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

45 thoughts on “Josefi (Seasonal Celebrations)

    • I think the Pasque flowers have to have exactly the right conditions and the dry chalky sunny slopes nearby are perfect – there are two places nearby where they flower reliably in numbers. Have a nice Sunday Susie!

  1. I love your photos Cathy. Especially the top one. I was learning how to get that blurry background on my course today. It’s so nice to see what you have growing right now. Lovely post : )

  2. It is fascinating to me that no matter what country or culture, there are traditions that mark changing of the seasons! Thanks for the post!

    • I agree – It just shows how close we all feel to nature, even today and even with all the destruction and pollution in our environments. Thanks for your comment!

    • Not in our region Marie, possibly because it is always during Lent – I think cream-filled pastries sound like an excellent tradition though, and should definitely be introduced here! 😀

  3. I love the bavarian traditions – they structure the year. And your springblossoms are gorgeous! Here is still a lot of snow. I am going to visit a liverwort-day hold by the Loki Schmidt Stiftung. May be I am happy to see some too 🙂 Have a nice sunday! Uta

  4. Fascinating reading Cathy 🙂 What a shame that St Joseph’s Day is no longer a holiday. Will have to ask my Italian mum whether there are similar celebrations and folklore in her homeland regarding this day.

    • I bet there are, it being predominantly a Catholic country – I just read on the German wikipedia page that there are plans to make it a holiday again in Italy, as it was also abandoned in 1977.

  5. I enjoyed hearing about St. Joseph’s day – and the sayings, too. I laughed at the saying that only the laziest farmer wouldn’t already be in his fields! I love the little scilla, and the pasque flower looks so interesting!

  6. “Josefi-Tag” is a very old saint´s day. My grandparents celebrated this ecclesiastical feast, the
    Christian name of my “Opa” was Josef.
    I like your lovely nature photos, Cathy. My Pasque flowers didn´t yet open the fluffy buds.
    I hope earth and air will warm up soon …

  7. Cathy how wonderful to learn about this special day…St Joseph’s Day is also a big day for Italians and if a child is born on this day they name him Joseph or Josephine and everyone wears red…now that might only be Italian Americans I don’t know. So glad you have spring as ours is delayed again with spring. I look forward to my wildflowers like hepatica. Thanks for joining in with this wonderful post!!

  8. Lovely photos – really nice to see the spring flowers… ours are covered in snow again today! Would be great if the proverb is right, and winter will truly be gone after the 19th…

  9. Lovely to see your garden coming into bloom Cathy, you seem to be ahead of us – I have a few crocus that have been and gone, but the real Spring time flowers are still a few weeks away. definitely a time for feasts and celebrations!

    • Those are the first crocus – I’m hoping there will be a few more once it warms up, and then everything seems to appear at once. Can’t wait!

  10. I didn’t know the Bavarian origins of St. Joseph’s. How lovely to think of it ushering in spring. My birthday is the 20th which ushers in spring in our time zone. I have always loved that, simply because spring is such a happy season when the earth begins to wake up! 🙂 Happy St. Joseph’s Day, Cathy! Love the photos of the little flowers reaching up to get a drink of sunshine!

    • I hope you have a lovely birthday tomorrow – we are looking forward to some more spring sunshine at the end of the week. Thanks for stopping by! 😀

  11. Pingback: Gardens Eye View » Blog Archive » Seasonal Celebrations Revealed-March 2013

  12. Hi Cathy, I just subscribed to your blog to enjoy all your great photos which remind me of my years living in Europe. I also got a huge kick out of the video called “You have a Mole” from your humor section. May you have a lovely spring in Bavaria, truly one of the most joyful places I have ever been.
    Susan at www.

    • Nice to meet you Susan! It certainly is a lovely place to live here, and I’m hoping my mole has found new spring pastures to dig up! 😉

  13. Hi Cathy, Love the photos of the spring flowers. Are those all in your garden? I have a pulsatilla vulgaris this year too so I’m excited to see it bloom. Thanks for a great post on seasonal changes in Bavaria!

    • The Hepatica and the Pulsatilla are in the woods that are on a south-facing slope down to the river, and so a few things are just managing to flower even though it’s still rather cold. I’m glad you enjoyed the post Andrea – thanks for visiting! 😀

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