Today celebrates Veteran’s Day in the USA as well as St. Martin’s Day. Veteran’s Day was originally called Armistice Day and was set aside to commemorate the end of fighting in World War I – which until that point had been the bloodiest and most destructive war in history. As worded beautifully by a Proclamation of the US Congress:
Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed…
Eventually the day came to celebrate and honor all veterans and all those who have served in the US Armed Forces. It is important that we take the time to honor our veterans and acknowledge their sacrifices that have earned our Freedom over the years. To all the veterans I say Thank You and God Bless! There’s a great write-up on the history of Veteran’s Day at the VA.gov website.
St. Martin’s Day
Today is also St. Martin’s Day or Martinmas as it is known in many parts of Europe. Saint’s Days and Feasts play an integral part in the annual rhythms of the year celebrating both the lives of holy saints as well as important milestones in the year.
St. Martin was a former Roman soldier turned Bishop who lived in the 4th Century in what is today France. He was known as a strong and humble leader and full of love and charity for those less fortunate. His most iconic image is when entering the city of Amiens in the middle of an icy winter he saw a poor beggar freezing in the street dressed in rags nearly naked and dead. Moved with charity he ripped of his regal military cloak and using his sword he cut it in half and gave half to the beggar to keep him warm. That night he had a dream of Jesus wearing the cloak and the next day he was baptized and became a Christian. You can read more of his bio here.
Saint Martin is the patron of soldiers, farmers, vintners, the harvest and winemaking. Throughout Europe this holiday marked the harvest of the crops, the making of new wine for the year, and the Matanza. The Matanza is the annual butchering of the pig or cow, unlike in modern times where one can go to the grocery store and buy meat all year round in the Old World meat was a rare luxury. Typically an animal would be fatted and cared for all year and then butchered and that meat would have to last for an entire year to feed a whole family. This is why nothing went to waste and everything was used. With this backdrop St. Martin’s Day has been celebrated for countless centuries (over 1500 years) as a great feast of the bounty of field and of the vineyard – very much like Thanksgiving is celebrated in the USA. Just like Thanksgiving in the US it is traditional in many places to prepare roast poultry for the great meal. I will be cooking up a huge feast today to celebrate and have a special toast to honor our American heroes.
St. Martin’s Feast Menu
- Garlic & Herb Butter Roast Chicken
- Homemade Herb Stuffing
- Patatas Gratinada (Bacon & Cheese Roasted Potato Gratin)
- Roasted Fall Vegetable Medley
- Sautéed Spinach
- Pumpkin Pecan Butter Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream