PORTIMÃO IS hosting the annual St. Martin’s fair at the ExpoArade exhibition park until Sunday.
The fair, which began in 1662 and is in its 346th year, is still popular with both residents and visitors to the region.
The combination of traditional chestnut roasting with modern fairground attractions and the opportunity to buy anything from a pair of shoes to bellows for the fire makes the fair a spectacle in itself.
St. Martin’s Day, which was on November 11, is the traditional feast day to celebrate Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier turned monk.
Legend has it that Martin cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm to save the beggar from dying.
Later that night he dreamt that Jesus was wearing the other half of the cloak and Martin heard Jesus say to the angels “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me”.
In Portugal, it is believed that after Martin shared his cloak with the beggar, the sun broke through the clouds and melted the frost helping Martin on his journey.
This sunny break in cold weather is referred to by the Portuguese as Verão de São Martinho, St Martin’s summer, in honour of the cloak legend.
Traditionally, St Martin’s day is celebrated in Portugal with the eating of roasted chestnuts, castanhas, and the drinking of jeropiga, a sweet wine similar to port.
The fair in Portimão is open daily from 10am until midnight, except on Sunday when it closes at 11pm.