Folktales of Mexico

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Mexico has a variety of cultures which came from European and Mesoamerican cultures. This mix of cultures leads to the creation of traditional tales and narrations better known as legends and myths.

Myths[edit]

Myths are narrations that tell us about the origin of gods, of the creation of our world and space. The importance of both types of tales is that they are created inside the context of a group and as a result they can be used to see the different characteristics of the group’s culture. They usually show us religion, beliefs or try to explain natural phenomena.

All of the other gods formed two lines around the fire, and then the Tecuciztecatl and Nanahuatzin were placed in front of the fire. All the gods said to Tecuciztécatl: “Tecuciztécatl enter the fire”, he tried to enter, but he could not. He tried 4 times but he did not succeed. It was established that he could not try more than four times. So the gods said to Nanahuatzin: “Try” and, making a big effort and closing his eyes, he entered the fire.

When Tecuciztécatl saw that Nanahuatzin had entered the fire, he ran and entered the fire too... After both gods entered the fire, all the other gods sat and waited to see how Nanahuatzin was going to get out. After a while the sky started to change its color, it was red and the light of dawn appeared. It is said that after this, all the gods knelt to wait Nanahuatzin as the sun form. Some of them thought that Nanahuatzin would rise from the north part. Others said he would rise at the midday. The gods thought he could rise from everywhere because there was light everywhere.

Some gods looked at the east and said: “Here, the sun will rise from this part”, this phrase was true. One of these gods were Quetzalcoatl (also known as the god of the wind) and Tótec (lord of the coast lands or red Tezcatlipoca).

When the sun rose it was red and nobody could see it because it was very bright. Then the moon appeared from the same part, they rose in the same order they entered the fire. Those who narrate fables say that they had the same intensity of light so the gods met again and said: “It is not possible that both have the same intensity”. So the gods decided

After the gods got out of the fire, they stood immobile. So the gods had to die to make the sun move. It is said that the sun did not move after the gods died, then the wind started to blow and he made the sun move. That is why they work at different times: the sun lights during the day and the moon works during the night.

Two loving Volcanoes…[edit]

A princess whose beauty is ethernal.... Iztaccíhuatl volcano is located in the borders of Puebla and Mexico State... "She" is near her brave lover Popocatepetl
A north view of Popocatepetl volcano (an inmortal and brave warrior...) which is located on the frontiers of Puebla and Mexico State.

Before leaving for war, Popocatépetl asked Iztaccíhuatl's father for permission to marry her. Shortly after, a rival of Popocatépetl falsely told Iztaccíhuatl that her love been killed in battle. The princess died of grief from this news. Popocatépetl returned victorious but was shocked by the princess's death. To honor her, he ordered a tomb to be built close to the sun. Ten hills were united to create a mountain. Popocatépetl laid the princess's body at the mountaintop, and the whole mountain took on the form of a sleeping woman. Then as the warrior kneeled before his lost love, snow covered them, and they both transformed into volcanoe

Legends[edit]

Legends are stories created by anonymous authors with some basis in history but with many embellishments. They talk about facts that occurred in the near past and which characters can or cannot be human. Legends show us the vision of the world and the life that people had with, historical, political, philosophical, and cultural value.

Colonial Mexico Tales…[edit]

During Colonial era in Mexico, new narrations began to appear. Many of them created from the mix of religion and past beliefs. They were accepted by the society and even they influenced in their lives. The knowledge of narration began in the 16th century with the help of missioners and religious people who tried to mix indigenous and Christian-catholic beliefs.

La Calle de la Quemada (The Burnt Girl’s Street)[edit]

A view of Tetilla Guanajuato, where the “Burnt’s girl street” (La Quemada) is said to be located.

With such a noble, generous soul, beauty, and a large fortune, it was easy to think that she had plenty of handsome lovers. Many gentlemen and noblemen fought in front of Beatriz’s mansion, but she did not accept anyone.

Finally a gentleman arrived to the mansion—a man whose destiny chose him to be Beatriz’s husband. His name was Don Martín de Scópoli, Marquis of Piamonte and Franteschelo, a handsome Italian gentleman who loved Beatriz since the first time he saw her, and his love for her grew with passion.

He fought bravely with every gentleman that wanted to marry Beatriz, showing his strong and eternal love for her. For this reason many gentleman proved themselves fighting for Beatriz trying to defeat the impertinent Italian man. Don Martín fought days and nights under the moonlight, and he always won.

When the sun rose, the police passing through Beatriz’s street would always find a dead or injured gentlemen, caused by the sword of the Italian suitor.

Beatriz loved immensely Don Martin because of his presence and handsomeness and because of his lovely words. She knew that much of the blood spilled was his fault and this greatly saddened her. One night, after she had prayed to Santa Lucia, a martyr virgin who took out her eyes, she made a terrible decision that would make Don Martin Scúpoli love her no more. The next day, after completing many tasks, like helping poor people with medicines and food, she confirmed that her father was leaving and carried to her room a brazier, in which she put charcoal and lit a fire. Suddenly the flames filled the room, and the heat became intense. She prayed to Santa Lucía, and saying Don Martin’s name, she put on her knees and put her beautiful face over the brazier.

