Who has never had nightmares as a child?
All cultures have myths and legends that have been maintained over the years. In Spain, we find “El coco,” a mythological creature that has been terrifying children for years and is still very present in Spanish homes today.
Spain is not the only country that believes in “El coco”; other countries have this monster in their stories. “El coco” is similar to the bogeyman, who can appear at any time if the child misbehaves, disobeys, or does not want to sleep.
Are you ready to discover this Spanish monster that has all children in fear? Then don’t wait any longer, and keep scrolling down to hear this rather spooky tale!
What is the Spanish Monster?
“El coco,” also known in other countries as “Cuco,” “Cuca,” or “Cucuy,” is a mythical ghost-like monster similar to the bogeyman. This creature is found among the stories and tales of Spain, as well as in many other Spanish-speaking countries and some European countries.
What does “que viene el coco” means?
“Que viene el coco” refers to the threatening phrase that adults would exclaim when we were children because of our bad behavior: “If you misbehave, the “coco” will come and take you away” or “if you don’t stop crying, I’ll call the “coco.” In Spanish would be “como te portes mal, viene el coco y te llevará” or “si no dejas de llorar, llamo al coco”).
“Que viene el coco” are also the words of a song that mothers sing to their children before bedtime.
“Duérmete niño, duérmete ya, que viene el coco y te comerá.”
This means “Go to sleep, child, go to sleep now, “el coco” is coming, and he’ll eat you.”
As you can see, it’s not really a happy song; it’s more of a song to scare the child a little by telling him that if he doesn’t go to sleep, “El coco” will come for him.
If the child doesn’t listen, then “El coco” will appear in his house and take him with him making him “disappear.” So, the expression “que viene el coco” is a reminder that children need to be good and heed what they are told, or they will fall victim to the “coco”.
The legend of “El coco”
The legend of “El coco” is universal and almost a millennium old. This legend tells the story of a mythical creature of Iberian origin that stands out as a child scarer.
This monster is characterized by being present in the lullabies that parents sing to their children before going to sleep. His name is used as a threat to make children go to sleep, as well as to make children be obedient and behave well. Upon hearing his name, the children are frightened and do as they are told.
“El coco” has never had a concrete description of his image. It has always been left to the parents to create the mysterious figure to tell their children. The only thing intended to achieve is to impact the children so that they take heed and correct their bad behavior.
According to the Spanish legend of “El coco,” he can appear whenever the child disobeys, does not want to eat his food, or does not want to go to sleep. Although his punishments are different in other countries, parents may tell a different kind of story.
There is no apparent birth of the myth, which makes it a historical element free of interpretation and, at the same time, a social curiosity.
Other cultures that believes in “El coco”
“El coco,” besides existing in Spain, is also a common legend in other countries, but they use different names.
- Portugal, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Venezuela use the same name as Spain: “El coco.”
- Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay: “El cuco.”
- Paraguay: “El cuculele” or “El cuco.”
- Brazil: “La cuca” and “El bicho-papão.”
- Bulgaria: “Torbalan.”
- Italy: “Babau.”
- Norway and Denmark: “Bussemanden.”
- Finland: “Mörkö.”
Song about “El coco”
Here are the lyrics of the song in Spanish:
Que viene el coco
Y te llevará.
Que viene el coco
Y te comerá.”
What was your biggest nightmare or fear as a child? Have you ever heard of “El coco” before?
The truth is that every time this song was sung to me before going to sleep, I was petrified, and it was even more difficult for me to go to sleep!
It doesn’t make much sense for me to threaten children with this kind of story in which a monster appears.
We could get our children to sleep by singing them something a little happier, don’t you?
We would love to read you!