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São Martinho, Castanhas & Magustos

Here in Portugal the 11th of November is recognized for a certain special holiday: St. Martin's Day. Martin (or Saint Martin of Tours, as they called him) was a Roman soldier who was stationed in France during the year of 397. According to local legend, as he was wandering the streets horseback during a cold winter storm when he came across a beggar in desperate need of warmth. Martin, the noble man he was, took his sword and cut his cloak in half, so that he could give that half to the beggar. Immediately after, the clouds parted and the sun began shining high in the sky. Supposedly, the beggar that Martin clothed was Jesus.

Ever since, the warm and sunshiny days seen during this time of November, amongst all the cold, rainy days Portugal typically has during fall (although this year has been quite an exception because almost all days have been warm and sunny) are called St. Martin's Summer. All thanks to the kind deed of this Roman solider. 

At school, the children celebrated all day long with games, activities, songs.... and chestnuts!

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Apparently chestnuts are harvested around this time, which is why they are so prevalent during this holiday. It could also be related to the idea that the chestnuts' shell looks like St. Martin's two-pieced cloak after the they've been salted and popped open. - Someone actually told me that. Who knows.

It was a fun experience for me as well as I was able to learn a little about Portuguese culture this day. I was even able to try out my very first chestnut! (Fun fact - chestnuts are not nuts... they're fruits. Who would've thought?)

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However, the celebration doesn't end there. In addition to all of the roasted chestnuts, this time of the year is also known for the Magusto, celebrated by tasting some of the recently matured wine many have made in-house in the previous months. (It's also common to hear a lot of people drinking agua-pe or jeropiga during this time as well. Honestly, I only know the names, I haven't had the opportunity to try them yet, but I'll let you know if I do! ;))

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