A while back I wrote an article about the fact that Latvians not only celebrate birthdays but also Names Days. Each day in the calendar has several names and on that day those people celebrate their names day. My late husband Martin celebrated his Names Day on November 10 and this date is also a traditional Latvian holiday. Even though people don’t have a free day from work it is still steeped in traditional history.
Martin Day traditionally is the time that autumn ends and winter starts. This day is celebrated by other European countries and each one has its own special traditions. In these countries, this is known as St. Martin’s Day. It is celebrated on November 11.
What started out as a simple article letting you know about Latvian traditions on Martin Day has suddenly extended. I thought you might be interested to know that not only other European countries celebrate this day on November 11 but it is also celebrated in the U.S. St. Martin’s Day is looked at as an early start to winter holidays. Goose and hot mulled wine are included in traditional menus in many German restaurants. In Rice Park in St. Paul, Minnesota people gather together for a traditional lantern procession and the evening includes German treats and traditions. In Dayton, Ohio there is a St. Martin’s Family Celebration that is held on the weekend before and includes a lantern parade, the singing of St. Martin’s carols, and the lighting of a bonfire.
In Latvia traditionally people eat foods such as gray peas, ducks and roosters. Some people keep with the old-time traditions and serve roast goose. It is interesting to note here that my grandfather (my mom’s father) was also Martin. His name was Martin Grunte and the family lived in Riga. My grandmother had it easy when it came to roasting a goose. They had relatives in the country and every year they sent a goose to them for Martin Day.
Martin Day has the potential to be a very big holiday since at last count there are more than 13,000 Martins in Latvia.