Tomorrow is November 11, the day of St. Martin. According to old Czech weather lore, it is the first day on which we can expect snowfall because Martin may arrive on a white horse. And he sometimes does. I remember being excited as a child when I looked out the window on the morning of November 11 and the ground was indeed covered with snow!
There are dozens of old Czech sayings (pranostiky) that are connected to the day of St. Martin and usually have to do with predicting the winter weather. Here are a few:
• Přijede-li svatý Martin na bílém koni, metelice za metelicí se honí. – If St. Martin arrives on a white horse, snow flurries will be plentiful.
• Na svatého Martina bývá dobrá peřina. – On St. Martin’s Day, a feather quilt will serve you well.
• Na svatého Martina zima svůj chod začíná. – St. Martin’s Day is when winter begins.
• Na stromech a révě do Martina listí – tuhá zima přijde, buďme jisti! – If there are still leaves on trees and vines on St. Martin’s Day, be sure the winter will be harsh!
• Je-li na svatého Martina pod mrakem, bude nestálá zima. Je-li jasno, bude tuhá zima. – If it’s cloudy on St. Martin’s Day, the winter will be variable. If it’s clear, the winter will be harsh.
St. Martin is an important Roman Catholic saint, known as the bishop of Tours. He lived in the years 315/316–397.
Update November 11, 2005:
The day is almost over and the weather was relatively warm here in Prague. It was 12° Celsius, mostly cloudy with some sun, and there are still quite a few leaves on trees. According to the sayings above, we should be expecting a variable to harsh winter. Hmm, so which is it?