Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thirteen: Martinmas

November 11th is the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours (it is also Armistice Day, but that is another story), so here are thirteen bits of random information about Martinmas:

1. Read about the life of St. Martin of Tours here, or if you want more detail, head over to Wikipedia.

2. In England a number of the the old feast days were known by names ending in -mas, so St. Martin's Day = Martin's Mass = Martinmas. Others include Michaelmas (feast of St.Michael), Candlemas (feast of the Purification on February 2nd, when it is traditional to bless candles) and - of course - Christmas.

3. Some weather lore ... "Ice before Martinmas enough to bear a duck, the rest of the winter is sure to be muck" - in other words, and early cold snap means a wet and muddy winter. We have had a couple of frosts already this year, but not duck-bearing levels of ice. Another variation is "If ducks do slide at Martinmas, by Christmas they will swim."

4. A warm, sunny spell in autumn is known as St. Martin's summer, as it is supposed to end around November 11th. Unfortunately this year our St. Martin's summer is long gone!

5. Cattle were slaughtered and preserved for the winter around St. Martin's Day, so in England beef was eaten at Martinmas. Scroll down this article to find a recipe for Pot Roasted Martinmas Beef with Spiced Gravy.

6. Elsewhere in Europe, the traditional food for St. Martin's Day is goose.

7. Martinmas used to mark the beginning of Quadragesima Sancti Martini, or the Forty Days Fast of St.Martin, which ended at Christmas.

8. In northern England, Martinmas was the traditional date for hiring fairs where farm workers found jobs for the next year.

9. St. Martin gave the cloak from his back to a beggar. A good modern idea is to clear out old clothes on November 11th and give them to charity

10. In Germany children take part in processions carrying paper lanterns to celebrate St. Martin's Day.

11. You can find a temple for simple St. Martin's Day lanterns here,  a colouring page here, another lantern craft and lots of Martinmas ideas here.

12. Among other things, St. Martin is the patron of horse riders, soldiers, innkeepers, wine growers, tailors and geese.

13. Another tradition for St. Martin's Day is to drink some of the year's new wine ... so why not enjoy some wine tonight and raise your glass to St. Martin!

1 comment:

Kimberly B. said...

What a lovely list -- happy Martinmas!