In keeping with a centuries-old tradition, the president of Argentina recently adopted a young Jewish boy to prevent him from turning into a werewolf.
The New York Daily News reports President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner adopted Yair Tawil as her godson when she met with his family during the unusual ceremony last week.
Argentine legend has it that the seventh son born to a family before any daughters are born is condemned to take the form of a werewolf. The legend says that once the child turns 13, he will turn into a werewolf, or “lobison,” on every full moon and hunt and kill before returning to his human form. The lobison was said to feed mostly on unbaptized babies.
As The Independent reports, fear of the lobison became so widespread in the 19th century that Argentine families were abandoning and even murdering their seventh-born sons. That caused the presidential office to step in and establish the tradition of adoption.
The practice began in 1907 and was formally established in 1973 by Juan Domingo Peron who extended the adoption process to seventh daughters as well.
These days, families with seven children are much more rare than they were in the 19th century, but the practice continues with the president taking on the designated child as a godson or goddaughter. The child receives a gold medal and a full educational scholarship after taking part in the ceremony.
The adoption process was reserved only for Catholics until 2009. Tawil became the first Jewish child to be adopted as the president’s godson when he took part in the ceremony Tuesday, according to a story from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Kirchner, on her Twitter account, called the ceremony a “magical moment,” and said the Tawils are a “marvelous family.”
Photos, which were also tweeted, showed the family lighting Hanukkah candles with the president on a menorah donated to her by the Tawils.