Culture

Get In The Halloween Spirit With These Scary Urban Legends From Across the Latinidad

With Halloween nearly here, we are fully immersed in spooky season. What better time to encourage a little good-natured fright. While haunted houses and scary movies are a good source for a quick thrill, we also have an underutilized resource when it comes to all things hair-raising. The many countries that make up the Latinidad are full of terrifying urban legends that are sure to give you a chills. No doubt you’ve heard of La Llorna and El Cucuy ⁠— two of the most well-know monsters from Latin America ⁠— but there are many more monsters to explore this Halloween season. Here are the most spine-tingling urban legends the Latinidad has to offer.  

1. La Lechuza

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La Lechuza is a shape shifting witch with the body of a giant owl and the face of a woman. Originating in Mexico and South Texas, the legend around La Lechuza states that she was a woman who sold her soul to the Devil for her magical powers. She attracts her prey by mimicking whistling and the sound of a baby’s cries. When people venture out to discover the source of the noise, she swoops down and catches them with her sharp talons. Legends also say that she can conjure thunderstorms and that those who survive her attacks always die under mysterious circumstances soon after. 

2. El Silbón

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A lost soul legend dating back to the 19th century, El Silbón comes from Colombia and Venezuela. He is the spirit of a young man who killed and disemboweled his own father for killing his wife. For his crime, El Silbón’s grandfather whipped him and set two ravenous dogs upon the injured man. Before he died, his abuelo condemned him to wander the world carrying a bag of his father’s bones. Also known as the Whistling Man, his whistles warn victims before he attacks. The further away his whistling, the more danger and the only thing that can stop him from attacking is the sound of a dog barking. 

3. El Basilisco chilote

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Originating from Chilota mythology, El Basilisco chilote is a fearsome animal that lives in Chile. Having the crest of a rooster and the body of a snake, El Basilisco hatches from an egg incubated by a rooster. The creature digs a hole underneath a home and then feeds off the saliva of the house’s inhabitants. This causes the house’s occupants to all dehydrate and die. The only way to defeat El Basilisco is to burn down the house it dwells under. 

4. El Sombrerón

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Most famous in Guatemala but also found in Mexican legend, El Sombrerón is a bogeyman figure similar to El Cucuy. Though he is known by many names, his characteristics usually describe him as being a short figure dressed in all black with a large sombrero and boots that make lots of noise when he walks. Weirdly, he likes to braid hair; especially the long hair of women who draw his attention. If he falls in love with a women, she won’t be able to eat or sleep until she returns his feelings.

5. Luz Mala

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Unlike the other legends on this list, this one isn’t a personified spirit or mythical animal. No one knows for sure what the Luz Mala is but its story is most popular in Argentina and Uruguay. It appears as a ghostly light or trio of lights appearing off towards the horizon. Sometimes the light is still and other times it is said that the light will chase the observer. The legend says that if someone digs under where the lights appear, they will find metallic objects or indigenous pottery. However, a deadly gas will escape the ground and kill anyone who attempts to claim the treasures. 

6. El Peuchen

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From Chile, El Peuchen is a mythological shapeshifter which usually takes on the form of a flying serpent. The creature makes a whistling sounds as it flies through the sky. El Peuchen’s stare paralyzes its victims so it can suck blood from their bodies and is often accused of attacks on local livestock. The only thing that can defeat El Peuchen is Mapuche Medicine Woman.

7. El Pishtaco

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From the Andes, El Pishtaco is a man-like creature especially well known in Peru and Bolivia. Originating from the time that Spanish conquistadors came to South America, the monster typically appears as a white-skinned stranger. El Pishtaco will sneak up on its prey and suck the fat from their body using an appendage that comes from its mouth. Pre-Hispanic natives in the Andes prized fat so this legend is an allegory for the White Man stealing their wealth and treasures. 

