Josefi (Seasonal Celebrations)

This coming Tuesday, March 19th, is St Joseph’s Day; for many in Bavaria this means spring has arrived! Therefore I’m tying this post in to Donna’s “Seasonal Celebrations” meme at Gardens Eye View.



Unless you live in one of the larger cities in Bavaria, such as Munich or Nuremberg, or even Regensburg, life is still very closely linked to the land, and the passing of seasons. The Catholic Church also plays a large role in rural Bavaria and thus a date that many of the older generation here in Bavaria remember well is Josefi, St Joseph’s Day, on 19th March. This day, considered to be the end of winter, used to be a holiday in Bavaria (until 1968), and several country proverbs revolve around it….

(I’ve translated them roughly into English here)

Ist’s Joseph klar, gibt’s ein gutes Honigjahr

If St Joseph’s Day is clear, it will be a fruitful year

Wenns erst einmal Josefi ist, so endet auch der Winter gewiss.

Only when Josefi’s passed, is the winter gone at last

The temperature will also often have risen by this date – with rain instead of snow – and, as another saying goes, only the laziest farmers will not be out in the fields!

The first spring flowers wake up around now. First the Liverwort…


Hepatica nobilis (16th March), in the woods nearby

And then the Pasque flowers…


Pulsatilla vulgaris (16th March), on the chalky slopes overlooking our valley

Traditionally the Scillas (Alpine squill/Scilla bifolia) – a protected species – will be flowering in the woods; my German “Oma” used to call them Josefiblümerl (although this name is now often given to Hepaticas as well). They grow wild in Germany, as far north as the Danube and even near the Rhine, and are a pretty sight – although I haven’t seen any for a few years. But I do have the cultivated variety seen commonly in gardens here…

Scilla siberica

Scilla siberica (woodland squill), growing in my garden

A few markets or the first festivals of the year take place around St Joseph’s Day. Also, since Joseph is the patron saint of carpenters, in some regions in the south of Bavaria a special bread with raisins in it is baked in honour of those working with wood. A special beer may be brewed in some towns for this date, and beer gardens might  open if the weather permits!

Well, it may not be beer garden weather yet, despite a few very warm days in early March, but I’m certain spring has finally arrived once again – and am grateful for every single bloom it brings!

Golden Crocus