“São Martinho” or Saint Martin of Tours was a Roman Soldier who was baptised as an adult and became a bishop in a French town. The most famous legend concerning him was that he had once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm to save him from the rain and the cold. That night he dreamt of Jesus wearing the half-cloak and saying to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is now baptised; he has clothed me”. Saint Martin died on November 8th, 397, and was buried on November 11th, 397.
In Portugal November 11th is commonly associated with the celebration of wine maturation from that year, and is traditionally the first day in which the first wine is tasted. It is also tradition to have a big “magusto”, eating roasted chestnuts on a fire.
It is also said that the “magusto” represents the sacrífice in honour of the dead. Many years ago, in some villages, it was a tradition to light fires and prepare, at midnight, a table with chestnuts for the family of the deceased to eat.
An old typical Portuguese saying related to Saint Martin’s day tells us:
“On Saint Martin’s Day go to the wine cellar and taste the wine”
This date is also very popular because of the good weather which occurs in Portugal during this period of the year, typically called “Saint Martin’s Summer”. This is related to the miracle of the soldier’s legend who claimed that the weather had remained sunny during three days after the blessing of Jesus.