The story circulating the internet as to why the President of Argentina adopted a young Jewish youth seems to fit with other folklore tales about 7th sons turning into werewolves. But is that what really happened? Was there a monster on the loose or was something else afoot?
A young man named Yair Tawil was about to turn 13. The problem was he was the seventh son born to the same parents which, according to local folklore, means he would turn into a werewolf (El Lobison) on the first Friday after his 13th birthday. Talk about growing pains!
The folklore says that once he became a werewolf, the boy would be doomed to hunt and kill during every full moon. These creatures are said to eat un-baptized babies, the flesh of corpses, and excrement. After that cycle, he would return to human form until the next full moon.
It is also believed that one bite from this creature during the full moon phase would turn others into El Lobisons as well. So having a seventh son carries a terrible stigma for a family.
In the 19th Century parents with a seventh son started abandoning or killing them as babies. In those days people had larger families so it wasn’t as uncommon as it is today to have a seventh son (or daughter). (Photo of singing group Los Vivancos above left, 7 brothers in all.)
According to some, the presidents of Argentina began a tradition of adopting these children as godchildren to protect them. Which brings us to today, and the fact that current President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner adopted Yair Tamir prior to this 13th birthday.
In addition to being spared the stigma of being a werewolf, young Tamir also received a gold medal and a full educational scholarship.
Apparently, there is more to this story than first thought. In an article for The Guardian, author Uki Goni quotes Argentine historian Daniel Balmaceda, “The local myth of the lobizon is not in any way connected to the custom that began over 100 years ago by which every seventh son (or seventh daughter) born in Argentina becomes godchild to the president.”
According to Balmaceda this tradition of presidents adopting godchildren in this way became law in 1974 under then President Isabel Peron. She also extended the tradition to seventh daughters at that time. (Photo right of current President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner with young Yair and his family during the ceremony.)
Balmaceda added, “The unconnected myth of the lobizon began among Argentina’s gauchos, the cowboys of Argentina’s vast cattle-raising Pampas, adapted from the older European werewolf legends.” In this variation of the werewolf legend, the beast transmits its curse not by biting the next victim, but by passing between their legs. These creatures don’t turn into their werewolf form under the full moon, but on every Tuesday and Friday night!
Does El Lobison Exist?
So it seems Yair Tamir received this honor not because he might turn into El Lobison, but simply because he was the 7th son in one family.
Does that mean the El Lobison doesn’t exist? The gauchos must have been afraid of something in their environment that reminded them of the old European tales of werewolves. We can’t say for sure what that was.
However, from all I’ve read about werewolves and those legends, I don’t think anyone needs to lose any sleep over it.
Have you ever seen something you thought was a werewolf?