General Non-Fiction posted September 19, 2017


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An old southern saying

The Devil's Beating his Wife

by Amy Rowell



I was raised in southern Mississippi and on rainy days when the sun was shining we Would say, "Well, the Devil's beating his wife." In other words, it's what some people call a sun-shower. This saying is known in the southern states while the northern state know nothing about its meaning. But how did it get to mean that? Some say that it's because, quite obviously, the devil is angry with God for creating beautiful sunny days, and when the Devil gets angry enough about it, he takes his anger out on his wife by beating her. She, in turn, cries enormous tears that fall from the sky and turn into raindrops.

When the term, "the Devil's beating his wife," was mention on a talk show in 2013 callers responding to the show resulted in that the northern states had never heard of the saying. In parts of the northeast and Florida callers referred to raining while the sun is out was known as a sun-shower while in Mississippi and Alabama referred to it as the Devil is beating his wife. Because the scope of the study didn't cover where the expression or term was learned, there was no history as to why people in Mississippi and Alabama referred to sun-showers in this way. Strangely enough, a regional variant used in Tennessee appears to be that the, "Devil is kissing his wife." I'm not sure why that would make her cry, maybe because he's evil or that he's ugly. Although, the Bible says, he was the most beautiful angel in heaven. Who knows, it's anybody's guess!

Other writings suggest that the term originally came from the French. The first example, dated 1703, is quoted 'as the French say' "To go and thrash him around the church-yard, as the devil does his wife in rainy weather when the sun shines." Another example is from writer, Jonathan Swift, in 1738, expanded it in reference to mixed sun and rain: The devil was beating his wife behind the door with a shoulder of mutton.

I thought of this silly childhood saying when today it rained as the sun was shining. I looked outside and said, "Well....,the Devil's beating his wife." I realized how crazy I sounded and decided to reserarch where this silliness originated. I love my southern heritage, don't get me wrong. I love all the southern slangs, sayings and endearing expressions. I'm proud of where I came from but more proud of being a child of the King. I have royal blood that run through my veins. I am a daughter of the one true God. So, as I ponder these thoughts, I decided that instead of focusing on this silly southern expression next time it rains and the sun shines, I will focus on God and his power! How really symbolic it is for it to be raining as the sun shines. How in his infinite power, his presence is with us as we go through storms of life. How he is God of hope and light. He, like a beacon of hope, shines over us giving us hope when all hope is gone. It is ,He, who contols the universe and all it's wonder!


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© Copyright 2017. Amy Rowell All rights reserved.
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