London’s summer looks like it will be pretty dreary, with a forecast of 40 days of cloud and drizzle. Melbourne, on the other hand, is going to be unseasonably cold over the same period, while the storm in Boston is likely to last six weeks.
Or so the more superstitious among us will think. This is because July 15 is St Swithin’s day, and has enjoyed significance for weather forecasters for many centuries. The day marks that of the saint’s “translation” in 971 from an outdoor grave to a shrine inside Winchester’s Old Minster. As the Scots rhyme went:
Saint Swithin’s day, gif ye do rain,
For forty days it will remain;
Saint Swithin’s day, an ye be fair,
For forty days ʼtwill rain na mair.
Swithin wasn’t the first saint whose feast day foretold the weather and, in many ways, this ninth-century bishop made for a conventional example of sanctity.… Read the rest