Chestnut Madness

 Last Saturday on the 11th of November it was the day of São Martinho (St. Martin’s Day)


The Portuguese celebrate this day by coming together to eat, drink and have fun by organizing a ´Magusto´. This involves at least roasted chestnuts, jeropiga (a sweet drink of home made brandy and grape juice), and a light wine água pé (a wine where water was added in the process), and new wine, since it is traditionally also the first day when the new wine can be tasted.

The chestnut drum

The chestnuts are normally roasted in a bonfire, but in our local village they made a smart invention and used a washing machine drum to roast the chestnuts!

I always like this tradition because of the mess it makes. As soon as the chestnuts come out on the table, the madness starts. Everyone gathers around the tables and starts peeling the chestnuts leaving the fingers full with black stains. There is wine and people go around with bottles of their home made jeropiga. As the Portuguese are proud of their creations, there is no way you can refuse a jeropiga without seriously disappointing the maker. Tasting one jeropiga after the other, people start to tell funny stories and try to smudge each other´s faces with their black fingers. This always happens, and it never get´s old! And when you pause for a little bit after a few loads of chestnuts and a pile of peels in front of you, the one next to you asks surprised: why are you not eating? do you not like them?


O verão de São Martinho

Finally, another good part of the festivity, is the weather! They call it: o verão de São Martinho:´the summer of St. Martin´. In the week of the 11th of November it is always warm and sunny, with last Saturday 20 degrees celsius during the day!


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