Appalachia Weather

Ruling Days Predict Coming Year’s Weather


“The twelve days beginning on Christmas day, each one of which is said to govern the weather for one month of the following year. 1905 Miles Spirit of Mts 107 But he and Arth do not disagree about certain weather signs their mother had taught them when they were “shirt-tail boys,” signs about Groundhog Day, for example, and the Ruling Days, the twelve days from the twenty-fifth of December to Old Christmas, each of which rules the weather of a month of the coming year.”

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


Over the years I’ve written about ruling days a few times. Here’s some comments from past posts.

Kimberly: I have heard of the tradition of the the 12 days indicating what the weather will be for each upcoming month, but I have not heard it called “Ruling Days.” I always mean to track the weather and see if it works out that way in the upcoming year, but I always forget!

Wanda in NoAla: My Grandma used to keep a journal of the weather on the twelve days of Christmas; never heard it called ‘Ruling Days’. Very interesting.

Barbara Gantt: My Dads side of the family talked about Ruling Days. I remember the older women discussing it.

Susie Swanson: I remember The Ruling Days Tipper. My mom and dad and the older generation always went by them.

Ethelene Dyer Jones: My daddy who was a fair “weather predictor” of our upcoming weather kept a record of the “Ruling Days” of weather as it pertained to the coming months. It was interesting, as I remember, to see whether the weather proved this long-standing predictor. Whether this gives us clues, the method is, nonetheless, interesting.

Lonnie Dockery: Mother would draw twelve circles on a sheet of paper and write in the weather for each day. I don’t remember ever checking to see if it worked later in the year, but I’m sure she did.

I never knew about ruling days until I started Blind Pig and The Acorn. I’ve always wanted to keep track of the weather for the 12 days and then compare it at year end. Hopefully writing about it, will hold me accountable and I’ll actually do it this year. I’ll share the weather conditions with you at the end of each post so I’ll have a record.


*Ruling day 1: Low 26 High 48 No precipitation

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  • Reply
    Ray Davies
    January 1, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Mama and Grandpa used to mark the calendar for the first 12 days.

  • Reply
    Jay A Clark
    December 26, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    Never heard of this, but it’s nice to know that you are aware of Old Christmas. We still observe it in my family.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Have never heard about ruling days . We did have a few granny and grandad weather indicators (imminent / future) told to though, like for instance the wooly worm crossing the street. When granny’s legs ached or flies were biting furiously in the summer meant rain coming. Here on our local tv station each year they cut open a persimmon seed to see if it shows a spoon or fork, although I’ve never heard about that one growing up. Loved it though when all weather indicators pointed to a not much snow winter, yet you wake up one morning blissfully surprised and elated at a wind blown 12 incher or more that last a few days and the tv said city schools closed ,oh the glee !

  • Reply
    December 26, 2018 at 11:41 am

    I had never heard of ruling days. Doing things by signs was common, but no weather predictors in my memory. I do recall the usual predicting when the day was right here. They watched leaves turn upside down, birds get strange, achy joints, and flies start biting if rain. Never understood why flies bite when rain coming, but they sure do. This is very interesting.

    • Reply
      Gailbeth W.
      December 29, 2019 at 11:14 am

      Perhaps they are aware that the rain will drive their food sources into hiding, so they try to get as much as possible…?

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 26, 2018 at 11:28 am

    I have never heard of ruling days before, though I knew about old and new Christmas. Hard to see how it would work since days 5 through 8 at least would need to be warm and the coldest weather of the year around north Georgia tends to be between Jan. 1 and about Jan. 10 or so.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I’ve never heard it call that Tipper. It is interesting. Thanks for keeping us posted.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2018 at 9:17 am

    My parents had ways to predict the weather, but I never heard them discuss ruling days. I just wrote today’s weather in my journal so I can follow along with you. This is so interesting. 2018 has been the second wettest year in Louisville’s weather keeping history. It could have changed to the wettest since I last heard. Give me cold, hot, snowy, windy, anything but rainy.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    December 26, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Think I will keep track this year just to see what happens. Just so it won’t be like the last 12 days. I am so tired of rain.
    A few sunny days would be great right now. I don’t remember my family going with anything but the almanac.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    December 26, 2018 at 6:42 am

    That is so interesting. I love weather lore

  • Reply
    December 26, 2018 at 5:23 am

    I saw a Farmers Almanac on a bookshelf at a local Dollar General Store the other day and thought about my Mamaw she had one every year and would read the weather predictions for that month and planted by the signs always religiously.

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