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D.E. Marvin, comp. Curiosities in Proverbs. 1916.

Weather Proverbs

A cloudy sky on Friday and Saturday, says Bhadarri, is a sure precursor of rain. (Behar).
“Bhaddar,” Mr. John Christian tells us, “was a local poet of some fame. He interpreted the signs of the seasons in rhymes which have passed into proverbs…. When very young he was stolen from his home in Shhabad by a famous magician or astrologer, who carried him away to his country and adopted him. Bhaddar became so thoroughly proficient in astrology and all the mystic arts, that his patron gave him his daughter in marriage.”

A fine Saturday, a fine Sunday; a fine Sunday, a fine week. (English).
“Fine on Friday, fine on Sunday; wet on Friday, wet on Sunday.” (French). “There is never a Saturday without some sunshine.” (English).

A foul morn may turn to a fine day. (English).
See Proverb: “If it rains before seven, ’twill cease before eleven.”
“A misty morning may have a fine day.” “Cloudy mornings turn to clear evenings.” “Rain before seven, clear before eleven.” “If rain begins at early morning light, ’twill end ere day, at noon is bright.” (English). “Morning rains are soon past.” (French). “When it rains in the morning, it will be fine at night.” “When it rains about the break of day, the traveller’s sorrows pass away.” (Chinese). “Three foggy or misty mornings indicate rain.” (American: Western U. S.)

A flood in the river means fine weather. (Welsh).
“A river flood, fishes good.” (Spanish).

After a rainy winter follows a fruitful spring. (English).
“If there is much rain in winter, the spring is generally dry.” (Greek). “Rain in September is good for the farmer, but poison to the vine growers.” (German).

After clouds a clear sun. (Latin).
“After clouds clear weather.” “A southerly wind and a cloudy sky proclaim it a hunting morning.” “When clouds after rain disperse during the night, the weather will not remain clear.” “Cloudy mornings turn to clear evenings.” “When the clouds of the morn to the west fly away, you may conclude on a settled fair day.” “If clouds be bright, ’twill clear tonight; if clouds be dark, ’twill rain, do you hark?” “If the sky beyond the clouds is blue, be glad, there’s a picnic for you.” (English).

After rain comes heat. (Welsh).

A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard. (English, Scotch, Danish).
See Christmas and Easter Proverbs and Contradicting Proverbs: “A black Christmas makes a fat churchyard.”
“Many slones, many groans.” When there is abundant fruit on the black thorn, there will follow a hard winter with much poverty and suffering. “Many nits, many pits.” When the nut trees are full of nuts, one may expect a large number of deaths and burials. “When roses and violets flourish in autumn, it is an evil sign of plague and pestilence during the following year.” (English).
John Ray, commenting on this proverb, declared that there was no great mortality nor epidemic in England during the summer and autumn of 1667, yet the preceding winter was unusually mild and that the last great plague that visited the country followed a very severe and frosty winter.

A mackerel sky never holds three days dry. (English).
“Mackerel sky, mackerel sky, never long wet and never long dry.” “Mackerel clouds in sky, expect more wet than dry.” “A mackerel sky is as much for wet as ’tis for dry.” “Mackerel scales, furl your sails.” “A mackerel sky, not twenty-four hours dry.” “A mackerel sky denotes fair weather for that day, but rain a day or two after.” “Mackerel sky and mares’ tails make lofty ships carry low sails.” (English).
“It is still an article of belief even among educated people that what is called a mackerel sky prognosticates wet. In Scotland they hold the same thing of the clouds when they present three distinct shades. In Carr’s Dialect of Craven, 1828, i., 221, it is said that Hen Scrattins are ‘small and circular white clouds denoting rain or wind. A friend informs me,’ says the writer, ‘that it is usual in Devonshire for the people to say, “See mackerel backs and horse-tails,” as indicative of rain or wind.’”—C. Carew Hazlitt.

A March wisher is never a good fisher. (English, Scotch).
March, when blustering and stormy, is not a good month for fishing.

