Rain on St Swithin's Day! But does the forecast match the curse?

Huge swathes of Great Britain awoke today to grey, drizzly weather. Which is something you’d normally just deal with, but today is St Swithin’s Day.

According to British legend, if it rains on July 15 then we’re due another 40 days and 40 nights of miserable wet weather.

Which has understandably upset the soggy folk of south and central England, and will further depress people in northern England and Scotland where intermittent showers are expected later on.

Other parts of the British Isles are looking much more promising, however.

But does the forecast match the curse?

Thankfully (at least for those who put more faith in meteorological science than saints’ feast day superstitions) the experts reckon 2015 will be a year that defies the St Swithin’s curse.

The Met Office are predicting settled weather across the UK towards the end of July, with only the occasional spells of rain and showers possible at times.

Plenty of fine and dry weather is also expected in the first half of August, with a risk of occasional, short-lived spells of wetter weather.

The Met Office’s Dan Williams said there had not been a record of 40 dry or 40 wet days following St Swithin’s Day since records began in 1861.

“People should not fear the St Swithin’s legend. There is no observational evidence whatsoever to suggest that this legend holds any water.”

So where did all this St Swithin’s Day dread begin?

The earliest reference to the St Swithin’s Day legend dates back to the 14th century.

St Swithin was an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester, who died in AD862. When he was made a saint in 971, his body was dug up and moved to an indoor shrine in the city’s cathedral.

Some writers claimed this outraged the heavens, causing rain to pour on the church and continue uninterrupted for 40 days.


 

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