When is Saint Swithen’s Day

St Swithin’s Day falls on 15 July each year.

St Swithin’s Day is the day that people traditionally keep an eye on the weather. This custom arose as, according to old folklore dating back to the Elizabethan times, whatever the weather is like on St Swithin’s Day it will continue to be so for the next forty days.

St Swithin’s Day Poem

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.

So if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, you could expect to have rain for the next forty days. If it was fine and sunny this is what you could expect instead.

Why the association with weather on St. Swithin’s day?

The legend of St Swithin’s Day originated following his death. Saint Swithin was a Saxon bishop with strong connections to Winchester, having being born in Wessex and educated in Winchester. He became Bishop of Winchester and was known for his acts of charity and church building. During his life only one miracle was ever attributed to him. This miracle involved an old lady’s basket of eggs that had been maliciously smashed by workmen. The legend tells that as Swithin picked up the eggs they miraculously became whole again.

Swithin died on 2 July 862 and was buried, as he had requested, outside in a humble grave in the grounds of Old Minster at Winchester “where it might be subject to the feet of passers-by and to the raindrops pouring from on high”. There he remained until 15 July 971, when Bishop Ethelwold ordered for his remains to be dug up and moved to a shrine within the Old Minster.

Whilst further miraculous cures were associated with moving his body, it was perhaps better remembered for the weather that accompanied this act. The day of removal was accompanied by heavy rain storms said to indicate Saint Swithin’s displeasure at having his wishes ignored. The rain is said to have lasted forty days, hence giving birth the legend of St Swithin’s day.