Wednesday 15 July 2009

Saint Swithun’s Day

Today, July 15th, is Saint Swithun's Day.

Saint Swithun (sometimes Swithin) died in July 862 and was an early Bishop of Winchester. He is now chiefly remembered for the following weather lore:

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 na mair.

Swithun was buried out of doors rather than in Winchester Cathedral so that 'the sweet rain from heaven may fall upon my grave.' He is considered to be one of the saints to pray to in times of drought. 109 years later in 971, it was decided to move his body to an indoor shrine but the ceremony was delayed by forty days of torrential rain; this was taken as a sign of Swithun's displeasure at being moved.

It has rained several times today, between bouts of sunshine. At times it has drizzled, at others it has poured so I suppose we should expect the next six weeks or so to be fairly damp. Rain would have helped in the forest last week. It would appear that a fire was set, destroying young evergreen and deciduous trees.

Several fire appliances attended and the blaze was brought under control.
The area will recover . . .

. . . though there are no fresh green shoots yet.


  1. Such a shame about the fire. At least new growth will come.

    We had more sun than rain today so I hope that's the way it will be for the next forty days.

  2. Well, today is sunny and bright thus far . . . ;-)

  3. it's good to know about this saint--i'm always worried about drought in Colorado. :)

  4. Hahaha Cathy - does English folk lore travel??

  5. I didn't know about the alternative spelling. I always knew it as St Swithin's.

    In Victoria, we had our killer fires in February this year.

  6. David, I always knew it as Swithin too until I came to live not very far from Winchester.
    I imagine your fire-ravaged areas must be recovering now. How sad it is that some people find it thrilling to set fires.

  7. Great history lesson. I knew hte name of the day but nothing about it. Thanks!

  8. Thank you mk. I used to hate history at school - it was all dates and laws - but now I find it fascinating.


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