St Hilary’s Day — a truth or contradiction?

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Despite the mild weather, tomorrow is statistically the coldest day of the year Despite the mild weather, tomorrow is statistically the coldest day of the yearANDREW MATTHEWS/PA

Although this weekend is looking mild, tomorrow is St Hilary’s Day, which has the unenviable reputation of being the coldest day of the year, at least according to folklore.

Not that St Hilary himself can shoulder the blame for this legendary cold. St Hilary was a bishop of Poitiers in the fourth century, but long after his death his feast day on January 13, 1086 was marked by a long hard frost. And in 1205 an even worse winter freeze took hold that left the Thames in London iced over — so cold, in fact, that even ale and wine froze solid and had to be sold by weight. As Stow’s Chronicles recorded: “So began a frost which continued till the two and twentieth day of…

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