There’s a running joke about England’s obsession with the weather, and Saint Swithin’s Day on July 15 does not help this stereotype. The story, as you may have guessed, is related to St. Swithin, who was a bishop of Winchester in the mid-800s. Not much information is available about him and his services, and this, in itself, is surprising because a special day has been dedicated to him and his miracles. The legend goes that whatever the type of weather England wakes up to on July 15, be it rain or sunshine, the next 40 days and nights will have the same weather conditions. So yes, if it rains on July 15, you can expect to have your umbrella at your beck and call for the next 40 days. However, there is no scientific or historical evidence to suggest that the case of having the ‘same weather’ for 40 days is true. Saint Swithin’s Day is also celebrated to remember the historical miracles of the saint.
History of Saint Swithin’s Day
Saint Swithin’s Day pays homage to St. Swithin, who was the Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester from 852 to 863. Within the same time period, he also became the patron saint of the Winchester Cathedral. Historical records do not talk much about his life before and after he became bishop. Furthermore, there aren’t many records of his miracles either. One of the few instances in which a miracle performed by St. Swithin is mentioned involves him repairing an egg basket of a woman who dropped it after being startled by the sudden appearance of the bishop. Even though there aren’t that many miracles associated with him, he is still quite the celebrated figure in Britain, so much so, that around 40 churches are dedicated to him all over the country.
The folklore attached to Saint Swithin’s Day involves the bishop’s supposed anger and thunderstorms. Having a love for the common people, he wanted them to have access to his shrine. Therefore, he built his shrine in the churchyard. He is recorded stating that this would also allow him to enjoy the rain falling from the heavens above. St. Swithin’s wish was granted in 863 and he was buried in the churchyard as per his instructions. While he enjoyed his resting place for 100 years, he was moved after it was deemed unfit for saints to be buried amongst commoners. Following this, heavy torrential rain clouds filled the English skies, and thus, a legend about Saint Swithin’s wrath was born. Other theories related to the day rest on old pagan beliefs about the changing weather patterns when the midsummer time struck.
Saint Swithin’s Day timeline
St. Swithin is appointed as the bishop of Winchester.
After a decree issued by King Edgar, St. Swithin’s remains are moved from the churchyard to the Winchester Cathedral.
St. Swithin becomes a celebrated figure in literature after he is honored in literary works like Aelfric’s “Lives of the Saints.”
King Henry VII has commissioners smash St. Swithin’s shrine, allowing them to take all the valuables.
Saint Swithin’s Day FAQs
Is St. Swithin's Day the same date every year?
Yes, July 15 is Saint Swithin’s Day.
What happens on Saint Swithin’s Day?
According to folklore, whatever the weather is on July 15, which is Saint Swithin’s Day, that weather will remain the same for the next 40 days and nights. There’s also a rhyme that goes with it: “St. 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”.
Where is St. Swithin buried?
St. Swithin is buried at Winchester Cathedral in Winchester, England.
How To Celebrate Saint Swithin’s Day
Visit the Winchester Cathedral
Pay a visit to the Winchester Cathedral to learn more about St. Swithin. While you are there, you can also get to know about the history of the place, how it came to be, the historical events that took place there, and much more.
Read up on St. Swithin
St. Swithin appears to have been quite a simple figure, and we mean that in the best way possible. While there isn’t much mention of him during his time, the few mentions here and there allow us a glimpse into the life of a man who was loved by many.
Have fun with the weather
Weather forecast organizations have debunked the 40-day-same-weather theory, but that isn’t going to stop us from having fun. When it comes to predicting the weather, it’s a guessing game. Gather your friends and family or go solo to enjoy whatever the weather throws at you.
5 Facts About Midsummer That Will Blow Your Mind
The longest day
Midsummer is the longest summer day, and it is also known as the summer solstice, which usually falls on June 21.
Stonehenge for midsummer
Some historians believe that Stonehenge was a sort of a calendar that marked the sun’s path, allowing people to track seasons like summer and winter.
Important in Northern Europe
Midsummer is considered to be important in Northern Europe as the winter in this region tends to be long, harsh, and dark.
Midsummer flowers for true love
In some cultures, people pick midsummer flowers to find their true love, and they do so by keeping the picked flowers under their pillow in order to see their true love in their dreams.
One of the quarter days
Midsummer is one of the quarter days of the year, with the others being Michaelmas Day (September 29), Lady Day (March 25), and Christmas Day (December 24).
Why We Love National Saint Swithin’s Day
It’s a celebration of St. Swithin
St. Swithin was and is a beloved figure for many. His way of loving the commoners for their humanity is one of the most prominent values he left behind. There’s also simplicity attached to how he wished to be buried. Shirking the fanfare, his choice to be buried like a commoner amongst the commoners is lauded and appreciated.
It’s a celebration of miracles
Miracles make our faith stronger, and St. Swithin’s Day is all about miracles. St. Swithin is more known for his posthumous miracles, but the miracles that happened during his lifetime and during other saints’ times should be remembered.
It’s a celebration of unpredictability
It is impossible for us not to mention unpredictability when we are talking about the weather. Much like the weather, life is also unpredictable as we may be enjoying the happiest days of our life the one day, and the very next day could be completely gloomy. So, the point is, enjoy life and the weather as it comes, learn from every single ray of sunshine and drop of rain, and appreciate the unpredictability of it all.
Saint Swithin’s Day dates