The Everyday Lore Project

11 November 2020 – Martinmas

11 November 2020 – Martinmas

I’m having a moment of déjà vu. About ducks. On Samhain it was: 

If ducks do slide at Hollantide, at Christmas they will swim;
If ducks do swim at Hollantide, at Christmas they will slide.

But on Martinmas, Martlemas, today, it’s:

If ducks do slide at Martinmas, at Christmas they will swim;
If ducks do swim at Martinmas, at Christmas they will slide

It’s that old Julian Gregorian hot shoe calendar shuffle again. Anyhow, while no floundering fowl were to be found, it is lashing it down, just like it was on Samhain. So that’s two for two for a white, or at least icy, Christmas.

But just so as I don’t repeat myself with birds, here’s another Martinmas weather prediction. With birds. Which is also virtually the same:

Ice before Martinmas, enough to bear a duck.
The rest of winter, is sure to be but muck!

Slightly cryptic. Now admittedly the weather so far has not presented me with the opportunity for a spot of mallard tossing at frozen bodies of water, but I’m not quite sure if that means the coming winter is going to be okay. At least the other rhymes gave a relatively clear alternative.

And finally, and without a feather in sight:

If leaves fall not by Martinmas Day, a cruel winter’s on its way.

Which doesn’t sound good at all given all the trees round here are still quite heavily loaded. And add to that all the swimming ducks, it might be time for me to check my thermals for moths.

But enough with the weatherlore, I think I might switch from Martinmas to Martinalia, and indulge in a little Bacchus inspired, traditional Saxon toast. Although I think I’ll give the Feast of Gut-puddings a miss. 


Header: Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Hazlitt, W.C. (1995) The Dictionary of Faiths and Folklore, Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs, London, Bracken Books

Simpson, J. and Roud, S. (2001) Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore, Oxford, Oxford University Press

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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