The saying ‘monkey’s wedding’ refers to when a rain shower occurs whilst the sun shines. It comes from the Zulu phrase “umshado wezinkawu” which translates to “a wedding [for] monkeys”.
Nowadays most commonly heard in Northern Ireland, this phrase can be used to describe an array of scenarios in which the weather features both rain and the sun.
Examples of the saying Monkey’s Wedding
The saying ‘monkey’s wedding’ is most commonly used by an older Irish and South African generation, although many youngsters are also beginning to use it to describe the weather.
The saying can be used in the following situations: “Despite a brief monkey’s wedding, the weather held up great during the whole event.”
Or, “Wow, it really is a monkey’s wedding!”
Similar sayings to Monkey’s Wedding
There are many different cultures around the world that use similar sayings to a monkey’s wedding. The most direct is ‘jackal’s wedding,’ which is also a well-known expression in South Africa.
For example, many people in the Middle East use the phrase ‘The rats [are] getting married.’
In Bulgaria, people may say ‘The bears are getting married.’
In Hindi, the saying stays similar to the original South African, as ‘The wedding of the jackal.’
For many people in Calabria, the saying ‘When it rains with the sun, there is a foxes’ wedding’ is a popular alternative. This can also be seen in Japanese culture.
In Korea, people say ‘The tigers are getting married.’
In Turkey, the locals seem to abandon references to animals entirely, opting instead to say ‘ The devils [are] getting married.’ Similarly, in South America, older generations may say ‘The devil’s behind his kitchen door and he is beating his wife with a cooking pan.’ This is often shortened to “The devil is beating his wife”.
The most obscure of all is In Poland, where people say ‘When the sun shines and the rain rains, the witch makes butter.’
Monkey’s Wedding – a saying which has spread across the world
Whilst it is known that the saying ‘monkey’s wedding’ comes from the Zulu translation for ‘umshado wezinkawu’, there is no solid evidence to suggest where the other sayings originated from.
However, there is a reassurance in the fact that somehow, somewhere, they are all related. It seems as though the common link between all cultures and all people is a phrase that simply talks about the rain meeting the sun.