The 10 best myths of Mexico (with their explanations)
In each country, there are legends that become representative stories of the place. Something that fascinates locals and foreigners alike are the myths of Mexico and knowing each one of them is interesting and reveals the culture of this country.
The myths of Mexico are mostly of pre-Hispanic or colonial origin ; however there are some from the modern era that due to their popularity have already become traditional myths of the country.
The 10 most popular myths of Mexico
The myths of Mexico are rich in traditions and surprising stories, sometimes varying from region to region but the essence is the same.
1. La llorona
In places where there are lagoons or rivers, at night a woman can be heard shouting “Oh my children! This woman, scorned by the lack of love from the father of her children, drowned them in the river and then killed herself by not bearing the guilt of having committed the crime. Since then she has been heard at night shouting that lament.
This story has variations according to the region , since elements of its narrative are modified to fit the folklore and values associated with each belief system, but it is undoubtedly one of the most widespread and recognized myths of Mexico.
2. The Moon Rabbit
This Mexican myth is told to children to explain the spots that are seen on the moon.
The god Quetzalcoatl came down one day to take a long walk on the earth, at nightfall he was tired and hungry not knowing what to eat when a rabbit passed in front of him offering him his food, which the god refused, because it was not something he used to eat.
The rabbit offered itself in sacrifice to be eaten and Quetzalcoatl in gratitude promised that from then on it would be remembered . He took it and raised it up to the moon to stamp there his figure telling it &quot;In homage to your nobility so that you will be remembered by all&quot;.
3. The eagle, the snake and the cactus
The shield on the Mexican flag is the image of an eagle standing on a nopal cactus devouring a snake , and this icon responds to a part of Mexican history that is told as part of the origin of what is now Mexico City.
According to pre-Hispanic mythology, the Aztecs received a message from Huitzilopochtli to leave the place where they were living at that time and search for the promised land. The signal they had is that they would see a snake standing on a cactus devouring a snake. So they set out on the 300-year journey to what they later called Tenochtitlán .
This story is one of the most relevant myths of Mexico as it is a historical passage that led to the foundation of the current capital of Mexico.
This god was very kind and envied by his brother who worshipped war and violence, so he invented a story about Quetzalcoatl to humiliate him in front of the rest of the gods.
Quetzalcoatl, which in Mayan means Feathered Serpent, embarrassed by the humiliation decides to burn himself to disappear.
However, what Quetzalcoatl had actually done was a plan to be able to go down to hell , where he stole a splinter from the first humans and combined it with their blood to create a new race of humans on earth.
For this reason, thanks to this Mexican myth, Quetzalcoatl became the most revered and respected god of the Mayan culture .
5. The chupacabra
This is a contemporary Mexican myth that dates back only to 1995. Throughout the country there were rumors of the appearance of a strange animal that attacked mainly goats by sucking their blood. Although it was never possible to obtain a single video or photographic evidence of such an animal, people claimed to have seen it.
6. The black charro
A girl named Adela, who was very much besieged by men and who liked to play with them, on her way to a love date found a very handsome man dressed in a black charro suit and riding a horse who invited her up. Without thinking, she agreed; as they rode, they were engulfed in flames and amidst Adela’s desperate cries, they disappeared. People say that this black charro was the very devil making Adela pay for her pride.
7. Kissing Alley
This is a myth originating in Guanajuato , Mexico. It is said that a lover bought the house in front of his beloved so that he could see her and be with her before the prohibition of his father not to see him. When he leaned out of the balcony, the houses were so close that they didn’t need much to get close and give each other a kiss. Her father, on discovering this, killed her by stabbing her with a dagger, and the lover stayed close to her until he finally died.
8. Chaneques or Aluxes
It is said that the Alunxes are small beings that inhabit the region of Veracruz, Yucatan or Chiapas . They are similar to goblins but even smaller, as they do not exceed one meter in height. They take care of their owners’ crops and do evil things to people in order to get food and water in exchange for leaving them alone.
This is an example of the importance given in agricultural societies to the conservation of plantations, a working context in which having a good or bad season can be a matter of life or death.
9. The moon goddess
In the south of Mexico it is said that Ixchel was a very beautiful young woman who was wanted by two men who decided to fight for her to the death. However, by attacking her treacherously, they kill the man Ixchel loved and by committing suicide to be with him, they ascended together to heaven to become the god of the sun and the goddess of the moon.
As in many other myths of Mexico, in this one appears the recurrent theme of justice that is fulfilled in the beyond, out of reach of the limitations of the material world and its violent dynamics. In addition, it offers an explanation of mythical nature about the origin of two of the main stars.
This is the name given to the human beings that according to the legend have the capacity to become animals in order to fulfill some mission . It is a Mexican myth that is widespread throughout the country and it is believed that the tecolotes, eagles, jaguars and coyotes, are the animals most used by the Nahual people to make themselves present as animals.
- DK (2015). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Mexico. Penguin.
- González Obregón, L. (1992): México viejo. Mexico City: Alianza Editorial.
- Trejo Silva, M. (2004): Guide to the Fantastic Beings of Pre-Hispanic Mexico. Mexico City: Vila.