Society Reading Feature #2

This month's featured girl: Josefina

Week 1: Meet Josefina

From the Josefina Reading Journal:

1) The Caravan from Mexico city brought Josefina and her sisters their Aunt and grandfather. Think about a time when something new came into your life and write about how it changed your family.
2) Josefina was entrusted to care for her mothers flowers, which grew in the back courtyard; tell about a precious family treasure that has come into your care.
3) Dancing is one thing that both Josefina and Clara like, but they're too young to participate in the Fandango. Write about a privilege that you will gain when you get older.
4) Everything the Montoyas needed for living on the rancho was grown on the property or traded from the neighboring Indian pueblos. Imagine that you're living in 1824, and list three things that your family would need to grow or trade for to help your family thrive on a remote rancho.

Week 2: Josefina Learns a Lesson

From the Josefina Reading Journal:

1) Learning to read confused Josefina. How could she be loyal to both her mother and her aunt? Write about a time that you had to make a big decision in your life.
2) Though she didn't agree with Francesca, Josefina still comforted her sister when she found her sobbing late one night. Explain when you put aside your differences to aid a family member or friend.
3) Reading and writing gave all the Montoya sisters a living link to their mother; tell about a skill that links you to someone in your family.
4) School in 1824 was usually life-skills that Josefina would need to help run her own rancho one day, like carding wool, growing crops and cooking. Write one thing you'd enjoy learning from Josefina's time and another that would challenge you or you wouldn't enjoy doing.

Week 3: Josefina's Surprise

From the Josefina Reading Journal:

1) The Christmas season meant joy and sorrow for the Montoya family, facing another holiday season without Mama's guidance. Write about a holiday season that was a mix of happiness and hardness.
2) Nina was the doll that Josefina hoped she would receive, continuing the tradition that her Mamma started with Anna. Is there a holiday tradition that you follow in your family? Will you pass it along to your own family one day?
3) Gathering for the nine nights of Las Posada brought the whole village together, though they where isolated from Santa Fe. The people felt connected through the power of the holiday season. Tell about a time that you participated in an event that made you feel closer to your family, team, or friends.
4) Clara learned that she could turn to her whole family for comfort, not just little Nina; write about a special object that brings you comfort.

Week 4: Happy Birthday, Josefina!

From the Josefina Reading Journal:

1) Spring brought many new things to the Montoya's rancho, like new shoots and baby chicks. List a few things that "sprout up" around your house or neighborhood.

2) What where two things that Josefina looked forward to doing in the days before her birthday? Why was she happy to be "still young enough" for one activity and "old enough" for the other?

3) Looking after Sombrita became a fulltime job; talk about how you've helped to care for a family pet.

4) Sometimes going back to face your fears is the hardest part of a situation. Why did Josefina run away from her Godmother's house that afternoon??

5) On the day of Josefina's birthday, her Papa gave her a very special gift. What was it and how did it relate to what had happened to Josefina, Sombrita and Mariana the previous day?

General Josefina Tidbits

From the American Girls Club Handbook:

Project One: Have a Fandango

On special occasions, Josefina's family and friends gathered together for a celebration called a fandango. Gather your family and friends for a lively fandango of your own.
1) Choose and occasion to celebrate. It could be a birthday, and accomplishment like finishing a big project, a guest's visit, or just the pleasure of being together.
2) Dress for the occasion. Choose a dress with a full skirt that swirls when you spin around. Don't forget a shawl, or rebozo!
3) Have plenty of food and drink available for your guests. Serve tortillas with butter and cinnamon, or special Feast Day Cookies (see project 2). Hot chocolate made with cinnamon and vanilla is another New Mexican treat.
4) No fandango would be complete without music, singing, and dancing. Choose lively music for dancing, of play a singing game like El Florón (see below).

Play El Florón
While the adults danced, children like Josefina played games such as El Florón (el flo-ROHN), or The Flower.
1) Choose one player to be the Guesser. The other players sit in a circle holding their closed fists out in front of them.
2) The Guesser closes her eyes. Hide the florón--a flower blossom or other small object--in one of the players' hands.
3) Sing the song below as the Guesser tries to guess who has the florón. If the Guesser is correct, the person with the floròn becomes the Guesser.

