The first 19 days of January have some significance in Costa Rica, due to something called Las Pintas. Las Pintas is a Costa Rican folk belief which says that the weather in the first part of January “paints” the weather for the rest of the year, and serves as a predictive insight for how much rain and sun to expect for next eleven months. Las Pintas originated in agricultural societies in Central America as a method to try to predict planting patterns, and while it is no longer used on a wide scale, the tradition of tracking Las Pintas still exists in present day.
Las Pintas originated in the early agricultural societies of Central America, as a belief on how to predict the year’s planting and harvest. Also known as Pintas y Repintas by some, this belief took on slightly different regional variations, but the core belief was the same: that the weather for the first days of the year provided an insight into the weather to expect for the remainder of the year.
Las Pintas originated out of a need to predict planting patterns for the year
Today, for many family-owned heritage farms around Costa Rica the tracking of Las Pintas is a way to continue this old tradition.
The most common process for Las Pintas starts on January 1st and ends on January 19th, a time of carefully monitoring the weather, to note temperatures, atmospheric conditions, wind, and other factors. The dry season in Costa Rica tends to be very consistent around the beginning of the year, so followers of Las Pintas carefully note any small deviations from the norm.
Heavy clouds in the sky can be a sign of a particularly rainy month. A warm day with particularly strong sunshine can be a sign of heat later in the year. A prominent breeze could be a sign of intense winds to come.
Cloud cover is one of the many factors to be noted in Las Pintas, and can be a sign of rain to come
Each of these signs are documented, and compiled in the following way.
From January 1st through January 12th, the weather patterns each day mark a month of the year. January 1st informs the weather for January, the 2nd offers insight into February, the 3rd to March, all the way until the 12th, which predicts December.
January 1st -- January
January 2nd -- February
January 3rd -- March
January 4th -- April
January 5th -- May
January 6th -- June
January 7th -- July
January 8th -- August
January 9th -- September
January 10th -- October
January 11th -- November
January 12th -- December
Next begins the period of “repintas”, which takes place from January 13th to January 18th, in which the cycle starts again, but happens in a quicker cycle. In “repintas”, each morning and each evening mark a separate month. For example, the morning of January 13th informs the weather of January, but the afternoon predicts February. This continues through all twelve months again, ending after sunset on January 18th.
January 13th (AM) -- January
January 13th (PM) -- February
January 14th (AM) -- March
January 14th (PM) -- April
January 15th (AM) -- May
January 15th (PM) -- June
January 16th (AM) -- July
January 16th (PM) -- August
January 17th (AM) -- September
January 17th (PM) -- October
January 18th (AM) -- November
January 18th (PM) -- December
The final day of Las Pintas is January 19th, in which each hour from sunrise to sunset (6am to 6pm) informs a month.
January 19th (6:00am to 7:00am) -- January
January 19th (7:00am to 8:00am) -- February
January 19th (8:00am to 9:00am) -- March
January 19th (9:00am to 10:00am) -- April
January 19th (10:00am to 11:00am) -- May
January 19th (11:00am to 12:00pm) -- June
January 19th (12:00pm to 1:00pm) -- July
January 19th (1:00pm to 2:00pm) -- August
January 19th (2:00pm to 3:00pm) -- September
January 19th (3:00pm to 4:00pm) -- October
January 19th (4:00pm to 5:00pm) -- November
January 19th (5:00pm to 6:00pm) -- December
The notes for each month are compiled on January 20th, and compared against each other to begin predicting the weather for the rest of the year.
For example, if January 6th, the evening of January 15th, and the hour before lunch on January 19th all featured heavy cloud coverage, Las Pintas dictates that there will be quite a bit of rain in June.
In Guanacaste, there are certain baselines to the weather that are generally known. Green season arrives in May, and dry season arrives in November. July and August are warm, with scattered rain showers. March has plenty of sun and strong winds.
Against these known factors, the variations of Las Pintas are thought to provide some insight on if, for example, March will be especially windy, or if July and August will be particularly warm or rainy. From there, depending on who is tracking Las Pintas, the process of planning the year begins.
In Guanacaste, the weather is steady in January, which makes it important to monitor details carefully if tracking Las Pintas.
Even for those who don’t need to manage crops, Las Pintas can be a fun way to monitor the weather in the first part of the year, and see exactly how close this folk prediction gets to the year’s actual weather.
To track this year’s weather for Las Pintas in Las Catalinas, and see a full wrap up on the 20th, subscribe to The Daily, a daily report from Las Catalinas.
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