The Legend of Ruling Days

Posted by | December 28, 2017

Please welcome Timothy W. Hooker. The Cleveland, TN based author and teacher has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Memphis. He’s taught composition, creative writing, and literature at Chattanooga State Technical Community College, Cleveland State Community College, and Lee University. Hooker has published ‘Duncan Hambeth,’ ‘Looking for a City,’ ‘Rocket Man,’ and ‘Sushi Tuesday.’ His most recent book is ‘The Warrior’s Guide to the Battle of the Sexes.’


You know you are deeply imbedded in a culture when you take for granted things that other people have never heard of.

That’s what I’ve had to learn along the way. And, there’s no better example of it than Ruling Days. You can call it Hillbilly Witchcraft. You can call it White Magic. Or, you may think it’s simply a load of malarkey. But, Ruling Days have been around as long I can remember.

The core idea behind Ruling Days is that certain days are predictors for weather for the upcoming year. More specifically, those days coincide with what others would call Kingdomtide or The Twelve Days of Christmas.

12 drummers drummingHere’s how it works.

According to the legend of Ruling Days, the weather on December 25th will be the predominant weather for the upcoming January. The weather on December 26th will indicate what kind of weather you will have in February. December 27th will forecast the weather for March. And, on it goes, until you get to the forecaster of the next December, which falls on Epiphany, aka January 6.

Trust me. The old folks in my neck of the woods swear by it. And, I, myself, have found it to be uncannily accurate.

I’m not an anthropologist, so I wouldn’t dare attempt to conjure a theory on how Ruling Days developed. I do know Southern Appalachia was settled by folks whom the European feudal system more or less rejected. And, so, some of the original settlers may have still had a bit of orthodoxy in them and they simply adapted it to their purposes.

I don’t know.

But, Ruling Days is a part of our culture. It’s a part that no amount of intellectualism or sophistication can take away. It’s in us, and that’s what makes it real.

4 Responses

  • Jon Parker says:

    The only problem here is that if you start with Dec 25th for January, the January 5th would be the day for December, not the 6th as is stated here.

  • Tom Paine says:

    Like most material presented on this blog, this is fascinating as a cultural relic. But I am bothered by the author’s contention that he has found this particular myth to be “uncannily accurate”. I want to know more. What is the definition of uncannily accurate? What are the parameters? How do you compare early winter weather to summer weather? Obviously, the correlation is not 1:1, but I assume you must have established some parameters. I would like to know more. As an avid amateur weather observer, I would be much interested in conducting my own tests.

  • It’s a pretty simple article that just brought to light an old Appalachian belief on weather…That’s about the gist of it..I certainly get it…Maybe you can Google the rest…You can start with “uncanny accurate ”
    I take it to say that the practice wasn’t worth a damn and wasn’t very accurate…lol

  • Granny Sue says:

    I have also heard that the weather during the 12 days of Christmas determines the weather for the rest of the year–so wet=rainy year, dry=drought, extreme cold=cooler than usual, etc. How accurate, well who knows? And the old ways didn’t have to take global warming into consideration. But like the writer, I’ve found a lot of the old weather lore to be at least 75% accurate–although I’m no scientist and haven’t tracked it in any record book. Like the oldtimers, I’ll note the conditions and then see what happens. And more often than not, they’re right. I write a lot of posts about weather lore on my blog, and it’s a fascinating if inexact art. But then that’s the way with folklore. And those older times didn’t have meteorologists so that had to rely on their own wits. I know one thing–if the sky is red in the morning I wouldn’t choose that day to tear off a roof :)

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