Happy St. Martin’s Day by Barbara Betties

Happy St. Martin’s Day or Martinmas! If you lived in medieval times, you might very well be getting ready for—or already in the midst of—a major celebration. It’s the Martinmas feast, where you would have celebrated the end of autumn and the ‘natural’ beginning of winter.

St  Martin

By November the autumn harvest and land preparation for winter crops was completed. Time to get ready for the challenging days of winter. Hogs that had been turned out into the woods in October to fatten on acorns were brought in and slaughtered, and the meat preserved. Cattle were butchered, as well, keeping only those few used to begin production in the spring. (Food was scarce enough; extra for animals wasn’t available.)

In fact, the term Martinmas (or martlemass) cattle was applied to cattle butchered at this time of year. There was even an “old English saying his “His Martinmas will come as it does to every hog,” meaning “he will get his comeuppance” or “everyone must die” (Wikipedia.com).

November was often called Bloodmonth. Sounds gruesome, doesn’t it. Actually, it refers to this period of slaughtering animals to be preserved for food during the long, cold months ahead.

The Old English name for November was ‘Blotmonth’ literally “blood-month,” “the time when the early Saxons prepared for winter by sacrificing animals, which they then butchered and stored for food” (etymology.com). The name November came from “ninth month” which was where November fell in the old Roman calendar.

This celebration of the end-of-harvest-beginning-of-winter honors St. Martin of Tours. A predominant image of St. Martin is of his cutting his cloak in half and sharing with a beggar he saw along the roadside.

He was a former Roman soldier who became a humble monk and so deplored the idea of become a bishop, tradition says he hid in a pen of geese. It didn’t save him. The honking geese alerted the churchmen to his whereabouts. He was brought forth and ordained Bishop of Tours. Thereafter, geese were identified with St. Martin. And goose traditionally was eaten during the Martinmas feasts. Unless you were poor, of course. Then you couldn’t afford it. If you were lucky, you got chicken. Or maybe pork. Or beef. Those two meats were handy, after all.

In the countryside, this time of bounty was celebrated with bonfires, dancing and, of course, drinking and eating. Martinmas was an important time in the medieval calendar. In Scotland, it was a quarter day. (England’s corresponding quarter day fell in September.)

St. Martin’s day, the first feast day in November, could be considered a ‘man’s day.’ But the second November feast/holiday was in honor of St. Catherine. It was considered a ‘ladies’ day.’ It gave rise to the term the Catherine Wheel. But that’s another story.

Thanks for stopping by the hear the story of St. Martin’s Day and Feast. It sounds a lot like Thanksgiving, doesn’t it? What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?






The Heart of the Phoenix

Blurb:TheHeartofthePhoenix_w8462_b_med-2nd version

Some call him a ruthless mercenary; she calls him the knight of her heart.


Lady Evelynn’s childhood hero is home—bitter, hard, tempting as sin. And haunted by secrets. A now-grown Evie offers friendship, but Sir Stephen’s cruel rejection crushes her, and she resolves to forget him. Yet when an unexpected war throws them together, she finds love isn’t so easy to dismiss. If only the king hadn’t betrothed her to another.

Can be cruel

Sir Stephen lives a double life while he seeks the treacherous outlaws who murdered his friends. Driven by revenge, he thinks his heart is closed to love. His childhood shadow, Lady Evie, unexpectedly challenges that belief. He rebuffs her, but he can’t forget her, although he knows she’s to wed the king’s favorite.

And deadly

When his drive for vengeance leads to Evie’s kidnapping, Stephen must choose between retribution and the love he’s denied too long. Surely King John will see reason. Convict the murderers; convince the king. Simple. Until a startling revelation threatens everything.

Visit Barbara at:



https://www.facebook.com/BarbaraBettisAuthor                                                         www.twitter.com/BarbaraBettis

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1vSZgLF                                                                                             TWRP: http://bit.ly/1nIViQy



15 thoughts on “Happy St. Martin’s Day by Barbara Betties

    • Oh, my, pumpkin pie is a staple at our house, too! My grandmother and my mom always had mincemeat pie. I tried to follow that tradition, but no one else in my family likes it and I didn’t need to eat it all by myself!

    • Thought you might like that one 😉 What fascinated me was that he supposedly didn’t engage in combat, especially after being baptized and deciding to go into the church. Ironically, he agreed to serve out his time in the army after his commander asked him to and pledged to retire from the military himself if Martin would stay. So he did, but didn’t fight. And apparently that was accepted. Gave me a new idea of the fierce Roman legions 😉

  1. Fascinating info. Having lived on a farm, it makes sense. I love the part where he hid with the geese. I bet he did have a goose on his table that year. Thanks for sharing your research.

  2. Thanks so much for having me here today! I so enjoyed the chance to share Nov. 11 stories about what went on at this season 800 years ago.

    • Ashantay, the medieval folks had such a hard life, I’m glad they got the chance to ‘feast’ such as it was as often as they could!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s