An evening red and a morning grey, two sure signs of one fair day. (English).
See Matt. xvi:2, 3.
“An evening grey and a morning red will send a shepherd wet to bed.” “Evening grey and morning red make the shepherd hang his head.” “Evening grey and morning red, put on your hat or you’ll wet your head.” “A red evening and a white morning, rejoice the pilgrim.” (English). “A red evening and a grey morning set the pilgrim a-walking.” (Italian). “An evening red and morning grey make the pilgrim sing.” (French). “Evening red and weather fine; morning red, of rains a sign.” (German). “The evening red and morning grey are the tokens of a bonnie day.” (Scotch). “A red sky in the morning, occasional showers; a red sky in the evening, fine weather is ours.” (Welsh).

A rainbow in the morn, put your hook in the corn; a rainbow at eve, put your hook in the sheave. (English).
“If the rainbow comes at night, the rain has gone quite.” “A rainbow in the morning is the shepherd’s warning; a rainbow at night is the shepherd’s delight.” (English). This last proverb is sometimes given in the following rhyme:

  • “The rainbow in the morning
  • Is the shepherd’s warning
  • To carry his coat on his back;
  • The rainbow at night
  • Is the shepherd’s delight
  • For then no coat will he lack.”
  • “Rainbow to windward, foul fall the day; rainbow to leeward, damp runs away.” (English). “Rainbows with the new moon, rain until the end.” (Welsh). “The rainbow has but a bad character, she ever commands the rain to cease.” “If there’s a rainbow at eve, it will rain and leave.” “The boding shepherd heaves a sigh, for see, a rainbow spans the sky.” “When rainbow does not touch water, clear weather will follow.” (American). “If the rainbow appears when the rain has just begun, the earth will be filled; if at the end, it is a sign that the rain will stop.” (Behar).
  • “The weather’s taking up now
  • For yonder’s the weather gaw;
  • How bonny is the east now!
  • Now the colors fade awa’.”
  • Scotch Rhyme.
  • The weather gaw—i.e., a fragment of a rainbow.
  • “A weather-gall at morn, fine weather all gone;
  • A rainbow towards night, fair weather in sight.
  • Rainbow at night, sailor’s delight;
  • Rainbow in morning, sailors take warning.”
  • English Nautical Rhyme.
  • “If the partridge sings when the rainbow
  • Spans the sky,
  • There is no better sign of wet than when
  • It isn’t dry.”
  • Spanish Rhyme.
  • At twelfth day, the days are lengthened a cock’s stride. (Italian).
    “Some say that, if on the twelfth of January the sun shine, it foreshows much wind. Others predict by St. Paul’s Day (January 25th), saying if the sun shine it betokens a good year; if it rain or snow, indifferent; if misty, it predicts great dearth; if it thunder, great winds and death of people that year.”—Shepherd’s Almanac (1676).

    A wet year will make a full barn, but not of corn. (Welsh).
    “After a wet year a cold one.” “A dry year never starves itself.” (English). “A dry year never beggars the master.” “A bad year comes in swimming.” (French). “Misty year, year of cornstalks.” (Spanish).

    Better be bitten by a snake, than to feel the sun in March. (English).
    “March flowers make no summer bowers.” “March damp and warm will do farmer much harm.” (English). “A dry March never brings its bread.” “March grass never did good.” (American). “When flies swarm in March, sheep come to their death.” “When gnats dance in March, it brings death to sheep.” (Dutch). “The March sun wounds.” (Spanish). “Better slaughter in the country than March should come in mild.” (Manx).

    Bullion’s Day, gif ye be fair, for forty days ’twill rain nae mair. (Scotch).
    St. Martin Bullion’s, July fourth.
    “If Bullion’s Day be dry, there will be a good harvest.” “If the deer rise dry and lie down dry on Bullion’s Day, there will be a good gose harvest.” “Gose” refers to the latter part of summer. (Scotch).

    Comets bring cold weather. (English).
    In France comets are thought to improve the grape crop, and wine that is made during the year of their appearance is called “Comet Wine.”

    Expect not fair weather in winter from one night’s ice. (English).

    Good signs of rain don’t always he’p de young crops. (American Negro).

    Hail brings frost with its tail. (English).

    Hark! I hear the asses bray, we shall have some rain today. (English).

