The month of January is named for the Roman god Janus, the protector of gates and doorways. Appropriately, his head is depicted as having two faces, one that looks into the past and the other into the future.
We know the past, but it would be valuable if we could predict (accurately) the 2019 gardening weather because we could plan crops, planting dates, irrigation schemes, all sorts of tasks.
There are hundreds of anecdotal folklores and proverbs for weather predictions and in researching the subject of predicting weather, one folktale kept surfacing, “cabanuelas.”
The name cabanuelas comes from the Spanish “cabana” for small house, meaning that the first 12 days of January “house” the weather. Strangely, La fiesta de las cabanuelas is Jewish in origin, attesting to the diversified Spanish heritage, however, some believe that the tradition of “Las Cabañuelas,” originated with the Mayans, later adopted by the Spaniards.
The tradition of cabanuelas uses the first 12 days of January to predict weather for the coming 12 months. Jan. 1 for January, Jan. 2 for February, Jan. 3 for March and on to Jan. 12 for December. For example, if Jan. 1 starts cool and clear, warms up later and rains in the evening, January will start off cool and clear, warming mid-month, and rainy the end of the month.
A Franciscan monk traveling with Christopher Columbus wrote: “Through their gods and observations on the first days of the year, the natives know which days will be good and which will be bad, which will be rainy and which will be dry.”
A historian in Cozumel who has tracked weather with this system finds it to be relatively accurate (cozumel4you.com).
Will this scheme predict Lubbock weather? Let’s look at records of the first few days of January in Lubbock and predictions up to the 12th day (Accuweather.com):
Recorded temps and conditions
Jan. 1: 27, 20, cloudy
Jan. 2: 32, 24, cloudy
Jan. 3: 52, 23, partly sunny
Jan. 4: 65, 26, sunny
Jan. 5: 68, 26, sunny
Jan. 6: 69, 42, cloudy
Jan. 7: 65, 36, sunny
Jan. 8: 54, 28, sunny
Jan. 9: 50, 39, some clouds
Jan. 10: 55, 43, thick cloud cover, a shower
Jan. 11: 54, 34, cloudy
Jan. 12: 54, 33, partly sunny
Seems like cabanuelas is already not fitting Lubbock conditions since our Jan. 1 temperature did not rise above freezing and was overcast, yet by Jan. 4, temperatures were above average. Using cabanuelas, we can expect above average temperatures in April, May and June. Still, it is a fun exercise if you want to track our conditions.
Q&A 2019 gardener’s resolutions: A-J reader E.H. resolves to make a digital journal of the 2019 growing season.
Some information from islandnet.com; newmexicohistory.org; alabamawx.com
ELLEN PEFFLEY taught horticulture at the college level for 28 years, 25 of those at Texas Tech, during which time she developed two onion varieties. She is now the sole proprietor of From the Garden, a market garden farmette. You can email her at [email protected]
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