas – La Llorona – The Weeping Woman – Frida Kahlo

Todos me dicen el negro, Llorona
Negro pero cariñoso.
Todos me dicen el negro, Llorona
Negro pero cariñoso.

Yo soy como el chile verde, Llorona
Picante pero sabroso.
Yo soy como el chile verde, Llorona
Picante pero sabroso.

Ay de mí, Llorona Llorona,
Llorona, tú eres mi shunga.
Ay de mí, Llorona Llorona,
Llorona, tú eres mi shunga.

Me quitaron de quererte, Llorona,
pero de olvidarte nunca.
Me quitaron de quererte, Llorona,
pero de olvidarte nunca.

No sé que tienen las flores, Llorona,
las flores del camposanto.
No sé que tienen las flores, Llorona,
las flores del camposanto.

Que cuando las mueve el viento, Llorona,
parece que están llorando.
Que cuando las mueve el viento, Llorona,
parece que están llorando.

Yo te soñaba dormida, Llorona,
dormida te estabas quieta.
Yo te soñaba dormida, Llorona,
dormida te estabas quieta.

Pero en llegando el olvido, Llorona,
soñé que estabas despierta.
Pero en llegando el olvido, Llorona,
soñé que estabas despierta.

Si porque te quiero quieres, Llorona,
quieres que te quiera más.
Si porque te quiero quieres, Llorona
Quieres que te quiera más.

Si ya te he dado la vida, Llorona,
¿Qué mas quieres? ¿Quieres más?
Si ya te he dado la vida, Llorona,
¿Qué mas quieres? ¿Quieres más?

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About the Author:Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!


Comments:

  1. William:

    Oh you just reminded me with the llorona song you posted. Very recently i got in touch with my Hispanic culture and I’d like it if you post a very beautiful Cumbia song most Hispanics grow up with. It’s called “Oye” by La Sonora Dinamita. Probably you’ve heard it before. It’s a fantastic way to show others from other cultures about hispanic culture. And I think it would help people in their journey of learning Spanish, it has very nice lyrics.
    -Willy 🙂

  2. Magda:

    Is this the song you are talking about Will?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoB_fFzUnhg&feature=related

    I remember it from my childhood hehehe. I knew Gloria Stefan´s version . We´ll post it some day in the Spanish Facebook fanpage.

  3. William:

    Yes that’s it!! That’ll be great! ¡ Muchísimas gracias!

  4. laila:

    i really need this information because me and my BFF Iris are
    resarching her!

    • Magda:

      @laila What an interesting topic Laila!