“Saint Martin’s summer lasts three days and a bit” is one of the wise proverbs of the ancient farmers. And Grandma Maria, yesterday at lunch, dusted it off as if opening an old drawer of memories.
We were all at the table, in front of the crackling fire. We were enjoying the wild boar with olives that ‘our chef’ had prepared and we were sipping a glass of Eclissi.
While we were talking about the weather, Grandma surprised and amused us by pulling out this popular saying. Which, like so many others, holds a great truth.
Saint Martin’s summer
The legendary Maria explained to us that Saint Martin’s summer means some days before mid-November. Precisely the 11th – the day of the celebration of Martin of Tours, who was buried on that very date – and then, indicatively, the 12th and 13th.
This period of the month is called “summer” because it is generally characterised by a pleasant warmth that interrupts – although briefly – the first cold of autumn.
These are days in which mild climate, clear sky and sunshine remind us of the summer season, now (unfortunately) gone. And which give us a glimmer of light before the greyness of winter.
The Christian origins of the proverb
The proverb has its origins in an episode from the life of Saint Martin, bishop of Tours in the 4th century, patron saint of soldiers and knights, travellers and hoteliers, winegrowers and grape pickers.
According to the hagiographic account, Martin met a cold beggar during a particularly stormy winter and gave him his cloak. Immediately after this noble gesture, the rain stopped and the sky opened up.
That same night, Jesus appeared to Martin in a dream and revealed to him that he was indeed the beggar to whom he had given his cloak. And so Martin, who was still a soldier at the time, embarked on the path of faith.
Legend has it that every year, in commemoration of the saint’s generosity, in the days around his celebration, the cold weather breaks its grip and makes way for pleasantly mild weather.
Although it is a popular proverb, Saint Martin’s summer is corroborated by science. Climatological maps from recent decades confirm that temperatures rise every year before mid-November.
It seems that cyclically the anticyclone expands from Spain towards the Mediterranean. This brings high-pressure conditions and protects most of central and western Europe from disturbances.
Our Saint Martin’s summer
And now all we have to do is enjoy Saint Martin’s summer and its warmth, perhaps on the terrace, with a glass of Estroverso, almost as if it were summer…