La Llorona (“The Weeping Woman”) is a widespread legend in Mexico and Central America. Although several variations exist, the basic story tells of a beautiful woman by the name of Maria killing her children by drowning them, in order to be with the man that she loved. When the man rejects her, she kills herself. Challenged at the gates of heaven as to the whereabouts of her children, she is not permitted to enter the afterlife until she has found them. Maria is forced to wander the Earth for all eternity, searching in vain for her drowned offspring, with her constant weeping giving her the name “La Llorona”.
In some versions of the tale, La Llorona kidnaps wandering children, or children who disobey their parents. People who claim to see her say she comes out at nights or in the late evenings from rivers or oceans in Mexico. Some believe that those who hear the wails of La Llorona are marked for death, similar to the Gaelic banshee legend. She is said to cry “Ay, mis hijos!” which translates to “Oh, my children!”