Dia de Sao Martinho – Castanhas – Roasted Chestnuts

“É dia de São Martinho;comem-se castanhas, prova-se o vinho”

“It’s Saint Martin’s day; we eat chestnuts and drink the wine”


Dia de Sao Martinho – Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated each year on November 11.

Martinho, was a Roman soldier who encountered a bad storm on a winter day wearing only his cape to to keep him warm.

While riding through the storm, he was approached by a beggar who was shivering with the cold. Upon seeing the beggar, Martinho cut his cloak in half to share it with the beggar. When Martinho did this good deed, the clouds broke up, the storm ended and beams of sun shined in the sky.

That night, Martin had a dream of Jesus, who was wearing the half-cloak he had given away to the beggar. A voice spoke, saying;  “’I tell you with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.”

Martin became a changed man and became a patron of the poor.

From this day on, he began looking at and treating people differently and was later canonized as a saint.

St Martin’s day is celebrated in many countries of Europe, as signifying the end of Fall and beginning of winter.

In Portugal, the first wine of the season is tasted and the harvested chestnuts are eaten around a bonfire.

The weather in Portugal during this time of year is generally mild and summer like, thus called; Verão de São Martinho (St. Martin’s Summer).

As the storm dissipated by the good deed of Sao Martinho, we thank God for the good summer like weather on the saints feast!



The scent of roasting chestnuts during the Holiday’s is an instant heart warming feeling!

The season for chestnuts is October through late December. Look for unwrinkled shells and a glossy brown shell.

Avoid dingy shells with small pin holes. They feel very firm to the touch. Smell them for a scent of mold which means that they are not good!


How to roast Chestnuts recipe:

1. Using sharp knife, make an incision about 1/8-inch deep through the top of chestnut.

2. After slitting place the chestnuts on roasting pan and roast them at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Here is a video of a different recipe with a great demonstration of the process!



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