Weird World News: Argentina’s President Adopts Jewish Werewolf

Dec 29, 2014 at 11:36 am |

Some national traditions might just seem stranger than fiction, but in Argentina, a folkloric fear of werewolves has kept one unique rite of passage very much alive.

For over a hundred years, a South American legend has said that the seventh son born to a family will turn into a lobisón or werewolf (from the Portuguese “lobishome” or “wolf man”) shortly after his thirteenth birthday. This developed from widespread accounts of slaughtered sheep and cattle, and the feared lobisón quickly turned into a demonic creature that fed on unbaptized babies (if that doesn’t scare you into organized religion, what will?)

In fact, fear of the lobisón was so great that there are reported accounts of families adopting – or even killing – their seventh son in order to avoid the curse.

To counteract the legend (and help presidential popularity in a country famous for the cults of personality that surround its leaders), the President of Argentina began adopting the seventh son of a given family as an ahijado or godson, which naturally prevented the boy from becoming a werewolf. The child would also receive a gold medal and a full ride to university. Not a bad deal!

While the official presidential adoptions began in 1907, President Juan Perón (twice president and once husband of Eva Perón) signed a legal decree making this unique tradition formal in 1973. Paraguay observes the same tradition. Presidential adoptions occur for various reasons in Argentina, but the werewolf prevention has got to be the most interesting.

This year’s adoption ceremony was even more special because, for the first time, the adopted seventh son comes from a Jewish family. The tradition was limited to Catholic families only until 2009, when a decree was passed extending the possibility of presidential adoption to children of other religions. Nowadays, the tradition can also apply to a seventh daughter.


Last week, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, incumbent and widow of former President Néstor Kirchner, adopted the first Jewish ahijado in Argentine history- 21-year-old Iair Tawil (has he been a werewolf for 8 years?). In her above tweet, the president states, “It was magical to receive Iair Tawil, the 1st presidential godson in our history who professes the Jewish faith.”

The story that CFK went on to tell via Twitter about her ‘magical’ Hanukkah leaves us wondering if the Roman Catholic president still has a few things to learn about PC interfaith dialogue…

“Iair, 21 years old, total sweetheart. His family, a delight. His mom, Queen Esther. His dad, Solomon, rabbi.  His brothers: Rafael, Eliel and Eitan.” Because naturally all Jews are Old Testament characters.

“I didn’t know, but his visit coincided with the celebration of Hanukkah. His dad said it wasn’t a coincidence…”

“He was right. They brought me a gift of a menorah from Israel. They asked me to light the candles…”

“And Iair said the prayer. A very special moment. Afterwards, they said I had to blow out the candles and make a wish…” Which is funny, and maybe this goy is totally wrong, but since when were the candles on the menorah akin to a birthday cake?

“I did it. Don’t even dream that I’m going to tell you what I asked for. They made me feel great…”

“It is a very special family. They have peace, happiness and a lot of love. It isn’t common. Good vibe.”

Whether or not you believe in werewolves – or making wishes from the menorah – this unique custom certainly made for a memorable holiday season for Iair and his family as well as Cristina Kirchner and her critics alike. It certainly has also made for some nice history in Argentina.


As for this last bit, we couldn’t help ourselves:

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We’ve heard of werewolf bar mitzvahs, but this is something else! Learn more about the tradition here!