Dutch Language Blog

Let’s Predict The Weather With Weerspreuken! Posted by on Jan 15, 2018 in Culture

It is January, the start of 2018. It feels like the worst days of winter are behind us, and de lente (spring) is upon us. The weather can only get better, right? Niet zo snel! (Not so fast!) Throughout the centuries, people have come up with hundreds of weerspreuken (weather proverbs), some of which are actually true! Let’s look at the weersverwachting (weather forecast) for this month, and see what some weerspreuken have to say about it.

De Weersverwachting

The weersverwachting for the coming 14 days. (Source: weeronline.nl)

In the picture above, you can see the weersverwachting for the coming 14 days.  The little pictures below the dates show very cloudy weather, with few zonuren (sun hours). Temperatures are pretty much all at least above the vriespunt (freezing point), but stay at or below 10 graden (degrees) at max. Wind speeds are in the normal range, unlike the big storm earlier this monthNeersl. is short for Neerslag (precipitation). Regen (rain) is predicted to fall on all days, with quite high probabilities too.  The number below that gives the amount in millimeters rain that will fall. Below that is a weercijfer (“weather grade”), given by weeronline.nl, the source of this weersverwachting. The higher the number, the droger (dryer) and zonniger (sunnier) the day is – that is considered a perfect day by the Dutch! Well, it looks like the weather for the coming 14 days gets an onvoldoende (insufficient) grade…

So now to the big question: If this forecast holds true, what does it mean for the coming months? Let’s find out with weerspreuken!

 Sneeuw en Vorst

Image by Aaron Burden at Unsplash,com

Weerspreuken have been and are especially important for boeren (farmers), as they could tell them when the time is right to start a new gewas (crop) or wait a few a bit longer, until the vorst (frost) and sneeuw (snow) are gone, as those destroy the planten (plants).

For boeren, the weerspreuken do not have good news from this weersverwachting:

  • Januari zonder regen, is voor de boerenstand een zegen.

    • January without rain, is a blessing for the farming classes.

It looks like we will be getting rain in January, so this weerspreuk predicts a bad situation for farmers! Oh no!

  • Draagt januari een sneeuwwit kleed, wordt de zomer zeer heet.

    • If January wears a snow-white robe, the summer will be very hot.

It does not look like we will have snow this month, so again, not really great news. Unless zeer heet does not mean something positive. It can also be te heet (too hot), of course!

  • Als in januari de vorst niet komen wil, dan is zij er zeker in april.

    • If frost does not want to come in January, it will certainly be there in April.

We will not have vorst in January, it looks like, so we will get it in April! Well, April is always a notorious month for unexpected weather

  • Gelijk januari, zo ook juli.

    • As is January, so is July.

In line with what the previous weerspreuken predict, rain in January is not great. A lot of rain in July as well? Alright, a rainy summer. What else?

  • Heeft januari koude en droge dagen, dan zal in februari de sneeuw u plagen.

    • If January has cold and dry days, then February shall plague you with snow.

Again, we will have wet and not very cold days, so February won’t bring us snow, either? Yay! Well, snow can be fun, but I can pass on the snow in February! Some good news 🙂

  • Geef januari een sneeuwtapijt, dan zijn we gauw de winter kwijt.

    • If January gives a snow carpet, then we will be done with the winter soon.

Well, while we will not have dry or snowy days, but rainy ones, the winter is still coming, apparently.

There is a little hope, though!

  • Als het vriest op St. Sebastiaan (20 januari), dan is het op 2 februari met de vorst gedaan.

    • If it is freezing on St. Sebastian (January 20), then there will be no more frost after February 2.

We just need freezing temperatures, then we will have no more frost after February 2nd! That is good news… Especially because the weersverwachting predicts 0°C (32°F) on that day. If it stays like that or even goes below zero, we might get lucky!

So all in all, the dire weersverwachting of the next 14 days does not hold much good for the coming months. But even “bad weather” can have its good sides, so let’s not despair!

And of course, these are weerspreuken, without a scientific basis. So take them with a gigantic grain of salt. It would be interesting if what they predict actually happens, though.

What do you think about such weerspreuken? Do you believe them? Do you have weerspreuken in your language that you would like to share?

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Peter Simon:

    Hi! Interesting stuff, thanks. However, following “Heeft januari koude en droge dagen, dan zal in februari de sneeuw u plagen,” it follows there won’t be snow in Febr. as January can be anything but cold and dry. Very short periods of around 0ºC minimums are anything but cold and it hardly stops raining for an hour at a stretch, so again (and you said too), anything but dry. You’re right, snow would be fun, but, helaas, no chance.

    Actually, there are lots of weerspreuken in Hungary too, and they usually prove true, at least for hundreds of years there. I have immense doubts about the future of those or these proverbs – nothing seems to go in anything like the usual ways (even with swings) any more. The Netherlands used to have deep frozen grachten for centuries – leading to the Elfstedentocht and a lot of other fun – and snow used to stay for at least a few day (if not for weeks), so what goes on in the last few years is a huge disappointment, beside being depressing. I remember having lots of bright sunny days even with snow about 8-9 years back, now a patch of blue in the sky every other day seems to be a godsend in this darkness.

    Cheers from P

    • Sten:

      @Peter Simon Ah, thanks for the correction, Peter! 🙂 Fixed it.

      Super interesting that the ones in Hungary are quite accurate. I’ll try and look back at these in some coming posts 🙂

      Yes, it is alarming how the weather has been in recent years. Just no serious freezing anymore in the Netherlands… I would love to see an Elfstedentocht in my lifetime! Let’s hope that happens!

  2. Errol:

    So interesting. Many thanks. When I was in Amsterdam in the winter quite a long time ago (in the 60s) I don’t recall the weather being so very cold and wet. I wonder if it has changed somewhat in the interim, because it doesn’t look very nice now! Anyway, all the best – surely a miserable January will mean a nice summer. Unfortunately, none of the weerspreuken seem to back this up. But that’s good reason to think they will be wrong!