January weather

According to Las Cabañuelas lore, you can predict the weather for the whole year based on the weather of each day in January.

I love weather lore because it represents an earnest attempt to predict the unpredictable. Usually weather lore doesn’t go much further than a small rhyme: “red sky at night, sailors’ delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning” or “no weather is ill if the wind be still.” But Las Cabañuelas, originally from Spain and now practiced in pockets throughout the Hispanic diaspora in the Americas, is much more complex.

Under this method, the weather in one specific month is a map for the weather for the rest of the year. The specific month varies, but is typically August or January, and the specific method also varies. Here I’ll focus on the Colombian version because I like its symmetry.

The first twelve days of January correspond to the twelve months of the year: the 1st is January, the 2nd is February, and so on.

The next twelve days of January correspond to the twelve months of the year in reverse order: the 13th is December, the 14th November, and so on.

The next six days of January correspond to the twelve months of the year in order, but just half a day for each month: the morning of the 25th is January, the afternoon is February, the morning of the 26th is March, the afternoon is April, and so on.

January 31st is the special day: each two hours of the day correspond to a month in reverse order again: midnight to 2am is December, 2am to 4am is November, and so on.

Take careful records of the weather on all of these days (and on January 31st, each of the hours). At the end of the month, pull all of those records together and you have a prediction for the year that follows.

So, if you wanted to know the weather for next Christmas, you would look at the weather on January 12th and 13th, the weather in the second half of January 30th, and the weather immediately after midnight on the 31st. If you wanted to know the weather for April, check January 3rd, 22nd, 26th (morning), and 31st (4pm-6pm).

I hope it goes without saying that this has no basis in fact or evidence, but it is an elegant and impressive system nonetheless.

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