Sunshowers: When the Devil Beats His Wife?

PHOTO: Sunshower, courtesy of Michael Gomez
PHOTO: Sunshower, courtesy of Michael Gomez

From the very earliest days of recorded history, humans have had a strong bend toward all things superstitious and when it comes to the many forces of nature – especially weather – this has proven to be even the more true. Perhaps these superstitions were birthed out of a deep-seeded desire to explain the unexplainable or perhaps many of these beliefs began as simple tall tales that caught on somewhere along the way, but regardless, the story of us is rife with incredible and outlandish explanations concerning the day to day events of life.

Of all the meteorological phenomena in the world, the sunshower sits among the top in the number of superstitious beliefs associated with it.

For those of you who may not have grown up somewhere past that county line, a sunshower is the term used to describe the event of rain falling while the sun is shining.

Sunshowers are usually the result of accompanying winds associated with a rain storm sometimes miles away, blowing the airborne raindrops into an area where there are no clouds, therefore causing a sunshower. At other times, a sunshower is created when a single rain cloud passes overhead, and the Sun’s angle keeps the sunlight from being obstructed by overhead clouds. Sunshower conditions often lead to the appearance of a rainbow, if the sun is at a low enough angle.

Although widely used throughout the English speaking world, the term “sunshower” is rarely found in dictionaries.

The first bit of “old timer’s wisdom” I ever heard about a sunshower was that it was important to take note as to what time it rained that day, as the sunshower meant that it would rain again the following day at the exact same time — though I am aware of no scientific experiments that have ever been performed in order to prove or disprove this, I have often made a mental note of times it’s rained with the sun shining and to the best of my knowledge, the following day has always seen rain around that same time; though I’d certainly refrain from betting the farm on this one!

Other and perhaps more colorful superstitions often focus on the Devil, either getting married or having a marital dispute.

In the Southern United States, a sunshower is traditionally believed to be when the devil is beating his wife with a walking stick because he is angry God created a beautiful day.

The rain is said to be that of his wife’s tears.

A local belief from Tennessee is that “the devil is kissing his wife”, whereas in Cuba and in France, sunshowers are said to be evidence that one of the devil’s daughters is getting married somewhere nearby.

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  1. In Alabama it was said when it was sunny and raining at the same time, that the devil was beating his wife with a frying pan.


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