Saint Martin’s traditions

Nov 9, 2019Portuguese culture and lifestyle

Just as the autumn and the cold weather sets in, Saint Martin comes to warm our hearts and bellies. Chestnuts are the fruit of the season and new wine is ready for tasting. The leaves on the trees are changing their colors, the wind reminds us of that winter is coming soon.

From North to South of Portugal Saint Martin is celebrated on November 11. At schools, kids use the spiny cupule for artworks. Grownups drink the new wine and make a toast to the harvests, to the winter, and to life.

Come along and celebrate Saint Martin with us!

Saint Martin’s legend

Legend says that in 337 (4th century), on an especially cold and rainy autumn in Europe, a Gallic knight was on his way back home when during a storm a beggar crossed his path and asked him for alms. He was cold and hungry. The knight didn’t carry anything with him and so he cut his cloak in half with his sword and when he handed it to the beggar the rain stopped and the sun started shining.

This miracle is known as the Saint Martin’s Summer. Since then, during the cold days of November, around the 11th, the sun shines and days get warmer.

Portuguese Saint Martin’s traditions

Kids at school have loads of fun making art with the leaves falling from the trees and with the spiny cupules of the chestnuts. Grown-ups complain about the cold weather but make a toast to life with a glass of new wine – as the harvest season just ended and the new wine is ready to start it’s aging – or with ‘jeropiga’ or ‘água pé’.

Jeropiga’ is an alcoholic drink prepared by adding brandy (‘aguardente’) to the grape pomace to stop the fermentation process, resulting in a more alcoholic drink than the wine. ‘Água pé’ is a traditional alcoholic beverage with low alcohol content as it is the result of water addition to the grape marc and brandy.

As you walk through the streets on almost every city in Portugal you’ll find roasted chestnut carts. It’s one of the most typical smells in the winter. There’s nothing better than to feel the cold on your face and buy a packet of hot roasted chestnuts and just walk along the city while tasting them.

Away from the city center, Saint Martin’s day is celebrated with a bonfire. Adults and children gather round. The rest is pretty much the same: chestnuts for everybody, sugary drinks for kids and alcoholic beverages for adults. No matter how old you are, everybody enjoys this celebration!

Join us for a unique experience, bring your scarf and get ready to be part of the celebration and inbody the traditions of our amazing country.

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