San Lunes: Chile’s Stormy Monday

Manolo didn’t show up for work yesterday. He was honoring San Lunes, they said. It seems that Manolo is quite the pious man because he clearly takes San Lunes very seriously and spends many a Monday devoted to his patron saint…

In a country that regularly celebrates holidays in honor of Vatican-sanctioned saints and virgins, the yet-to-be canonized San Lunes (literally, Saint Monday) may be the most popular of all. There are other popular saints (see animitas), but this one in particular not only holds a special place in Chilean hearts, minds—and hangovers—he’s is also usually good for a chuckle (or cluck) depending on one’s position.

Blues singer T-Bone Walker may have said it best, They Call it Stormy Monday (take a listen!), and it’s never been anyone’s favorite day of the week. And whether your long-awaited, well-irrigated weekend begins when the eagle flies on Friday or it’s a case of “hoy canta Gardel,” sometimes it’s just too hard to roll out of bed on Monday.

Most references to San Lunes seem to date back to the beginning of the industrial revolution in Europe, when workers had just one day off per week and spent a good deal of it ‘bending the elbow and hoisting the jug,’ resulting in an abysmal outlook on life come Monday morning. A day spent in the forgiving arms of San Lunes is a surefire way of returning repentant revelers to the fold.

Time-honored ways of venerating the Patron Saint of the Hangover:

  • San Lunes insists that his devotees honor him from a prone position until well after noon.
  • San Lunes likes darkness. Keep the curtains closed and the blinds drawn.
  • Proper veneration of San Lunes requires silence. Demand that others be respectful.
  • San Lunes disdains singing, although woeful moaning is common practice among the most devout.
  • This will be a day of fasting: no greasy, aromatic, or highly seasoned food shall be consumed on this day. San Lunes insists on this point and will vehemently reject any attempted edible offerings other than the blandest of foodstuffs.
  • Leave a small candle burning at the end of the hall. Just the faintest light should illuminate your way as you embark upon repeated ritual journeys as you lift the lid and bow down before that most venerated white ceramic shrine.
  • Unlike other saints who appreciate offerings of flowers, San Lunes prefers aspirin… be sure to indulge him with at least 2 tablets every four hours. Purists insist they be washed down with a bit of wine (the hair of the dog, so to speak), although water may be acceptable in the case of novice San Lunes devotees.

Are you a follower of San Lunes? Feel free to proselytize and leave your testimony to his miracles here.

17 responses to “San Lunes: Chile’s Stormy Monday

  1. I have only dabbled in San lunes worship, I generally (especially now with two small kids) don’t “empinar el codo” enough to be a devotee. Though the manner of worship looks remarkably similar to the ways in which I honor San lunes’ distant cousin, San Jaqueca.

  2. or Santa Jaqueca perhaps…

  3. I like the Santa Jaqueca!

  4. I was once a devotee of San Lunes and later a follower of Bacchus. I have since abandoned my errant ways and now am a true disciple of green tea.
    in vino veritas
    John

  5. San Lunes – me gusta! I’ll have to try that one day. But I can barely keep up with Chilean parties on Friday and Saturday – by Sunday night I’m too tired to even attempt the social scene so Mondays usually aren’t a problem. I’ve only been here 6 weeks though so who knows?

  6. Well, as a newbie, I wouldn’t really recommend jumping in to the whole San Lunes devotion too quickly… for some odd reason, bosses don’t tend to have the same level of reverence for the beloved saint!

  7. LOL. Fortunately, I’ve never had to use this excuse, but I have friends who have and it’s hilarious. Now, San Domingo (does that one exist?) is one I am familiar with.

  8. Well I’m not sure that San Domingo exists, per se, because I think the bible already covers that one… isn’t there a “thou shalt not stress thyself on Sunday” written in there somewhere?

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  10. Except for the odd occasion, I have not been a devotee of San Lunes since my university days during which I paid proper homage.

  11. Haha..yes, proper devotion is best left to the under-25 crowd! The older I get, the more inclined I am toward San Domingo, patron saint of descanso total!

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  13. I hate San Lunes; it´s a sign of underdevelopment.
    However, I read a funny story about it. When Dr. Sheila Cassidy (more about her in another occasion) came to Chile in the 1970s, she hired a gasfiter to make improvements in her new home. The man disappeared on Mondays, and she wondered what the matter was with him… As a Chilean, I guessed immediately what happened…

  14. Actually, San Lunes happens in many places around the world–and taking Monday off is equally frowned upon everywhere I’ve ever known. That’s why I said it’s a funny story that dances on the rim of seriousness. It’s a sign of a pretty serious drinking problem, and an even bigger problem if the culture tolerates it.

  15. Drinking problem, sure, of course! That’s what i can’t understand. “Huevear un poco” is OK, but why get drunk?

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