A letter arrived in the mail today from my penpal, Aga, from Poland. She wrote a rather long letter and sent along a postcard with a local Cathedral on the front. She also mailed me a pin and a packet of basil seeds. She’s going to school to be a horticulturalist. The seed packet is written in Polish…which I don’t speak. But I don’t see this as a problem, because I kill all plants we own. This one wasn’t going to have any luck even if I could read the instructions. Good luck basil seeds! I don’t expect you’ll be around very long, but the best of luck to you! The pin she sent says “Kocham Marcina!” Which translates to “I love Martin!” I did a little research to find out what this means. Check out what I found below the photo!
The pin is actually for St. Martin’s Day.
St. Martin’s Day is celebrated on Nov. 11 throughout Europe. Named after St. Martin, the 4th-century Roman Catholic Bishop of Tours, France, this holiday spread from France to Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe.
It celebrates the end of the growing season and the beginning of harvesting. It also marks the last day to celebrate before the fasting of Advent begins. Children and adults walk down the streets with lanterns and torches, and sing St. Martin songs. The children visit neighborhood houses singing and reciting poems, which earns them sweet treats, not unlike Western Halloween.
Nov. 11 is Independence Day in Poland, but it is also St. Martin’s Day and in Poznań, Poland, the Roman Catholic saint’s name day seems to take precedence.
Every year on Nov. 11, thousands of Poznań residents attend a high Mass in St. Martin’s Church followed by a parade through St. Martin Street led by “St. Martin” sitting astride a white horse. St. Martin rides up to the square in front of Zamek Cultural Centre and is handed the keys to the city by the mayor. Then the celebration begins in earnest.
Inside Zamek, there are exhibitions, concerts and performances, while outside, there’s a street market with knights reenacting medieval jousting tournaments. A splendid fireworks display ends the day.
Pozanians treat themselves to St. Martin’s Croissants – rogale swietomarcinski also known simply as marcinski. These crescent-shaped pastries filled with poppyseeds and almond paste are consumed by the hundreds of thousands.
Legend has it this centuries-old tradition commemorates a Poznan baker’s dream. His nighttime reveries had St. Martin entering the city on a white horse that lost its golden horseshoe. The very next morning, the baker whipped up horseshoe-shaped croissants filled with almonds, white poppyseeds and nuts, and gave them to the poor. (Click here to read more).
I’m part Polish if you didn’t know, so I love to learn more about Poland from Aga. I wish I could speak Polish. Italian is first on my list of languages to learn though.