Monday 15 July 2013

Saint Swithun's Day

15th July and another day of weather prediction.

As with Candlemas, which is celebrated on 2nd February, St Swithun's Day is also said to predict what the weather holds in store for the next few weeks.

Saint Swithun (or Swithin), died on the 2nd July sometime between 862 and 865 and was the Bishop of Winchester.  He is also the patron saint of Winchester Cathedral.      

His reputation for posthumous miracle-working is more renowned than any historical facts, including the exact date of his death.  His most famous miracle happened on a bridge where workmen had broken a basket of eggs, which were said to have been restored by St Swithun.

When St Swithun was dying, he requested that he should be buried outside the north wall of Winchester Cathedral where folk could pass over his grave and the raindrops from the eaves would fall upon it.

This could be the folklore from whence came the proverb that if it rains on St Swithun's day, then it will rain for another forty days and nights

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

A Buckinghamshire variation has

If on St Swithun's day it really pours
You're better off to stay indoors.

If it does rain on St Swithun's day, then it is thought to be that he is christening apples on trees and apple growers are said to ask for his blessing for a good crop

St Swithun was re-located in 971 to an indoor shrine and one theory traces the legend to a heavy shower on the day he was moved indicating his displeasure towards those who were taking him inside.  There is no proof, but that's folklore. 

© Karen Ette 2013