St. Swithin's Day

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.

A legend says that as the Bishop lay on his deathbed, he asked to be buried out of doors, where he would be trodden on and rained on. For nine years, his wishes were followed, but then, the monks of Winchester attempted to remove his remains to a splendid shrine inside the cathedral on 15 July 971. According to legend there was a heavy rain storm either during the ceremony or on its anniversary.

The emblems of St. Swithin refer to the legend of the forty days' rain (raindrops) and the apples from the trees he planted.
Oddly enough, while most of us would rather not see rain on July 15th, apple-growers hope for a good soaking on this day. This is because they believe that the 'saints are watering the crops.' If they fail to do so, the apple-crop will be a poor one. Furthermore, no apple should picked or eaten before July 15th. The other side of the superstition is that apple-growers believe all apples still growing at St Swithin's day will ripen fully.

St. Swithin's Day is when people watch the weather for tradition says that whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue so for the next forty days.

There is a weather-rhyme is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times.

'Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.'

dost = does
thou = you
nae mair = no more.

This led to the old wives' tale (folklore) that if it rains on St. Swithin's Day (July 15th), it will rain for the next 40 days in succession, and a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of fine weather.
A similar belief attaches in France to 8 June, the feast of Sts. Gervasius and Protasius, and to other feasts in different countries. St. Swithin's feast is kept on 15 July, the date of his first translation, and is retained in the Anglican Calendar.