New Year’s Day Weather Folklore

January 29, 2019
Winter Tree at Sunset


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A new year is always ripe with possibilities. Though we have our forecasts, we also enjoy the tradition of looking to winter weather folklore.

New Year’s Weather Folklore

In particular, weather folklore often looks to the wind.

Try this. Step outside as the sun sets on New Year’s Eve. Feel the wind and recite:

If New Year’s Eve the wind blows south

It betokens warmth and growth.

If west, much milk and fish in the sea.

If north, cold and storms there will be.

If east, the trees will bear much fruit.

If north east, then flee it, man and brute.

Then go out and party! 

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Others believed the time to check out the wind was at sunrise on New Year’s Day, but if you had any fun the night before, it will be hard to wake up at dawn.

If you forgot to check the wind, don’t worry.

Other lore says that the first 12 days of the year are just as useful. The weather on the first, good or bad, will reflect how January will feel. The second day forecasts February and so on.

My favorite is the onion story. Get twelve onions. Between 11:00pm and midnight on New Year’s Eve cut off the tops and scoop out a depression in the centers. Get out your compass and line the onions in an east-west orientation. Place an equal amount of salt in each depression. Then explain to your fellow partiers why you smell like an onion! 

If all else fails, check the onions!

Don’t look at the vegetables until the next morning. The salt has dissolved to varying degrees in each onion. The more water in each onion the wetter the corresponding month will be in the coming year. After this, carefully add potatoes and other root veggies, rub with olive oil and spices and bake.

Whether the onions are right or wrong, you’ll have a nice New Year’s Day feast.

Of course, you can also check this year’s Almanac forecast as a “human” point of reference. See The 2018 Old Farmer’s Almanac to start the year off right!

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.

Reader Comments

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New Years wind

What about if there's no wind eve or day?

no wind

Good question! Unfortunately, the above weather lore does not address that scenario. However, there is another proverb that says (for any date) “No weather is ill, / If the wind be still.”

Ruling Days

Hi there! I'm doing research on the ruling days for my own personal benefit. I grew up hearing about them and how they predicted the weather for the upcoming year, but never paid enough attention and now wish I had. Do you have information on the Ruling Days? I believe they may have originated in Scotland but I always heard them linked to Appalachia. I'd love to hear anything you have to say on the subject.

weather watchers

Weather predictions for 2017 cold winter 37 degrees before white Christmas December25th having snow and ice storm like blizzards red flags

Eric booth

Almanac winter weather forecast for cold snowy super cold temperature on average
January and February snowy predictions for 17th of century us mo state

12 days/ 12 months

My daddy-in-law got me started years ago doing this, except sometimes I forget to write it down. then it's a surprise!

the onion story

that's interesting..but since the 12 onions are representing the you start reading from east to west? (1st east as jan, next feb...etc til dec is last to west)? just curious...never heard that one..

and are the onions actually safe to eat after sitting out all that time? been reading about onions get toxic.. although the stew sounds great! ;)

Weather folklore

Great article, Evelyn and James. Thanks for sharing!


+ a 4-season guide to raising chickens!

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