Monday, January 20, 2014

Día de los Inocentes

article from December 30, 2010
by Julie R Butler

Things don’t quite always work around here, and the electricity went out yesterday for some six hours or so. Why? ¿Quien sabe? My determination to work ahead, just in case of such a situation, had waned because of the lack of just such situations, so I got a bit stressed out about it. But I did take the opportunity to defrost the freezer, so that was good, and I spent some time talking with the neighbor who couldn’t get her work in her glass-making studio done, either. As it turns out, I would not have known that it was Día de los Santos Inocentes, Day of the Holy Innocents, yesterday, if the two of us hadn’t taken some time out to chit chat on the porch.

When Monica first told me it was Día de los Santos Inocentes, I heard docentes, and when she explained that it was the day when people play jokes on each other, I thought she was saying that she had made a joke about docentes being innocent. However, it has nothing to do with docentes, which is an adjective meaning “educational,” so I really did play the fool during that discombobulated conversation. I have looked the word up before and would know what it means if I heard it in context, if, indeed, it was the word actually being said.

An inocentada is a practical joke, but the “innocents” could be either the “fools” who fall for the pranks, or the pranksters, who are innocent of sin, so the victim cannot be mad at them – blessed fools, or from outside of Christianity, mythological tricksters, or  jesters speaking truth to power.

Día de los Santos Inocentes began as a Catholic religious holiday in commemoration of the massacre of the Holy Innocents, which are considered by the faithful to be the first martyrs for Christ. It´s all because Herod ordered all the male infants in Bethlehem to be executed after the Magi went and told him about this newborn King of the Jews, which he saw as a threat to his power.

Of course, I wouldn’t know anything about this history if my Internet were out today.

When the electricity goes out, we have no Internet, but even after the juice came back on yesterday, we still had no Internet for a few more hours. Oh, the horror! I was forced to do things like read a book (my reading of El amor en los tiempos de cólera is going painfully slowly), work in the garden (my feet got sunburned), bake some carrot cake (I didn’t realize that we were out of honey and even my back-up sugar until I had made a huge mess in the kitchen), and go into town to stroll through the feria in search of some local honey (I got overheated). But everything got back to working order by dinnertime, so a few “important” (or at least safe) things got done, after all.

Today, I found this humorous article addressing this very same issue: Have You Ever Noticed How Important Internet and cable Television Are To Expats? It’s dated December 29, and I suspect that when he writes, “Today is one of those days,” he means yesterday, when his cable went out where he is in Costa Rica for an entire day.

But wait, there is also this entertaining article in today’s edition of
April Fool's Day In Costa Rica Is In December which tells me that, yes, Virginia, there is a Día de los Santos Inocentes in Costa Rica, too.

Hmmm. Monica had told me that there are light pranks and heavy pranks. The light ones are like when her daughter alarmed us both for a moment by reporting that it was several hours later than it really was. So could the disappearance of the Internet in various places in Latin America be one of those heavy pranks, aimed at us expats, who just can’t live without our connections to the outside world?

Julie R Butler is a writer, journalist, editor, and author of several books, including Nine Months in Uruguay and No Stranger To Strange Lands (click here for more info). She is a contributor to Speakout at, and her current blog is Connectively Speaking
email: julierbutler [at] yahoo [dot] com, Twitter: @JulieRButler