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Everyone’s heard the adage about red sky at night, but weather predictions like these, although often accurate, are limited to the next twenty-four hours.

However, there are all sorts of stories and folklores about ways to predict the weather longer term. Although Certainly Wood doesn’t employ an old-fashioned forecaster, as a business that is seasonally dependent, if these were found to work 100% of the time, we might well consider it.

Apparently, there are all sorts of means to tell how severe the forthcoming winter is likely to be.

Many of you will have probably have heard that the more berries on a holly bush there are, the harsher the winter is likely to be. But it’s said that things like the thickness of an animal’s coat or an acorn’s shell will be a lot denser if the weather looks set to be harsh.

The colour of the breastbone of a goose after the poor animal had been cooked and the breastbone dried provided farmers with an insight as to how long winter would last. If the dry bone turned a dark blue colour over its entirety, then the prediction was for a long harsh winter but if it remained white, the season would be a mild one. If just the tips turned purple, then spring was set to be cold. Although seeming a little far-fetched, there is some sense to this means of prediction as the colour of the breastbone depended on the quantity of fat the goose had absorbed in readiness for the winter ahead.

Watching birds and squirrels in autumn is another tell-tale means to forecast the weather. Animals are said to be able to sense poor weather so the more frenzied they seem to be in their food gathering behaviour, the worse the winter ahead.

It’s also held that counting the number of mornings that start with a mist in August predict the number of snowy days there will be during the following winter.

Once snow has fallen, if you count the days until Christmas, then that’s supposed to be the number of snowfalls winter will produce that year. A white Christmas was thought to signify an early spring together with a fine Easter.

New Year’s Eve is an important time to establish the weather ahead for the entire year as this is when you can supposedly predict rainfall for each month. Between 11:00pm and midnight, you are meant to cut off the tops of a dozen onions and then scoop out a hole in the centre of each one.


These should then be lined up in an East-West direction, with each one corresponding to a month of the year – the first being January and so on. An equal amount of salt should then be placed in each hole. By the next morning the salt will have dissolved to varying degrees in each onion. The more water, the wetter the corresponding month will be in the coming year.

Other Sayings

Here are a list of other sayings and predictions we’ve collected. If you have any more, we’d love to hear about them.

The higher the clouds, the finer the weather – wispy clouds high up in the jet stream means a spell of good weather ahead.

Clear moon, frost soon – a clear sky during early spring often means a frost is on its way.

When clouds appear like tall towers, the earth is refreshed by showers – giant clouds like cauliflowers or castles suggest a lot of rain is on the way due to the activity within the cloud.

Lightning in winter, expect snow in ten days – as it says on the tin.

Mare’s tails and mackerel scales make tall ships carry low sailscirrus and cirrocumulus clouds often appear when the wind is changing because of an approaching front.

Bigger pine cones – when a bad winter is due, trees produce bigger pine cones to ensure that some of the seeds make it to the ground and don’t just end up being a handy food source for animals.

Watch your cat – if you cat sits with its back to your wood-burning stove or fire, then cold weather is on the way.

Cows lying down – scientists have now proved that cows really do lie down when the weather is going to get colder, which it often does just before rain.

If logs are sold, the winter will be cold – Certainly Wood is doing a cracking trade this year so you better put your order in soon if you don’t want to be left out in the cold.