What Is the Myth of El Cucuy?

El Cucuy is Mexico’s version of the boogie man or the monster in the closet or under the bed. Parents use El Cucuy as a way to scare children into obedience by telling them that if they are bad, El Cucuy will get them. Throughout Central and South America, El Cucuy is also known Coco and Cocu.

It is thought the name El Cucuy comes from the sound that the creature makes. The sound, though, is not only the frightening noise that lets children know that El Cucuy is near, but is also a signal of danger. For this reason, some anthropologists believe that the legend actually evolved as a way of keeping children out of harm’s way as a result of their own mischief. The only real description of El Cucuy in association with the legend is his red eyes and small stature. Some versions of the legend liken him to a small adult, while in other versions El Cucuy is the spirit of young boy that died, which adds the complexity that any child gotten by El Cucuy could become El Cucuy. In 2013, Universal Studios Hollywood also added long pointy fingernails and sharp teeth to El Cucuy for one of its Halloween Horror Nights attractions.