Winter is here in Appalachia. Solstice has come and gone, and the New Year looms just ahead. There is much beautiful solstice lore and tradition from around the world, but what about the time that comes next? Sone of the things I love most about my home in Appalachia are the esoteric traditions that have persisted despite the march of time and the homogenization of culture.
The Twelve Days of Christmas have always fascinated me as a child, for in my family we did not recognize these, and the time between Christmas and Epiphany on January 6th felt like a sort of lost time. A time between. In Appalachia there is a tradition of weather prediction done during the 12 days of Christmas starting on December 25th and ending on January 6th. They are known as the Ruling days and I am so interested to learn more about this strange and beautiful divination.
Esoterically the midwinter and solstice period of Yule and the Twelve Days is known as 'the in-between time' or 'the time between time'. The Sun appears to stand still in the sky while the old year is dying and the new year is awaiting its birth. It is a strange and magickal time, still seen in secular society's tales of 'Christmas Magic' and 'miracles'. I believe these are persisting folk memories of the ancient past when midwinter was a magickal and unearthly time where divinations were performed and people drew together and inward.
While many divinations at this time of year were focused on matters of love and relations, weather predictions were also done extensively. One of the most interesting things done in Winter is called observing the “Ruling Days”. These are the twelve days of Christmas, or December 25th till January 6th. The weather observed on these twelve days can be used to determine the weather of the approaching year’s twelve months.
December 25th predicts the weather of January, December 26th predicts February and so on until you get to January 6th. Write down the weather each day during the Ruling days and see what is to come for each of the corresponding months. Was it correct? You may be surprised.
Rains during the Ruling Days foretells a wet year, and a windy Christmas Day means the trees will bear much fruit. Any thunder during these days brings much snow the rest of Winter. If it snows on Christmas night, the crops will do well. A clear, bright sun on Christmas day foretells a peaceful year and plenty. On Christmas Day, if ice hangs on the willow tree, the clover will be ready for harvest at Easter time. Christmas day weather can also predict the weather of holidays to come. For example, snow on Christmas, Easter green; green on Christmas, Easter white.
From one of my favorite blogs, Blind Pig and Acorn,
“And some of these predictions are in rhyme, the better to remember them: “If Christmas on a Sunday be, a windy winter we will see.” “As the hours of sun on Christmas Day, as many frosts will be in the month of May.”
The months preceding the Winter can also be observed to divine the winter’s prognosis. There will be as many snows the following Winter as there are rains in August. The sky and the moon can tell you as well, ”Clear moon, frost soon.” The origin of this practice is not entirely known, but it is most likely based on Indigenous weather prediction practices that settlers adopted and augmented with their own cultural beliefs upon arriving in Appalachia.
Have you ever heard older folks talk about the Ruling days?
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