26 December 2008

Ruling Days

I am a gardener. I love growing flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs. Some of my earliest memories are following along behind my grandfather in his garden, placing tomato plants in the holes he dug. When Mike and I bought our first house I asked my grandfather to make notes for me so I would know how to plant and take care of a lot of different vegetables. He would not do that. And with good reason, though I was a tad peeved at the time. As he said, his climate was different from my climate, his soil was different from my soil, etc, etc, etc. He said, "Honey, just keep planting." And that is so true. Thirty years later I still "keep planting".

The twelve days between yesterday's celebration and "Old Christmas" are referred to in planting folklore as "The Ruling Days". It's certainly part of southern Appalachian culture and in other areas of the South, but I don't know how widespread it is elsewhere. This is also the time of the Epiphany and Carnival season begins on 12th Night. Tradition holds that these twelve days will determine the weather for the next year. Plant folklorists will watch their local weather carefully for each day and record their observations in order to predict the weather for an entire month and thus for the entire year.

26 Dec = January
27 Dec = February
28 Dec = March
29 Dec = April
30 Dec = May
31 Dec = June
1 Jan = July
2 Jan = August
3 Jan = September
4 Jan = October
5 Jan = November
6 Jan = December

The Ruling Days are tied to a belief in the power of the moon and planting by the signs, something that is still practiced by many farmers today. The Old Farmer's Almanac is still a very popular publication. Until the last 6-8 years I did not track the Ruling Days, but since beginning to do so, have found them to be uncannily accurate for our neck of the woods.

As I am now blogging regularly, every evening for the next 12 days, I will post the weather and predictions for the current set of Ruling Days here. Then I will easily be able to come back and check them as the year passes.
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Cora said...

I did not know this and I just love discovering bits of folklore - especially Southern! I am going to record our weather in southern Illinois and see if it holds true this year. And, I'm passing this on to my dad, the family gardener, as he is into this kind of thing too. One of his folklore traditions is planting his lettuce on Valentine's Day, at least when he can get to the soil through the quagmire of mud and/or snow.

Becky said...

Cora, do track it and let me know if the Ruling Days work for you. I'm not certain that it works in all climates, so will be interested to hear your results.

My grandfather always said you had to have your potatoes in the ground by Valentine's Day. Now he was gardening in north Louisiana, so the soil was plenty warm for that. Where I garden at our farm in TN, I'm about 2-3 weeks behind him. I usually try to plant potatoes by the 1st of March.