Thursday, July 15, 2010

Saint Swithun's Day

Today is the feast day of St. Swithun, a saint that most of us probably hadn't heard of until the publication of One Day by David Nicholls. That novel takes place on a single day, July 15, across twenty years. It's a clever idea, this idea that you can tell part of a life's tale by focusing on just one day.

Perhaps it's an idea inspired by the older one of St. Swithun's Day, the idea that you can tell the weather for the rest of the summer by the weather that you get on July 15. The rhyme goes this way:

"St Swithun's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain no more"

Swithun was the Bishop of Winchester from 852–862 during Anglo-Saxon times. We don't really know too much more about him. He was devoted to restoring old churches and starting new ones, and he was the spiritual advisor to the king's son Æthelwulf (who went on to be King of Wessex from 839 to 856).

So, keep your eyes to the skies this St. Swithun's Day. May you be blessed with the weather you'd welcome for the next 40 days.

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