Roman Summer, that is! Otherwise known as Saint Martin’s Summer. According to legend, one cold and windy November 11th the saint, warmly wrapped in his mantle, met a ragged beggar freezing in the rain. Moved by compassion he divided his ample wrap, and giving half to the poor man, continued on his way.
Wind and rain soon subsided, until it became so warm that he removed the cape altogether. Folklore adds that God sent the unseasonable warm spell, which continues to this day, to reward Martin for his kindness.
A warm spell that here in Italy is known as Roman Summer.
But according to scientists, dust from a meteor making its rounds is what causes the unusual warmth, which here in Italy usually continues until mid November. Although such warm spells occur in other parts of the world too.
The USA has what they call Indian Summers (although no longer a politically correct name). But it seems to derive from the fact that the extra warmth gave the Native Americans more time to complete their harvests. Rather a good thing for them! Just as it undoubtedly was for the gypsies of Bulgaria, where it’s known as Gypsy Summer. While in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lithuania, Hungary, Finland, and most Slavic nations, they call it The Old Woman’s Summer!
In Medieval times, it was on Saint Martin’s Day that the lords of the manor decided which of their tenants would stay on and which had to leave.
Surely any workers forced to search for new employment and housing were grateful for the warm weather. No matter whether Saint Martin was to thank, or whether it was caused by meteors, they probably just hoped to find lodgings before the cold set in. Because great as it is, Saint Martin’s Day won’t last forever. As this Italian saying clearly states:
After Saint Martin’s Day, winter is on the way.
A proverb that will most certainly come to pass again this year. But in the meantime, we’re glad to have summertime in November, which has even made our strawberry plants bloom again!
And whether fact or legend, I can’t help but admire anyone who would share their only cloak! But I also wonder, would I have shared mine? Would you?
But in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the balmy weather. Want to join me?