It’s May 5th everybody! You know what that means…it’s Cinco de Mayo, and just like St. Patrick’s Day, it’s a celebration of a culture, food, music and heritage. Let celebrate Mexican heritage by talking about one of their biggest and most widespread legends: La Llorona.
But first, let’s dig in a little on the holiday’s history first. Cinco de Mayo isn’t as widely celebrated in Mexico as it is here. Unlike what you might believe, it is not considered to be Mexico’s Independence Day which occurred 50 years before on September 16, 1810.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican defeat over the French on May 5th 1862 during the Battle of Puebla in the Franco-Mexican war. Suffice to say the holiday is more widely celebrated in Puebla, but is celebrated throughout the country. There are parades, festivals and battle recreations.
According to History.com, in the 60’s in America, Chicano activitists pursued the holiday in the states as a celebration of Mexican heritage and the holiday took off. So, celebrate today with more traditional Mexican food like homemade tamales, tacos al pastor and Mexican pastries and learn a little bit about a legendary woman call La Llorona.
The name La Llorona means “The Weeping Woman.” Like most legends, there are many different stories that explain her. The most common of which tells of beautiful Maria, who was married and had two children. As years pass, her husband grows cold and, upon finding out her husband has eyes for another woman, in a fit of rage and revenge she throws the children in the river, drowning them.
After seeing what she has done, she tries to save them. In some stories she drowns and in others she wastes away from grief. Other stories tell of her drowning her children to be with the man she loves and then killing herself when she is rejected.
Whatever the beginning may be, the outcome remains the same. At the heavenly gates, she is denied entry for being without her children and she is sent back to wander until she finds them. The story of La Llorona is used as a warning story to children to keep them from wandering out at night or disobeying their parents.
It’s said that if she even finds a child that looks like one of her children she lost, she will take them away to a watery grave. Stories like that exist all over the world and its similar to the Irish legends of bad faeries that take away children and replace them with their own.
She is sometimes seen wandering along the banks of the Santa Fe river in her white burial dress, wailing and crying out, “Where are my children?” However the story goes, the consequences are equally as devastating. Many movies, good and bad, have been spawned from the legend. One of the most popular being La Leyena de la Llorona.
Universal Studios Orlando even opened up a haunted house just for her.
If one day you find yourself in Mexico near the bank of a river, keep an eye out for a white dress, perk up your ears for the cries, and watch yourself near the water. Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!