Italian American Herald - November 2019
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                                                    COMMUNITY Q&A
Get to know Capt. Louis Cavaliere and Navy heroes
Give butternut squash a place at the table
Bro. Michael Rosenello, who helped build Padua Academy
 The fateful encounter between a soldier and a beggar is depicted here.
The distinct food and traditions of St. Martin’s Day
By Jeanne Outlaw-Cannavo
Each November, in many countries, Roman Catholics celebrate St. Martin’s Day. According to legend, St. Martin of Tours was the son of a Roman official who became a soldier. He was also a convert to Christianity. One very cold autumn day, near the town of Amiens, he met a beggar. Martino, carried away by his good natural instinct, cut his cloak in two pieces and gave half of it to the beggar. Like magic the cold disappeared and the sun began to shine. That night, he dreamt
of Jesus wearing the half-cloak and saying to the angels, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is now baptized; he has clothed me.” Later known as St. Martin of Tours he would eventually become a bishop in Tours France. He died on Nov. 8, 397.
In Italy from north to south, tables are richly laden with wine, chestnuts and goose. St. Martin’s Day falls during the season of chestnuts and other delicious autumn food, especially goose. Why goose? The goose represented the “pork” of the poorer rural people who were strong devotees. They
would eat a lot on St. Martin’s Day because a period of fasting started the next day.
The tradition to eat goose refers also to the Celts and their Samhain, the Celtic New Year’s Eve. The goose was sacred for the Celts, because it represented the Messenger, who led the dead to the afterlife.
In present-day Italy you can eat goose dishes mostly in northern Italy, but not in Rome. Probably the reason is that geese saved Rome from the Gallic invasion and they were venerated instead of eaten. Geese are also connected with St. Martin’s history. When
people selected him as bishop of Tours, France, he initially tried to hide but some geese found him, Unable to hide anymore, he then accepted the bishop’s post.
Eating goose is popular in northern Italy, especially in Friuli, Veneto, Lombardia and Emilia-Romagna.
On Nov. 11, children with pans and
lids go around in Venice asking for coins or candies from shopkeepers or bystanders and sing a nursery rhyme in dialect. This tradition
continued on page 6
Legends retell the encounter between beggar and Roman soldier
Vol. 6 / No. 11

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