11 November 2016

St. Martin's Day

St. Martin's Day, also known as "Martinmas" or "Martinstag," is a celebration based around St. Martin of Tours, a soldier who later became a saint. He is best known for having given half his cloak to a beggar who was thinly clad on a freezing day. He later left the military and devoted his life to helping the poor. In Europe the holiday is celebrated with lanterns and roast goose.

Back when the season of Advent, like Lent, was forty days and involved fasting, Martinmas was a last feast before November 15. In some parts of Germany, "Here comes St. Martin on his white horse," means it's about to snow.

More about Martinmas:

About St. Martin of Tours

St. Martin's Day Traditions in Bavaria


Fish Eaters: Martinmas

St. Martin's Day in Ireland

St. Martin's Day (mouse over the photos to see the full images)

And appropriate for a Martinmas Day:

Christmas 1914: The First World War at Home and Abroad, John Hudson
I found this book in a discount book catalog and ordered it thinking it might be another book about the Christmas Truce, judging by the soldiers on the cover, and was pleasantly surprised to find it addressed Christmas in Great Britain (specifically in England) in all its aspects, including the Christmas Truce and also about the famous Princess Mary box, a gift that was sent to all of the soldiers serving (I was surprised on finding out after all these years how truly tiny it was!). In the process, it covered aspects of World War I that I had never heard of before, including zeppelin raids on the famous British beach Scarborough and other North Sea sites. Chapters are devoted to members of football/cricket clubs and military schools who joined up together only to have their ranks decimated by the war, the efforts of British women and girls (and even elderly men and invalided males) to knit items to keep their "boys" warm in the trenches (this includes a discussion of "trench foot" that would have horrified females of that day), Christmas fĂȘtes given for the soldiers, Belgian refugees on British soil, meeting Germans who had once been employed in England, and other memories wistful (families celebrating without a son or slon-in-law or father) or terrifying (early, uncensored reports of the carnage). Vintage postcards and photographs fill out this unique little book. As a history buff I enjoyed this.

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