The Ice Saints (Die Eisheiligen)

The next few nights are watched by gardeners here maybe not with dread, but certainly with apprehension…

The Ice Saints

  • Pankratius – Saturday, 12th May
  • Servatius – Sunday, 13th May
  • Bonifatius – Monday, 14th May
  • and the cold Sophie – Tuesday, 15th May

Based on centuries of observations, these dates are still considered to be the last frosts of the spring- at least in our region. Many well-known gardening and farmer proverbs in Germany focus on these Saints’ days. Geraniums, bedding plants, window boxes etc will generally not be seen before frosty Sophie has been and gone! And indeed, after temperatures of 30°C on Friday, Sunday night could bring a light ground frost. Now where is my garden fleece…

“Die kalte Sophie macht alles hie.”  – Cold Sophie spoils everything.

Are there similar dates or proverbs where you live?


9 thoughts on “The Ice Saints (Die Eisheiligen)

  1. I love that you have names for the days! We have had frost as late as June 12, but not in a long time. I don’t put my pots and boxes out until the end of May.

    • Wow, mid-June is late. Yes, the saints’ days are used here as reminders for all sorts of things all year round. For example, 24 June is Johanni Day, and the last day for picking asparagus!

  2. In French parts, it’s called “Les Saints de Glace” (who’d a thunk it?!) – even ordinary balcony-pots-only friends here in Lausanne will quote the adage and know not to get anything going before those dates have passed! Apparently it dates from the Middle Ages, and is a very accurate guide. I guess we from our ocean-warmed temperate northwest would be less aware of the risk of big highs and lows that can happen to our continental cousins!

    • Hi Verity! It’s amazing how such a “rule” is so widespread in Europe, where the weather can also vary so much. I don’t think there is any equivalent in Britain.

  3. Pingback: Tuesday at Two (May 14th) | Words and Herbs

  4. I love this idea! I think we were visited by a Canadian “Ice Saint” last night (a nameless one). We had frost overnight despite the fact that last week it was “shorts weather.” I’m worried about our tulips and strawberries.

    • There is one more date in June when cooler weather often occurs – called “sheep’s cold” because the sheep have usually been shorn by then! I love these old weather proverbs and dates as they are so often right -a good guideline for gardeners!

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