Wrinkled skin dripping with fetid water, twisting fingernails covered with black muck, wailing and gnashing of teeth--and unspeakable sin. These images haunt the imaginations of millions of people; they also are part of the bedtime stories many children will hear tonight.
Have you heard of La Llorona? She is the most popular and infamous ghost in Latino folklore; in fact, the legend of La Llorona, the Wailing Woman, may be the oldest ghost story in the southwestern United States, South America, and Mexico. Stories about this disturbing and complex figure even existed as part of the Aztec culture thousands of years ago. Today, numerous versions of the legend are told wherever people speak Spanish. Generations of children have been scared by grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends who told them about the ghost who haunts the rivers, ditches, and waterways of the world. The legendary Wailing Woman is not merely frightening; she is profoundly tragic and very real to many people.