It’s said New Englanders have several past times, one being eternal love for the Boston Red Sox. The other? Pontificating on or predicting the weather. We all seem to be armchair meteorologists who rely on wives tales, patchy memories or achy joints to ramble on about the weather. From the wooliness of bugs to the height of beehives, the folklore of weather spans generations and continents.
In an Indiana newspaper article, a Huntington University professor tackled the idea of weather, science and folklore. One such example of weather folklore according to Dr. Linda Urschel is the woolly worm, telling the Huntington County Tab, “The more black they have on them, the harder the winter is going to be.” The basic idea follows that someone observe an animal, a plant or natural phenomena and then attaches it to the later meteorological event.
Here in New England I am habit to see the sunset and utter, “Red sky at night, sailors delights. Red sky in morning, sailors take warning.” With a strong sea-faring tradition in Massachusetts its a natural folk saying picked up and retained over the generations.
The folk traditions about weather and its connection to flora and fauna are covered by comprehensive list created by NASA. Some of the historic weather folkloric traditions include:
North Carolina- “An old proverb says that a house that is overarched by a rainbow will soon experience a disaster or if you walk through the end of the rainbow, your family will experience a disaster within a year.”
Germany- “It was commonly believed in old times that Old Mother Frost caused snow by shaking the feathers from her bed. These feathers would then fall to Earth as snow.”
Australia- “An aboriginal myth says that frost comes from the seven stars of the Pleiades, also called the Seven Sisters. The sisters once lived on Earth but were so cold they sparkled with icicles. They flew up into the sky and once each year they pull off their icicles and hurl them down to Earth.”
From the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society comes these folkloric rhymes:
“When clouds look like black smoke a wise man will put on his cloak.”
“If salt is sticky, And gains in weight; It will rain Before too late.“
For NASA’s full, continent by continent list of weather folklore check it out here.
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