The spookiest time of the year is upon us once again, and what better way to celebrate Halloween than by telling some ghost stories? While this macabre date has its roots in Celtic and Pagan festivities, today most countries have some kind of celebration on October 31.
Different countries and regions have their own folk tales about spirits, ghost ships, vengeful ghouls, and other supernatural entities that haunt the Earth. Here we present you with the 5 most spine-chilling ghost stories from different parts of the world!
La Llorona in Latin America
La Llorona is one of the most popular ghost stories in Latin America, especially in Mexico and the northern provinces in Argentina. La Llorona is the ghost of Maria, a young woman who was abandoned by her husband. Desperate and heartbroken, she drowned her two sons in the river and then committed suicide by throwing herself under a train.
As a punishment, she now wanders between the world of the living and the dead, looking for her children. Hundreds of people claim they have seen her standing on the road at night, crying (llorar in Spanish, hence her name) and asking for help. But it is said that, if you get out of the car, La Llorona will enchant you and drown you in the river just as she did with her kids. So, if you ever find yourself in Latin America and hear her cries, run in the opposite direction screaming ayuda (help)!
The Japanese Onryo
The Onryo is a vengeful spirit that makes Japanese people shiver. These are usually the ghosts of people who died violently and stay in the world of the living to take revenge (most of the time, not only on the people who wronged them but on anyone who happens to be in their way).
The most famous Japanese Onryo is Sadako Yamamura, (the protagonist of the film Ringu), a girl who was murdered by her adoptive parents and thrown inside a well. As a ghost, she created a videotape documenting her torture that would kill whoever watches it in the span of 7 days. You can learn more about this terrifying Japanese movie here and get spooked this Halloween!
The Bean Nighe in Scotland
According to folk tales and legends, Scotland is a magical land home to many supernatural beings that go from the innocent kelpie to the gloomy Bean Nighe. With a keening, desperate cry, the Bean Nighe appears to announce an upcoming death in the family. The tales claim that this spirit lives beside pools and streams, and washes off the blood from those who have just died.
The Flying Dutchman Ghost Ship in South Africa
The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ship that sunk more than 200 years ago near Cape Point. Its corrupt and violent crew were then cursed by the spirits of the ocean to sail the seas forever to never be able to make port.
South Africans say the Flying Dutchman appears on stormy nights when the gale winds prevail. According to the legend, if rowboats come too near this ghost ship, they will die and become part of the cursed crew, too.
A Coca in Portugal
The myth of the Coco (a ghoul that lives under children’s beds and eats them if they misbehave) originated in Portugal and Galicia and spread across South America. In Portugal, for example, this ghoul is called “A Coca” or “papão negro”, and parents sing lullabies to make it stay away from their children:
Vai-te Coca. Vai-te Coca
Para cima do telhado
Deixa o menino dormir
Um soninho descansado
(Go away, Coca, go to the top of the roof and let our children sleep in peace)
We live in a diverse world, but almost all cultures have something in common: ghosts and supernatural entities. No matter where you go, you’ll surely find spooky stories that will haunt your dreams. Celebrate this Halloween by learning more about these terrifying ghosts and share the stories with your friends!
And if you are interested in reading more about the ghosts we mentioned in this post in their original languages, you can always contact us at Listen & Learn and get started with Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, or any language of your choice!