Candles for Groundhog Day

It is the middle of winter and we humans have to have a reason to mark that fact. Though back home, Super Bowl commercials and the predictions of Puxatawney Phil or Jimmy (the Wisconsin ground hog) for a long cold winter or an early spring  are the topic of the day (though if you figure it out, both seem to be about 6 weeks away).

Here in Mexico, the holiday season is finally coming to an end with Dia de la Candelaria (Day of the Candles.) I cannot really add anything new so I am reposting this article from last year. If you have not seen it, the information is all new to you; if you have, I hope you enjoy the review. Or, just rent the movie and have a good laugh or two.

Dia de la Candelaria

The brass bands are playing again and the airworks (those fireworks with only the boom) are going off again, and the combis are filled with people carrying around a doll wrapped up and cradled like it’s a real baby. What’s going on?

All this is in preparation for the last hurrah of the holiday season — Día de la Candelaria.

Officially known as the Feast of Our Lady of Candelaria or Candlemas, February 2nd marks 40 days after Christmas and thus Catholics celebrate in memory of the presentation of Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2; 22-39 ) and purification of his mother, Mary, after childbirth (a requirement of the Law of the Old Testament – Lev 12; 1-8).

Like many Mexican celebrations though, this feast day represents a fusion of pre-Hispanic traditions and Catholic beliefs. It appears to have originated in Tenerife (Canary Islands), southwest of Spain, in the early 15th century and spread from there.

The celebration may actually be a vestige of an old Pagan tradition, since this date coincides with the eleventh day of the first month of the ancient Aztec calendar and the beginning of the agricultural cycle when offerings to the gods of rain and clouds (tlaloques) would have been made to assure a plentiful harvest. In many rural villages the inhabitants wear corn cobs to church to be blessed.

Nino Dios, Taxco, MexicoIn Mexico, Dia de la Candelaria is an extension of the Christmas holiday season. (And I wondered why the Christmas decorations were still up in all their bedraggled splendor…)  On Christmas Eve a statue of the niño Dios (baby Jesus) is placed in the nativity scene; on January 6th, Three King’s Day, the child is brought presents from the magi or kings; and on February 2nd, the statue is dressed in fine clothes and presented and blessed in the church after which it is placed in a niche where it remains the rest of the year.

Rosca de Reyes

Rosca de Reyes

Mexican children receive gifts on Christmas Eve (the babe’s birth day) and on January 6th (the big day), when it is thought that the kings or wise men would have visited the Christ child. Then on February 2, the doll is taken to church and whomever found a toy baby in their Rosca de Reyes (wreath of the kings) bread on January 6th, hosts a Candlemas feast consisting of tamales and atole (a thick gruel drink).

Silver corn statue, Mexico Both are predominantly made with corn; another link to Aztec ceremonies.

I find it interesting that February 2 also marks the mid-way point between the winter solstice and spring equinox which has long been thought to be a marker or predictor of the weather to come. In the US we call it Groundhog Day and according to tradition, if the ground hog sees his shadow, he goes back in his hole, representing 6 more weeks of winter; if not, spring is supposedly on its way.  Often Punxsutawney Phil (Pennsylvania) and our own Wisconsin groundhog, Jimmy, will compare predictions and hopefully agree that the long, cold winter will soon end.

Here are a couple of poems that show the connection between Candlemas and Groundhog Day.

From Scotland:

If Candle-mas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be two winters in the year.

From England::

If Candle mas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter will not come again.

Groundhog Day Video cvrFor a few laughs, watch your local channel (library or Netflix) for the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.

What is your favorite scene?

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Blizzard

So the kids are stuck at home due to a blizzard that has brought everything to a halt out East.

Ever try to explain snow to a Mexican, or anyone else for that matter, who has never seen it? Doesn’t work, believe me.

Nieve y mucho viento (snow and much wind) just does not describe a blizzard even when I raise my hand to the 3, 4, or 5 foot level to indicate how high. They will whistle or cluck their tongues but they really cannot grasp the concept.

Popapetepel, Mexican volcanoPictures of snow on the volcano are about as close as most people come to the real thing.

Stay safe and warm everyone.

