Thunderous New Year in Vienna 元旦のウィーンに轟く雷鳴

A happy New Year! How did you spend the first day of 2019? Here in Vienna the weather was unstable, even before midnight there was loud thunder! Also there was strong rain. I did not look outside but I presume it might have been sleet. I was surprised and immediately pulled out the power cord for my computer from the socket, because I am afraid of thunderstorms. Since my parents were both working, my grandmother (mother’s side) always took care of me. She was born around 1900 and her education of me was quite old-fashioned. She was extremely afraid of thunderstorms and when it was getting stronger, she even closed the typhoon shutters, switched off all lights and electrical appliances, cowered small in the room and we had to murmur “Kuwabara, kuwabara…”. That is a protective spell against lightning. When I was about 4 or 5 years old, I wanted to go to a festival at a nearby shrine with some children from the neigbourhood. One older children, like a big sister to me, made a beautiful hairdo from my hair for that festival. She was so satisfied with having accomplished such a nice hairdo and I also look at myself in the mirror in satisfaction. In that moment, there was a sound of very loud thunder. Screaming, I pulled out all the hairpins from my head and ruined the beautful hairdo. The girl (“older sister”) was appalled and screamed “What are you doing?”. I was raised by my grandmother that lighting strikes metal objects like hairpins and mirrors also attract lightning. When there is thunder, I remember that day and laugh about it…

Later, in school and in documentaries, etc. I learned some things. I can differentiate between science and superstition, but I think the things that our ancestors passed on to us as knowledge are not always incorrect.

This year on New Year’s day I did not do something really special, I had a good time with toasting to the New Year and was a little delirious and lazy. At the end of that day, lightning struck my heart and woke me up. So I thought that this year should be spent with diligence and motivation going forward.

明けましておめでとうございます。元旦をあなたはどのように過ごされましたか?ここウィーンは、一日中変わりやすいお天気で、夜11時過ぎには突然雷が轟き、雨が激しく降りました。外を見なかったのではっきりわかりませんが、雪や雹が混ざっていたかもしれません。私は驚き怯えて、すぐ、コンピューターのプラグをコンセントから抜きました。私は雷がとても怖いのです。   子供の頃、 両親が共働きだったので、明治生まれの祖母(母の母)が私の世話をしてくれました。祖母は昔ながらのしきたりや習慣などをとても大切にしていて、雷には大変な畏れを抱いていました。雷がひどい時は、雨戸を引き、部屋の中で身を寄せ合ってうずくまり、「くわばら、くわばら…」ととなえるのです。   私が4、5歳の頃、住んでいた家の近くにある神社のお祭りに、近所の子供達と一緒に行くことになりました。「おねえさん」と私が呼んでいた年長の女の子が、私の髪をお祭りのため、結ってくれました。おねえさんは、きれいに結えたと喜んでいましたし、私も、鏡の中の自分の姿がまんざらでもない、などと子供心に思ったようです。ところがその瞬間、すごく大きな雷が鳴り響いたのです。私は金切り声を上げながら、頭からヘアピンを手当たり次第全部引き抜きました。「由佳ちゃん、どうしたの?!」と、おねえさんは叫び、ショックに呆然としていました。私は祖母から、雷はヘアピンなどの金属に落ちる、鏡に雷は入ってくる、と教えられていたのです。今も、雷が鳴ると、あのお祭りの日のことを思い出し、思わず笑ってしまいます。   後に、学校の授業やテレヴィなどのいろんな情報から、何が正しくて、何が迷信か、わかるようになりました。しかし、昔の人の言い伝えは、迷信のように思えるものでも、心に留めておくのがいいと思います。


Picture by Yuka Simeno, Salzburg 2017