Diploma thesis


Weather lore related to clouds and moisture



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3.3Weather lore related to clouds and moisture

Moisture in the air as well as well as the visual results of this moisture - fog and clouds - are good signs of what the weather will be in the near future. Weather lore related to humidity may, therefore, be accurate predictors:

A summer fog for fair,

A winter fog for rain.

A fact most everywhere,

In valley or on plain.”
A similar weather lore which relates rather to dew than to fog is:
When the dew is on the grass,

Rain will never come to pass.

When grass is dry at morning light,

Look for rain before the night.”
If there is no dew on the grass, it can either mean that the sky is cloudy or the breeze is strong and both of these may mean rain.
Rainbow in the morning, Shepherds take warning.

Rainbow at night, Shepherd’s delight.”
Apparently this is an American proverb with the European version substituting “shepherd” for “sailor”. Rainbows always occur in the part of the sky opposite the sun. Most storms come out of the west, that is why a rainbow in the western sky is thought to be a sign of a rain. A rainbow in the eastern sky is the sign that a rain is over.
A lot of weather lore tells about the colour of the sky in the morning and in the evening, here are some of them:
Evening red and morning gray,

Two sure signs of one fine day.”
Evening red and weather fine.

Morning red, of rain’s a sign.”

An evening gray and a morning red



Will send the shepherd wet to bed.“
The sayings which contain ”evening red, morning grey” are among the more widely-recognized of all weather lore.
The similar weather lore is:
Evening red and morning gray

Helps the traveler on his way.

Evening gray and morning red

Brings down rain upon his head.”

Lacinová introduces this weather lore as a proverb about weather.

Večerní červánky a kalné ráno pomáhají poutníku na cestě. Kalný večer a ranní červánky snášejí déšť na jeho hlavu“ (Lacinová, 1996: 162)



3.4Weather lore about air pressure

A lot of weather lore is based on changes in air pressure or the wind. They may accurately predict the weather. Air pressure and wind are weather indicators that may determine future weather conditions over the short term. Here are a few examples:


When the wind is out of the east,

Tis neither good for man nor beast.”

Lacinová introduces this weather lore as a proverb:

Když vítr fouká od východu, znamená pro všechny nevýhodu”(Lacinová, 1996:164).


Fish bite least with wind in the east.“

General rule in the United States states that winds coming from a westerly direction signifies good weather. It is just an unverified opinion that fish react to the direction of the wind.

Lacinová introduces very similar weather proverb:

When the wind is west, the fish bite best” (Lacinová, 1996:164).

„Když je západní vítr, ryby berou nejlíp”.
Cats and dogs eat grass before a rain.”

When the air pressure changes, the animals may sometimes have a stomach problems and they feel sick, that is why they eat grass in order to relief their gastrointestinal distress. There is similar weather lore in Czech language which tells about dogs that eat grass before the rain comes. The different feature between them is that people in Czech do not say anything about cats that eat grass before raining.


I know ladies by the score

Whose hair foretells the storm;

Long before it begins to pour

Their curls take a drooping form.”

This weather lore tells about human hair, especially blonde ones that have a tendency to become longer as the humidity rises. This causes that a naturally-curly hair may droop. It may also cause straight hair to curl up a little. I have not found any similar Czech weather lore.



3.5General weather lore


When ladybugs swarm,

Expect a day that’s warm.”
The above saying may be true because lady bugs store heat in their shells. If it gets too warm, they start flying to dissipate the heat. Of course, this means it is already warm, not that it is going to be warm. I have not found any similar Czech weather lore.
The following examples of weather lore will be divided according to the seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter). To each season the most important and famous weather lore will be introduced. The most weather lore relates to winter in both Czech and English languages and that is why we will deal with winter weather lore the most.
An earlier man seemed to have been more worried about what winter would bring than any other season. He was dependent on signs of nature to tell him what to expect during the winter months. For him the most important was to prepare himself, his family and animals to survive winter that could have been long and harsh. A lot of proverbs deal with Old Man winter. For example, for every fog in August there will be a snowfall in winter or when one hears the first cicada of the summer it means that the first frost day will be in exactly ninety days. The following examples of weather lore will be dealing with predicting the weather in winter:
It will be a hard winter if smoke from the chimney flows towards or settles on the ground.“
The number of days old the moon is at the first snow, tells how many snows there will be that winter.“
The closer the new moon to Christmas Day, the harder the winter.“
At least three severe fogs in June or July mean early snow.“
A warm November is the sign of a bad winter.“

Two frosts and lots of rain mean cold weather is near.“

Along hot summer means a long cold winter.“
Lots of low rolling thunder in the late fall means a bad winter.“
Thunder in the fall foretells a cold winter.“
Weather lore dealing with winter is numerous in Czech language as well. The following examples of weather lore refers to the most famous feasts celebrated in our country. The most well-known are probably feasts celebrated in December and January.

The following weather lore is relating to the lengthening of a white day:


Na Štědrý den o vlas, na Nový Rok o klas.”

Na Nový Rok o slepičí krok.”

Na Nový Rok o slepičí kvok.”

