January’s Weather Year Long
I’ve my 83 year old Danzon student, Lupita, rendering the need for Weather.com pointless. We’ll step outside and while I enjoy the warm breeze reminding me living on an island in Atlantic, she shakes her head in disgust at me. She knows the wind is coming from Querétaro, which means rains are coming. Breezes from Comonfort are merely a diversion and batten down the hatches should the lightning storm be headed from Delores. Lupita is more correct than a barometer!
The indigenous, in those pre-Weather channel days, used a complicated system based on January to predict the weather for the upcoming year. Las cabañuelas are an ancestral method of weather prediction brought over with the Spanish centuries ago.
How it works is the first twelve days of January represent, in sequence, the twelve months of the year. Then, on January thirteenth through the twenty-fourth the days represent, in reverse, the twelve months of year now starting with December.
From the twenty-fifth through thirtieth, the days were divided into two parts, with the morning of the twenty-fifth corresponding to January, and the afternoon of that same day corresponding to February, and so on.
On the last day of January, the thirty-first, twenty-four hours corresponded each to a month in the same way that the first twenty-four days of the month did. Midnight to noon goes January to December and noon to midnight, December through January. This 31st day of January is regarded with the utmost reverence, with much superstition and importance vested in it.
The average of the findings still are taken by methodical record-keepers such that, for example, if we had rain, snow or a lightning storm in January, the cabañuela would show which of the following months would be wet.
For a society steeped in agriculture and dependent on it for survival, like San Miguel, predicting weather was paramount and helped Otomi farmers judge the planting season. Until recent times, prior to Global Warming, we actually had two rainy seasons and two planting season earning the area the moniker “Breadbasket of Mexico”.
Modern science does not recognize any value to cabañuelas in forecasting the weather. While we all know is not possible to predict the weather a year in advance even today, just the attempt to do so played an important cultural role. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, it was big news if on February second a groundhog cast a shadow to predict the longevity of winter. Right or wrong, weather’s future still is fun to observe and predict!