Knowledge of the weather and climate


Description

In the age of scientific weather forecasts and climate analysis, traditional farmers' proverbs have become part of folklore. Nevertheless, hardly a week goes by in which some television channel, radio station or newspaper does not quote an ancient proverb on the supposed laws governing the weather. These pearls of wisdom do of course stem from traditional knowledge and experience, but can equally be understood as literary forms of expression significantly influenced by the zeitgeist of the Romantic period. In addition to the conventional stylisation of the farmers' meteorological knowledge, the practice of interpreting the weather was always popular. It arose out of the essential need to calculate and plan agricultural processes and was usually limited (literally) to the local horizons. It was written down mainly in almanacs, although this information was not always unfiltered. To this day, many residents of the Central Swiss countryside still make their own weather observations and forecasts, despite the ubiquity of weather forecasts in the media and the effectiveness of professional weather services. These forecasts are based on the environment they are familiar with, its flora, fauna and natural phenomena – red sky in the morning and evening, clouds, animal behaviour and their own sensitivity to changes in the weather are all important indicators. Many also keep a weather log book close at hand so that they can update it regularly with the latest meteorological data.

Image gallery

  • A handwritten 'weather book' of the kind frequently found in Central Swiss households, 2012 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • A double-page spread from the Neuer Bauernkalender (new farmers' calendar) showing the saints' days in the month of December, 19th century. © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • Wetterschmöcker (amateur weather forecasters) from Central Switzerland during the shooting of the film by Thomas Horat, 2010 © Andreas Roovers, Wädenswil/Mythenfilm, Brunnen
  • The clouds over the mountains are one of the key signs for observers © Marius Risi, Engelberg
  • «Hat der Pilatus einen Hut, so bleibt das Wetter gut; trägt er einen Degen, gibt es sicher Regen», Pilatus mit Hut, 31. Juli 2012 © Marius Risi, Engelberg
  • A handwritten 'weather book' of the kind frequently found in Central Swiss households, 2012 © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • A double-page spread from the Neuer Bauernkalender (new farmers' calendar) showing the saints' days in the month of December, 19th century. © Christof Hirtler, Altdorf
  • Wetterschmöcker (amateur weather forecasters) from Central Switzerland during the shooting of the film by Thomas Horat, 2010 © Andreas Roovers, Wädenswil/Mythenfilm, Brunnen
  • The clouds over the mountains are one of the key signs for observers © Marius Risi, Engelberg
  • «Hat der Pilatus einen Hut, so bleibt das Wetter gut; trägt er einen Degen, gibt es sicher Regen», Pilatus mit Hut, 31. Juli 2012 © Marius Risi, Engelberg

References and documentation

Publications
  • Albert Hauser: Bauernregeln. Eine schweizerische Sammlung. Zürich, 1973

  • Thomas Horat: Wätterschmöcker. Ein Film von Thomas Horat. Ed. Mythen Film. Brunnen, 2011 (DVD)

  • Kurt Lussi: Wind und Wetter. Die bäuerliche Wettervorhersage und Unwetterabwehr. Wollerau, 1994

  • Thomas Renggli: Der Wetterschmöcker. Martin Horat und die Muotathaler Propheten. Lenzburg, 2013

  • Rudolf Schenda: Hinkende Botschaften? Zur Entwicklung und Bedeutung der schweizerischen Volkskalender. In: Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde 92. Basel, 1996, p. 161-181

  • Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde (Ed.): Atlas der Schweizerischen Volkskunde. Teil II, Lieferung 8, Frage 140. Basel, 1995

  • Hans Steinegger: Zur Entwicklung der Bauernregeln aus dem Kanton Schwyz. In: Schwyzer Kalender 2000. Ibach, 1999, p. 50-55

Documentation