Saturday, July 15, 2017

Will It Rain for 40 days? Saint Swithin's Day and Other Weather Lore

Happy Saint Swithun's (or Swithin's) Day!

I've just been reading about St. Swithun at the A Clerk of Oxford's site. I didn't know much about Swithin, except this rhyme:

St. Swithin, from Wikipedia
St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare

Oh dear. It dawned fair here, but there were some showers last night. Were they finished before midnight? I don't know. I'd like to have a nice balance of rain and fair, please, Saint Swithin! But how would one do that, given the words of the proverb.

another English rhyming proverb about rain says

The rainbow in the morning
Is the shepherd’s warning
To carry his coat on his back;
The rainbow at night
Is the shepherd’s delight
For then no coat will he lack.

And from Scotland, there is this:
The weather’s taking up now
For yonder’s the weather gaw;
How bonny is the east now!
Now the colors fade awa’.”

Decipher that for me?  This one is more clear to my Western brain:

from wikimedia
If the robin sings in the bush,
Then the weather will be coarse;
If the robin sings on the barn,
Then the weather will be warm.

The wind plays a role in weather we will have rain or not, apparently, so take heed:

James Gillray, c1808

The west wind always brings wet weather,
The east wind cold and wet together,
The south wind surely brings us rain,
The north wind blows it back again.

Whatever the weather, we will have it, whether or no, that's for certain. It looks to be a fair St. Swithin's Day here, and perhaps the grass will dry enough to be mowed this evening. In the meantime, there is a pile of cabbages waiting on me today, so I'll be inside anyway.







Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

4 comments:

Mac n' Janet said...

Always enjoy weather sayings. I know the Shepard one as:

Red sky at night, sailor's delight
Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning

Kimberley King said...

I checked, "The weather's taking up now," means the same as we would say, "The weather's lifting...." and "Gaw" is a fragment of a rainbow.

Granny Sue said...

That's cool, Kimberley! Makes sense. And now I'll be looking for gaws :)

Granny Sue said...

That's the one I know too, Janet. I never heard the shepherd variation before.

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