Every year on the 11th of November, children are seen with hand-made lanterns constructed of straw and hollow beets. They walk along the streets following a man on horseback. The aroma of roasted goose and the sweet sounds of the children’s songs filled the air.
November 11 is the annual celebration of Saint Martin. Martin was a roman soldier born in 316 AD. As the story is told, Martin was riding horseback on a cold winter evening and came across a poor man sitting on the ground with nothing warm to wear or food to eat. Martin felt compassion for the man. He drew his sword, cut his warm cloak in half, and gave part of it to the shivering man. Later in his dreams, Martin saw the man again and realized who he was – it was Jesus Christ! After this experience, Martin was baptized and educated in Christianity.
The inhabitants of Tours (known today as France) asked Martin to become their bishop, but Martin did not feel himself a worthy representative and preferred to be left alone to pray. When sought out, he tried to hide in a goose pen, but the gaggle became loud and revealed him. Martin was dusted off and later consecrated as bishop. (Another legend says that the geese came into the church and interrupted Martin during a sermon.)
Historically, November 11 was a day for paying tax and feudal duty. This was typically paid with harvested produce. The 11th was also the last day before the beginning of the 40 day fasting period before a big Christmas feast, Christians holding lighted processions to commemorate St. Martin and to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.
We would like to invite you to celebrate Saint Martin and his generous heart this November with our roasted goose dinner.