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The Ice Saints Cometh

By Maureen Schlangen

With chilly temperatures and frost warnings across much of the Midwestern and Eastern United States for the next few days, several saints with feast days this week are living up to their reputation.

St. Mamertus (also spelled Mamertius, May 11) is the first of five saints whose feast days have, over five centuries or so, coincided with a mid-spring cold spell often enough to warrant a foreboding nickname: the ice saints.

His feast day and those of Sts. Pancras (May 12), Servatus (also spelled Servatius, May 13) and Boniface (May 14) precede that of St. Sophia of Rome, a martyr nicknamed “Cold Sophie.”

A light piece I wrote in a May 2008 issue of Campus Report provides some insight from faculty and alumni on how this relates to the custom of waiting until after May 15 to plant vegetables and flowers outdoors. Read it in eCommons.

— Maureen Schlangen is e-scholarship and communications manager in the University Libraries.


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