The flower goes in the hands,
And in the hands it must be spoken.
Guess who has it, guess who has it,
Or be taken for a fool!

El florón está en las manos,
(el flo-ROHN es-TAH en lahs MAH-nohs)
Y en las manos se ha de hablar
9ee en lahs MAH-nohs seh ah deh ah-BLAHR)
Adivinen quién lo tiene,
(ah-dee-VEEN-en kee-EN loh tee-EN-eh)
O se queda pa' platón!
(o seh KEH-dah pah plah-TOHN)

Did you know?
Everyone loved the music, song, and dance of a fandango. But though Josefina's feet tapped as she watched the swirling dancers and listened to the lively tunes of the fiddles and guitars, she did not join in the dancing. New Mexican girls like Josefina were not allowed to participate in fandangos until they celebrated their First Holy Communion at age 12 or 13. To prepare for their First Communion, girls like Josefina worked hard to learn the prayers and teachings of the Catholic faith. When the First Communion day finally arrived, it began with a service, or Mass, at the village church. After Mass, the girl was joined by her parents and musicians in a procession that led back to a grand fandango at the girl's house. Everyone celebrated with food, song, and dance. Imagine--a fandango in your honor, and you can finally join in the dancing, too!

Project two: Make Feast Day Cookies

Catholic families in Josefina's time served treats on religious feast days, or holidays. Turn any day into a special day with these Feast Day Cookies.
Ingredients: 1 cup pine nuts or chopped pecans, 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 cups flour, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Equipment: Large plastic food-storage bag, cutting board, rolling pin, large mixing bowl, measuring cup and spoons, wooden spoon or electric mixer, cookie sheet, potholders, spatula, wax paper, small bowl.
1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the nuts in the plastic bag and lay the bag on the cutting board. Roll the rolling pin back and forth over the nuts until they are finely ground.
2) Place the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar in the mixing bowl. Use the wooden spoon or mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until they are well mixed. Add the vanilla.
3) Mix in the flour, salt, and crushed nuts. Make sure the mixture is blended well.
4) With clean, dry fingers, form the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls on the cookie sheet.
5) Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned. Have an adult help you use the spatula to put the cookies onto the wax paper.
6) Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in the small bowl. Roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar until they are completely covered. Return the cookies to the wax paper to cool.

Did you know?
The Catholic saints were important to New Mexicans. Families like Josefina's asked saints for help with daily struggles. Parents often named their children after saints. Children celebrated their saint's feast day instead of their birthday. Each village had its own patron saint, too. To prepare for the saint's feast day, the women of the village decorated the church altar with fresh flowers or handmade paper flowers. On the feast day, the villagers carried a santo (SAHN-to), and image of the saint, to the church, where they asked for the saint's blessing on the village. On May 15, the feast day of San Ysidro (sahn ee-SEE-dro), the workers on the rancho carried his statue into the fields to watch over the crops until the fall harvest. And when violent storms ripped across those fields, Josefina found comfort in a prayer to Santa Barbara, protector from lightning and storms:

Santa Barbara, holy maid,
Save us, Lady, in thunder and lightning afraid!

Want to know more?

Stories about Hispanic life today:

"The Farolitos of Christmas" by Rudolfo Anaya
"Fiesta U.S.A." by George Ancona
"Miguel and the Santero" by Sandra E. Guzzo

Nonfiction books about Josefina's time:
"Tree in the Trail" by Holling C. Holling
"New Mexico Spanish Colonial House--A Stand-Up Paper Model" by Bunny Pierce Huffman

Stories about Native Americans:
"Earth Daughter: Alicia of Acoma Pueblo" by George Ancona
"Sing Down the Moon" by Scott O'Dell

Special places to visit:
La Hacienda de los Martínez
Kit Carson Historic Museums
P.O. Drawer CCC
Taos, NM 87571
This historic site served as inspiriation for Josefina's home.

El Rancho de las Golondrinas
334 Los Pinos Rd.
Santa Fe, NM 87505
This living history museum shows daily life on a rancho in Josefina's time. It was another important inspiration for Josefina's rancho.