11th of November - Remembrance Day, Martinmas
11th of November is the 315th day of the year
What we now call Remembrance Day was previously called Armistice Day, as it originated as a way to commemorate the dead of World War I, the day chosen as it was at 11am on November 11th in 1918 that the Armistice ending that conflict was signed. Sadly other wars and their dead followed, hence the change of name. Many of the ceremonies have actually now been moved to the Sunday nearest the 11th of November, perhaps diluting the power of the two-minute silence with which we mark the moment: stopping work, and even in the early years stopping traffic and all other movement in towns, was more of a commitment than such action on a day of rest.
St Martin’s Day or Martinmas is the feast day for St Martin of Tours, a fourth century Roman soldier who converted to Christianity when an adult, becoming a monk and Bishop of Tours, founding in that city the first monastery in what was then Gaul. The legend of how as a soldier he shared his cloak with a beggar who turned out to be the apparition of Christ is one of the best-known stories of the saints. His feast day actually was a day of feasting in past centuries, as it was customary to kill animals not kept for breeding next year on November 11th, their offal which would not keep and black pudding made from their blood the bases of festive meals. Beef from beasts killed at Martinmas and salted or dried for preservation through the winter was often dubbed Martinmas Beef. Like Michaelmas elsewhere Martinmas was in some northern parts of the country – Cumbria especially – a settling day, when rents were paid and new contracts of employment entered into.
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