    Hen scarts and filly tails make lofty ships wear low sails. (English, Scotch).
    “If clouds look as if scratched by a hen, get ready to reef your topsails then.” (English Sailors’ Proverb).

    If cold at St. Peter’s Day, it will last longer. (English).
    It is also said that “The night of St. Peter’s (February 22nd) shows what the weather will be for the next forty days.”

    If it rains before seven, ’twill cease before eleven. (English).
    See Proverb: “A foul morn may turn to a fine day.”
    The following weather signs are held by some to be trustworthy:
    If it rains before daybreak it will cease before eight o’clock in the morning.
    If it rains before the sun shines it will rain the next day.
    If it rains between eight and nine o’clock in the morning it will rain till noon.
    If rain begins about noon it will continue through the afternoon.
    If rain begins after nine o’clock in the evening it will rain the next day.
    If rain begins an hour before daybreak it will probably rain all day.
    If rain begins about five o’clock in the evening it will rain all night.
    If rain ceases after midnight it will rain the next day.
    If rain ceases before midnight it will be clear the next day.
    If rain does not cease before noon it will continue till evening.
    There are many other rain signs more or less conflicting.

    If red the sun begins his race, expect that rain will flow apace. (English).
    “A red sun has water in his eye.” (English).

  • “The side being red at evening
  • Forshewes a faire and cleare morning;
  • But if the morning riseth red,
  • Of wind and raine we shall be sped.”
  • A. Fleming.
  • If robins are seen near houses, it is a sign of rain. (English).

  • “If the robin sings in the bush,
  • Then the weather will be coarse;
  • If the robin sings on the barn,
  • Then the weather will be warm.”
  • Old English Rhyme.
  • If the cock drink in summer it will rain a little after. (Italian).
    Cocks are said to clap their wings in an unusual way, and to crow more than usual and at an earlier hour, just before rain.
    “If the cock goes crowing to bed, he’ll certainly rise with a watery head.” (English).

  • “If the cock moult before the hen,
  • We shall have weather thick and thin;
  • But if the hen moult before the cock,
  • We shall have weather as hard as a block.”
  • Old English Rhyme.
  • If the crow speak by night and the jackal by day there will be either a rain storm or an inundation. (Behar).

    If the first three days of April be foggy, rain in June will make the lanes boggy. (English).

    If the first thunder is from the east the winter is over. (Zuni Indians).
    “After the first thunder comes the rain.” “If the first thunder is in the east, aha! the bear has stretched his right arm forth, and the winter is over.” “With the first thunder the gods rain upon the petals.” “If the first thunder is in the south, aha! the bear has stretched his right leg in his winter bed.” “If the first thunder is in the west, aha! the bear has stretched his left arm in his winter bed.” “When the clouds rise in terraces of white, soon will the country of the corn priests be pierced with the arrows of rain.” “With the rain of the north-east comes the ice fruit”—hail. “When frogs warble, they herald rain.” “The west rain comes from the world of waters to moisten the home of the She Wi.” “The moon, her face if red be, of water speaks she.” “When the butterfly comes, comes also the summer.” “When the dew is seen shining on the leaves, the mist rolled down from the mountains last night.” “When the sun sets sadly, the morning will be angry.” “When the sun is in his house (surrounded by a halo), it will rain soon.” “The moon if in house be, cloud it will, rain soon will come.”—Zuni Indian Weather Sayings (U.S. Signal Service Notes IX. Weather Proverbs).

    If the halo is seen round the moon on Sunday (night), it will rain the day following; if on Thursday, (it will rain) the day following; and if on Tuesday, (it will rain) on the eighth day. (Behar).
    “Far burr (halo), near rain; near burr, far rain.” “Bigger the ring, nearer the wet.” “The moon with a circle brings water in her beak.” “A lunar halo indicates rain, and the number of stars enclosed, the number of days of rain.” “When the wheel is far, the storm is n’ar; when the wheel is near, the storm is far.” (English). “When round the moon there is a brugh (halo), the weather will be cold and rough.” “A far brugh, a near storm.” (Scotch). “Circle near, water far; circle far, water near.” (Italian). “A halo round the moon is a sign of wind.” (Chinese).

