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St. Swithin's Day
 

St. Swithin's Day is 15 July, a day on which people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.

There is a weather-rhyme is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times. copied from projectbritain.com

image: cathedral'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'

dost = does
thou = you
nae mair = no more.

Who was St. Swithin?

St. Swithin (or more properly, Swithun) was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches.

Why do people watch the weather on St. Swithin's day?

A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971. According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

This led to the old wives' tale (folklore) that if it rains on St Swithin's Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather. copied from projectbritain.com

However, according to the Met Office, this old wives' tale is nothing other than a myth. It has been put to the test on 55 occasions*, when it has been wet on St Swithin's Day and 40 days of rain did not follow. copied from projectbritain.com

* source: the book entitled 'Red Sky At Night'

Comment from a visitor:

"Have you noticed that some English summers are consistently hot and dry, while others are miserable? By the middle of July, one of two patterns often sets in, with Atlantic weather systems either passing to the North of the UK or directly across it. I remember some wonderful summers, but I took my American wife to England for three years from 1985 to 1988 and she now believes the sun never shines there. I think the rhyme, like much UK weather lore, helps to record and pass on the vagaries of British weather."
Martin Blundell

What symbols are associated with St. Swithins?

The emblems of St. Swithin refer to the legend of the forty days' rain (raindrops) and the apples from the trees he planted.

Apples and St. Swithuns

"St Swithin is christening the apples"
Brand, Popular Antiquities, 1813, i, 342

applesThere is an old saying when it rains on St. Swithin's Day, it is the Saint christening the apples.

Apple growers ask St. Swithin for his blessing each year because they believe: copied from projectbritain.com

  • Rain on St. Swithin's day 'blesses and christens the apples'.
  • No apple should picked or eaten before July 15th.
  • Apples still growing at St Swithin's day will ripen fully.

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© Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

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Mandy is the creator of the Woodlands Resources section of the Woodlands Junior website. 
The two websites projectbritain.com and primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk are the new homes for the Woodlands Resources.

Mandy left Woodlands in 2003 to work in Kent schools as an ICT Consulatant. 
She now teaches computers at The Granville School and St. John's Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.