A Word On the Seasons

 



Of course, nowadays trying to predict the weather might be a tricky and futile undertaking. However, find in these lines my previous experience. Alas, do not take them at face value. Be prepared for every sort of weather when you visit Mexico City! I recommend always carrying a portable umbrella and raincoat. But as you know, a sparrow does not a summer make ...



Spring. The hottest and driest time of the year, although temperatures in Mexico City do not rise very high (compared to other parts of the country) because of its height. You should expect the temperature to be a comfortable 20˚ to 25˚Centigrade (70˚ to 80˚ Fahrenheit) in March, reaching its peak in April and May at around 30˚Centigrade (85˚ Fahrenheit). However, nowadays no one can guarantee the weather, and even if it does not usually rain, you had better be prepared. Also at this time of the year you will see (and smell) from the dining room, and all over the City, the beautiful Jacaranda trees covered with their blue flowers. Spring brings some of the most interesting celebrations of the year.  Easter finds the city pleasantly quiet: you can almost walk down the centre of Reforma Avenue during this holiday period without being run over, since the locals leave the city in droves at this time.  The Spring Equinox on March 21st is a special day in Mexico City: hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, dressed in white, make the pilgrimage to Teotihuacan to see the sun rise over the ancient pyramids.

Summer. Hot days and sometimes spectacular rainfalls in the late afternoon that cool the city and leave it fragrant and glistening. I recommend carrying a sweater and raincoat with you. It is a very green season, with plenty of flowers everywhere, and beautiful countryside landscapes. It is an excellent time to visit Xochimilco in bloom, enjoying a picnic at one of the long tables on board a hired boat navigating the floating gardens, or marvelling at the abundance and variety of flowers, plants, fruits and vegetables in the markets and garden centres.  Or have a long, lazy al fresco lunch at the Casa Lamm on Alvaro Obregon Avenue, at a rooftop table at the Casa de las Sirenas behind the Cathedral, or overlooking the Zocalo on the terrace of the Majestic Hotel.  The long summer days are an excellent time to take a day-trip to Puebla, appreciating the mighty volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl against the deep blue skies on your way there and back, and in between contrasting the colonial splendours of the city of Puebla with the prehispanic heritage of the continent’s longest continually-inhabited settlement in Cholula (an inexpensive 15-minute taxi-ride away).

Autumn. The rainy season usually stops in late September, around Saint Francis of Assisi’s Day, at what is called the Cordonazo de San Francisco (when he drains the rain-clouds with his lash). Normally you should not expect rain from October onwards. Autumn is a very festive season. The eve of the Day of Independence, celebrated on the night of 15th September, is a very colourful and jolly time. It is also the season for walnuts, a central ingredient in one of the most traditional and delicious dishes of Mexican cuisine, Chiles en Nogada (stuffed Poblano peppers in a rich, smooth walnut sauce, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds).  Another culinary highlight of the season is fresh huitlacoche, an unusual delicacy that you ought to discover. The autumnal jewel in Mexico is hidden in the second night of November, the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead).   A unique experience can be had at the cemetery of the nearby village of Mixquic, where people spend the night drinking and eating around their loved ones’ tombs.

Winter. The coldest time of the year. Expect temperatures of anywhere between 5˚ and 15˚Centigrade (40˚ to 60˚ Fahrenheit). Carry warm clothes with you because most places do not have indoor heating. December is one big party, with the Catholic extravaganza of the Virgin of Guadalupe’s Day on December 12th and the traditional Posadas stretching almost from the beginning of the month all the way to Christmas Eve. Posadas are festive retellings of Mary and Joseph’s ordeal looking for room at the inn (‘posada’) in Bethlehem.  There is much drinking and singing by candle-light among the adults, and breaking of piñatas by the children (if you have not seen a piñata before, just visit our Calendar page). The main celebration is on Christmas Eve: if you’re going out, book a taxi well in advance.  And at New Year book your taxi the day before, because this is the time for wild celebrations on the move, with people everywhere. In contrast, if you want a time to relax and unwind, or get down to some uninterrupted work, January and February have few occasions to tempt you away from the house, except of course the Noche de Reyes (night of the three kings at Epiphany) and the Dia de la Candelaria (Shrove Tuesday, where delicious tamales take the place of pancakes).


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© Juan Galindo