SUNDAY, JULY 15: OK, we just can’t resist making this connection! We cover Holidays, Festivals and Anniversaries and this story has elements of all three.
St. Swithun’s Day is a rain-associated holiday that is popular way beyond the saint’s actual Christian significance. The reference has shown up in pop music, comic books, TV series (in an episode of “In Plain Sight” among others) and movies, too.
No, there’s no reference to St. Swithun in Singin’ in the Rain—but there should be this year because the Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor classic from 1952 is turning 60.
So, we’re making the connection.
Here’s some useful trivia to share with friends this week: Know the connection between St. Swithun and rain? Well, his feast day functions like a Christian-style Groundhog Day in the middle of the summer.
Bishop Swithun served at Winchester Cathedral from 852-862 CE; for such a renowned saint, his lifetime proved uneventful. Known only for charitable works and a passion for rebuilding fallen churches, St. Swithun gained some popularity for a lone miracle: rebuilding the smashed eggs of a peasant woman. Though the saint is sometimes featured with broken eggs in Christian artwork, it’s his posthumous miracles that have made him famous.
Morbid or not, St. Swithun’s feast day marks the date his remains were moved—and not his birth or death date. The story goes that Swithun requested to be buried outside the cathedral, where rain could fall “from on high” onto his grave, and passersby could walk over it. More than a century later, when Winchester was going through a reformation, he was annointed patron saint of the cathedral—and his grave was moved inside the cathedral. (Wikipedia has details.) It’s said that Swithun was so upset about this move that it rained for 40 days. St. Swithun’s remains were later split between locations, but he is still the patron of Winchester Cathedral. Get more of the English perspective from the BBC.
Here’s the traditional proverb:
St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithun’s day if thou be fair
For forty days ‘twill rain nae mare
COME ON! SING ALONG WITH GENE KELLY!
Worried about rain? Just grab an umbrella—and belt out the title tune with Gene Kelly. Never seen the movie? The 60th anniversary of the movie is celebrated nationwide on July 12, with showings in select theatres. Click the video screen below to enjoy the song … (Note: If there is no video screen in your version of this story, click here to reload the story and the screen should appear.)