Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Last spring I posted a review of Maureen Sarsfield's novel Murder at Shot's Hall, which had been published in England under the title, Green December Grows the Graveyard. I preferred the English title but was puzzled by it.  Was it a line from a poem?  A country saying?  I searched the internet but found nothing.

And then last night I was finishing Barbara Pym's Some Tame Gazelle and ran across the following bit of dialogue among three characters, who were discussing the approach of Christmas:

"Yes, on Tuesday," said the curate.  "I can hardly believe it myself, the weather's so mild."

"They say a green Christmas means a full churchyard," declared Harriet with satisfaction.  "I dare say some old people will be taken."

"Taken?"  The curate looked puzzled.  "Ay, yes, I see.  I suppose we must expect that."

They were silent for a moment, until Belinda, not liking to see his young face clouded over, said, "I really can't think of any old people who are likely to die at the moment."

Mystery solved.  Obviously, a bit of English folklore.  I do like tidying up loose ends.


  1. Cool! I always thought it was a line from an obscure poem. Googling did little good, however.

  2. Apparently, I should have asked my husband to research the issue. He's a master of Googling. After he read my post he went to work and found that the while there are several variants, the most common is "a green Yule grows a fat graveyard."

  3. Very cool! Glad you were able to track it down.

  4. I am getting a little compulsive as I grow older. That thing has been nagging me since I read the book.

  5. It's a saying I've heard repeated around here (central Illinois), in the variant "A green winter makes a full graveyard."