Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bonus Post *Christmas & Winter Superstitions, Folklore & Weather lore***

* Christmas Superstitions *
source unknown

~ Snow on Christmas means Easter will be green.

~ A blowing wind on Christmas Day brings good luck.

~ Wearing new shoes on Christmas Day will bring bad luck.

~ The child born on Christmas Day will have a special fortune.

~ Place shoes side by side on Christmas Eve to prevent a quarreling family.

~ To have good health throughout the next year, eat an apple at midnight on Christmas Eve.

~ A clear star-filled sky on Christmas Eve will bring good crops in the summer.

~ Eat plum pudding on Christmas and avoid losing a friend before next Christmas.

~ On Christmas Eve all animals can speak. However, it is bad luck to test this superstition.

~ If you refuse a mince pie at Christmas dinner, you will have bad luck for the coming day.

~ Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season.

~ In Greece, some people burn their old shoes during the Christmas season to prevent misfortunes in the coming year.

~ In Devonshire, England, a girl raps at the henhouse door on Christmas Eve. If a rooster crows, she will marry within the year.

~ One must begin decorating one's house with a wreath on the front door, with no decorating to have been done before that. After the wreath is in place, the rest of the house should be decorated, working in from the front door. The wreath placed on the front door at the start will guarantee nothing but good energy enters the house, and the energy will follow the decorations within, leading into the heart of the home. The reverse is also true; the wreath should always be taken down last when removing holiday decorations.



* Winter Weather Forecasting by Woolly Worms *

by Old Wives Tales

People in many areas know that autumn has arrived when they start spotting woolly worms. One of the enduring folk tales in the United States is that a woolly worm can share insight about the upcoming winter's weather. Is there a grain of truth in this belief? First off, we need to establish what is a woolly worm. You may have also heard them called woolly bears.

Woolly worm is a common name for the larval [caterpillar] stage of a family of tiger moths. If you want to get technical, the scientific name is Pyrrhactia. Woolly worms generally are from 1 to 3 inches long and found throughout the United States. This may explain why belief in their winter prediction ability is widespread.

The woolly worms of winter weather forecasting fame are not just any ol' Pyrrhactia family member. You want to seek out the Pyrrhactia Isabella [Isabella tiger moth]! This is the woolly worm which is densely covered with bristly hair that is black at both ends of the body and light reddish-brown in the middle. The predictive area you want to observe is the brown band portion: The narrower the band, the harsher the winter. If more brown than black and the middle band leans toward orange, that indicates the winter will be mild.

As widely shared as that bit of folk lore is within the United States, experts will say that the belief is simply not true. The variations in a woolly worm's bands are due to other factors and not weatherly predictive powers. In other words, the scientific evidence does not help support that particular weather lore.

For example, the bands vary due to differences in species. The particular genus [Pyrrhactia] contains around eight different species whose larva will parade in the fall months with fashionable bristly haired coats. Some are solid black, without any bands, and others have bands of varying sizes. Yet I already shared earlier in this article that you wanted the Pyrrhactia Isabella due to the type of banding on that particular species. So could this mean the scientists think that people will easily confuse what caterpillar, out of that particular family, that they need to observe? In a way but there are other reasons they will share.

The size of bands is also be due to the stage of growth the woolly worm is in and not the weather predictions being shared. A woolly worm has six larval stages before entering the winter cocoon stage. What this means is that the caterpillar sheds its former coat, or molts, six times and this process can have the color and size of the bands vary from molt to molt. For example, older caterpillars may have more black than younger ones.

There are some year-to-year weather factors that can help determine the amount of black hair on banded woolly worms. Now don't let that get your hopes up that this is where the predictive ability of the woolly worm may come into play. Ones that ate and grew in an area where the fall weather was wetter generally have more black hair than the woolly worms from drier areas. So in essence, according the scientific community, the woolly worm cannot be fully counted on to provide an accurate peek at the upcoming winter. It may instead hint about growing in an area where the weather had been a damp or that it is getting ready to enter the pupal stage.

However, just because I shared a view point that woolly worms weather forecasting skills are more lore than fact does not mean you cannot have fun appreciating the little critter or the folk lore associated to it. Every October the town of Banner Elk in North Carolina holds a Woolly Worm Festival! The town boasts that, over the past 20 years, their "Woolly Worm Readers" have had an accuracy rate of nearly 90%. What's the secret of their accuracy? Well, first off they have to know which woolly worm to use.

And I do not mean they just rely on making sure that they have the larval Isabella tiger moth either. They host a woolly worm race where the caterpillars race upwards on strings that are three feet long. It may be an edge to train your woolly worm for this competition. However, there isn't a prerequisite that you have come to the festival with your own woolly worm for this racing event. You can try your luck by selecting a particularly speedy looking woolly worm to purchase from one of the local children.

The woolly worm that becomes champion of the Woolly Worm Race is then used by festival's "Woolly Worm Readers" to determine the official Woolly Worm Forecast for winter! If that isn't honor enough, the woolly worm's owner will also win a cash prize! [For more information, contact: Woolly Worm Festival,
PO Box 3335,
Banner Elk, NC 28604
Phone: (828) 898-5605].

The Official Site of The Wooly Worm Festival 

University of Illinois at Urban – Champaign

Iowa State University Entomology Department


* Folklore and Weather lore of Winter *

Source Unknown or Unavailable

~ Count each foggy day in August, there will be a snowfall for each.

~ If July is hot & August is exceptionally cool, it will bring a hard winter with little snow.

~ A windy December is indicated by a rainy March.

~ If October is overly warm, February will be exceptionally cold

~ If October’s full moon arrives without a frost, there won’t be front until after November’s full moon.

~ The severity of Winter can be foretold by how close to Christmas Day the new moon falls – the closer it is, the harder the Winter to come.

~ If Autumn flowers bloom late, the Winter will be bad.

~ If in August the first week is exceptionally warm, the following Winter will be very long, and bring heavy snows.

~ Expect a bad Winter if November is overly warm.

~ Watch the growth of the weeds – their height indicates how high the snow banks will be.

~ If the leaves drop early in the season, it indicates winter will be mild, however, if the leaves drop late, winter will be nasty

~ A cold Winter is indicated by thunder in the Fall.

~ Thunder during the week of Christmas foretells a rough Winter.

~ If Christmas is green, Easter will be white

~ Onion skins are an indicator of the coming Winter – if thin, the Winter will be mild, if thick & tough, Winter will be long & hard

~ Look to other fruits & vegetables , as well as wildlife for signs – thick cornhusks, tough apple skins, plentiful nuts & berries, early migration of birds, bees building very high in trees – all indications to prepare for a bad Winter.

~ If ant hills are high in July, the Winter will have lots of snow.

~ Squirrels scurrying to gather nuts indicates a fast, heavy snowfall is on the way. Holding their tails high is another indication of a long Winter.

~ Look at the breast of your Thanksgiving goose (turkey maybe..? not sure on this one…) lots of spots indicate long, cold Winter, few  spots indicates a mild Winter.

~ Have access to a partridge (not necessarily in a pear tree…)? Look at the feathers on it’s legs. The farther down they’ve grown, the more severe the Winter to come.

~ A wide brown band on a woolly bear caterpillar, says it will be a mild Winter.

~ The first snowfall coming before the ground has frozen hard indicates a mild Winter.


Disclaimer: No one involved in this blog or its contents may be held responsible for any adverse reactions arising from following any of the instructions/recipes on this list. It is the reader's personal responsibility to exercise all precautions and use his or her own discretion if following any instructions or advice from this blog.

No comments: