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A Medieval Guide to Predicting the Year

It’s January 1st and you want to know how the year will go? You can use this handy guide, written by a 14th century Italian merchant, in which he offers what to expect throughout year, based on which day January 1st falls on.

Calendar page for the month of January with a man drinking from a bowl - from British Library MS Additional 21114  f. 1

Calendar page for the month of January with a man drinking from a bowl – from British Library MS Additional 21114 f. 1

His predictions cover the weather, what types of crops will be abundant, what diseases might strike, and even political news.

Here begin the events from one year to another, and how they may be foretold

If the first of January comes on a Sunday, the winter will be warm, and the spring will be damp, and the summer and autumn will be windy. There will be an abundance of sheep, and honey, and little wine, and few beans. Many young people will die, and there will be many thefts, and any news will be of princes and of kings.

If the first of January comes on a Monday, the winter will be ordinary, and the spring and summer will be temperate, and there will be a great flood, and great illness, and there will be little honey and wine and grain, and there will be great cold and ice and there will be a great mortality from iron, and many people will die of sore throats.

If the first of January comes on a Tuesday, the winter will be long, and spring and summer damp, and there will be much rain, and much snow, and the autumn will be dry, and there will be little grain, and there will be mortality among pigs and sheep, and mortality of women, and many ships will be lost, and there will be an abundance of honey, and a scarcity of flax, and there will be a great plague, and much fruit, and much oil, and there will be great disturbances among the Romans.

If the first of January comes on a Wednesday, there will be little grain, and an abundance of wine and of honey, and the winter will be warm, and spring will be damp, and the autumn will be temperate. There will be an abundance of oil and everything, and there will be dysentery and great mortality of people, and in various places there will be great famine, and much news to tell.

If the first of January comes on a Thursday, grain will be cheap, and flax and meat will be scarce. There will be many apples, and little honey. The winter will be temperate, and the spring will be windy, and the autumn, good. There will be mortality among pigs, and many eggs, and much oil and little beans, and much wine.

If the first of January comes on a Friday, the winter will be temperate, and the summer and autumn, dry. Grain will be cheap. There will be eye diseases, and many infants will die, and there will be movement of knights, and there will be much oil in some places.

If the first of January comes on a comes on a Saturday, the winter will be windy, and the spring long, and the summer will be unpleasant and stormy, and the autumn, dry. There will be little grain, and much illness from tertian fever, and mortality among old people, and abundance of fennel and wine, and great tribulations for Christians.

This text is from the Zibaldone da Canal, which was published in Merchant Culture in Fourteenth-Century Venice, translated by John E. Dotson (Binghamton, 1994).

See also: These are beautiful words to understand

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