For the Mexican farmers, it is a priority to take the reading of the “cabañuelas” since, they will predict the dry months and the rains.


Have you heard about the cabañuelas? For the vast majority of people who live in big cities, this word may sound strange; for those who live in the provinces, particularly in small cities, it is likely to be a known topic, but for those who live in rural areas it is undoubtedly an important part of their everyday life during the first month of the year.

Since ancient times, humanity has had the need to predict the weather. The observation of the sky have always been a starting point for many predictions, myths and fears. In the case of the cabañuelas, experience and tradition play a fundamental role since they are a meteorological prediction method used by the native Mexicans way before the Spanish arrived. It is  a set of traditional methods that aim to predict long-term weather.

The first reference to these predictions is very old; In ancient Babylon the “Feast of Luck” or “Zamuk” was celebrated in the ceremonial of “Akitu of the Babylonian New Year” in which weather was predicted for each of the twelve months of the year.

To understand the method of the cabañuelas, From January 1 to January 12 of each year the months are counted in ascending order, that is, beginning in January, and from January 13 to January 24 of each year the months are counted in descending order, that is, beginning with December. Then, from the 25th to the 30th of January of each year, 2 months are taken, each day in ascending order; therefore, each month has a duration of 12 hours within the day.

From a scientific point of view, cabañuelas are completely meaningless when it comes to obtaining precise predictions about the weather and since the appearance of scientific meteorology, the elaboration of forecasts based on cabañuelas have lost part of its popularity amongst people except in rural areas of Mexico where 90% of the indigenous population still use and believe on this method, according to “Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación” —SAGARPA—

Currently, meteorology considers this old art of weather prediction a pseudoscience. Although short-term prediction through popular knowledge and experience is perfectly feasible, this is not the case with long-term prediction. For traditional Mexican farmers  it is a priority to take the reading of the cabañuelas since, with it, they will predict the dry and rainy months to be able to plant their crops in season, and the days of January are of vital importance to keep the account of every day.

January, the month of the cabañuelas…  an oral custom, passed from generation to generation since precolombian times, before the Spanish conquest,  is currently a lost art for some, but remembered and used by others… and an important part of our Mexican heritage. 


The Yucatan Times



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