mary magdalene, llorar como una magdalena

Mary Magdalene weeps over the body of Christ.

Real quick I just thought I’d share with you an interesting new expression I learned today from one of my Spanish tutors, Silvia (she’s very good, check her out if you’re in the market!), when I realized it would make a great 3rd installment in our Learn Spanish for Real series!  What did Silvia say to me that inspired this post?

Vas a llorar como una Magdalena

The context of this was gas prices (petrol prices, for our British friends 😉 ).  We were talking about the possibility of me renting a car while in Spain (probably not), which then led to comparing gas prices between the U.S. and Spain, which led to her saying “Cuando llegas a la gasolinera, vas a llorar como una Magdalena.”  I had never heard this expression before so she explained.  It’s very interesting.

Spain, previously having been a very Catholic country (not so much now, only on paper but not in practice really), has a lot of expressions based in Catholicism and the bible – this is one of them.  “Vas a llorar” means “you’re going to cry” (“vas” is the informal way of saying “you are” with the verb “ir“, “llorar” is the infinitive of the verb meaning “to cry”), whereas “Magdalena” means Maria Magdalena, or Mary Magdalene as we know her in English.  So what the expression is saying is “You’re going to cry like Mary Magdalene.”

Why was Mary Magdalene chosen to express this?  Because she’s known for crying.  In the Bible it makes a point of stating that she cries when her brother dies, when Christ is crucified, and on several different occasions when she repents for her sins.

Important (and quick) side note!

If you’re reading this you’re probably learning Spanish at a beginner or intermediate level, and if so could I recommend you quickly check out a site called Yabla? They teach you Spanish using videos made by and for natives (e.g. TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, cartoons, news and documentaries originally made in Spanish-speaking countries for native speakers) coupled with a set of tools specifically designed for that purpose which are integrated into the video player:

  • Verbatim subtitles in Spanish shown at the same time as English subtitles (you can turn either or both on or off)
  • An integrated dictionary and flashcard system that both automatically looks up a word in the subtitles when you click on it as well as adds it to your flashcards for later review
  • Exercises and quizzes about what you just watched that make you apply the new Spanish you just learned.

Check it out here (discounts for educators and institutions, by the way, I know a lot of you are teachers) or read my full review if you’d like more information (and screenshots of the system) first. Back to the article…

Interestingly, there’s even a song called “Llorando como una Magdalena”, though regrettably I can’t find the origin of it so I can’t tell you where or when it got started, but there are several performances of it on YouTube if you’re interested:

Thanks to Significado y Origen de Expresiones Famosas for the background information.

Hope you all enjoyed this, I’ve got a big series of posts coming up on Spanish verbs that I should be publishing in the next few weeks that I’ve been working on for a couple months now.

Also, if you’d like to learn more everyday colloquial Spanish (not just cursewords, I promise!), I’ve written a book on how to do just that by using modern popular Spanish media like movies, TV shows, music, comics, and more called: The Telenovela Method – you can buy it directly through my site or on Amazon (it’s had great reviews!), the link above will tell you how.



The previous edition of Learn Spanish for Real was (if you’re interested)…

Learn Spanish for Real #2: “Carajo” | Slang, Expressions, and Curse Words

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