Dew, dew or is it Duw, duw?

Morning dew and duw…

This blog title is a kind of a pun.  In Welsh, Duw means god.  The expression ‘duw duw’ is often used to mean ‘well I never’, ‘well,well’, or ‘dear me’, though it is often used in the place of a swear word.

After a chilly night, I woke to find the first dew of late summer covering the cars in the street.  As if any other reminder of the rapid approach of Autumn is needed.  I do love dew, the way droplets of it cling to spiders webs and sparkle in the early morning Sun like jewels; the way the wetness intensifies the dusty, dry colours of late Summer.

Dew and folklore

Dew gathered on St Bride’s Day (1st February) was considered to be particularly good for the complexion.  Bathing the face in dew early on May Day (1st May) Morning was excellent for the complexion, helping to whiten the skin and eradicate freckles. [1]

Samuel Pepys, on 28th May 1667, recorded the following in his diary:

After dinner my wife went down with Jane and W. Hewer to Woolwich in order to a little ayre, and to lie there tonight and so to gether May dew tomorrow morning, which Mrs. Turner hat taught her as the only thing in the world to wash her face with, and I am contented with it.

His wife obviously believed that any time in May would do.

May dew was also occasionally reported as generally medicinal, especially for weak limbs.  Also, some claimed that you could ‘make a wish’ while gathering it [1].

Some dewy weather proverbs [2, 4] are:

When dew is on the grass, rain will never come to pass.  When grass is dry at morning light, look for rain before the night.

If three nights dewless there be, ’twill rain you’re sure to see.

With dew before midnight, the next sure will be bright.

If you wet your feet with dew in the morning, you may keep them dry for the rest of the day.

Dew beliefs from Launceston, Cornwall include

…a swelling of the neck can be cured by going to the grave of the latest young person of the opposite sex before sunrise on the first of May (Beltane, ‘May Day’) and gathering the dew by passing the hand three times from the head to the foot of the grave.  The dew is then applied to the neck… A child weak in the back may be cured by drawing him over grass wet with morning dew on each of the mornings of May first, second and third. [3]

Herse was the Greek goddess of the plant-nourishing dew.  Her parents were Zeus and Selene [5].

  1. Steve Roud – The English Year
  2. Dew Folklore
  4. The Old Farmers’ Almanac
  5. Theoi Greek Mythology

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