May 12, 13 and 14 are the name days of the three so-called ice saints, Pongrác, Szervác, Bonifác in the Hungarian calendar. Before weather forecast became big business and media event, Hungarian folklore created weather rhymes based on observing weather changes year by year. Szervác, Pongrác, Bonifác, megharagszik, fagyot ráz! – says a popular rhyme (Servatius, Poncratius, Bonifatius get angry, they will ‘shake’ freezes).  This year they came a few days earlier than usual.

Due to the observation that in the first part of May temperature may fall radically after sunny spring and sometimes even brings icy temperature and thus destroying the crops, farmers plant the so called sensitive vegetable plants like tomato, cucumber, beans and paprika only after this date. Farmers were so dreaded of these angry saints that they don’t have any cult and no Hungarian parent dares to name their children after any of these most unpopular saints.  Even their deaths could be part of a horror film. According to legend Pongrác got frozen in a woolen coat in the heat of the summer. Szervác got drowned in the Tisza river though there was no water in it, and Bonifác was stung to death by the mosquitoes. That’s why they are so angry with the people and keep coming back to irritate them.

Modern weather forecasters never take the responsibility for their wrong prediction. Popular wisdom, however, took care of that too. If it happens to be mild and sunny weather, the wine production will be excellent. The rhyme goes like this: Sok bort hoz ám a három „ác”, (Pongrác, Szervác, Bonifác), ha felhőt egyiken se látsz! (The three ”-tius” will bring a lot of wine if you can’t see a cloud on these days.)

Good advice for wine year lovers and experts: check the May weather of the year and you can tell whether it’s a good vintage.