Saint Swithun’s day, if thou be fair, for forty days it will remain; Saint Swithun’s day, if thou bring rain, for forty days it will remain

Saint Swithun’s day, if thou be fair, for forty days it will remain; Saint Swithun’s day, if thou bring rain, for forty days it will remain
St. Swithun (or Swithin) was a bishop of Winchester. He died in 862 and his feast-day is 15 July. The association of St. Swithun with persistent rain is at least as old as the early 14th-century MS 27 in Emmanuel College, Cambridge (fo. 163; quoted in I. Opie and M. Tatem Dictionary of Superstitions): In the daye of seynte Svithone rane ginneth rinigge Forti dawes mid ywone [on St. Swithun’s day it usually starts to rain for forty days]. The rhyme has many variants.

1600 JONSON Every Man out of Humour I. iii. O, here, S. Swithin’s the xv day, variable weather, for the most part raine... Why, it should raine fortie daies after, now, more or lesse, it was a rule held afore I was able to hold a plough.

1697 Poor Robin’s Almanack July B2v In this month is St. Swithin’s day; On which, if that it rain, they say, Full forty days after it will, Or more or less some rain distill.

1846 M. A. DENHAM Proverbs relating to Seasons, etc. 52 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 na mair.

1892 C. M. YONGE Old Woman’s Outlook 169 St. Swithin’s promise is by no means infallible, whether for wet or fair weather. In..Gloucestershire, they prefer a shower on his day, and call it christening the apples; but Hampshire..hold[s] that—If Swithun’s day be fair and clear, It betides a happy year; If Swithun’s day be dark with rain, Then will be dear all sorts of grain.

1978 R. WHITLOCK Calender of Country Customs viii. Even today innumerable people take note of the weather on St. Swithun’s Day, 15 July... St. Swithun’s Day, if thou be fair, For forty days it will remain. St. Swithun’s Day, if thou bring rain, For forty days it will remain.


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