Tuesday, July 15, 2008

St Swithin's Day

Today is St Swithin's Day. Legend has it that if it rains today it will rain for the next 40 days and if it is sunny today it will be sunny for the next 40 days. Thankfully it has been sunny so far today (although there were a few spots of rain on my car windscreen - I wonder how much rain has to fall for it to count?)

But who was St Swithin? I've grown up hoping each 15th July that it would be dry, but I know nothing about the actual man or why his feast day is supposed to be a weather barometer.

A quick search on the internet revealed the following information: - St Swithin (or Swithun) was a saxon bishop of Winchester. Upon his deathbed he asked to be buried outside so that his grave could be rained on and trodden on. I would imagine this was inspired by humility. As Bishop, he would have been entitled to a fancy tomb within the church. Apparently, as per his wishes, he was buried outside but after nine years (on the 15th July 971) his remains were taken from their grave and placed within Winchester Cathedral amid heavy rain.

Where the idea that it will rain for forty days came from I don't know, but it has been around for a very long time. My Internet search also revealed this well known poem (I had never heard it before)

'St Swithin’s Day, if it does rain
Full forty days, it will remain
St Swithin’s Day, if it be fair
For forty days, t'will rain no more.'

Apparently the Met Office in England tested it out and out of 55 occasions where it rained on the 15th of July it has never rained for 40 consecutive days afterwards. It certainly feels like it has in Ireland sometimes!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, often wondered all about that myself. Well, its not raining at the moment so I am going to abide by St Swithin and say, next 40 days will be ok!

Inkpot said...

You're right Anon, go with St Swithin. Yeah, 40 days of sunshine! :)

Valinora Troy said...

I like your optimism!

Valpot said...

Where did you get the image of him?

Inkpot said...

Unfortunately Anon's optimism ( or mine, not sure which you're talking about Valpot)was unfounded as it rained steadily today. Got the image off the net. It is from a stained glass in Winchester Cathedral.

Malice Blackheart said...

I love these vague predictions that come from holidays, you know, like Groundhog Day. Will he see his shadow, or not? It's either another month and a half of winter, or six weeks of it. You know what I mean?

You live on an island. So, you'll have rain every day, and you'll have sun every day. That way "they" can still pretend "their prediction" was right.

Inkpot said...

Hi Mal. Yup, love these predictions that have no basis in anything and can always be 'proven' correct, as you say. It is bound to be raining somewhere! Also, where does it have to rain or shine to get the 40 days of weather? Does it have to be in Winchester, or England, or does it apply to the whole world?