A black Christmas makes a fat churchyard. (English, Scotch). See Weather Proverbs: A green Christmas makes a fat churchyard. It is an old superstition, without any foundation in fact, that a Christmas without snow will be followed by much illness and many deaths. Sometimes it is said, A green winter makes a fat churchyard. (English, Scotch). A shepherd would rather see his wife enter the stable on Christmas Day than the sun. (German). A mild winter makes a full graveyard. (Chinese).
As bare as the birk at Yule even. (English, Scotch). This proverb is applied to people in extreme poverty and refers to the Christmas log. It was the custom in old England to bring a ponderous log from the forest on Christmas Eve and burn it in the great fireplace. As the log was drawn along the road men lifted their hats in respect, knowing that its consumption symbolized the forgiveness of injuries and renewing confidences. When the log was half burned the charred remains were carried away and carefully preserved until the next Christmas when they were used to kindle the new block.
As fushionless as rue leaves at Yule. (Scotch). I followed my guide, but not, as I had supposed, into the body of the cathedral. This gatethis gate, sir, he exclaimed, dragging me off as I made toward the main entrance of the building. Theres but cauldrife law-work gaun on yondercarnal morality, as dowd and as fusionless as rue leaves at Yule. Heres the real saviour of doctrine.Sir Walter Scott: Rob Roy, Chapter xx.
Every day is no Yule-day; cast the cat a castock. (Scotch). A castock is the stalk or core of a cabbage. People should be generous at Christmas time and spare no expense in entertaining their friends. They should not only give what is needful for the comfort of their guests but that which may be as useless to them as cabbage cores to cats. Christmas comes but once a year and the opportunity for liberality may never come again. The proverb as used by the Italians and Dutch is without the phrase Cast the cat a castock.
He that maketh at Christmas a dog his larder, and in March a sow his gardener, and in May a fool a keeper of wise counsel, he shall never have good larder, fair garden, nor well kept counsel. (English).
If Candlemas Day be dry and fair, the half o winters to come and mair; if Candlemas Day be wet and foul, the half o winters gane at Yule. (Scotch). Candlemas Day, February 2d. A windy Christmas and a calm Candlemas are signs of a good year. (English).
Ill bring Yule belt to the Beltane belt. (Scotch). Ill not over-eat at Christmas even though there is plenty, but will control my appetite and take no more than I will have in May when meat will be scarce.
It is eith to cry Yule on anither mans cost. (Scotch). It is easy to cry Christmas on another mans cost. James Kelly renders the proverb It is eith crying Yule, under another mans stool and says that It is spoken when we see people spend liberally what is not their own.
The bag to the auld stent, and the belt to the Yule hole. (Scotch). Stenti.e., extent or allotted portion. The saying is used to express hunger and is equivalent to saying My appetite is as great now as at a Christmas feast.
Yule is young on Yule even, and auld on Saint Steven. (Scotch). Applied to people who are fond of novelties and make much ado over them, but whose interest is transient. St. Stephens Day occurs on December 26th.
At Shrove Tuesday supper if thy belly be full, before Easter Day thou mayest fast for that. (Isle of Man). On Shrove Tuesday night, though thy supper be fat, before Easter Day thou mayst fast for all that. (Another rendering): Rejoice, Shrovetide, today, for tomorrow youll be ashes. (English). Shrove Tuesdaythe Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, known in old England as Pancake Day. About noon, often earlier, on Shrove Tuesday, a bell, sometimes called Pancake Bell, was rung. The ringing of the bell was probably intended originally to call the people to confession before Lent. After confession they were permitted to make merry with one another. As there would be no later opportunity to feast before Lent, the time was given over to excessive enjoyment, eating and drinking. It is not surprising that the noon bell should have come to be regarded as a signal for everyone to stop work and begin feasting, particularly on pancakes, as such cakes were regarded as essential to the days festivities; hence the above proverbs. Shrove Tuesday, at whose entrance in the morning all the whole kingdom is in quiet, but by that time the clock strikes eleven, which (by the help of a knavish sexton) is commonly before nine, then there is a bell rung, cald the Pancake-bell, the sound whereof makes thousands of people distracted, and forgetful either of manners or humanity; then there is a thing called wheaten floure, which the cookes do mingle with water, eggs, spice, and other tragical, magical enchantments, and then they put it by little and little into a frying pan of boiling suet, where it makes a confused dismal hissing (like the Lernian snakes in the reeds of Acheron, Stix, or Phlegeton), until at last by the skill of the cooke, it is transformed into the form of a Flip-Jack cald a pancake, which ominous incantation the ignorant people doe devoure very greedily.John Taylor. As fit as ten groats is for the hand of an attorney, as your French crown for your taffeta punk, as Tibs rush for Toms forefinger, as a pancake for Shrove Tuesday.Shakespeare: Alls Well That Ends Well.
If Easter falls in Lady-days lap, beware, O England, of a clap. (English). Sometimes rendered: When Easter Day falls on our Ladys lap, then let England beware a rap. Ladys Day, March 25th. Francis Grose refers to this proverb as having come into use after the Reformation and intended as a prophecy, intimating, says he, that the Virgin Mary, offended at the English nation for abolishing the worship offered her before that event, waited for an opportunity of revenge, and when her day, the twenty-fifth of March, chanced to fall on the same day with Christs resurrection, then she, strengthened by her sons assistance, would inflict some remarkable punishment. The old superstition or prophecy has been repeatedly found to have been without foundation. While calamity and great distress have sometimes been the portion of the English nation during the years when Easter fell on March 25th, blessings that called for joy and thanksgiving have quite as frequently followed the event.
The monk having observed Easter, returns to his beans. (Modern Greek). This proverb is applied to people who have performed certain public duties and met certain obligations to the best of their ability and have returned to a quiet life again conscious that they have earned rest and retirement.