The Ice Saints (Die Eisheiligen)

14 May

The weather is cooler at the moment, even though the sky is bright blue, and that is fully in keeping with the date. We are experiencing the Eisheiligen or ice saints, and it is almost always cooler for the five days they are among us. First comes Mamertus on May 11, then Pankratius, Servatius, Bonifatius and to round it off on May 15th comes Sophie (“die kalte Sophie” or “cold Sophie”).

The German version of Wikipedia gives all kinds of information about the meteorology of the ice saints, and seems to be rather skeptical, drawing, for example, on the implementation of the Gregorian calendar at different times in different regions and saying that we actually should see the ice saints eleven to twelve days later than currently expected (at which point they, of course, would no longer be called Mamertus, Pankratius, Servatius, Bonifatius, and Sophie).

I can only say that this year it truly is cooler than it has been and the forecast is indeed for warmer weather in a day or two. I can also tell a story. I was visiting friends this weekend, and we were all listening to the quiz show that is broadcast every Sunday afternoon by Austrian radio. One contestant had the chance to win a few extra points if he could name one of the ice saints. He paused for a moment and then said, in unison with my friend who was in the kitchen cooking, “Pankratius”. I’m not sure why he would stick out so much. I can be relied on to supply cold Sophie but not any of the others. No matter, the ice saints at least do seem to be alive and well in people’s minds!


One Response to “The Ice Saints (Die Eisheiligen)”


  1. Five | ecbinvienna - May 5, 2014

    […] (about 40ºF) here this morning on the 5th day of the 5th month. I think the ice saints may have arrived early this year, like everything else. […]

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