The Ice Saints Cometh in full force this year in Slovenia

Man holding a red umbrella and standing on The Butchers' Bridge looking over the Ljubljanica river towards the Trznica (market) Triple Bridge on a rainy day in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The wire fence on the bridge is covered with padlocks put there by locals and tourists. All this region was designed by Slovenia's most celebrated architect, Joze Plecnik.
Man holding a red umbrella and standing on The Butchers’ Bridge looking over the Ljubljanica river towards the Trznica (market) Triple Bridge on a rainy day in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The wire fence on the bridge is covered with padlocks put there by locals and tourists. All this region was designed by Slovenia’s most celebrated architect, Joze Plecnik.

It’s the time of the Ice Saints, and in Slovenia this year Ledeni Možje have brought with them the coldest period in May for 15 years, and as I sit here now writing this, Polulana Zofka is truly pissing herself.

Confused? Allow me to explain.

Rain clouds clearing over the Kamnik Alps after a day of heavy rain last week. On the higher ground they brought snow.
Rain clouds clearing over the Kamnik Alps after a day of heavy rain last week. On the higher ground they brought snow.

The Ice Saints

Ledeni Možje (the Ice Men) is a legend in Slovenia that derives from a wider legend throughout much of Europe, the legend of the Ice Saints. The three Ice Saints are Saint Boniface, Saint Pancras, and Saint Servatius. Their feast days are celebrated on May 11th, 12th and 13 across much of Southern Europe. In Slovenia however, the days are 12th, 13th and 14th. During this period in Central Europe it’s often believed there is a sharp drop in temperature. Farmers in many European countries will not plant their crops until after this period has passed; chiefly because it can also bring a late frost.

Pissing Sophia

Rain over Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, Slovenia.
Rain over Lake Bohinj, Triglav National Park, Slovenia.

Today, May 15th, is the feast day of Saint Sophia of Rome, known here in Slovenia as Mokra Zofka (Wet Sophia) or under the more comical name of Polulana Zofka (Pissing Sophia). Traditionally on Saint Sophia’s Day it rains a lot.

A hot summer to come

Man with umbrella with E = MC2 written on it in Kongresni Square, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
In Slovenia it’s easy to be confused about the weather this time of year. It can be sunny one minute, and rainy the next. Best to be prepared as this man with the umbrella was in Kongresni Square, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

So, in Slovenian Folklore if the Ice Men bring the cold weather, and Sophia pisses herself, then the belief is that this heralds a very hot and sunny summer.

Well over the last few days the temperatures have plummeted to mark the coldest May for 15 years. A couple of weeks ago it was over 20 degrees and sunny. Today it is 6 degrees and truly pissing down with rain. So if the legend is true, we are in for a very hot summer indeed.

As a Slovene who is used to hot summers, my wife is very happy about this. But as a wimpy Englishman who hates the heat and, as a landscape photographer who also hates hot, clear sunny days because clear skies are boring and heat produces humidity which reduces clarity, I feel a sense of foreboding.

Time to invest in that air conditioning unit, and a photography trip to cooler climates!

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About Ian Middleton

Ian Middleton is a professional writer and photographer from the UK. He is the author of several books, including Mysterious World: Ireland and A Practical Guide to Photography. His photos have been published in various books and magazines such as Lonely Planet, Bradt Travel Guides, Guardian newspaper and more. He has written several articles for Landscape Photography Magazine, Total Slovenia News, and many more.... Ian has travelled around the world, and also lived and travelled for many years in Ireland. He currently divides his time between the UK and Slovenia. All articles here are copyrighted. For permission to reproduce or syndicate any of these, please contact Ian directly.