    If the oak’s before the ash, then you’ll only get a splash; if the ash precedes the oak, then you may expect a soak. (English and Scotch).
    It is a common belief that one can tell whether the summer will be dry or wet by the leafing of the trees. Another English saying asserts that “If the oak is out before the ash, ’twill be a summer of wet and splash; but if the ash is before the oak, ’twill be a summer of fire and smoke”—which has been abbreviated by the Kentish folk to “Oak smoke, ash squash.” Other forms of the saying are found in different parts of England and Scotland. The only proverb related to the above that can be relied upon is used in Surrey where the people say, “If the oak before the ash come out, there has been or there will be drought.”

    If the Pleiades rise fine they set rainy, and if they rise wet they set fine. (Swahilian).

    If there be neither snow nor rain, then will be dear all sorts of grain. (English).

    If there’s ice in November that will bear a duck, there’ll be nothing after but sludge and muck. (English).
    “Ice in November brings mud in December.” “If the ice will bear a goose before Christmas, it will not bear a duck after.” “If the geese at St. Martin’s Day (November 11th) stand on ice, they will walk in mud on Christmas.” (English).

  • “If ducks do slide at Hollantide,
  • At Christmas they will swim;
  • If ducks do swim at Hollantide,
  • At Christmas they will slide.”
  • If you see a cloudless night and a cloudy day, be sure, says Ghgh, “that the rains are at an end.” (Behar).

    In the wane of the moon, a cloudy morning bodes a fair afternoon. (English).

    It is better to see a troop of wolves than a fine February. (French).
    “Warm February, bad hay crop; cold February, good hay crop.” “All the months in the year curse a fair Februeer.” “The Welshman had rather see his dam on the bier, than to see a fair Februeer.” “February singing never stints stinging.” “A February spring is not worth a pin.” “February fill the dyke, weather either black or white; but if it be white, it’s better to like.” “In February if thou hearest thunder, thou wilt see a summer’s wonder.” (English). “One would rather see a wolf in February than a peasant in his shirt sleeves.” (German). “If in February there be no rain, ’tis neither good for hay nor grain.” (Spain, Portugal). “February rain is only good to fill ditches.” “February rain is as good as manure.” “Snow in February puts little wheat in the granary.” (French). “Snow which falls in the month of February puts the usurer in a good humour.” (Italian). “When it rains in February it will be temperate all the year.” (Spanish). “When February gives snow, it fine weather foreshows.” (Norman French).

    It never thunders but it rains. (English).

    It will be the same weather for nine weeks as it is on the ninth day after Christmas. (Swedish).

    March dry, good rye; March wet, good wheat. (English).
    “March rainy, April windy, and then June will come beautiful with flowers.” (Spanish). “A dry March, wet April, and cool May, fill barn, cellar, and bring much hay.” (English).

    Mist in spring is worse than poison. (Welsh).
    “Mist in spring is a sign of snow.” “Mist in summer is a sign of heat.” “Mist in autumn is a sign of rain.” “Mist in winter is a sign of snow.” (Welsh).

    North-west is far the best, north-east is bad for man and beast. (English).
    There are a vast number of proverbial sayings about wind and weather; a few only are here given: “Look not, like the Dutchman, to leeward for fine weather.” “Wind roaring in chimney, rain to come.” “A veering wind, fair weather; a backing wind, foul weather.” “If the wind be hushed with sudden heat, expect heavy rain.” “A high wind prevents frost.” “A northern air brings weather fair.” “Do business with men when the wind is in the north-west.” “When the wind is from the east, it is four and twenty hours at least.” “An easterly wind’s rain makes fools fain.” “The wind in the West suits everyone best.” “Wind west, rain’s nest.” “When wind is west, health is best.” “A western wind carrieth water in his hand.” (English). “No weather ill, if the wind be still.” (English and Scotch). “A west wind, north about, never hangs lang out.” (Scotch). “A north wind has no corn.” (Spanish). “Great heat brings wind.” “The east wind breaks up the frost.” (Chinese). “A north wind with new moon will hold until the full.” (American). “North wind show de cracks in de house.” (American Negro). “If the east wind blows in Swan (July and August), sell your bullocks and buy cows.” There will be no ploughing. “If the west wind blow in Swan for only two or three days, rice will grow even behind your hearth.” “When the wind blows from all quarters, there is hope of rain.” (Behar).
    The following Zuni Indian sayings, as given in the Notes of the United States Signal Service, Note IX., will be of interest:
    “Wind from the North, cold and snow.
    Wind from the Western river of the Northland (Northwest wind), snow.
    Wind from the world of waters (West wind), clouds.
    Wind from the Southern river of the world of waters (South-west wind), rain.
    Wind from the land of the beautiful red (South wind), lovely odours and rain.
    Wind from the wooden cañons (South-east wind), rain and moist clouds.
    Wind from the land of day, it is the breath of health and brings the days of long life.
    Winds from the lands of cold (North-east wind), the rain before which flees the harvest.
    Winds from the lands of cold (North-east wind), the fruit of ice.
    Wind from the right hand of the West is the breath of the God of Sand Clouds.”