A smell of burning flesh spread throughout the room, taking out the fresh smell of jasmine and almonds. After a few minutes later, Beatriz screamed and fainted next the brazier. Fortunately Brother Marcos de Jesus and Gracia, who was a confident of Beatriz, heard Beatriz’s scream and ran into the house. He found Beatriz on the floor, he lifted her with care and tried to put on her injured face some herbs and vinegar. At the same time he asked her why she had done that.

El Callejon Del Beso (The Alley of the Kiss)[edit]

This is a sad love story of two young people whom lived and died in Mexico: Ana and Carlos. She was as beautiful and pure as an angel, about 20, lovely and single. He was handsome, about 28, tan and tall with an arrogant demeanor, adorned with the best moral qualities, hard-working, honest. With those conditions Carlos met Ana, and as soon as they saw each other, they fell in love. From that moment Carlos, went frequently in the evening to Ana’s house after work. And she, with the same feelings, stood on her balcony, beautiful as Dulcinea, white, with big and expressive eyes, in a beautiful and unique manila dress that her father gave her, so when Carlos passed by her house she gave him a beautiful smile.

So the weeks passed by, until Carlos dared to greet her and the young lady accepted his greeting with a gentle smile. The next day he started a conversation, shy at the beginning, but polite, as any courtship, after that like any couple of lovers with, love phrases and promises. They with quickly started to think of a big wedding, blessed by her mother Madame Matilde, a virtuous and dignified mother that had accepted the relationship between her daughter Ana and Carlos. But Ana’s father did not approve it, because he had already planned marry Ana to a friend of his, which was rich and lived on backing Spain. So Madame Matilde thought that the relationship between Ana and Carlos would probably end, and she decided to tell her husband about the casual meetings that Ana and Carlos had on Ana’s balcony.

One day Ana’s father saw the two lovers talking, and he forbade Carlos from seeing his daughter, also threatening to send Ana to a convent if she continued seeing Carlos.

Neither Ana nor Carlos accepted the attitude that Ana’s father took, so Carlos decided to reestablish their relationship behind Ana’s father’s back. Carlos planned to rent a room in the house next door where there was a balcony in front of her balcony in which they could talk without being seen, so they could plan a way to escape and be happy.

So the weeks passed by, hiding their courtship from the sun. They only looked at each other in the moonlight from their balconies while Ana’s father slept. Unfortunately the tragedy came. One night Ana’s father woke up and took a knife from his bureau and in blind fury walked to the balcony of his daughter, he surprised his daughter and he buried the knife into her chest. She died in her lover’s arms in the white moonlight. Carlos took his lover’s white hand and two tears fell down. With a big kiss Carlos said good bye to his eternal love: Ana who died on the Alley of the kiss.

The Powder of the Viceroy[edit]

In the offices of the Viceroy of New Spain was an officer named Don Bonifacio. He was a very lazy guy. His payment was the necessary to sustain his wife, his sons and his house. He was always angry, bored, resting in his armchair, and waiting for his meals.

There was no game of the Royal Lottery in which he wasn’t participating. However he never won anything. One day he decided to send a letter to the Viceroy, but what was this letter about?

After sending that letter. Every Friday Don Bonifacio walked to the Central Palace and waited in a corner where shadow covered him from the intense sun. The Viceroy, ridding in his white horse, approached every Saturday to Don Bonifacio and gave him a box covered with a little of silver. Usually Marteseo. Wilkins took the box back to the palace again…

The rumor growth all around the town… everybody thought that Don Bonifacio was a powerful friend of the Virrey… people gave Don Bonifacio money and gifts to be his friend.

What they didn’t know is that Don Bonifacio was not friend of the Viceroy… he was a lazy worker with the great idea of writing to the Viceroy what follows:

“Dear Viceroy… It would be a pleasure if you were able to give me a little of your soil that is inside your palace. I have seen that in your soil everything is green and profitable. Would you give me the honor of having my crops as beautiful as yours?”

The golden box contained only soil from the Viceroy's palace.

It’s said that Bonifacio became a very rich and powerful person just because of the magic powder of the Viceroy.

Pregnant woman and the Eclipse[edit]

In Mexico it is believed that exposure of a pregnant woman to an eclipse will cause her infant to have a cleft lip or palate.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Rogelio Álvarez, José. Leyendas Mexicanas 1 (Mexican Legends). (1998). Editorial Evergráficas. España. ISBN 84-241-3537-7
  • Rogelio Álvarez, José. Leyendas Mexicanas 2 (Mexican Legends). (1998). Editorial Evergráficas. España. ISBN 84-241-3537-7
  • Perez Reguera García, Alejandra. Pérez Reguera M. de E. Alfonso. México, nación de mítos, valores y símbolos (Mexico, nation of myths, values and symbols). (2002). Instituto Mexicano de Contadores Públicos. México. ISBN 970-665-108-X.
  • Krickeberg Walter. Mytos y leyendas de los Aztecas, Incas, Mayas y Muiscas (Myths and leyends from Aztecs, Incas, Mayas and Muiscas). (2000). Fondo de Cultura Económica. México. ISBN 968-16-0581-0
  • Scheffler Lilian. Cuentos y leyendas de México (Tales and leyends from Mexico). (1991). Panorama editorial. México. ISBN 968-38-0259-1