St Swithin’s Day if ye do rain

St Swithin’s Day if ye do rain, for forty days it will remain, St Swithin’s Day, if ye be fair, for forty days ‘twill rain no more

In northern Europe this old saying relating to the weather on July15th certainly contains an element of the truth because by mid July the jet stream is likely to be set in position until late August. There are plenty of exceptions however, not least July 15th 1976 on which night there was a violent thunderstorm, and the most rain recorded – more than 25 mm (1 inch) for half a century. Then, for the next 40 days, apart from two, there was no rain in England at all, leading to the hottest summer and worst drought in living memory.

St Swithin, bishop of Winchester from 852 to 862, may possibly be associated with rain as a result of his deathbed request that he be buried not in the cathedral but outside it in a simple tomb ‘where the sweet rain of heaven may fall upon my grave’. In 971, however, his mortal remains were moved to a shrine within the cathedral

St Swithin’s Day is customarily associated with the health of the apple crop and rain on that day is said to be ‘christening the apples’. It is also regarded as a turning point in apple ripening, for ‘until St Swithin be past the apples be not fit to taste’.

In Germany there is a similar day of prediction, 27 June, known as edible dormouse day (Siebenschlaefer). Whatever the weather on that day it will remain for the next seven weeks.

Taken from the book Wise Words & Country Ways Weather Lore.