Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

A man for all seasons

The first thing that springs to mind when one sees this title is probably the film about the life of Sir Thomas More. It was made in 1966 by Fred Zinnemann and featured the famous actor Paul Scofield. In the early years of the seventies our headmistress invited us to the cinema on a school afternoon to go and see the movie as it was part of that year's particular history program. I loved history lessons - I'm still a big fan - and was thrilled to spend the afternoon at the cinema theater, indulging in one of my favourite pass times.

The film, although well acted and beautiful shot, was a disappointment. It dragged on and on and seeing the stern-looking Paul Scofield in tights didn't help. Our afternoon out turned into sheer torture. We were probably too young (13-14, I guess) to fully appreciate it. 

Today's post isn't about Thomas More or Paul Scofield though, but about St. Martin, whose 'fête' we celebrate tomorrow, November 11th.Why do I refer to him as a Man for all seasons? This former Roman soldier of Hungarian origin achieved an awful lot in his for that period (4th century) long life (he died at the age of 81). He Christianized almost the whole of Western Europe (you may be against or for it, but that's beside the point here), travelling all over the continent, brought vines to the Loire Valley (without him we wouldn't have all these lovely wines today), has thousands of villages all over Europe named after him, ... and brings treats to Flemish children on his name day!

La collégiale Saint Martin in Candes Saint Martin.

Indeed, in some parts of Flanders, Sint Maarten (as he is called in Flemish) is none other than the original Saint Nicolas, whom we celebrate on December 6th and the universal Santa Claus, who's racing through the sky with his reindeer on Christmas Eve. 

Where I live, the Sint Maarten tradition no longer exist, but I have some colleagues who live further north - only 30 km or so in the direction of Antwerp - whose children still receive presents from Saint Martin on November 11th.

Candles for Saint-Martin in the church in Candes.

Finally, November 11th is often the last summery day of the year. And it looks like it will be the case again this year. Like France and the UK we've been having a lot of rain and wind lately, but tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, dry and calm. This day is often referred to as 'Saint Martin's summer'. There is a legend attached to it. In case you're interested, I'll post about it later.

P.S. Now I need to get to the kitchen to prepare Sunday lunch: roasted pheasant with apples cooked in white wine and cripsy 'croquettes'.


chm said...

I'm sorry, I'll be late for lunch; I just finished my breakfast.

Since St. Martin feast is on the 11th of November, it was obscured by celebration of Armistice Day — Veterans' Day in the U.S. — in France and other countries.

In France, some obtusely "americanophile" people now call "l'été de la Saint-Martin" l'"été indien" which doesn't make any sense at all. Those people are really stupid! As we say in French: "Le singe imite l'homme!

Nadege said...

Lunch sounds wonderful! I like traditions, as long as we still remember their meanings. I vaguely remember "l'ete de la Saint Martin". I didn't realize it fell on November 11th, Veteran's day or "Armistice in France.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

I have a photo of me , when I lived in Holland , with St Nicholas and Black Peters either side of me ,, It was a long time ago, about 52 maybe :-(

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

We are off to Remembrance Day Service tomorrow at our local village. We have had so much rain in the past few weeks it will be a miracle if it is dry for the service tomorrow! Have a good day. Diane

The Broad said...

Wow -- that's really interesting. I have to say though, here in Northwest England -- in is nothing at all like summer -- unless, of course, the 'summer' is cold and rainy -- which is not unheard of, to say the least!amm

ladybird said...

Chm, I think it was Joe Dassin who introduced the 'été indien' in France. :)

Nadege, As Chm says, people tend to forget about Saint Martin because Armistice Day has -rightfully- taken over.

Anne, Have you read about all the upheaval there is in the Netherlands about the Black Peters?

Diane, I watched météofrance on Monday and the weather looked rather sunny in your area. Did the miracle happen?

Kathie, The weather gods haven't been kind on Britain lately, have they. But maybe Monday was dry ... after all? ;)