“If the deer rise up dry and lie down dry on St Billions Day… there will be a good goose harvest.”
There are many old folk sayings and superstitions about the days of the year, they are usually feature our concerns with the weather, either forecasting or imploring good weather, major concerns for a largely rural folk. For most of us though, the weather is at worst an inconvenience to our plans as we are not so directly dependent upon it for our livelihood, and yet most of us will know what it means if it rains on St Swithin’s Day, even if we have no idea when that is nor who he was.*
A yet more famous superstition has to do with the turning of the month. There are two sayings relating to the First day of the month that I remember from my days in the school playground, and not with any fondness for the first at least with its accompanying bruisings – “pinch, punch, first of the month”, and the more private primal uttering of the day – “white rabbit”.
According to sources older even than I, the first word you should speak out loud on the first day of each month is “rabbit”. I don’t know whether the interpolated “white” was a local tradition or a consequence of the popularity of Lewis Carroll. A less familiar superstition relates to the last day of the month states that the final word you should utter each month is “Hare”. I was surprised to discover this recently because the hare was anciently in Britain a taboo animal that even uttering the word was considered unlucky. If anyone reading this has heard of this superstition or better still, observes it, please let me know.
Thank you for reading, and Pinch, Punch, First of the month. No returns.
*St Swithin was the bishop of Winchester from about 854 CE and his feast day is 15th July
Durer: Young hare