Na nový rok o zaječí skok.”

Na Nový rok o slepičí krok, na Tři krále o skok dále.”

Na Nový Rok o slepičí krok, na Tři krále o dva kroky dále.”

Na Nový Rok o slepičí krok, na Tři krále o další krok dále, na Hromnice o hodinu více.”
The following weather lore relates to thunderstorms in January:
Hřmí-li aneb hrom tepe ledna měsíce, hojnost obilí a boj toho léta to vyznamenává.”

Ledna měsíce bude-li hřmíti, tehdy veliké větry a hojnost obilí, a boj toho léta znamená a nesnáz veliků mezi lidmi.”

Když v lednu hřímá, přijde ještě tuhá zima.”

Když v lednu hrom ozve se, hojnost vína je k očekávání.”

The traditional festival celebrated in United States and Canada is called the Groundhog Day, in Czech called Hromnice (February 2nd).

The traditional weather lore tell that if a goundhog emerges from its burrow this day and can not see its shadow because of clouds in the sky, the winter will be soon over. On the other hand if a groundhog can see its shadow because the sky is clear and bright, it will become frightened and go back into its hole. In this case the winter will continue for six more weeks.

This weather lore has its roors sometimes around the fifth century. In that time the Eropean Celts believed that animals had certain ”supernatural” powers on special days that were halfway between the December Slolstice/Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox.

Folklore from France and Germany said that if bears and groundhogs come out too early of their winter holes, they were frightened by their shadows and returned back to their holes for another six weeks.

The formerly pagan festival started to be called also Candlemas when Christianity came into being.

In the United States the tradition is based on a Scottish poem:

''As the light grows longer''

''The cold grows stronger''

''If Candlemas be fair and bright''

''Winter will have another flight''

''If Candlemas be cloud and rain''

''Winter will be gone and not come again''

''A farmer should on Candlemas day''

''Have half his corn and half his hay''

''On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop''

''You can be sure of a good pea crop."
In Western countries the official day of spring is 20th or 21st March, that means about six weeks after Groundhog Day. One thousand years ago, the spring equinox fell on 16th March instead, which was exactly six weeks after Groundhog Day. This day occured exactly six weeks before spring.

A lot of weather lore about Candlemas occurs in Czech language as well. This feast falls on fortieth day after the birth of Christ. It was introduced by the Pope Gelasius in the year 494 and it substituted pagan festivals, so-called luperkálie. Candlemas, which means candles, sacred on this day, were lightened up during thunderstorms and hailstorms to protect a house from lightning and a crop from destruction. They were also put into hands of dying people.

Here are several examples of weather lore concerning Candlemas in the Czech Republic:

Jest-li na Hromnice bouřlivo a sněžení, jistě již jaro daleko není.“

Chumelice na Hromnice končí zimou tuhou, jestli pak jasný den, očekávej druhou!”

Hromnice-li jasné a čisté, potrvá zima déle jistě.“

Na Hromnice krásný den předpovídá pěkný len.“

Pak-li o Hromnicích jasno bývá, jistě potom zima dodržívá, jestli ale bouřlivo a sněžení, jistě už jaro daleko není.“

Svítí-li slunce na Hromnice, bude zimy o šest neděl více.“

Vyjde-li jezevec o Hromnicích z díry, za čtyři neděle zpátky zas pílí.“

Přejdou-li Hromnice, je konec sanice.“

Je-li na Hromnice světlý den, bude konopí i len.“

Na Hromnice-li uhlédne jezevec svůj stín, jistě opět brzo zalézá do své peleše.“

This weather lore about Candlemas is the most similar to the American weather lore about Groundhog Day. It says exactly the same prognosis.

Another popular festival which is celebrated in both United States and Czech Republic is the day of St Valentin (February 14th).

Valentin was the Roman priest. The Roman Emperor Claudius II abandoned all engagements and marriages because of wars, for Rome to have enough soldiers. In spite of this Valentine reveled anyway, that is why the Emeror let him dungeon. He had an ability to cure ill people in a mysterious and unexplained manners. He managed to bring back the eyesight to the blind daughter of a jailor and before his execution he left her a letter signed “from Yours Valentine”.

He was often confused with another people of the same name. He is a patron of young people,love, lovers, travellers, beekeepers, he speaks for a good marriage and he is also a protector from the plague. He is usually pictured as a priest with a sword.

Valentine's Day has its tradition also in the United Kingdom. In Norfolk a person which is called 'Jack' Valentine knocks on the rear doors of houses and he is leaving there presents and sweets for children.

In the Czech Republic as well as in America people who are in love usually send cards to each other where they express their inner feelings to their loving partner.

Here are some examples of weather lore relating to the feast of St. Valentine:


Na svatého Valentýna zamrzne i kolo mlýna.“

Svatý Valentýnek, jara tatínek.“

Je-li na svatého Valentýna hvězdnatá obloha, bude pozdní jaro.“

O svatém Valentinku, sej přísadu do záhonku.“

Na svatého Valentina nemá hospodyně nasazovat husy, neboť by nebyla dobrá housata.“



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