Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Legend of Ruling Days

You know you are deeply imbedded in a culture when you take for granted things that other people have never heard of.

That’s what I’ve had to learn along the way. And, there’s no better example of it than Ruling Days. You can call it Hillbilly Witchcraft. You can call it White Magic. Or, you may think it’s simply a load of malarkey. But, Ruling Days have been around as long I can remember.

The core idea behind Ruling Days is that certain days are predictors for weather for the upcoming year. More specifically, those days coincide with what others would call Kingdomtide or The Twelve Days of Christmas.

12 drummers drummingHere’s how it works.

According to the legend of Ruling Days, the weather on December 25th will be the predominant weather for the upcoming January. The weather on December 26th will indicate what kind of weather you will have in February. December 27th will forecast the weather for March. And, on it goes, until you get to the forecaster of the next December, which falls on Epiphany, aka January 6.

Trust me. The old folks in my neck of the woods swear by it. And, I, myself, have found it to be uncannily accurate.

I’m not an anthropologist, so I wouldn’t dare attempt to conjure a theory on how Ruling Days developed. I do know Southern Appalachia was settled by folks whom the European feudal system more or less rejected. And, so, some of the original settlers may have still had a bit of orthodoxy in them and they simply adapted it to their purposes.

I don’t know.

But, Ruling Days is a part of our culture. It’s a part that no amount of intellectualism or sophistication can take away. It’s in us, and that’s what makes it real.

by Timothy W. Hooker, author of the Sushi Tuesday blog. Tim teaches English at Cleveland State Community College [TN], is a "Point of View" moderator for WDEF-TV 12, and is the author of several works, including: "Rocket Man: A Rhapsody of Short Stories," "Duncan Hambeth: Furniture King of the South," and "Looking For A City."

Originally blogged at Appalachian History


CS said...

I have never heard of Ruling Days, but I'm going to watch the weather through to Epiphany, and mark it in my calendar to test it out.

el cabrero said...

Speaking of days, here's a great WV hillbilly tradition for helping a baby ease teething pains:

Take the inside lining of an egg laid on Good Friday and rub the affected gums.

Can't say I've tried it but it sure sounds good.

lauragayle said...

I grew up in Franklin Co. Va., and my grandpa said the weather in the new year was based on the weather on each of the first 12 days of the new year. He didn't call them "ruling days," and I don't remember that he called them anything. So glad you posted this -- I think about his tradition every new year (but I'm not so good about keeping track of it, and I should!).

Anonymous said...

If the Ruling Day for January is the 25th, then the ruling day for December would be the 5th, not the 6th. Please explain which it is.

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Anonymous said...

I would too but half of the days are gone by.