St Swithin’s Day is observed by many across the UK – and for good reason too. Brits are stereotypically obsessed with the weather, and St Swithin’s Day supposedly marks and important shift in whether the UK will get rain or shine for much of the summer period.
What is St Swithin’s day?
The weather that falls across the UK on St Within’s Day, July 15, supposedly sets the meteorological precedent for the next 40 days.
This means that if it rains on July 15, it will rain for the next 40 days – something everyone is hoping will not happen.
The reason why many believe this is down to age-old folklore.
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St Swithin was a 9th century Anglo Saxon bishop of Winchester, which was the capital of Wessex at the time, and he is best known for the proverb which supposedly predicts 40 days of rain or sunshine – depending on the weather on July 15.
Not a great deal is known about St Swinthin himself apart from the tale associated with his name.
There is hardly any mention of him from documents around the time of his life, but this hasn’t stopped him from becoming a household name in the UK.
He was made patron saint of Winchester Cathedral around 100 years after he died, and was reportedly known for church building and other charitable endeavours.
He also reportedly performed one miracle, making one lucky old lady’s smashed eggs whole again.
It is said St Swithin asked his colleagues to bury him outside Winchester cathedral in a simple tomb, “where the sweet rain of heaven may fall upon my grave”.
But many years after his burial, church officials moved his remains to an elaborate shrine inside Winchester Cathedral.
It is this which supposedly sparked an unprecedented storm which lasted 40 days, a result of the bishop’s afterlife anger.
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This story soon became folklore and now British people keep an eye on the weather on July 15
This is where the famous proverb comes from: ”St Swithin’s Day if thou dost rain, for 40 days it will remain, St Swithin’s Day if thou be fair, for 40 days will rain na mair.”
Nothing remains of St Swithin’s shrine which was destroyed during King Henry VIII’s Reformation, but there is a memorial to him at Winchester Cathedral.
Why is St Swithins celebrated?
The story of St Swinthin’s displeasure at his remains being removed has become folklore over the centuries.
It is of course largely down to superstition – but that doesn’t stop many being hopeful that St Swithin’s doesn’t pour it down.
Weather experts say since records began in 1861, there has never been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days in a row following St Swithin’s Day.
Other western European countries observe a similar day, dedicated to different saints.
In France, people keep watch for rain on St Gervais’ Day and Germany’s Seven Sleepers day refers to the weather patterns over the next seven weeks.
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