Traditions across Europe-an eTwinning project

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, TRADITION and myth frame our response.” (Arthur Schlesinger Jr.)

Rain in May-Folk Meteorology May 4, 2008

The month of May is named after Maia, the goddess of the fertile land. She symbolizes spring and she was celebrated by sacrifices, in order to convince her to protect the useful plants from all harm.

There are many sayings and proverbs connected to this month: “Frumos ca luna mai” (As handsome as the month of May), “Mai e Rai” (May is Heaven), but the best known one is “Ploaie-n mai, avem malai.” ( Rain in May, we’ll have corn flour).This one made me think of folk meteorology, specifically of beliefs connected to rain.

According to the Romanian tales and traditions, the rain is of different forms and origins: it can either be water thrown by God on Earth, or drunk by dragons from the sea or from a river, or even the sweat of a dragon. Another belief says that Saint Ilie is riding a cart in the sky, and this cart has nails on the wheels, in order not to fall down. The nails make little holes in the sky and water there falls on earth taking the form of rain. A day very much connected to rain is the saint’s day, on July 20th, when rain and thunderstorms (thunders being the noise the cart makes) are supposed to always take place.

There are lots of predictions made on rain, starting with its duration (depending on the day it starts, for example the one starting on Monday will last a week, on Thursday- two weeks) and most of all concerning its signs and causes, because an accurate weather forecast has always been so important, especially for agriculture.

Here are some signs predicting the rain: bright halos around the sun or the moon, morning clouds in the East, clouds at moon-rise, the Morning Star is dim or the Milky Way is very bright, a morning rainbow. And some human or animal behaviour that announces or even causes it: if the pig is restlessly walking around carrying straws in his snout, if the hens are not asleep at nightfall, it means rain is very close. If one pulls out grass and weeds using his hands this might cause rain, and if one eats directly from the pot, this will bring him/her a rainy wedding day. This last one is not entirely true…

If the rain did not occur for a long time or, on the contrary, it took too long, there were religious or secular rituals to control it. The priests would hold liturgy in church, they’d ring the bells or throw the most important icon of the church in a well. As for the secular rituals, the best known is called „Paparude”, it was done for calling the rain, mainly the third Tuesday after Easter, but also in July and August, if needed. It consisted of a dance performed by young girls covered with leaves and branches, while women splashed them with water. The ritual is lost today. Another ancient magic ritual used in controlling the rain was the “Caloian”. It was used either for stopping the drought, or for bringing back the good weather and it used dolls made by young girls. This ritual is also very rare, maybe even lost.

Don’t forget that after a rainy day, there is always a rainbow and lots of sunshine!

Irina and pupils from School 92, Bucharest


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