The Feast of St Martin

or St Martin’s Day, or Martinmas, or “Martinstag” where I am here in Germany, is celebrated on 11.11.

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Based on the legend of Martin of Tours, a Roman legionary serving in Amiens in the 4th century who, happening upon a sparsely clad beggar in the depths of winter, cut his cloak in two with his sword and gave one half of it to the beggar.

The many threads making up the fabric of the legend of St Martin include:

Martinsgans with copyright

The goose:

having turned his back on the military and founding the first monastery in what was then Gaul, Martin was later called upon to become the Bishop of Tours. Considering himself unworthy of this office, however, he hid in a goose pen – but the cackling geese betrayed his presence – he became the Bishop of Tours and the geese became dinner in return for their betrayal. Hence the tradition of serving a roast goose on the Feast of St Martin…

Martinswecken with copyright

The “Martinswecken”:

the recipes and shapes are legion but the tradition is that of sharing – the breaking of bread and sharing it with the person next to you in the spirit of Martin of Tours…

Lantern with copyright

The lantern:

in Germany, as the dark half of the year sets in, processions of lantern-carrying children commemorate the legend of Martin of Tours.


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