Winter Weather Folklore

Darleen Jarocki

Winter Weather Folklore

3 mins
November 17, 2021

Folklore, including squirrels, onion skins, and a few other folklore that dad would often relate to. At the time of my childhood years, I really never gave the folklore a minute of my time. I, like all children, had more important things to think about. Why do we need forecasters? 

According to folklore, just watch the squirrels or the thickness of onion skins. Interestingly, weather folklore warning of a harsh winter is based on la Nina. So, it's a little bit of an art and a science. Here are some signs of a bad winter, according to weather folklore.

Rodent wisdom

Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry, will cause snow to gather in a hurry. In addition, a tough winter ahead is squirrels’ tails are very bushy.

Birds and bees are giving you hints, as well. When birds migrate early or build bees build their nests high in the trees, the winter is going to be awful. The old saying goes, “see how high the Hornets nest, twill tell how high the snow will rest.”

Another thought to go with this is, a narrow band of brown on a woolly caterpillar means the same thing period trees, flowers, and vegetables, and all other plants, are in the weather business, as well. When leaves drop in early autumn, winter will be mild but, if they fall late, winter will be severe.

Folklore claims that thicker onion skins can signal a cold and snowy winter. Here's another quip that dad often quoted. “Onions skin very thin mild winter coming in onionskin thick and tough coming winter cold and rough.” other signs of a bad winter are flowers blooming in late autumn, corn husks thicker than normal and tight, tough apple skins, plentiful berries and nuts (which might be why those squirrels are so busy).

Some of these are based on old fashioned observations. Some go back to science. Weather subfloor warnings of a harsh winter are based, as I said, on la Nina. La Nina conditions for North America tend to be dry by summer and cold in winter. So, if the birds leave early and the leaves fall quickly, onions and apples are tough, and caterpillars are short, it might be due to the la Nina drought. A miserable la Nina winter will follow. 

Other folklore is just based on the idea that you shouldn't let your guard down. Lots of berries, nuts, and flowers, maybe the sign of a lovely, warm November. However, weather wise, winter will probably be awful. As for squirrels, ignore them they are just squirrely! But you'd better hurry on out and get that snow blower you've been putting off buying. 

Here is a recipe.

Bake one of your favorite squash. When it is soft, remove it from the oven and let cool. Cut the squash in half, remove the membrane and seeds. Scoop out the squash meat and set it aside. Place a stick of Polish sausage (cut into 2-inch pieces) on the bottom of a casserole dish. Top the sausage with the squash. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of brown sugar over it in parentheses or maybe Maple syrup). Bake covered for 45 minutes at 375 degrees in the oven and serve hot.

Recipe for your sweet tooth

set aside 10 or 12 vanilla marshmallows. Placed the marshmallows on a parchment paper.

Heat one can of sweetened condensed milk, just to boiling, then take off from heat. I use kabob skewers to pick up the marshmallows and dipped each marshmallow in the hot sweetened condensed milk (1 marshmallow at a time). 

Roll the dipped marshmallows in flaked coconut, crushed peanuts, or crushed peanut brittle. You can use any topping that you desire. Crushed peppermint candies are excellent, also.

Place the dipped marshmallow on a cookie sheet to cool and set. Ready to serve in minutes. Kids love them!

My thought for the day: We may not spend our days together, sometimes the distance between us seems too far, but there are happy and loving memories that keep us close, no matter where we are. 

Thank you, precious folks, for the memories.

This article was orginally reported by
Darleen Jarocki

Darleen Jarocki is an expert gardener and cook. She is an excellent folklorist and local historian.