8. La Ciguapa

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Hailing from the mountains of the Dominican, La Ciguapa is a human-like, female-appearing creature. With long, silky hair that covers her body, this legend has blue or brown skin and legs that face the opposite way than they should. Magical beings with nocturnal habits, La Ciguapa are supposed to be bringers of death but other tales warn against becoming bewitched by staring the creature in the eyes. Both beautiful and grotesque, there are still sightings of La Ciguapa to this day.

RIP That Time Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos

Entertainment

RIP That Time Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos

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Since Disney Plus launched on November 12, people have been swept up in all the family-friendly chaos, indulging in a long list of classic Disney favorites. While the streaming service also plans to offer new original content, the company is definitely taking advantage of our generation’s lust for nostalgia, providing exclusive access to the Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and National Geographic franchises (and reminding us how much Disney dominated our youth with films like The Lion King, The Cheetah Girls, and Gotta Kick It Up). Honestly, the list of iconic feel-good films is outrageously long, and it’s easy to understand why everyone’s so excited.

But it’s no secret that Disney’s wholesome image has been blemished by a long, varied history of controversy and criticism. While Disney has been accused of sexism and plagiarism numerous times, one of the most notable topics of discussion in recent years has been the company’s tendency to racially stereotype its characters, a propensity that is  especially notable in early Disney films (though many scholars and film critics argue that this has carried into the 21st century, despite Disney’s attempts to be more culturally sensitive).

On many occasions, Disney has acknowledged the racist nature of its older animated films, like Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats. In the descriptions for several programs on Disney Plus, there is a brief warning about the “outdated cultural stereotypes” contained within each film, and while several people view this disclaimer as a sign of progress, Disney has been criticized for making a bare minimum effort toward addressing the problematic elements of its past.

And speaking of the company’s past, how could we forget the time that Disney tried to trademark the term “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead”?

Credit: Pinterest / The Walt Disney Company

Back in 2013, Disney approached the US Patent and Trademark Office with a request to secure “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead” across many different platforms. At the time, an upcoming Pixar movie with a Día de los Muertos theme (read: the early stirrings of Coco) was in the works, and Disney wanted to print the phrase on a wide range of products, from fruit snacks to toys to cosmetics. Por supuesto, Disney received major backlash for trying to trademark the name of a holiday—what is more culturally appropriative than claiming ownership over an entire celebration? Especially one with indigenous roots?

“The trademark intended to protect any potential title of the movie or related activity,” a spokeswoman for Disney told CNNMexico at the time. “Since then, it has been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our application for trademark registration.”

But prior to withdrawing their application, Disney received extensive backlash from the Latnix community. Latinos all over social media expressed their disdain for Disney’s bold and offensive attempt to take ownership of the holiday’s name, even starting a petition on Change.org to halt the whole process. Within just a few days, the petition had garnered 21,000 signatures.

Although Disney didn’t acknowledge whether the online uproar had influenced them to retract their trademark request, they were clearly paying attention. Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American editorial cartoonist, had expressed open disdain at what he called Disney’s “blunder,” creating “Muerto Mouse”—a cartoon criticizing said blunder—in response.

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz / Pocho.com

This wasn’t the first time Alcaraz had criticized Disney with his cartoons. After the trademark fiasco, Disney definitely caught wind of Alcaraz’s position, and in an effort to approach the upcoming Día de los Muertos movie with sensitivity, the company hired him to work as a cultural consultant on the film.

Although several folks celebrated this development, Alcaraz was widely denounced for collaborating with Disney—many people called him a “vendido,” accusing him of hypocritically selling out to the gringo-run monolith against which he had previously spoken out. But Alcaraz stood his ground, confident that his perspective would lend valuable influence to the movie and ultimately prevent Pixar from doing the Latinx community a disservice.

