Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The beginning of winter?

There's a sudden chill in the air, and tomorrow is St Martin's Day, of whom the Czech proverb says 'Svatý Martin přijíždí na bílém koni' or 'Saint Martin is coming on his white horse' - in other words, the snow is on its way. But although the bookies are taking bets on a fall of snow on the 'Bald Mountain' of the Czech-Slovak border, it would be premature to expect too much too soon here in Prague.

Last year, for the record, the snow didn't arrive until mid-December, though when it did it hung around for an awfully long time, in quite large drifts, some of it not melting until February, if memory serves.

As well as being the harbinger of winter, St Martin - a Roman legionary who converted to Christianity - is the patron saint of winemakers. Snow or no snow, tomorrow will resound to the opening of countless bottles of 'Svatomartinské víno' across the country.

The fact that St Martin was a monk in Anjou and introduced certain grape varieties into that region of France has led some people to link the November arrival of the new Czech vintage with that of the Beaujolais Nouveau. But as this entertaining article by Rob Cameron suggests, the traditions are separated by a good six hundred years.

To keep a weather eye on conditions in Vršovice, click here and be prepared to wait while the graphics load.


Fio said...

We've both posted similar photos today :-)
Best regards from Gliwice, Poland!

Alex Went said...

Thanks Fio; I think we're on practically the same latitude, which probably explains it - though I have a confession to make: the photo was taken exactly a year ago, in November 2009!

Karin said...

I am visiting in Pennsylvania, USA, and it looks like St. Martin won't arrive on his white horse today, but I hear when it does snow, it can be quite heavy. So now I have a new toast when I drink my glass of wine, "Here's to you and St. Martin"! Liked the link to the weather! BRRRRR it is cold there.

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