April Frost – Lune Rousse
April Frost is known as Ginger/Red Moon – Lune Rousse.
It corresponds to the lunar month that starts with the New Moon following Easter, generally between April 5 and May 5.
Cloudless nights, clear skies and cold winds can easily trigger temperatures to severely drop overnight!
The name of Lune Rousse – Ginger Moon doesn’t reflect the colour of the moon.
It warns that all young shoots turn into a rusty colour if they get frost damaged during the night.
Three Saints – Saints de Glace
In France, April Frost is also associated with the Saints de Glace – Three Saints. St-Mamert, St-Pancrace, St-Servais were celebrated on May 11-12-13, when late frost occurred during the half moon.
Back in the 6th century, when this religious tradition began, France was predominantly rural.
People indeed lived at the rhythm of the seasons and weather affected crops.
People prayed Mamert on the 11th, as temperatures generally dropped during the night and destroyed the young shoots.
But Mamert was often unable to help them, so they invoked Pancrace and Servais on the 12th and 13th.
People don’t invoke them anymore, but there’s still a risk of frost during these three nights.
Popular sayings related to the Saints de Glace
Popular sayings helped farmers to remember these dates.
Saint Mamere, Saint Pancrace et Saint Servais font à eux trois un petit hiver (the three saints created a little winter.)
May 11th: Attention, le premier des Saints de Glace, souvent tu en gardes la trace – Beware of the first of the Three Saints, as it will left its mark.
May 12th: Saint Pancrace souvent apporte la glace – Saint Pancrace often brings ice.
The last frost of the year in other regions
In some regions, where temperatures are harsher, the last frost of the year can occur later.
This could be on St. Boniface’s Day on May 14 in Eastern France, St. Yves’ Day on May 19 in Brittany and St. Urbain’s Day on May 25.
People used to say that:
Le bon Saint-Boniface, entre en brisant la glace – Good St. Boniface has to break the ice to get in.
Quand la Saint-Urbain est passée, le vigneron est rassuré – After St. Urbain’s Day, the winemaker doesn’t need to worry about frost
Craignez le petit Yvonnet, c’est le pire de tous quand il s’y met – Beware of young Yvonnet, he’s the worse of them all if he wants
Mamert, Pancrace, Boniface sont les trois Saints de Glaces, mais Saint-Urbain les tient tous dans sa main – Mamert, Pancrace, Boniface are the Three Saints, but St.Urbain has the last word
French names have evolved since the 6th century. Mamert, Pancrace and Servais became obsolete and Ste-Estelle, St-Achille and Ste-Rolande replaced in 1960.
The dates though always remain the same, so mind the frost on May 11-12-13!
The dates for the Lune Rousse and the Saints de Glace are registered on the French calendars and are very useful to gardeners.