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I joined the Weather by Day team last month, and I’ve been learning the scientific terms and all about the weather gizmos meteorologists use to do their job. Do you know what a Galileo thermometer is? I didn’t either — it’s pretty cool. Now, I could fan-girl about Galileo all day but today, I’m going to talk about sun showers.
To put it simply, a sun shower occurs when rain falls while the sun is shining, usually with little to no clouds obstructing the sunlight.
I know what you’re thinking: “Why are you writing this? Cindy Day already explained sun showers to us.” That’s true. But did you know, in Nigeria a sun shower is seen as a sign of an elephant giving birth? Others say it is a lion that’s giving birth. Obviously, neither of these has been scientifically proven but I couldn’t help but wonder how other parts of the world interpret this weather phenomenon.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that sun showers have similar themes across the globe. In South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe, it’s believed that sun showers mean monkeys are getting married. In Ethiopia and Eritrea, they believe a hyena is giving birth. In Iran and France, it’s thought that a wolf is giving birth or getting married. In some parts of India and Burma, it’s seen as a wedding between a human and a spirit. In Brazil, they believe a widow is getting married.
My favourite interpretation has to be from Korea; Koreans see sun showers as a sign a tiger is getting married, which dates back to an old Korean folk tale. The story goes that a tiger was supposed to marry the clouds but on the day of their wedding, the tiger meets a fox and falls in love. The fox and the tiger run away together, and the clouds — seeing this from the sky — are broken-hearted and hide behind the sun to cry.
Sun showers are not all about babies, weddings and celestial love triangles. Some regions in Germany see them as a sign of a feast or a fair in hell; others believe it is witches making butter. In Russia and Lithuania, they call it “mushroom rain” as the conditions seem to be favourable for growing mushrooms. In Jamaica, it’s thought the devil and his wife are having a fight.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of folkloric references to sun showers around the world — and that’s just one weather phenomenon! If you are an amateur folklorist like me, you are going to have fun over the long weekend reading up on the countless legends and myths created to explain natural events such as this.
What does a sun shower signify where you come from? Feel free to send your stories to [email protected].