Saturday, December 3, 2011

Attention Texans: Leave the Longhorns at Home

Ah, culture...

Sometimes we take for granted that what is celebrated in our culture might not be reviled in another. You might be wondering if you missed something. How could that have anything to do with Longhorns? I know...

That's how I felt when I arrived with all of my Longhorn apparel that reminded me of my home state. Longhorns are just cool, right? We can do the Longhorn hand gesture that could possibly double for "rock on." They look fierce on the front of a Cadillac... or SUV. Who wouldn't appreciate Longhorns?

Apparently a good portion of Central, South and the southernmost North American countries. Hmm... What kind of crazy talk is that? Why were people giving me dirty looks and/or snickering whenever I stepped outside of my home showing UT Longhorn spirit?

Okay, here's my true confession that my brother-in-law refuses to accept to this day: I'm not, in actuality, exclusively a Longhorn fan. There, I said it. I also root for A&M, the Rice Owls (btw: that was a cute trick with the whole designing the UT Tower to look like an owl, from any angle, thing) and pretty much any other Texas college or University... I'm true to Texas, in general - not only to the University of Texas.

Living in Austin, UT paraphernalia was just much easier to come by. Plus, Longhorns can be seen pretty much anywhere. Any big company on a large plot of land has at least 3 Longhorns munching grass on the front property, so that they can fall into a more forgiving tax bracket. Longhorns are inherently a part of Texas culture.

This is what I had in mind when making purchases of things that would remind me of home, before I made the big jump. This is also something that my husband conveniently forgot to mention before we arrived here, with my arsenal of Longhorn-themed home comforts. (I'm so glad that I didn't spring for any of the Longhorn throws or pillows...)

I know that the UT Longhorn fans are waiting for the punchline. Well, it's not funny - that's for sure. Apparently HORNS ("Chifres") are a big, shameful deal in this culture. It took me awhile to get my head around it, but it is said here that if someone cheats on you, then you'll "grow horns" or "get the horns," etc. Ex: "O marido dela é um chifrudo." ["Her husband has huge horns (is a cuckold)."] I know. Didn't make sense to me, either...

See this link for more UT attire.

I tried asking around to determine if there was any logic to this - to make sense of, and to try to determine the origin of this idiom. No one seemed to know. Some hypothesized that it was a reference to bovine mating behavior, but that still didn't explain how it entered the city-folk lingo. There was more to it than that.

After some research, I discovered that it went back to the Spanish King Felipe III. It is of legal origin. When the King of Portugal died and left no successor in 1578, the Spanish King Felipe II (known as Filipe I of Portugal) seized the opportunity to claim the throne in Lisbon for himself.  For a period of 60 years (1580 to 1640) Spain and Portugal were united under his royal family's rule (which is why this particular cultural phenomenon is also seen throughout Central, South & southernmost North America in the other countries colonized by the Spanish).

In 1603, the Ordenações Filipinas, or Filipine Code, was published at the request of King Felipe III of Spain (known as Filipe II of Portugal). The Filipine Code stated explicitly that the "offended" husband who caught his wife in adultery (so long as the offender was not a "Noble") should kill his enemy. If it was indeed your prerogative to kill, as the wronged man of the house, you must wear a hat-like thing decorated with two horns for the public to recognize you as a man whose marriage [manhood] was not "honored" (so that they would not try to prevent you from taking just measure). 

Perhaps Filipe II had a fascination with the Nordic Bronze Age? It is interesting that when the offending party was a Noble, the cuckolded husband could do nothing. You know, I'm glad that our modern definition of "noble," is something that must be linked to morals.

So this is why the stigma of "horns" is correlated to someone cheating on someone this day!

De chifre + udo.
[of horns] + augmentative (pejorative)

Adjetivo masculino
[Masculine Adjective]
  1. que tem chifres [that which has horns]
    Ex: bode chifrudo [a horned goat]
  2. (Popular) diz se daquele que é traído pela esposa ou namorada
    [slang term for whoever is cheated on by their wife or girlfriend]

Substantivo masculino
[Masculine Noun]
  1. o que tem chifres [that which has horns]
  2. (Popular) homem que é traído pela esposa ou namorada
    [slang term for a man who is cheated on by their wife or girlfriend]

Unfortunately, now I'm relegated to wearing my UT Longhorn logo-only earrings, flip-flops & T-shirts when I am going to be around other Americans. Otherwise, people think I am demented. I can occasionally get away with wearing a T-shirt that includes the word "Texas" or the word "Longhorns" written out, in addition to the horns, (so people know it's probably nothing to do with Brazilian stigmas...) but that doesn't stop the snickering because they think the estrangeira, or foreign woman, doesn't know what it signifies here. I just pretend I don't.

image found here.

Any other Texas-themed gifts are welcomed with open arms.

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