The holiday celebrating St. Martin of Tours falls on November 11 each year.
There's a story of St. Martin, who, as a Roman soldier, stopped to take pity on an old (some say drunken) beggar, cut his warm red woolen cloak in half, and gave half to the poor man. He had a vision the next day of Christ, wearing the red wool wrapped around him, and when Martin asked where he'd gotten the cloak, Jesus asked if he didn't remember giving it to him the previous day, for "Whatever you did for the least among my brothers you also did for me."
On this day we remember St. Martin by retelling his story and gathering coats and other warm things we no longer need to donate to the homeless mission and the domestic violence shelter.
In some places in Europe children carry lanterns and sing songs as the go door to door begging treats. Last year we made lovely papier mache lanterns with tissue paper, to use on our own version of those walks, though we planned to GIVE treats to our neighbors, rather than beg for them, since this seemed more in line with the sentiment of the saint himself, and more practical, since we live here, not Europe, and no one would be expecting to have little beggars with lanterns on their doorstep! But I think we all had colds and couldn't brave the temperatures near zero that night. We'll also resurrect our red felt cape with velcro down the center, for reenacting the famous cape-cutting.
We'll try again this year. My plan is make little loaves of bread, or little cakes, with the boys, and wrap them in bits of red flannel, (with copies of the story maybe?), and deliver them to our neighbors as we take a lantern lit walk.
We'll have a supper of navy bean soup, bread, sausages. I read an idea somewhere, to split rolls in half, and have everyone give half their food to the person sitting next to them. That seems sweet, and simple. Just what I like!
I think our little nature table will sport a red cloth cover, and a mini tissue lantern, a picture of St. Martin and the bible quote, written in gold on watercolored paper. A simple vase with a bare branch, decorated with tiny gold stars hanging, maybe? A little basket with those red flannel cloths waiting to wrap the loaves on Martinmas.