Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Happy St. Swithun's Day!!

Happy St. Swithun's Day, everybody!! I couldn't let it pass this year without some sort of mention.  St. Swithun’s Day is looked up on as a British weather proverb as the day where we can see what the weather is going to do for the next 40 days and 40 nights. If it is sunny on St. Swithun’s Day then it is said that it will be sunny for 40 days, if it however rains on St. Swithum’s Day then it is said that it will rain for 40 days and 40 nights.  Kind of like American "Groundhog Day" - except without the furry little rodent - and thank God Blessed Swithun doesn't get out of his grave to check on his shadow!!

There is an old rhyme associated with St. Swithun’s Day that goes like this:

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!

St. Swithin (or more properly, Swithun) was a Saxon Bishop of Winchester. He was born in the kingdom of Wessex and educated in its capital, Winchester. He was famous for charitable gifts and building churches.
So...what is the reason that St. Swithun’s Day is associated with the weather like this?  Tradition tells us that it  is because when St. Swithun died and was burried in 862 he requested it be outside. Often a person's "saint's day" is declared either as the dete of death...or the date of the "translation" (moving) of their relics.  The latter is the case with St. Swithun. On 15 July 971 A.D. his body was moved to an indoor shrine... but it is believed that the ceremony was delayed by 40 days of torrential rain which was said to be because of St. Swithun’s displeasure at being moved.
The picture (above) is of the skull of St. Swithun, Bishop and Confessor, which is a holy relic.  His remains are enshrined at Winchester Cathedral to this day.

Cue disembodied voice of Paul Harvey:  "And now you know...the REST of the story!  Good day!!"

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