St. Swithin's Day, on 15th July, is a day on which people closely watch the weather. That’s because according to tradition whatever the weather is like on St. Swithin's Day, it will continue for the next forty days. This weather-rhyme is well known throughout the British Isles since Elizabethan times:
'St. Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St. Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mair.”
Why do people watch the weather on St. Swithin's day?
St Swithin was a 9th Century bishop. Legend has it that he asked to be buried outside Winchester Cathedral when he died but his remains were dug up 9 years later on 15th July, 971 and moved inside the building. This act is said to have coincided with 40 days and 40 nights of violent storms, indicating his displeasure at being moved. This led to the old wives' tale that if it rains on St Swithin's Day, it will rain for the next 40 days while a fine 15th July will be followed by 40 days of dry weather.
However, according to the Met Office, this old wives' tale is nothing more than a myth. It’s been put to the test on 55 occasions when it’s been wet on St Swithin's Day and 40 days of rain did not follow!