For centuries, people have always been interested in weather forecasting. Shepherds and sailors - people whose lives and livelihoods depended on the weather- relied on lore to foretell tomorrow's weather. They observed and quickly connected changes in nature with patterns of weather.
Farmers observed cloud movement and the colour of the sky to know when to sow and reap. Hunters studied the behaviour of insects and animals and from the collected information they learned to foretell the weather. They used to say what they knew in the form of short sayings, which often rhymed for ease of memory. These became part of culture and education and came to other climates with the waves of migration.
The information, passed down from generation to generation for centuries became the base of weather lore which means forecasting the weather.
Most of weather lore is connected with names of particular saints and it is divided into meteorological weather lore (8th June - Medardova kápě čtyřicet dní kape) and agricultural weather lore (21st June - Na svatého Aloise poseč louku, neboj se!).
The oldest Czech weather lore came up already in the second half of fifteen century, most rhymed weather lore has their origin in the time of national rebirth and the youngest weather lore comes from the end of the last century.
Since 1584 obtained in Czech country so-called Gregorian calendar from the year 1582. By that time so-called Julian calendar was used, which was introduced by G. J. Caesar in the year 45 before Christ. However, it fell behind the real change of seasons. In sixteenth century the difference was already ten days. That is why the pope Gregory XIII. proclaimed the calendar reform, according to which ten days were let out and after 4th October followed 15th October immediately. By letting out ten days weather lore was depreciated and most of it lost its original meaning.
Another confusion was introduced by the new liturgical calendar, which was endorsed by pope Paul VI. on 14th February 1969, according to which a name day of saint or saintess should fall on the day of their death. If it was not possible, it was set on different day, which was connected to a saint. Some of saints took a new place in calendar while weather lore related to them had to stay on the original place. The example is St. Thomas Aquinas (O svatém Tomáši sníh bředne na kaši.)
The weather lore is related to the original name day which was 7th March, but according to the new calendars the name day of Saint Thomas is 28th January, when the snow does not melt yet.
Weather lore is not related to each day of the year. Most of rhymed weather lore relates to saints whose name day is in January, February, March, June and December, the least weather lore is related to saints whose name day is in August and in April. The most rhymed weather lore is evident at Hromnice (2nd February), St. Jan Křtitel (24th June), St. Martin (11th November), St. George (24th April) and St. Vít (15th June).
The present Czech concept of the word pranostika differs from that one in Middle Ages when by the term pranostika was meant especially astrological forecast. Astrological weather lore flourished in Czech country mainly in 15th, 16th and 17th century. Their authors were especially professors of Prague universities. František Palacký noted: „Všichni hvězdáři byli tehdáž astronomové i astrologové pospolu; pragnostikování, čili pranostikování, uvedeno bylo v učenou jakousi soustavu, a tou barvou, ač lichou, panovalo i osvícenějším duchům toho věku” (Vašků, 2002:13).
„Pranostiky jsou dobově podmíněné užitkové útvary lidové slovesnosti, které vznikaly
jako určitý výsledek lidového poznávacího procesu. Vyznačují se zpravidla obsahově značně zahuštěným slovním vyjádřením získaných a opakovaně využitelných zkušeností z nejběžnějších praktických oblastí života lidu a formálně vyznívají jako předpověď” (Vašků, 2002:14).
The word pranostika originates from the Greek word prognósis, which was in ancient Greece the term used for particular kinds of prognosis. The prognosis itself is not the main determinant feature of weather lore and it is very often omitted (I když léto a podzim nadělily všeho, šetři však, aby bylo z čeho; na svatého Řehoře, líný sedlák, který neoře, když může; na svatého Aloise, poseč louku, neboj se!).
Weather lore differs from proverbs and sayings. The first distinctive feature is the fixed thematic structure of weather lore on former common areas of peoples' lives, especially on different fields of material activities such as field economy, forestry, gardening, fruit growing, winegrowing, fishery, beekeeping, hunting, agricultural. Weather lore often expresses chronological relations among natural phenomena and the influence of more or less regularly repeated phenomena on human life and his work (Svatý Vít, dává trávě pít; Svatý Jan - mléka džbán)
An important fact is that information, which is linked with weather lore, was always established to the repeated practical usage as a motivational instruction, advice or warning.
Jan Amos Komenský wrote about weather lore:
„Mají vždy však větší líbeznost, protože mysl hned na dvé se rozvírá, i na to, co se literně jmenuje, i na to, co se pod tím míní; a tak věc tím jadrněji v mysli vázne, čím patrněji podobenství vysvětlení béře. Z čehož viděti, že pro dvě příčiny se jich užívá: jedno pro ozdobu řeči, kteráž se jimi jako kvítky neb perličkami rozkošnými povijí, druhé pro jadrnost rozumu, aby mysl i v pozornosti snáze zadržána býti i snáze a mocněji chápati mohla.”
3.2Main groups of weather lore
The largest and the most important group of our weather lore represent agricultural weather lore. For centuries, the most important agricultural activity was farming, that is why the largest group of agricultural weather lore is rural weather lore.
The separate group of weather lore sets apart from agricultural weather lore is called meteorological weather lore. (Když volá zelená žabka, bývá ráda kapka; Svatý Řehoř mrazy vodí, když nevodí, tak sněhem škodí; Je-li leden mírný a deštivý, pak únor nás jistě zimou navštíví; Je-li prosinec mírný a proměnlivý, celá zima bude mírná)
The great importance has so-called warning weather lore. The best examples of this group are weather lore sayings about frozen men (Pankrác, Servác a Bonifác - Ledoví muži, poškozují ovocný květ i růži).
Karel Čapek writes about warning weather lore in his novel „Zahradníkův rok”:
„Lidové pranostiky věští nám většinou věci neblahé a pochmurné. Pročež vězte, že existence zahradníků, kteří přes tyto špatné zkušenosti s počasím rok co rok vítají a zahajují jaro, dává svědectví o neumořitelném a zázračném optimismu lidského rodu”.
Further group is phenological weather lore which is very popular. It contains information about a temporal process of periodically repeated life's signs of plants and animals (Svatý Prokop, žitu kořen podkop; Panna Maria na slunci, někdy jen na srdci, zahřívá vlaštovku; Na svatého Jiří, trávu nezastaví čtyři).
Another group is calendar and quantitive weather lore which tells for example the start of the solstice, equinox or values lengthening of a white day (Na boží narození, o bleší převalení; Na svatého Tomáše, nejdelší noc je naše).
The last group is unreal and superstitious weather lore (Kdo na Velký pátek orá, tomu se chleba nedostává; Jaký je slunovratový úplněk, tak se bude v létě sušit; Osvítí-li při hrubé na boží hod vánoční pana faráře slunce, bude toho roku hojnost dobrého vína).
The typical feature of weather lore is its unknown origin. Weather lore of foreign origin arrived in our country especially by translation (from Latin, German etc.). Some weather lore was brought to different countries by immigrants from other countries and became domesticated there. The objective interpretation of weather lore is not simple, because we need to know:
a) the place or area of origin
b) the time of origin (a weather lore valid in the time of origin may be not valid nowadays)
c) the right sense (different meaning of words, comparisons or customs, a rhyme that makes a content difficult to understand)
When comparing English and Czech weather lore, the English one seem to be written in more poetic language and they seem to be longer than the Czech one. Czech weather lore is usually written in short sentences. On following pages the examples of Czech and English weather lore will be introduced and its differences and similarities will be compared.