Couldn’t find anything in English about the Eisheilige, so at least until the bots find this corner of the web, this’ll be the lone English explanation. Not sure I like the pressure.
The Eisheilige could be translated as ‘icy holy days‘, and I’ve also heard these days called the gestrenge Männer (‘strict men‘). It’s a weather phenomenon in central Europe in the middle of May in which it often gets unseasonably cold. Some places it’s three days, some four or five, and finally there are even places that consider the Eisheilige to be a full six days.
The Wikipedia entry tells me they’re the Saints’ Name Days for 11-15 May…here they are listed:
Purportedly, the stable spring weather can only occur after Holy Sophie is behind us. Sounds a bit unbelievable, doesn’t it? Like you can really predict the weather in such a way.
But here’s the thing. I’ve lived in Germany more than a decade now. More often than not Bavaria gets unseasonably cold for these several day in the middle of May. Almost without fail. And the rest of May is regularly quite beautiful. On this one, I’m going to trust the farmers. Just like Ben Franklin and his Farmer’s Almanac, they know what’s going on.
I’m sad to report that after the Eisheilige are past that we’re not quite done with such weather cycles. In June (sometime between the 4th and 20th of June…often exactly the 11th of June) we have the Schafskälte (cold sheep days). Again, there’s unseasonably cold weather. Not every year, but often enough that it’s even got a name. Named after the sheep. Not too shabby.