  • “The west wind always brings wet weather,
  • The east wind cold and wet together,
  • The south wind surely brings us rain,
  • The north wind blows it back again.”
  • Old English Rhyme.
  • “When the wind is in the East, then the fishes bite the least;
  • When the wind is in the West, then the fishes bite the best;
  • When the wind is in the North, then the fishes do come forth;
  • When the wind is in the South, it blows the bait in the fish’s mouth.”
  • Old English Rhyme.
  • “When the wind is in the North, hail comes forth;
  • When the wind is in the West, look for wat blast;
  • When the wind’s in the Soud, the weather will be fresh and gude;
  • When the wind is in the East, cauld and snow comes meist.”
  • Old Scotch Rhyme.
  • “Winter
  • “North winds send hail, South winds bring rain,
  • East winds we bewail, West winds blow amain;
  • North-east is too cold, South-east not too warm,
  • North-west is too bold, South-west does no harm.
  • Spring
  • The North is a noyer to grass of all suits;
  • The East a destroyer to herb and all fruits.
  • Summer
  • The South, with his showers, refresheth the corn;
  • The West to all flowers may not be forlorne.
  • Autumn
  • The West, as a father, all goodness doth bring;
  • The East, a forbearer, no manner of things;
  • The South, as unkind, draweth sickness too near;
  • The North, as a friend, maketh all again clear.
  • With temperate wind, we blessed be of God,
  • With tempest we find we are beat with His rod;
  • All power, we know, to remain in His hand,
  • However wind blow, by sea or by land.”
  • Thomas Tusser.
  • On St. Michaelmas Day the devil puts his foot on the blackberries. (Irish).
    St. Michaelmas Day, September 29th.

    On St. Barnabas’s Day the sun comes to stay. (Spanish).
    St. Barnabas’s Day, June 11th.

    Rain before church, rain all the week little or much. (English).
    “If there is rain in the Mass, ’twill rain through the week either mair or less.” (Scotch).

    Rain in Chitra (October) destroys the fertility of the soil and is likely to produce blight. (Behar).

    Saturday’s new, and Sunday’s full was never fine, and never wool. (English).
    “If the moon change on a Sunday there will be a flood before the month is out.” “A Saturday moon if it comes once in seven years, comes once too soon.” (English). “A Wednesday’s change is bad.” (Italian). “Saturday’s moon and Sunday’s prime, once is enough in seven years’ time.” (Scotch). “If the weather on the sixth day is the same as that on the fourth day of the moon, the same weather will continue during the whole moon.” (Spanish).

    So far as the sun shines on Christmas Day, so far will the snow blow in May. (German).
    “If the sun shine through the apple tree on Christmas Day, there will be an abundant crop in the following year.” (English).

    St. Mamertius, St. Pancras, and St. Gervais do not pass without frost. (French).
    That is, frost is sure to come on May the eleventh, twelfth, or thirteenth.

    The barking of the fox and the flowering of the ks grass are signs of the end of the rains. (Behar).
    “The appearance of the star Canopus and the flowering of the ks grass in the forests are signs of the end of the rains.” “The ks grass and the kus grass flower on the fourth of the light half of Bhad (August and September), why do you plant out, O cultivator!” for there will be no more rain. (Behar).

    The dirt bird sings, we shall have rain. (English).
    The dirt bird—i.e., the dirt owl.

