From here to eternity?

“If you don’t [. . .], I’m going to kick you from here to St. Swithin’s Day!”

That’s an expression I remember, dating many decades back. I don’t recall who said it, nor do I know what it even means exactly.

I think it’s the same as when someone says “from here to next week” or “from here to Sunday.”

The odd thing is, I can’t find any mention of “from here to St. Swithin’s Day” using any available search engine. Could I have been imagining it? The line sounds like something James Cagney would have threatened in a gangster movie. If I can find any reference to it, I’ll be a dirty rat.

The reason this came to mind in the first place—and perhaps you already know it—is that today is St. Swithin’s Day. Or St. Swithun’s, depending on whom you ask.

Shame on me, an Episcopalian for 26 years, for not knowing this Anglo-Saxon bishop and saint.

This 9th century bishop of Winchester and patron saint of the Winchester Cathedral became a saint for working a miracle, as saints do. His had something to do with eggs. I can’t find many details about that either. But that’s not what his feast day is known for.

I like to think of ol’ Swithin as the groundhog of saints.

His feast day, July 15, is an occasion for predicting the weather for the next 40 days. According to legend, whatever the weather today, so it will be for the next six weeks or so. Would that it were true here in Washington; at this posting, it’s sunny and 72 degrees with low humidity.

In case you were wondering, it’s exactly the same in Winchester, England. Spooky.

I’ll leave you with something to recite to your friends today. Just rattle it off and they’ll stare at you blankly from here to St. Swithin’s Day:

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.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Holidays, Movies, Television and Radio

6 responses to “From here to eternity?

  1. Good entry! And you’re right — that does sound like Groundhog Day!

  2. Mom

    I think I’m the one to plead guilty on this one.
    A very old, old gentleman with whom I worked at the Pentagon in the 50’s introduced his name to me, with no information about him. He spoke of the saint frequently with a twinkle in his eye, and somehow the name just stuck with me. I used it often, and only because II liked the sound of the name. It does no deeper than that. Sorry.

  3. Mom

    P.S. But I really don’t think I ever threatened to kick you!

  4. Here in Hong Kong, it was raining on St Swithin’s Day (yesterday here, today where you are). If it’s going to be rainy for the next six weeks here, then good. We’re a month and a half behind in our rains and our reservoirs running a bit low. But the most important thing is, did you know that cat noses run colder on St. Swithin’s every year? Discovered by my dad. Your cat mileage may vary.

  5. Drat! Another Swithin’s Day missed, and me an Episcopalian, too! Maybe Anglicans are a little more aware of it, since they’ve had it a lot longer? Interesting post.

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