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History of Mexico - The Legend of La Llorona or the weeping woman

Author: Hans Hereijgers

Contributor(s): Esther Nicholls

Published on: February 1, 2001

Legends and traditions have always played in important part in the history and culture of Mexico. Often they are a mix of history and imagination, a kind of imaginative vision of real events whose origins have been lost and can sometimes seem even more real than reality itself. They are kept alive by oral tradition, which explains why many times several versions are floating around. Most Mexican legends are several centuries old; some dating back to pre-Columbian times while others were born in the colonial period.

The classic legend of La Llorona is a very popular one which for more than three centuries was instilled in the memory of the citizens of Mexico City. It has its roots in Aztec mythology and dates back to the time of the Spanish Conquest of Mexico. The legend tells us that the goddess Ð'«CihuacoatlÐ'» appeared in the city of Tenochtitlan at night as a woman dressed in white, accompanied by deadly omens which foretold the conquest of Mexico. One night, her voice was heard, weeping loudly: Ð'«Oh, my poor children, their destruction has arrived, for we must soon depart!Ð'» Other times the voice would cry in desperation: Ð'«My children, where shall I take you? Where could I hide you?Ð'» This was interpreted as an omen for the fall of the Aztec Empire.

Soon after the arrival of the Spaniards to the American continent, the Aztec Empire of Tenochtitlan was conquered. As you will most certainly remember from one of my previous articles, the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes was aided immensely by DoÐ"±a Marina, better known as Ð'«La MalincheÐ'». Now, some say that La Llorona is La Malinche, mistress of Cortes, endlessly lamenting her betrayal of her own Indian people to the Spaniards.

You will also remember that Cortes and La Malinche had a son, but after the Conquest, Cortes went back to his wife in Spain. The legend tells us that they had twins... One day a beautiful Spanish lady convinces Cortes to return to Spain with his two sons. When La Malinche finds out about his plans to leave her and taking the children with him, she escapes with the babies. Soon Cortes and his men set out to find them. They are able to surround her at the lake that Mexico City now rests on, but when they try to capture her, she pulls out a dagger, stabs her babies in the heart and drops their lifeless bodies into the water... Up to the time of her death she was seen and heard near the lake weeping and wailing for her children, which was why she was given the name Ð'«la LloronaÐ'». As time went by, the legend grew. In Mexico City, in the middle of the sixteenth century, the inhabitants claimed that they could hear the cries of a woman afflicted with terrible grief. Some even claimed that they could actually see her at midnight on nights during a full

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