“Instead of suing me, I got Pixar to give me money to help them and do this project right,” Alcaraz said. “I was let down because I was hoping people would give me a little bit of credit for the stuff I’ve done; to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

And, sin duda, Coco emerged as one of the most culturally accurate films that Disney has ever produced. Employing an almost exclusively Latino cast and crew, Coco seamlessly captured the beauty, magic, and wonder of Día de los Muertos, depicting the holiday with reverence and respect. And after becoming the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico, it’s safe to say that Coco helped Disney bounce back from its trademark mishap, even if more controversy is bound to emerge in the future.

Mexico City’s Annual Día De Muertos Night Bike Ride Broke Records And It Looked Incredible

Culture

Mexico City’s Annual Día De Muertos Night Bike Ride Broke Records And It Looked Incredible

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Dia de Muertos may have officially happened over a week ago (it takes place from November 1-2), however, that isn’t stopping Mexicans from celebrating.

Sure, Mexico City had its massive Desfile de Día de Muertos last weekend and the incredible Mega Procesión de Las Catrinas on the weekend before but this weekend the celebrations continued. And this time, it took place in the form of a massive nighttime bike ride through the city’s most busy boulevards.

Mexico City’s Dia de Muertos night bike ride broke records with nearly 150,000 people coming out to celebrate.

A record 147,500 people took part in the annual Day of the Dead night bike right held Saturday in Mexico City, according to the city’s transportation secretary.

Riders showed up in elaborate costumes and disguises and completed an 18-kilometer route (about 11 miles) along the city’s famed Paseo de la Reforma. The route took the riders through some of the city’s most popular districts and along some of its most popular monuments. The ride then ended in the historic center of the capital city.

A costume contest at the Angel of Independence monument, live music at different locations and the screening of short films promoting the use of sustainable transportation at Plaza Tlaxcoaque complemented the bicycle outing.

Families and even their pets participated in the 11-mile ride.

Mexico City Transportation Secretary Andrés Lajous, who participated in the ride, told the newspaper El Sol de México that one of the most gratifying aspects of the event was to see young children enjoying their city at night. Many families took part including some that took their pets along for the ride, which took place between 9:00 and 11:00pm.

As violence continues to rack Mexico, events like this show highlight the positive events and moments in a country battling rampant drug violence. For many, the event offered a sense of pride as they were able to enjoy their city by night.

The night bike ride was just the latest in a series of major events in the city to celebrate Dia de Muertos.

For many, Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is synonymous with sugar skulls and elaborate ‘Catrina’ face painting. In reality, it’s a two-day festivity that lights up Mexico with colors, flowers, candles and a seemingly omnipresent joy.

Every year, on November 1st and 2nd, Mexicans take part in the adored demonstration of love and respect for their deceased relatives. And though the country’s capital is full of cemeteries to celebrate, plazas decorated in beautiful ‘ofrendas’ and lots of ‘pan de muerto’ weeks before the celebration, there’s one special day in CDMX when visitors will get to see a huge group of beautifully decorated Catrinas walk down the street in a parade celebrating life and death.

This year marked the 6th year that the parade took place. And more than 150 thousand people participated despite cool and rainy weather. Plus, there were nearly 200 professional makeup artists getting everyone looking like the famous ‘Calavera Catrina.’

However, not everyone was able to enjoy their night as some complained of police brutality.

While the vast majority of participants had an enjoyable and safe night, one young woman said that she and other cyclists were attacked by at least 20 police officers late on Saturday.

Twitter user @malitriushka said that after Reforma avenue reopened to traffic at about 11:00pm, the safety of cyclists riding on the road was threatened by an aggressively-driven Metrobús.

The woman said that she and other cyclists approached police to ask for assistance but were beaten and accused of theft. “As a cyclist, as a woman, I saw the situation and decided to help. Now I have fractures and am accused of theft,” she wrote on Twitter. “They beat me and with false testimony they say I stole a hat,” the woman said in another post.

She also said that her boyfriend and three other people were detained by police and that their cell phones, which had recorded the incident, were confiscated.