What’s the weather doing outside your window today? July 15th is St. Swithin’s Day, a church holiday honoring St. Swithin (also spelled Swithun), and according to folklore, the weather on this day will determine the weather for the next 40 days.
Who Was St. Swithin?
St. Swithin was a medieval Ango-Saxon bishop who lived in the 9th century and died as the Bishop of Winchester in 862. He was buried, according to his wishes, outside the walls of the Cathedral, “where the rain could fall and comfort him” and “steps of passersby might fall on his grave.”
But over a century later, on July 15, 971, due to an expansion of the Cathedral, his body was removed and placed inside the cathedral, contrary to his wishes. According to legend, after his body was moved inside, a terrible storm ensued. Heavy rain stopped the priests from doing their work. They could not resume until the next day, but yet the rain continued for 40 days. Thus the saying seems to be more legend than weather prediction.
In addition to his role in this old lore, St. Swithin is also one of the saints traditionally prayed to during periods of drought.
Is There Any Truth To It?
Like many weather folklore sayings, the St. Swithin’s Day legend has been passed down from generations. And as far as record-keeping goes back, there hasn’t been rain (or sun) for 40 days following the weather on St. Swithin’s Day that historians can locate. While the thought of 40 days of rain isn’t likely very appealing to most, chances are, it doesn’t sound too bad to those experiencing drought conditions.
For those of you sweating it out under hot, dry skies, here’s hoping, in the name of St. Swithin, that you get some rain soon!