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The Legend of La Llorona, the Weeping Woman

By Sarah R. Herrera
On October 27, 2011


To many people, urban legends are made up stories that have been told since the beginning of time.  As the years pass, those stories become more and more falsified with each version that is told.  However, Mexican urban legends are a bit different.  For some, these myths consist of tall tales of brave vaqueros.  For others, they are true stories of family feuds gone extremely wrong.  

By far the most popular Mexican urban legend of all time is the legend of La Llorona, Spanish for the Weeping Woman.  Dating as far back as the 1500s, the tale says La Llorona, named "Maria", was born with natural beauty and elegant black hair.  Although she was born into a peasant family, her good looks made her believe that she must marry the most handsome man in the world.  At night she would slip on a ravishing white gown and excite the many men who admired her. 

One day, the search for her perfect man ended when a young striking ranchero, heir to his father's ranches, rode into Maria's village.  Maria knew that he was the man for her, and she knew just what she had to do to win him over.  Though it was hard to do, she ignored the handsome rancher and all the gifts he lavished her with.  This, however, only made him want her more.  His persistence led to their marriage and the birth of their two children.  Like most marriages, it started off great, but as the years passed Maria's husband began to change.  Not only did he turn to alcohol, but he became a womanizer who would leave her for months at a time.  His love for Maria had disappeared so much that he spoke about leaving her for a woman of his own class, one that was better than Maria.   His only concern now was his children and because of this, Maria started to resent them. 

One evening, Maria decided to take her two children for a stroll on a river pathway to get her mind off of things.  As they walked along the trail, a carriage slowly passed them and stopped.  It was Maria's husband with a beautiful young woman by his side.  He stopped to speak to their children, completely ignored her, and then rode off with his mistress as if Maria was never there.  Seeing this filled Maria with so much rage that she seized her children and threw them into the deep river, leaving them to drown.  At that moment she felt free, but it wasn't long before she realized what a horrible thing she had done.  Maria scurried down the river bank in hopes of saving her children, but it was too late, they were gone. 

Ashamed with what she had done, La Llorona mourned her innocent children day and night along the river bank in the beautiful white gown she had attracted her "husband" with.  She was so depressed that she refused to eat or drink anything, and her beautiful face and body turned to bones.  After starving herself for so long, Maria finally died along the same bank that she threw her children in.

Though Maria was now at rest, it wasn't long before her restless spirit came back from the dead to roam the river where her children lay.  Some say she has been seen floating on the waters in her shredded white gown crying, "Donde estan mis hijos?"  Till this day, children are warned not to go out at night near a body of water, for La Llorona will take them, promising no return.

  (Sarah Herrera may be reached at

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