Mary Goes Over the Mountain

I’m now 30% done with my Master’s degree. This last class, Folklore in American Literature, was not my first choice, because I was anxious to do more hands-on history stuff, and I’ve already taken another lit class. But it turned out better than I expected. Our instructor was still working on his Ph.D., so not actually a professor. Great guy whose goal seems to be preserving Pennsylvania German folklore. It’s ashame that he needs a second job working at Burger King to make ends meet.

Best part about the class was stumbling upon the only children’s book written by Conrad Richter, one of Pine Grove’s few claims to fame. It’s called Over the Blue Mountain, and is based on a Pennsylvania German weather superstition similar to that of Groundhog’s Day. If it is raining on July 2, when Mary goes over the mountain, then we will have six weeks of rain. No rain, then we have a dry spell. It’s origin is from a Catholic feast day known as the Visitation of Mary, when the Blessed Mother, pregnant with Jesus, traveled (over a mountain, perhaps) to visit her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.  I recommend the book, especially for anybody who’s lived in Pine Grove, as you will recognize the setting. And it’s short.

Oh, and during our last class, we mostly just watched Beauty and the Beast and Shrek.


8 thoughts on “Mary Goes Over the Mountain

  1. Wow- I didn’t now Conrad Richter wrote a children’s book. I love your last class….that sounds like my idea of a grad class….hope the next 60% goes well for you too!

  2. Hey Tim,
    Was researching “mary goes over the mountain” (my grandmother recited that poem a lot, she was a cousin to Richter’s wife, maybe that’s why she said the poem so much) and stumbled on this page. What a surprise. Must read that book. Richter also wrote “light in the Forest” and it was made into a Disney movie in the 60’s.
    Cousin Mark

  3. Hello, Tim,
    I have tried to find out info about Mary over the Mountain for years and, tonight, I stumbled on a gold mine – so to speak. My mother-in-law, who was Methodist, worked with “a bunch of Catholics” (her words) back in the 1960s, here in Sullivan County, PA. Dushore was mostly Catholic at the time and many of the early settlers there were Germans. Mary went over the mountain on June 27 (or 29). If her skirts were wet, rain would fall through the summer; if dry, no rain until August 15, the day of the Irish Picnic and, as I discovered, the Ascension (hope I spell it correctly) Day of Mary. What I do know is June 27 and August 15 are very ancient weather marker days.

  4. I was always told if she went over wet she would come back dry. Or if she went over dry she came back wet.

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