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St Swithin’s Day When is St Swithin Day 2021? Why the weather today is so

St Swithin's Day When is St Swithin  Day 2021? Why the weather today is so


St Swithin's Day 2021: When is it and why do people care about the … Thu, 15 Jul 2021 12:00:00 +0100-St Swithin was the bishop of Winchester from 852 to 862. After his death, he requested he be buried in the churchyard, so that passers-by may step over his grave …

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Why the weather on St Swithin’s Day is so important, and the origins of the poem

July 15, 2021

Most of us know the St Swithin’s Day rhyme, but many may not know where it came from or what it means.

Celebrated on 15 July every year, St Swithin’s Day is used by some as a guide for how sunny the summer is going to be.

But who was St Swithin? Here’s everything you need to know.

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Who was St Swithin?

St Swithin was the bishop of Winchester from 852 to 862. After his death, he requested he be buried in the churchyard, so that passers-by may step over his grave and that it may be exposed to the elements.

However, his tomb was moved inside on 15 July 971, and shortly afterwards a huge storm hit, which people took as a sign of the saint’s displeasure at his wishes being ignored.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says: “The first textual evidence for the weather prophecy appears to have come from a 13th or 14th century entry in a manuscript at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.”

St Swithin, Bishop of Winchester, who died in 862, pictured circa 860. An illustration from the Benedictional of St Ethelwold, an example of the Winchester School of Illumination. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
St Swithin, Bishop of Winchester, who died in 862, pictured circa 860, in an illustration from the Benedictional of St Ethelwold (Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty)

Since then the legend has said that if it rains on St Swithin’s Day it will continue to do so for the next 40 days. But if it is sunny, the sun will shine for 40 days straight.

Despite its enduring popularity, there does not appear to be any scientific evidence to support the idea that St Swithin’s Day can act as a reliable indicator of summer weather.

The Met Office has even trawled back through its archives to confirm that there has never been a single 40-day period which has corroborated the myth’s prediction since records began in 1861.

What is the St Swithin’s Day rhyme?

The legend says whatever the weather on St Swithin’s Day, it will continue for the next 40 days.

There is a saying that explains the legend:

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

What will the weather be like this year?

Overall it’s looking good. A heatwave is forecast over the next few days, and St Swithin’s Day marks the start of it. Let’s hope the legend holds true, for this year at least.

If medieval folklore isn’t how you usually get your weather information, here is the Met Office’s forecast for the next few weeks:

18 – 27 July

This period will continue to be influenced by an area of high pressure slowly moving across the UK. It’s expected to be widely dry with plenty of sunshine developing on Sunday, although there will be cloud with perhaps some rain at times across the Northern Isles.

Following this, it’s likely that we’ll see a good deal of dry weather with plenty of sunshine, at least at first. Through this period there’s an increasing risk of heavy showers and thunderstorms developing from the South and West. Temperatures will continue to be very warm at first, and perhaps locally hot in central and southern areas, before probably becoming somewhat cooler and fresher from the southwest later next week heralding a change to a more unsettled spell towards the end of July.

28 July – 11 August

A more unsettled interlude seems probable to end July with rain or showers for all areas, risk heavy and thundery, especially in the South. However, into early August, warmer and drier-than-average conditions look likely to return. Although, occasional spells of more unsettled weather remain possible, especially in the northwest, as well as a chance of temporary thundery showers, especially across the southeast. Confidence decreases after this with conditions thought to become generally more changeable towards mid-August. Above-average temperatures continue to be signalled for much of the period, perhaps becoming very warm or hot at times in the south.


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When is St Swithin's Day 2021? Why the weather today is so … Thu, 15 Jul 2021 12:00:00 +0100-Will it be a hot summer and why does the 15th July matter? How the ancient St Swithin's legend supposedly impacts the UK weather.

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The rest of summer could be full of rain

July 15, 2021

Non-stop rain for 40 days throughout the summer holidays? No, thank you!

Across the UK the weather is a regular talking point of any conversation – whether that be us slating the cold or complaining about the heat.

According to traditional folklore, July 15 determines the weather for the next 40 days, come rain or shine.

Legend says – if it rains on St Swithin's day, it will continue to rain for 40 days non-stop. If it's sunny then it will continue for 40 days.

Explaining the tradition there is an old poem which reads:

“St Swithin's Day, if it does rain

Full forty days, it will remain

St Swithin's Day, if it be fair

For forty days, t'will rain no more”

St Swithin’s Day takes place every year on July 15 and dates all the way back to the 17th century.

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People are hoping for sunny weather as festivals are set to reopen (Image: Getty)

Who was St Swithin?

The name of the day and legend comes from a man called Swithin who was the Bishop of Winchester.

Upon his death, he asked to be buried in an important place within Winchester Cathedral, outside and in a single tomb “where the sweet rain of heaven may fall upon my grave”.

Swithin's remains were moved inside 100 years later to create a shrine, as he became the patron saint of the restored Cathedral in Winchester.

Legend has it that after the removal of his body from his tomb, a storm occurred causing terribly weather and rain for several weeks.

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This summer has been a bit of a cold and wet one so far – Brits are hoping for some more sunshine (Image: PA)

It is said that people believed Swithin was unimpressed with the removal of his tomb and placement of his shrine in the Winchester Cathedral, so therefore his spirit caused 40 days of bad weather.

This legend continued for years, carrying into the present day.

It’s largely down to superstition but many people still hope for dry and sunny weather on the day of St Swithin’s.

And despite the old legend, no record since 1861 has shown 40 days of complete sun or rain following St Swithin's day.

We can still hope for sunshine and dry weather for the next 40 days after a long-awaited summer.


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– July 15, 2021
St Swithin’s Day When is St Swithin Day 2021? Why the weather today is so

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