It’s the day every Argentine looks forward to. The end of winter. The warming rays of the southern hemisphere sun have been giving the finger to their northern counterparts for most of the last month, but it this day, September twenty-first that officially recognises it. Sod school, sod the homework, the sun is here and the cold is gone.
What the sodding hell is the big deal you might ask? The Buenos Aires winter is like a nasty two week cold spell during an English summer (really it lasts from June 21-Sept 21), but let’s face it, it can get rather bloody chilly, with temperatures dropping to nearly freezing point, especially in the poorly heated suburbs. So when the twenty-first of September arrives, it is a day to festejar. Bid chau to those damp and dark days and buen día to a warmer Buenos Aires. The good air is here.
Men make the obligatory stop at a street-corner florist to buy a blasted bouquet of banality while their women might make a trip to the beauty salon to feminise themselves for the occasion. And all over the country everyone bids ‘Happy Spring Day’ to their colleagues and friends.
But really it is a day for teenagers, because in Argentine the twenty-first is also the national Students’ Day. (Last Friday was Teachers’ Day and sometime next month is Hairdressers’ Day.) So in Buenos Aires, as in every province, secondary school children are taking the day off and hitting the city’s plazas and parks with smiles on their freshly bronzed faces and cigarettes hanging out of their soon-to-be sunburnt lips. The maté which has kept them warm during the winter months is replaced with cold bottles of Coke, perhaps mixed with Fernet Branca and washed down with the odd bottle of Quilmes lager. They’re picnicking on empanadas, joking and laughing, and ‘adolescenting it’ up as they welcome Spring’s arrival.
We can the rest of us, only hope they don’t get into too much mischief.
Everyone is happy today as the next cold spell is a full nine months away. But don’t let jealousy get the better of you if you’re in the north; they’ll be no nose rubbing directed your way once summer is here in full, and rising temperatures are the cause of many a porteño profanity . Though nobody would switch the melting summer for an icy northern European winter, you can rest assured of that.