France - St Martins Day

St Martins Day

This year: Monday, November 11, 2019

The legend says that one day, the legion, in which Martin was a soldier, approached the French city of Amis. It was autumn: the cold and severe wind was whistling in the fields. Soldiers were dreaming of an easy evening at the fireplace with a cup of hot soup in their hands. And so they sped up their walking. And here they were at the city gates - one more step and they are inside. Soldiers did not even see the old half-naked man, who was sitting at the wall. He was shaking with cold. With his trembling voice he asked for a little alms. But soldiers were passing him with firm quick steps. They even did not care to look at him. Martin was heading the legion. He was riding his horse dressed in a long red richly adorned cape. When he saw this hungry and cold old man praying for alms, he stopped his horse and got down. The whole legion stopped. Soldiers were greatly surprised. Some of them were annoyed too - they were cold and wanted to sleep. Martin took his sword. Soldiers could not make out, what he was going to do next. Why did he take out his sword? "This man is old and he is not armed" - this is what they thought to themselves.

Martin took his beautiful cape off, cut it into two parts and gave one to the old man. Then, he took some bread from his saddle sack and gave it to the beggar. The old man wanted to thank Martin for his kindness, but he was already on his way to the city.

From that time Martin is the patron saint of the poor, as well as soldiers, weavers, cattle, birds and alpine shepherds.

On this day people use to set fires on city streets. They throw old baskets into the fire and jump over it. People light torches from these fires and make festive processions. One person puts on a cape and gets on the horse just like Saint Martin.

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