Spanish Tuesday: “La Leyenda del Coco”

Spanish Tuesday: “La Leyenda del Coco”

Duermete niño, duermete ya, que viene el Coco y te comerá!

Go to sleep child, go to sleep already, or else Coco will come and eat you!

All parents have their own tricks to get their unruly children to behave. Some parents promise reward if their kids correct their behavior, and some threaten them with further punishment if they don’t stop. Spanish parents frightened theirs with tales of the vicious El Coco–– no, not Mama Coco from the Disney movie. Much like the infamous Bogeyman, El Coco is a mythological being that preys on children and eats them whole if they don’t stop misbehaving.

Legend has it that a Spanish man named Francisco Ortega suffered from tuberculosis in the early twentieth century. Seeking for ways to cure himself, he paid a visit to a curandera, a traditional Latin-American shaman/healer, who told him that the only way to rid himself of the disease was to capture a child, drink his/her blood, and rub his/her fat on his chest. So Ortega did just that — he captured a young boy named Bernardo, slit his underarm, and drank his blood. Ortega is now believed to roam the streets in the dead of night, a sack slung over his shoulder, looking for his next victim. 

Although he is more commonly known as El Coco or El Cucuy, depending on what part of Spain you live in, he is also known as El Sacoman or El Hombre del Saco in Mexico, which literally translates to “The Man of The Sack” or simply “The Sack Man”. 

Many parents incorporate this legend into their lullabies, often as a way to get their children to go to sleep. One of the most popular versions of these lullabies is “Duérmete niño, duérmete ya, que viene el Coco y te comerá!” (Go to sleep child, go to sleep already, or else Coco will come and eat you!)

Article by Andrea C. (Grade 12)

The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Dragon’s Print and Cebu International School.



  1. Russell Greene

    This could be an effective classroom management tool for unruly students. 😉

  2. Daniel

    I still believe one day Coco will come and eat me. It´s a trauma

  3. Gloria

    Very interesting, another way to call “El hombre del saco ” in Mexico is ” El robachicos”.

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