“Oh, look, the Devil is beating his wife,” I said casually as I looked out the window at the sudden shower of rain amidst the sunshine.
My husband almost did a spit-take.
“WHAT?” he asked.
“It’s raining and sunny at the same time. What, you’ve never heard that expression?”
It wasn’t the first time my Michigan-born husband and I have had a miscommunication solely because of the clash between his Northern and my Southern accents or colloquialisms.
To put his mind at ease that his wife was not completely crazy, I researched the phrase’s origin. I could not find the exact derivation, other than it is mostly used in the Southern U.S., but the meaning of rain during sunshine was the same in every source I consulted.
Allegedly, the Devil beats his wife during occasional sunny weather because he is angry that God created a beautiful day.
Really, the Devil shouldn’t go on taking out his aggression on other people. It’s just not healthy.
During my research, I found a document from Bert Vaux, a former assistant professor of linguistics at Harvard University. Bert solicited his academic peers for expressions in other languages describing the meteorological phenomenon. Here are some of the highlights:
Amharic: “The hyena is giving birth.”
Bulgarian: “The bears are getting married.”
Cape Verdean:A sunshower on one’s wedding day means that the groom has eaten unheated food. (I hope it wasn’t poultry)
Polish: “When the sun is shining and the rain is raining, the witch is making butter.”
Zulu: A sunshower is called a “monkey’s wedding.”
I offered to adopt the one about the witch making butter, but my husband just shook his head. The way I see it, if I’m going to sound like a lunatic, I’d at least like to sound like a lunatic that knows where she’s from.