When my kids were small and in the fall the temperatures dipped, the airplanes from the nearby airport would leave cloud trails across the morning sky. While taking the kids to Montessori classes I thought to tell them those fumes were witches’ trails from them scurrying home before the sun came. My children were young, and stupid, then. Now my children are not so young and still call the smoke witches’ trails.
While chatting up a local gal, Eva, we got talking about witches’ trails. Here her grandmother told her if the witch didn’t get home before sunrise she turned into a turkey.
So, if Eva came upon a witch flying on a broom on her pre-dawn walk to school she had to pray twelve Apostles’ Creed (a prayer) or simply one Our Father (another prayer) but backwards. Then the witch would turn into a turkey and fall off her broom. Next one grabbed the turkey/witch and took her to Church. Witches aren’t partial to going in a Church so they would offer you any wish to simply allow her to gobble off.
I’m assuming after the Church visit the turkey was consumed. However, Mexicans aren’t as partial to turkey meat as Northerners so taking the turkey witch up on that wish was probably the more prudent option.
Goodness, Eva’s grandmother was way more creative than I! My only add to the witches’ tale was when we saw those witches (decorations) depicting a Halloween witch on her broom flying into a tree trunk with limbs akimbo. I told my children that is what happens when you ‘drink and fly’.
However, I recently learned both Eva’s grandmother and I were sheer amateurs compared to some other parents.
Surely you’ve noticed the ribbons tied to windows’ bars in centro. I’ve had folks on tours ask if it is tied to the indigenous god of the wind. Alas, no, as not everything has a deeper meaning. Or so I thought.
Back in the 90’s there was a couple from the US with a downtown shop. Unhappy about the signage laws making their store unnoticed when closed they opted to tie ribbons to visually draw attention to their store. Since then, nearly everyone hangs multi-colored ribbons adding a festive vibe to ordinary days spent walking around centro.
When walking down Relox recently I saw a family from Mexico City on vacation. One of the young children asked about the ribbons and without skipping a beat the father replied “Since there are so many foreigners in San Miguel from various countries, they use ribbons to identify their embassies with the colors of their country’s flag.” The kids didn’t flinch and gamboled into the Blue Door Bakery to buy treats.
I was gobsmacked! Rarely do I hear another father as adept as I was spinning yarns and tall tales with such lightning speed!
Joseph Toone is the Historical Society’s short-story award winning author of the SMA Secrets book series. All books in the series are Amazon bestsellers in Mexican Travel and Holidays. Toone is SMA’s expert and TripAdvisor’s top ranked historical tour guide telling the stories behind what we do in today’s SMA. Visit HistoryAndCultureWalkin