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BorderLore, December 2016 
Seasons
Foundational to folkways, seasons are nature's invitation to turn the page and reveal cycles in everyday life

The cold and long shadows appear, as winter settles into a coziness that beckons us to pile on the layers. Tender traditions cocoon us, and we relish the solitude that folds us into places and spaces in unique ways.

All seasons, but particularly winter, are pivotal points of identification. While winter brings lean months that in some geographies require preparation and storage for survival, it also welcomes ornate traditions that offer us an outlet for expression and learning. For the O'odham, storytelling occurs richly in this season. The O'odham calendar calls December the "Big Cold," the time when the Nation recalls legends and songs of ancient storytellers, whose good memories allowed stories to be passed along from winter to winter.   This month the solstice also heralds major religious events, giving glory to the Creator who then ensures survival until spring. Pop culture and fables give us Jack Frost. Ancient beliefs like Shinto embrace winter's beauty in artistic expressions of everyday experience.  
 
Humanity also counteracts winter's characteristic sparseness with sensations that warm our body and soul through taste, adornment, performance, stories and festival. BorderLore connects with a few of these seasonal practices and cultural objects rooted in this holiday month:
Little bundles of comfort like the tamal are the centerpiece of many holiday gatherings, and we learn about food traditions special to this season from food scholar Linda Berzok and Lerua's Chef Mikey Hultquist, here.

There is a folklife behind the performance of the Tucson Pastorela. Learn more about its interplay with local music
and political satire, as well as its connections to the centuries old Mexican Pastorela, here.  

The material culture and traditions of the Chanukah season, including the dreidel and the menorah, are explained by
Jewish History Museum director of operations Lisa Schachter-Davis, who gives us personal perspectives on these ancients symbols in Jewish faith, here.  
 
What is more beloved this month than the Las Posadas procession, brought to the community since the late 1930s by the Carrillo K-5 Magnet School? We learn about the observance and the procession, here.
 

 
Ready for some Jim Griffith storytelling? This month, Jim shares local folklore and photos about saints (and a stranger called el Arrastradito), called upon to find lost objects, here.
 

Our December News and Resources Roundup is here.
End Notes... 
 
Folklife bears witness in even the darkest winter days. We're compelled to traverse winter's often harsh path, but the natural journey also is restorative. We absorb its pages, and are strengthened by its cultural traditions and community gatherings. Soon spring will appear, and, with it, renewed clarity.
 
Ikh vel zitsn oyfn boym, Un vel im farvign, Ibern vinter mit a treyst, Mit a sheynem nign. 
I'll sit in the tree, And lull it during the winter, and comfort it with a lovely tune. 
"As the trees bare their skins to embrace the cold, and the skies grow silvered when the daylight deserts them, I feel a sense of finality. All of the year comes into focus....Still, one after another, the holidays march across the face of winter, providing stuffing for cold stomachs, colored lights for white lawns, and warm embraces for empty and loving arms..." 
   
Enjoy this multicultural collection, from the BBC, of artists depicting winter: 
   
One year, as the cold season approached, Sparrow was injured. He would not be strong enough to fly to the warm lands with his family by himself, so he made his family fly south to the warm lands without him. Injured, he knew he would not survive the cold season. So he sought the help the trees. ... Creator had seen and heard all that had happened between Sparrow and the Trees. And Creator called a great council of the Trees and spoke to them...
2016, Southwest Folklife Alliance. All rights reserved. BorderLore is the e-news magazine of Southwest Folklife Alliance. The study and documentation of folklife involves the accurate representation of people's viewpoints in their own terms; quotes and opinions expressed in interviews with individual tradition bearers do not necessarily reflect the sentiments and opinions of BorderLore editors, the Southwest Folklife Alliance or any specific person or entity at the University of Arizona. 
Managing Editor:   Monica Surfaro-Spigelman
Contributing Writer: Kimi Eisele 

Thank you for reading this newsletter. We welcome your feedback, commentary and any suggestions or ideas. Write to us at:  swfolklife@gmail.com

Previous issues of BorderLore Newsletter are archived  here and here.