Rainbow, rainbow,
Brack an gang hame …

The dark clouds to the north east have been ominous all day. Kept at bay by the bitterly cold nor-westerlies.

There’s always something striking about a rainbow. They are always in the opposite direction to the sun and a ‘Rainbow in the morning gives fair warning’ indicates rain in the west and generally heading your way.

The rainbow in the marnin
Gives the shepherd warnin
To car’ his gurt cwoat on his back1“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume I. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi01wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021..

Mind you, I haven’t a clue what it means. If it follows the other saying about morning rainbows then there is some logic to it. Rain in the west is likely to be blown by prevailing west winds. I’m not so sure about ‘A Saturday’s rainbow is sure to be followed by a week of rotten weather‘ though2“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume V. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi05wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021..

Rainbows are called ‘rainballs‘ in some parts of the country 31898 English dialect dictionary Vol V R to S, but it’s part rainbows that have captured local dialects. the stump of a rainbow left visible above the horizon has been called a ‘Weather-gall4Wright, E.M., “Rustic Speech and Folk-lore”, lccn=14004537, H. Milford, 1913, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=deWBAAAAMAAJ, a ‘stob5“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume V. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi05wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021., ‘tooth6“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume VI. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi06wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021., ‘water-gall‘ or ‘water-gull7“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume VI. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi06wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021., or ‘weather-beam8“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume VI. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi06wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021..

I’m not sure if my rainbow can be classed as a ‘stob‘.

Another rhyme — again I think I can translate but I’m not confident enough to put into print — is shouted at the top of the voice when a rainbow appears:

‘Rainbow, rainbow,
Brack an gang hame,
Yir father an yir mither’s aneth the layer stehn ;
Yir coo’s calvt, yir mare’s foalt.
Yir wife ‘ill be dead
Or ye win hame.’9“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume III. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi03wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

There was a belief amongst northern children that it was possible to ‘cross out‘ a rainbow. In Yorkshire, a charm for boys would be to take two pieces of stick and lay them on the ground, placing a small stone at the end of each stick, supposedly causing the rainbow to disappear.  In the West Riding, the belief was that it was just as effectual if the fore-fingers of each hand were crossed. Further north, in Northumberland and Durham, straws were similarly placed crossing on the ground but had to be struck where they cross three times with a stone. If one of the straws was broken by the blow, the rainbow was expected to break immediately after10“The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume I. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi01wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021..

  • 1
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume I. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi01wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.
  • 2
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume V. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi05wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.
  • 3
    1898 English dialect dictionary Vol V R to S
  • 4
    Wright, E.M., “Rustic Speech and Folk-lore”, lccn=14004537, H. Milford, 1913, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=deWBAAAAMAAJ
  • 5
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume V. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi05wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.
  • 6
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume VI. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi06wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.
  • 7
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume VI. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi06wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.
  • 8
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume VI. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi06wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.
  • 9
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume III. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi03wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.
  • 10
    “The English Dialect Dictionary, Being the Complete Vocabulary of All Dialect Words Still in Use, or Known to Have Been in Use during the Last Two Hundred Years; Founded on the Publications of the English Dialect Society and on a Large Amount of Material Never before Printed”. In six volumes edited by Joseph Wright, 1898. Volume I. Internet Archive, 2014, https://archive.org/details/englishdialectdi01wriguoft. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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