Monday, July 15, 2013

St Swithun's day by Michelle Styles

Today, 15 July is St Swithun's Day. It is best known for predicting British Summer weather. A bit like Groundhog day. If it is fair on St Swithun's day, Britian is generally set for 40 days of sunshine. If it rains, we get 40 days of rain.
There is some truth to rumour as about this time, the weather pattern over Britain does seem to get stuck. And if it pours on 15 July, the rest of the summer is likely to be soggy.
It is beautiful sunshine at the moment (a rarity) and I am hopeful for the first truly pleasant summer Northumberland has had since 2006. We had a horribly cold spring and so fingers crossed.
Certainly it has been roasting for the last few days.
So who was St Swithun?
He was bishop of Winchester from about 852 - 862 which is just at the start of the Dane law. It should come as no surprise then, he is also venerated in Norway but for some reason has a saint's day of 2 July (the supposed date of his death). On his death bed, he asked to be buried outside so the rain could fall on his body.He is supposed to be the patron saint of rain (ie a saint you pray when it is a drought).
But basically he is remembered today because of the proverb. I suspect it also says a lot about the rainy British summer. (I grew up in  California where it rarely rains in the summertime...) It is just one bit of lore that has always intrigued me and as today is 15 July, I thought I'd share it as I like factiods.

I have put an excerpt for my next book --Paying the Viking's Price which takes place in Northumbria at few years after St Swithun's death up on my website.  The blurb reads:

Feared warrior Brand Bjornson has finally got what he's striven for—lands of his own, granted to him by his king. But his new estate, Breckon, holds more than a few surprises—not least the intriguingly beautiful Edith, former Lady of Breckon.

Proud Edith refuses to abandon her lands to the mercy of Viking invaders, and impressed by her courage, Brand agrees she can stay. He has one condition—that she should become his concubine!

You can read the extract here

May your summer be fair with few showers or thumderstorms (unless of course you in a drought in which case may St Swithun intervene on your behalf!)

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. Her next book Paying the Viking's Price will be published in November 2013.


Pat Cochran said...

Thanks for introducing St. Swithin
to us, we certainly have need of
much aid. My state and country have
suffered with wildfires, causing
death and loss to many, over the
past several years. BTW, reports
for today call for 50-60% chances
of rain for us!
Pat C.

Jane Henry said...

I was born on St Swithin's Day, and my mum nearly named me Swithina (she must have had too much gas and air). The other part of the legend says that because St S wasn't buried where he'd asked to be, it rained so much that his coffin was lifted up out of the ground and floated down stream. I always thought it was to Winchester cathedral where he is buried, but I may be wrong about that!