Caliente y Frio (Hot and Cold)

These are the words of the day in honor of my friend, Vanessa, who left this morning to visit her family in Wisconsin. It will be an adventure for sure.

When I awoke I checked the temperature and she is in for a shock when she lands.
Taxco    59 with sunshine and a high expected of 78
Madison   -5 with a high expected of only 14

At Posade de Mision, Taxco, MexicoVanessa has not been to Wisconsin in the winter for many years and I am afraid her “blood has been thinned,” as it is said, by many years in a warm climate. A couple weeks ago, we had a cold spell here, everyone was “freezing.” She admitted one morning that she was so cold the night before that she had a hard time sleeping. Finally she got up to check the temperature and was shocked to see that it was only 61 degrees. Oh my!!!!

Yet, despite her “thin blood,” she is looking forward to seeing and playing in the snow.A I am sure she will be warmed from the inside out by her family’s love.

Vanessa & Blue BearA heated house, plenty of warm clothing, and a hot tub will help too. (I want a picture of that!) She may even find Taxco muy caliente when she returns in a few weeks.

Bien Viaje! Nos vemos pronto!
Safe travels! See you soon!

Snow or Sun – there is no question

Have you wondered what I have been up to the last few weeks? You know I have too.

I returned from Mexico to Massachusetts to welcome new baby, Isaiah, into the world. It was a hectic time filled with dirty diapers, late night feedings, lots of laundry , and adorable big sisters. All was wonderfully, marvelously well despite going from 85 degrees to the mid-20s with piles and piles of dirty snow, and melty, icy puddles.

Three weeks later when I returned to Wisconsin though, that is another story!

I think I mentioned in a previous post, that I have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). This is a disorder where your body has an allergic type reaction to very minute amounts of things most of us would not even think twice about — things like fragrances in shampoos, soaps, bathroom deodorizers, and any number of other things, which in my case includes forced air heat in a closed up space in the winter time (which is why I go to Mexico, I might add.)

Well, I returned to my Wisconsin apartment, which since it is mighty cold outside, is closed up with the heat on and BAM!!! within 24 hours I did not know what truck hit me! I was laid out flat with the biggest, baddest sinus headache you can imagine, one of those don’t make me open my eyes or sit up types. Then what fills up has to run out, so it has been over a week of coughing, hacking, sneezing and well, you know. (I should buy stock in Kleenex!) Needless to say, I am not getting much sleep (or anything much done for that matter) and I am exhausted.

Since I do not see much hope that any of this is going to clear up until the heat goes off and I can open those windows wide (and considering what a winter Wisconsin has had this year, that does not look like anytime soon), I have decided to take drastic action and have loaded the camping gear in the van and am heading South where as the old song goes, “The weather suits my soul.” (Anyone remember Midnight Cowboy?)

I am trading in this…                                                 for this…

Now really, is there any other logical choice?

Marcia and Lowell, here I come!

Muy frio, muchas tiempo.

Well both Jimmy and Phil are in agreement. Looks like 6 more weeks of cold and snow back home. I picked a good winter to be here rather than there.

Friends dressed for the coldUnseasonably cold here too, (Yes, that is snow on the volcano, near Toluca)  but that just means lows in the 40s or 50s (except San Miguel that got down to just above freezing). Being a Northerner, I just grab a sweater or wrap to ward off the late evening chill; if you are Mexican though, it is “Muy FRIO!!!! and you bundle up like an Eskimo.

And to think all this unseasonable cold is due to global warming! True! Believe it or not. According to the scientist who study these things, it is too warm to keep the polar vortex intact and so it split and is flying around the globe bringing the deep cold with it.

Thing is, no matter how you look at it, winter is half over, so instead of grumbling about the groundhogs’ predictions, do what the Mexicans do and CELEBRATE!

Winter Wonderland

I am a bit of a vagabond. Partly because I love to see and learn about different people, places, and cultures. Also partly because living life on the road gives one a chance to live life fuller — to take advantage of the good things and leave the not so good behind, at least for awhile.

Thus I begin yet another winter adventure. I am headed south of the border to sunshine and warmer weather but perhaps more importantly away from the “benefits” of forced-air heat (cough, sneeze, hack, hack).

BlueBear-MexicanHat-qpr

 

 

Stay tuned for a taste of life, Mexican style.