On November 11th, one of our country's most characteristic traditions, Magusto, was celebrated in Portugal. At this time of year, autumn brings with it not only the fall of leaves, but also a deep-rooted tradition that unites communities around the warmth of bonfires and the typical flavors of this season. Magusto is celebrated throughout the country and is a testament to our cultural richness passed down from generation to generation.
Magusto, whose origins date back to rural times, marks the arrival of the chestnut harvest season, one of the most emblematic fruits of autumn. The festivities usually take place on November 11th, coinciding with the celebration of Saint Martin, a saint known for his generosity. The most famous legend about São Martinho relates that, on a rainy afternoon, Martinho found a beggar shivering from the cold. Without hesitation, he cut his own cloak in half with his sword and gave half to the needy. That same cold night, according to legend, Jesus Christ appeared to Martin in dreams, wrapped in half the cloak he had given to the beggar. This episode is often referred to as the "Legend of the Cloak of Saint Martin" and is celebrated as a example of charity and generosity.
In addition to the generosity associated with the legend, Saint Martin is also known for being the patron saint of winegrowers. Tradition says that, on the occasion of Saint Martin's Day, there is a "break" in autumn, known as the "summer of Saint Martin". This brief period of time is characterized by warmer days, like a "late summer", before the definitive arrival of winter. Many take advantage of this climatic respite to hold picnics, new wine festivals and, of course, the traditional Magustos.
At this time of year, it is common for communities to gather in squares, parks, or even in their own homes to celebrate with family and friends. The bonfires, one of the central elements of Magusto, play a symbolic role, representing protection against the cold, combined with the legend, which intensifies at this time. Families gather around the heat of the flames, creating a welcoming environment conducive to sharing stories, songs and, of course, delicious chestnuts.
The customs associated with Magusto are varied, but roasting chestnuts is unquestionably the most widespread tradition. In the weeks leading up to the festival, the markets are filled with local vendors selling bags full of chestnuts, inviting everyone to take part in this celebration. Chestnuts can be prepared in various ways, whether roasted in the oven, on the fireplace or cooked, their smooth texture and characteristic flavor are often accompanied by jeropiga, making them irresistible!
In addition to chestnuts, it is common to prepare other seasonal snacks, such as roasted pumpkins, sweet potatoes and nuts, creating a true gastronomic experience, which reflects the diversity of products harvested during autumn.
The Magusto tradition goes beyond the gastronomic aspect. It is a time of conviviality and fraternization, where families, friends and neighbors come together to share moments of joy. Festivities often include traditional music, regional dances and activities for children, creating a festive and inclusive environment for all ages.
At this time, Portugal is filled with colors and flavors, in a vivid expression of the culture and tradition that unites the people and customs of each region!