December 20, 2015

Snow Magic

There's an old New England saying that a green Christmas means a full graveyard. This is one of those classic reverse weather predictions, like a sunny Groundhog's Day indicating winter will last a long time. In this case, mild Christmas weather means the winter will be ferocious later on.

Friends in Vermont have posted pictures of snow, but we're definitely going to have a green Christmas down here in southern New England. But who knows? Myaybe we'll get walloped with snow later in the winter. Last year it was so warm and humid on Christmas that I saw a salamander on our front porch, and we all know what the rest of the winter was like for Boston.

So, in case we do get some snow this year, here are some snow charms from 19th century New England.

  • It's a sign of coming snow if your wood sizzles when you put it on the fire. 
  • The day of the month of the first snow storm indicates the number of storms in the year. So, it it snows on the 2nd you'll get two storms, if it storms on the 3rd you'll get three, etc. Let's hope the first storm doesn't happen on the 31st.
  • If the bottom of your teakettle is white when you take it off the stove, it means a snow storm is coming. 
  • Wish on the first snowflake of the season and your wish will come true. (It flurried here in October so it's too late for me!)

Those are from Fanny Bergen's book Current Superstitions (1896), but here are a few more from Clifton Johnson's What They Say in New England (1896).

  • Snow that comes in the old moon will stick around for a long time; snow that comes in the new moon will melt away fast. 
  • A snowy winter indicates a good harvest. 

Perhaps we shouldn't be too upset that we're having a green Christmas. According to Johnson, if the sun shines through the branches of an apple tree on Christmas it means there will be a good apple crop. I do like a good apple...

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