Lore about the weather consisted mainly of practical information and advice, based on observation of nature, and transmitted orally. Such expertise was essential to farmers and seafarers. For the literate, there were also other channels of transmission, notably almanacs, which gave guidance on the right date for sowing this or that crop, beginning hay-making, and so on. Some scraps of this lore are still remembered: that rooks, gulls, or swifts flying high are a sign of fine weather, or that a good crop of berries foretells a hard winter (which is probably not true). A few rhymed tags are well known:
   Red at night, Shepherd's delight; Red in the morning, Shepherd's warning.
   Alluding to high wispy clouds:
   See in the sky the painter's brush, The wind around you soon will rush.
   For January weather:
   As the day lengthens, So the cold strengthens.
   A rhyme found in many places uses the way low cloud hides hilltops as a sign of rain, naming whichever hill is nearest:
   When wears a cap,
   We in the valley gets a drop.
   In some cases, weather lore is parodied in jokes which have themselves become traditional: 'If you can see X from Y, there will be rain soon; if you can't see X from Y, it's raining already.'
   Less rational ways of forecasting included the idea that rain on *St Swithin's Day will continue for 40 days, and that the weather on each of the twelve days of Christmas shows what to expect for each month of the coming year. An unusual and dramatic form of weather divination was practised at Adderbury (Oxfordshire) in the latter part of the 19th century; men would go out to the fields towards eleven o'clock on Martinmas Eve (10 November) and keep vigil till midnight, listening to the wind, for they believed that 'the four Angels of the Earth' were flying round and round, stirring up the winds. At midnight this ceased, and the watchers noted which way the wind was then blowing, for that would be its prevailing direction for the next three months (Michael Pickering, Folklore 94 (1983), 252). In Derbyshire, people would take a candle to the bottom of the garden on *Halloween to see which way the wind blew, for it would remain in that quarter for three months (Addy, 1895: 118).
   Notable storms could be seen as *omens accompanying a great man's death, or as signs either of the wrath of God or of the activity of the Devil. Witches were believed capable of 'selling' winds to sailors in the form of *knot-ted cords, and of malicious storm-raising; the penalty of various unlucky actions, notably *whistling and drowning a *cat at sea, is that they cause fierce winds.
   See also *storms, *thunder.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Weather — Weath er, n. [OE. weder, AS. weder; akin to OS. wedar, OFries. weder, D. weder, we[^e]r, G. wetter, OHG. wetar, Icel. ve[eth]r, Dan. veir, Sw. v[ a]der wind, air, weather, and perhaps to OSlav. vedro fair weather; or perhaps to Lith. vetra storm …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Weather — Weath er, a. (Naut.) Being toward the wind, or windward opposed to lee; as, weather bow, weather braces, weather gauge, weather lifts, weather quarter, weather shrouds, etc. [1913 Webster] {Weather gauge}. (a) (Naut.) The position of a ship to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Weather — Weath er, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Weathered}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Weathering}.] [1913 Webster] 1. To expose to the air; to air; to season by exposure to air. [1913 Webster] [An eagle] soaring through his wide empire of the air To weather his broad… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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