Las cabañuelas (also cavanuelas or cabanuelas) were a method of forecasting the weather practiced throughout the Hispanic diaspora. It is a traditional form of weather prediction dating back many centuries in Spain.
Las cabañuelas is practiced throughout South America, including the Caribbean, and even in parts of Africa that were previously territories of Spain. In Spain, the so-called experts cabañuelistas are organized in the Asociación Cultural Española de cabañuelas y Astrometereología (ACECA) and every year they report the weather for the coming twelve months.
The cabañuelistas in Spain claim that cabañuelas is "an empirical science" and that its origin is thousands of years old, when the "only reference of the time was the Moon", even the times that Egyptians used to measure the levels of the Nile waters, the Sirius star, and that the old base of cabanuelas was measured beginning August 1.
In Northern New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, the cabañuelas were practiced as follows:
- The 31 days of January were carefully observed in order to predict the weather for the rest of the year.
- The first through twelfth days of January represented their corresponding months on the calendar. The thirteenth through twenty-fourth days of January represented the months in reverse, with the thirteenth corresponding to December, the fourteenth corresponding to November, and the twenty-fourth corresponding to January again.
- 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 twenty-four hours corresponded each to a month in the same way that the first twenty-four days of the month did. This 31st day of January is regarded with the utmost reverence, with much superstition and importance vested in it.
- The average of the findings would be taken by methodical record-keepers such that, for example, if it rained or snowed on the 7th, 18th, or the 31st at 7:00 a.m. and/or at 6:00 p.m., the cabañuela would show that July would be a wet month.
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Modern science does not recognize any value to this method of forecasting the weather. It considers it a "superstition" left over from a time when people had a poorer understanding of the forces governing the atmosphere and the weather. While it is not possible to predict the weather a year in advance even today, just the attempt to do so played an important social and cultural role for people dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. It is somewhat similar to the Groundhog Day shadow method of predicting the end of the winter: it is a festive event that brings people together but has no real scientific value.
2011 weather forecast
When the expected weather for 2011 was reported in Spain, January and February were expected to be "very cold, ice, morning fogs with several days with snow precipitation". March and April 'will be the months with bigger amount of rain' and in March there will be with both rain and snow. In May and June there "will be atypical months with thunderstorms, rain..." and August would have "many waves of hot weather".
Alcón, Manuel B. (2005), Lo De Mora, Victoria, B.C.: Trafford Publishing.