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The History of Sky Lanterns

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Today is St. Swithin’s Day – or Swithun depending on how you want to spell it as it is correct either way. Regardless, today is his day. As the patron saint of Winchester Cathedral his place in history is assured. As a bishop his life is not well remembered. IN fact, there is very little recorded evidence of his works while he was alive. However, his rise in notoriety occurred when his body was moved from his nearly forgotten grave to the Æthelwold’s basilica. From that point on there were several accounts of miracles that occurred resulting in the increased popularity of this saint. Legend has it that on this day, the weather that is present today will hold for the next forty days. So why not send up some sky lanterns to commemorate the day and hope for clear days from here on out?

The weather is commonly associated with St. Swithun. A British proverb is:

St Swithun’s day if thou dost rain

For forty days it will remain

St Swithun’s day if thou be fair

For forty days ’twill rain no more

This is how the legend of St. Swithun began with becoming associated with the weather. As anyone who uses sky lanterns knows, it is advisable to launch them on clear, still days. If the weather is rainy or windy sky lanterns should not be used as they would then pose a safety hazard. So, if legend is to be believed, today’s weather may very well determine how many sky lanterns can be launched in the coming forty days.

In ancient times sky lanterns such as the traditional white lanterns were used to send prayers to the gods. What better way to recognize this patron saint than to send up sky lanterns in honour of him? However, these days there is no need to pay strict attention to tradition. Why not add some flair to the event and use coloured sky lanterns? It lends a modern feel to a time honoured tradition. Plus, if the weather is good enough to release sky lanterns into the night sky, it bodes well for upcoming events too.

Included in your sky lantern prayers you may also want to add a wish for the weather to remain clear and calm. Wind and rain will prevent you from launching sky lanterns so you certainly do not want that, especially for forty days. A sky lantern launched in request for calm weather certainly can not hurt. Perhaps St. Swithun will accommodate your request and you will have forty days of fair weather to enjoy and to launch sky lanterns in.

Sky lanterns are a great addition to any event or special occasion. With today’s day memorializing patron St. Swithun, it seems a logical addition to any memorial. Learn about who the saint was and about his many reported miracles. The, in honour of the saint, launch sky lanterns on a clear, windless evening. If you adhere to legend, the beautiful weather will remain for forty days following. So, stock up on sky lanterns because you have plenty of great weather to launch them.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 15th, 2010 at 7:29 AM and is filed under General News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


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