Word of the Week: Bauernregel
Enlarge image (© dpa) As the leaves begin to golden and northerners start preparing for the cold winter months, you might hear Germans throw out a catchy phrase known as a Bauernregel. Literally translated, this word means “farmers’ rule,” but it defines any of the folk sayings and words of wisdom that deal with weather predictions.
Weather patterns are particularly important for farmers concerned about their harvest, which explains the direct translation of the word. But the general populace may also be interested in predictions for the upcoming season. Will frost harden the ground in October? Will there be a white Christmas? How will the weather affect next year’s crops?
Bauernregeln convey old German folk sayings in a witty manner, often encompassing rhymes or other literary devices. They frequently reference religious holidays and observances to make reference to a certain time period.
Enlarge image (© dpa) Centuries ago, these folk sayings were based on experiences and rarely questions. In recent times, they were often assumed to be incorrect, but toward the end of the 20th century, scientists began to statistically verify these claims. They discovered that many of the Bauernregeln established in respect to the Gregorian calendar are accurate weather and harvest predicators in the region they originated. Folk sayings based on older calendar cycles, however, have largely disappeared from common use.
In Germany, June 27 is known as Siebenschläftertag (Seven Sleepers Day). Similar to the American “Groundhog Day,” the weather on the day of June 27 is meant to predict the weather of the next seven weeks. “Ist Siebenschläfer nass, regnet’s ohne Unterlass” (If Seven Sleeper’s Day is wet, it will rain without end) is the Bauernregel associated with this day. Meteorologists have discovered that this particular Bauernregel is accurate 60-70 percent of the time.
Enlarge image (© picture alliance / akg) There are dozens of folk sayings for each month in the Gregorian calendar, and many more that apply throughout the year. Let’s take a look of common Bauernregeln that you may be inclined to use as the season changes throughout the upcoming weeks:
Bringt Oktober Frost und Wind, wird der Januar gelind. (If October brings frost and wind, January will be mild.)
Oktoberregen verspricht ein Jahr voller Segen. (Rain in October promises a year of good harvest.)
Wenn am Gallus Regen fällt, er bis Weihnachten anhält; Ist an Gallus aber trocken, folgt ein Sommer nasser Socken. (If it rains on St. Gall’s Day (Oct. 16), it will continue until Christmas; if St. Gall’s Day is dry, the coming summer will be filled with wet socks.)
Je mehr Schnee im November fällt, desto fruchtbarer wird das Feld. (The more it snows in November, the more fertile the fields will be.)
Morgengrau gibt Himmelblau. (Morning fog leads to blue skies.)
Whether or not you’re a farmer, Germany’s Bauernregeln can provide you with insight into weather patterns typically experienced between the North Sea and the Bavarian Alps.