"It's too cold outside for angels to fly."
Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer - Baby Its Cold Outside
Most years in May, with some exceptions, Austria along with most of Europe goes through an icy spell that throws us back into winter for a week. Those glorious spring days seem to take a break or disappear without so much as a protest to be replaced by rain, icy winds and extremely cold weather. In the Alps, the days can sometimes herald the last of the winter snowfall for the year. After that is generally becomes a downhill run into summer.
The days are referred to at the Eisheilige (Ice Saints). The worst day is usually St. Sophia’s feast day and she is referred to as the Kalte Sophie (Cold Sophie). Despite global warming and indications of climate change during the seasons, these days religiously, (pardon the pun), arrive every year around the same time and have for centuries. Farmers generally hold off some of their labours, to ensure that any work in the fields is not wasted. The days generally are:
St. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienna – 11. MaiSt. Pankratius, an early Christian Martyr – 12. MaiSt. Servatius, Bishop of Tongeren – 13. MaiSt. Bonifatius, an early Christian Martyr – 14. MaiSt. Sophia, an early Christian Martyr – 15. Mai
This year Vienna, Austria was struck during the period of 13 through to 18 May in particular. The dates don’t always coincide with the Ice Guys, as the historical average indicates on the chart. The days can also be slightly different in other areas of Austria. For Vienna, This year Pankratius seems to have had a holiday. Mamertus did kick it off though an obvious drop of 6 degrees from the day before. Bonifatius seemed not to be so serious as in other years. Sophia, on the other hand, was just a cold as ever.
Maybe Mamertus, Pankratius and Bonifatius woke up or got serious for the last three days. Could be that Bonifatius was feed up as he is never really given as much press as the first 3 guys (Drei Eisheilige), deciding to stick around longer than necessary, freezing us mere mortals for a few extra days. From my research I found that Boniface had a mistress called Aglaida. I wonder if he stuck around longer than he needed to catch some action with Sophia ;). Poor old Aglaida never made it into the Roman Catholic collection of saints, so they probably miss getting together at these regular conventions of saints. She fared better in the Orthodox list, where they seem to be a celebrated couple on 19 December
The last three days have been a nice warmer change, after the old farmers rule as well as the weather have lived up to tradition. The Eisheilige have taken off until next year, in Austria at least. The promise that spring gave us in April, seems well on the way to being fulfilled.
My tip for travellers is to perhaps plan your trip to Europe with these days in mind but also remember some years they can be more temperamental on their choice of days, than religiously following protocol. Well that is what the historical average tells me anyway. Also check the weather history of the regions and areas you decide to travel.
So after the departure of the Eisheilige, the sidewalk café crowds are once again happy. The parks are full with people. And me? Well I can start rifling through my wardrobe of summer clothes , while blowing a warm kiss to the departed Eisheilige. “Auf Wiedersehen” to the Fab Five for 2014!
Crowded House - Weather With You
YouTube Channel - emimusic
"It Was Cold Enough to Freeze
the Balls Off a Brass Monkey!"
the Balls Off a Brass Monkey!"