Information about Skiing, Walking, Outdoor Adventure
Die Eisheiligen - Monday 23 May
Our neighbour was right. Die Eisheiligen (Ice Saints) arrived this morning. It was Sophie, the last one. Huge flakes (3cm) of snow! Our veggie patch neighbour was on her balcony taking photos too.
From centuries-old agricultural experience with spring frosts, Die Eisheiligen or The Ice Saints is the name given to St. Mamertus, St. Pancras, and St. Servatius. They are so named because their feast days fall on the days of May 11, May 12, and May 13 respectively, known as "the black-thorn winter". This period was noted to bring a brief spell of colder weather including the last nightly frosts of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere under the Julian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar introduced in 1582 moved the days, from the climatic point of view to became May 22–25.
The Swiss weather metro have confirmed exactly these climate things until 1965 measurements were made of ground frosts. However descriptions in literature describe the fall of Eisheiligen in Central Europe over the days of 11 to 14 May (Julian Calendar). Concluding this cold phase is the Cold Sophie on May 15 finally (now 28th May). According to tradition, any frosts after this date should have no threat to agriculture. (Source: http://www.csgnetwork.com/julianmanycalconv.html)
Measurements by the Swiss meteorological department since 1965 acknowledge a slightly higher frequency of ground frosts 22 – 24 May however do not concussively determine this as a particular phase. (Source: http://www.meteoschweiz.admin.ch/home/klima/vergangenheit/klima-der-schweiz/berichte-rund-ums-jahr/die-eisheiligen.html )
Graph shows Frequency of ground frost in April and May 1965-2008, Analyzed for the measurement series Payerne (490 m above sea level. M.)
Certainly this meteorological information is not in the Bernese Oberland area, however the locals say that a late Sophie means a long Summer. A good thought as I watch the unfamiliar low clouds roll past the Staubbach Falls. There is a dusting of icing sugar snow on the pine tree forest on top of the massive cliffs and the snow has become a light rain and the dog walkers are not deterred and day trippers gather in the car park with their self sticks to capture the Staubbach Falls behind them.
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