Saint Martin’s day


‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?

Today, Saint Martin’s day, is a day of food and drink celebrated with both wine and foul. At least part of the festivities date back to the middle ages when Advent still was a penitential season complete with fast. This day was one of the last festivities before entering that season. Being in November, the day also bore the characteristics of a harvest festival, and in Martins native France this day marks the beginning of the wine harvest. The wine, Saint Martin’s wine, today might be recognized as Beaujolais nouveau. Today that famous wine makes it appearance the third Thursday of November. Its release is often widely publicized and celebrated, perhaps it might be wise to remember the Saint it is associated with while enjoying a glass. Wine, of course is only one part of the festivity, there also need be a food. This time of year also marked the harvesting of winter meat, and the meat associated with St. Martin is goose. There is a story explaining Saint Martin’s goose, but it might be wise to first review a few milestones in Martins life.

Martin was not born a Christian, though he began associating with them at the young age of ten. At fifteen he joined the army. During his service inn that army, a beggar asked for alms, and Martin obliged by giving him half his cloak. Shortly after he began formal entry into the Church. From catechumen he was baptized at eighteen, and at that point he left military service to enter a monastic life.

Legend says Martin had no higher aspirations in the Church. He had no interest in holding office, though he eventually did become bishop. That’s where Martins goose enters the story. While Martin was living an isolated life with fellow monks, the local bishop heard of his miracles and sought him out to elevate Martin to the rank of bishop. When the bishop’s men came to deliver the news to Martin, Martin was prepared and hid amongst a flock of local geese. Obviously the monk wished to remain in solitude, the bishops men however wished to complete their mission and deliver their bishops message to Martin. While waiting they heard the cackling geese, and after a while they investigated to find out why these birds were making such a ruckus. When they came across the flock, they found Martin crouched amongst them. His goose was cooked, and the Church had its bishop.

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