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GRANDMA SAYS: Grandma says Easter could be white

I'm not sure who was having more fun on the Woodland Trail, Randy Squires or his furry friend, Sophie.  There was still no snow along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, near Tangier Harbour, last weekend.
I'm not sure who was having more fun on the Woodland Trail, Randy Squires or his furry friend, Sophie. There was still no snow along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore, near Tangier Harbour, last weekend. - contributed

Last weekend I was storing away some Christmas boxes when I spotted my lovely snowshoes, neatly tucked away behind the furnace.   

Meteorological winter is more than half over and I have yet to go for a walk on the freshly fallen snow. I realize some of you are blessed with some snow on the ground, but overall, even where that is the case, it has been a pretty easy winter.    

Grandma would not approve. She had two weather expressions that belonged to January. The first one is a little morbid and comes from French weather lore:  Un noel vert rempli le cimetiere. Roughly translated, it means a green Christmas will fill the graveyard. The other day, I was sharing Grandma’s wisdom with a friend who was familiar with a similar English version of the expression: a green January makes a fat or full churchyard. The Scottish had a version of it too: a black 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. There is also reason to believe that the origin of the saying was a reference to the farming year. Hard frosts break up the soil and prepare it for yielding a good harvest in the following autumn. In the absence of any such weathering of the land, the crops were likely to be poor; it was the consequent scarcity of food that helped build up the “fat churchyard.” 

Grandma also believed that if there was no snow on the ground at Christmas, there would be snow at Easter.  She would say: “A green Christmas brings a white Easter.” A few years ago, I stumbled on this similar German version: a warm Christmas, a cold Easter; a green Christmas, a white Easter. 

I would tend to think that there could be some science behind this one.    

We know the jet stream is a controlling upper air feature that not only acts as a highway along which intense storm systems travel but it also separates cold air from warm.   

The jet stream does not shift overnight. In the fall, when the transition from warm to cold beings, blocking systems can hold the elusive jet stream in a pattern that might keep cold air and stormy systems at bay. Blocking patterns do eventually break down and the upper air circulation returns to a more typical pattern. That can result in a late start and finish to the snowy season.   

This year, Easter Sunday falls on April 4. I could still be snowshoeing.   


Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network

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