Czech Weather Lore
Written by Simon Hrbek
Before large meteorological stations and forecast people dress up in fancy suits telling all there is to know about the local climate, weather lore was all that was needed to get by. And as anyone who has ever had a taste of Czech culture can confirm, Czech people are not the kind that would give up their traditions too easily.
Weather lore, “Pranostika”, is a short sentence, or even just a couple words without any verb, used to pass around to share the wisdom of the common folk. Along with fairy tales, poetry, songs, and theater it falls under the big umbrella of “Lidova slovesnost”, a pool of oral tradition specific to each country. Weather lore, although not specifically a Czech thing, has been around for just as long as comprehensible language and human curiosity go, all based on experience and long-term observations of nature. And though it might seem a little crude to sum up a whole field of science into a couple sentences that seem to be taken straight out of a children’s book, you’ll find the majority of predictions to be surprisingly accurate.
Let’s take a look at a few:
Too much snow in January, too much hay in June.
(V lednu moc snehu, v cervnu moc sena.)
If thunder strikes in January, lots of wine is to be expected.
(Kdyz v lednu hrom se ozve, hojnost vina je v ocekavani)
There’s nothing better than thunderstorms and a meter of heavy snow to cheer you up.
Snowstorms on the celebration of Spring ends heavy winter;
if a bright day comes afterward, another one is on its way.
(Chumelice na Hromnice konci zimu tuhou;
jestli pak jasny den, ocekavej druhou.)
Some of the charm gets lost in translation.
March water-less, April grass-less.
(Brezen bez vody – duben bez travy.)
April snow is as good as shit on your field.
(Snih dubnovy jako mrva pohnoji.)
Note that that’s a good thing.
Stormy May makes a farmer’s day.
(Kdyz se v maji blyska, sedlak si vyska.)
May rain means trouble for the harvest of hay.
(Prsi-li na prvniho kvetna, byva malo zita a sena.)
Don’t tell the farmer about the second pranostika, he’ll be sad.
Cold June – a farmer shrugs.
(Cerven studeny – sedlak krci rameny.)
One of the few that doesn’t actually tell you anything.
If Markyta sheds a tear, plenty of water will be here.
(Zaplace-li Markyta, bude destu dosyta.)
St. Markyta has her holiday on the 13th of July.
No mushrooms in August, no snow in December.
(Nejsou-li v srpnu hriby, nebude v zime snehu.)
That seems a little far-fetched.
September comes riding on a mottled mare.
(Zari jezdi na strakate kobyle.)
Mottled will also be the landscape and you’ll step into a puddle of mud when you least expect it. Such is the nature’s way.
The clearer the moon in October, the sweeter the wine.
(V rijnu mesic jasny, sladke bude vinobrani.)
And the bigger the hangover.
On St. Otmar, no way to see a mosquito.
(Na svateho Otmara nevidet komara.)
‘Komar’ is a mosquito. It would be a sin to break that word flow.
On St. Lazar, seal every gap in the outhouse.
(O svatem Lazaru ucpi v sednici kazdou sparu.)
That’s December the 17th and a very frightening way to say it will be cold outside.
This is not an exhaustive list! If we were to dig a little deeper, we’d easily find more predictions than there are days in a year, and many, many more. So, if an old Slavic momma tells you it’s going to rain in verse using a cryptic voice, you’d better start looking for your umbrella.