  • The screeching of an owl indicates cold or storm.
  • The hooting of an owl at night indicates fair weather.
  • The crying of an owl in storm indicates fair weather.
  • The crying of an owl in fair weather indicates storm.
  • The screaming of an owl in bad weather indicates change of weather.
  • Old Weather Signs.
  • In Syria the owl is called the “Mother of Ruins”; in China, the “Bird which Calls for the Soul”; in Ireland, the “Old Woman of the Night.”

    The first three days in January rule the coming three months. (English).
    “The month of January is like a gentleman”: As he begins so he goes on. (Spanish). “A favourable January brings us a good year.” (English).

    The full moon brings fair weather. (English).
    “The full moon eats clouds.” “The moon grows fat on clouds.” “Near full moon a misty sunrise bodes fair weather and cloudless skies.” “If the full moon rise red expect wind.”

    Thunder in spring, cold will bring. (English).
    “Early thunder, early spring.” “Lightning in summer indicates good healthy weather.” “Thunder in the fall indicates a mild open winter.” “Winter thunder bodes summer’s hunger.” (English).

  • January thunder indicates wind, corn, and cattle.
  • February thunder indicates poor maple-sugar year.
  • March thunder indicates coming sorrow.
  • In Germany thunder in March is thought to indicate a fruitful year.
  • April thunder indicates a good hay and corn crop.
  • May thunder indicates that there will be no thunder during August and September.
  • July thunder indicates that the wheat and barley will suffer harm.
  • August thunder indications do not come alone: one thunder storm will follow another.
  • September thunder indicates a good crop of grain and fruit.
  • In Germany thunder in September is thought to indicate snow in February and March and a large crop of grapes.
  • November thunder indicates that the coming year will be fertile.
  • December thunder indicates good weather.
  • Old English Weather Signs.
  • Ughun is water on the fire. (Hindustani).

  • “September and October (Coar) is but the gate of cold.
  • October and November (Cártic) ends, yet scarcely told.
  • November and December (Ughun) just lets water seethe.
  • December and January (Poos) makes us but in corners breathe.
  • January and February (Magh) lengthens by minute degrees;
  • But February and March (P’hagun) straightens out our knees;
  • Then March and April (Cheyt) the pleasant year replaces
  • And dirty fellows wash their faces.”
  • By the time it takes to boil water does the day lengthen.

    When February gives snow, it fine weather foreshows. (Norman).

    When fine weather is lost, it will come from the North. (Welsh).
    “When rain is lost, it will come from the East.”

    When small water snakes leave the sand in low damp lands, frost may be expected in three days. (Apache Indians).

    When the cat lies on its brain, it is going to rain. (English).
    “Lies on its brain”—i.e., lies on its back.
    “When a cat sneezes, it is a sign of rain.” “When a cat scratches the table legs a change in the weather is coming.” “If the cat washes her face o’er the ear, ’tis a sign the weather ’ill be fine and clear.” “When cats wipe their jaws with their feet, it is a sign of rain.” “The cardinal point to which a cat turns and waxes her face after a rain, shows the direction from which the wind will blow.” “The old woman promised a fine day on the morrow, because the cat’s skin looked bright.” “When a cat scratches itself, or scratches on a log or tree, it indicates rain.” “When sparks are seen on stroking a cat’s back, expect a change of weather.” “When a cat washes its face with its back to the fire, expect a thaw in winter.” (English). “When the cat lies in the sun in February, she will creep behind the stove in March.” (English, German). “Cats wash their faces before a thaw.” “Cats sit with their backs to the fire before snow.” “Cats scratch a wall or a post before wind.” (Scotch). “Putting a cat under a pot brings bad weather.” (Irish). “When the cat turns toward the north and licks its face the wind will soon blow from that direction.” (Greek).

    When the clouds fly like the wings of the partridge and when a widow smiles, one is going to rain and the other to marry. (Behar).

    When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen. (English).
    “As the days begin to shorten, the heat begins to scorch them.” (English).

    When there is thunder rain falls. (Marathi).
    This is not used so much as a weather proverb as a saying to indicate that when the master of the house is angry the members of his family weep.