News that the President of Argentina adopted a young Jewish man in order to prevent his becoming a werewolf exploded online last week, getting coverage on dozens of news sites despite being a conflation of unrelated tradition and myth. Mixup or not, the story has already given me reason to write what I bet will be the weirdest Werewolf News headline of 2015.
What actually happened is that Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner became the godmother of 21-year-old Iair Tawil, in honour of the country’s longstanding tradition of acknowledging its immigrant’s traditions and being cool to its citizen’s seventh sons and daughters. There’s an apocryphal werewolf connection there, sure, but it’s buried in the history of Tsarist Russia and the imperial patronage of Catherine The Great – not a super good basis for decision-making here in the 21st century.
But why acknowledge something as a kindly indulgence of historical superstition when you can go bonkers and infer that presidents in Argentina thinks werewolves are real, instead? That’s just what Buzzfeed did in their story about the supposed impetus for the adoption:
Argentina’s presidents have a tradition of adopting the seventh son in a family in a tradition linked to folklore that states the child would turn into a werewolf-like creature.
Variations of this factoid were regurgitated by several news sites, including NBC News, The Huffington Post (who have since pulled the article), and several other news sites whose writers got a little too excited when they Googled “Argentina seventh son” and discovered the coincidentally adjacent lobizón, which is some kind of Friday night pig-wolf myth propagated by Argentine cowboys from 1900.
In short, Iair Tawil was never in danger of becoming a werewolf, and the only people who suggested he might have been were interns trying to pick up the slack during the slowest news week of the year.