Tuning into Twelve..the Nicaraguan Way


Today is 12/12/12: the last of the triple-number dates until the next century. Reflecting on the significance of the number twelve, I’ve discovered that it is the foundation of many facets of our daily life in Nicaragua, from sports to religion. Today, I’m tuned into the number twelve the Nicaraguan way.

1. In Latin, the duodenum means “twelve”. The duodenum is the first part of the small intestine, and about 12 inches long. Living in Nicaragua, I am constantly aware of how my duodenum is functioning. I check the fingernails of street vendors before buying fruit in bags. Once I saw a street vendor use her knife to clean her fingernails, then cut the fruit. My duodenum shouted, “Warning! Parasite invasion.”

2. Nicaragua is predominately a Catholic nation. When we were the chosen as the Godparents of Albia Liguia for her confirmation into the Catholic church, we learned about the 12 Fruits of the Holy Ghost: joy, peace patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, and chastity. Faithful Catholics in Nicaragua live according to these 12 fruits of the Holy Ghost daily.

3. Many of the Nicaraguan children are named after one of the 12 apostles or the 12 tribes of Israel. Reuben, Issac, Levi, Joseph, and John are some of the most popular names.

4. There are twelve months of the year. In Nicaragua, the months of the year are not capitalized: enero, febrero, marzo, abril, mayo, junio, julio, agusto, septiembre, octubre, noviembre, diciembre. I’ve learned that Spanish uses significantly fewer capital letters than does English.

5. There are 24 hours in a day, with twelve hours for half a day. Nicaraguans are very laid back. In the United States, people are very future, or goal oriented…not so in Nicaragua. They, for the most part, are more interested in their daily chores and how each day brings with it its routine challenges. I’ve learned that in Nicaragua, we do a lot of waiting. If people are to arrive at a meeting at 12 o’clock, it could mean an hour or more later, or maybe even manana.

6. In Nicaragua, soccer is almost as popular as baseball. The number 12 can be a symbolic reference to the fans, because of the support they give to the 11 players on the field. The country’s national team’s success in 2009 ( qualifying for its first international tournament), has helped elevate soccer’s profile in Nicaragua.

7. In ancient times, the moon phases were the most reliable source of determining the time to plant and harvest crops. Most farmers in Nicaragua use the simplest method of moon planting by observing the 8 phases of the moon in its waxing or waning period. Then, according to the phase of the moon, they group their crops into four categories: root crops, foliage, crops with seeds on the outside, and crops with seeds on the inside. Using the simple 12 method ( 8 phases of the moon + 4 categories of crops), they  usually yield very productive crops.

8. Nicaragua is known as the country of lakes and volcanoes. Out of the 19 active and dormant volcanoes, 12 are listed on the ViaNica website as being the most interesting volcanoes and volcanic structures. List of the 12 most interesting volcanoes in Nicaragua.

9. Banana and Plantains are big business in Nicaragua. It usually takes 9-12 months before the bananas and plantains are ready to harvest. From our experience of growing banana trees on Ometepe, we find that it usually takes an average of 12 months from start to delicious finish.

10. On the average, a troop of Howler monkeys consists of 12 members.

11. There are twelve days of Christmas in the famous song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. To make it more Nicaragua friendly, I would change a few items: 12 drummers drumming, 11 pigs a squealing, 10 Sandinistas shooting, 9 monkeys howling, 8 dogs a starving, 7 bombas bursting, 6 hens a laying, 5 golden bananas, 4 chattering parrots, 3 Rosa mangoes, 2 fighting cocks, and a La Paloma in our Pera tree.

12. To wrap up my list of Tuning into Twelve…the Nicaraguan Way, here are a few recommendations for my Nicaraguan friends: the movie, Twelve Monkeys, the poem, The Twelve, by Aleksandr Blok ( because Nicaraguans are natural-born poets), the music of D12, a rap group ( Nicaraguans love rap), and the video game series, Street Fighter, with the character, Twelve in the video games ( simply because video games are a Nicaraguan passion).

I hope you enjoy my list of twelve. Have a wonderful 12/12/12. It is the last of the repetitive dates we will ever see in our lifetimes. Celebrate and have 12 times the fun today!





7 thoughts on “Tuning into Twelve..the Nicaraguan Way

  1. Love your rendition of the 12 days of Christmas. In the NC mountains, farmers were in tune to the moon phase for planting. Some traditions just don’t need to be messed with. Thanks for sharing.

  2. In deed! 12 is a sacred number: 12 tribes of Israel, 12 apostles of christ, 12 months in a year, in the bible there are 12 legions of angels ( Mathew 26:53) Blessed Mother has a crown of 12 stars, in the USA there are 12 federal reserve banks.. it’s a magical number, I think we don’t know too much about our past mankind has yet to discover the mysteries of the ancients

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