2014 is almost over! Our livestock are ready for winter, either hunkered down in the henhouse, or chillin’ in the freezers. Thanks to modern food storage methods, our feasting isn’t relegated to a few special days, but it looks like our ancestors found ways to extend the party season anyway – “Tween Martinmas and Yule, water’s wine in every pool.”
Armistice Day is a relatively recent addition to our calendar of observances. An earlier tradition marked on November 11th is Martinmas Day, also know as St. Martin’s Day and Martlemas. It was a time to wind up outdoor work in the fields and start preparing for the long dark winter.
In Britain (and northern Europe) people couldn’t afford to winter over much stock besides the family milk cows and prized breeding animals. So in November “spare” animals were sent to market. In country areas, families would go in together on a cow to butcher and eat immediately. These markets eventually became known as “marts” after St. Martin’s day, when the markets took place. Martinmas was also an important day in the rural legal calendar. Hiring fairs were held at this time, with their opportunities for agricultural labourers to gain better employment and the chance of a holiday. It was…
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