Today is the day most lisboners walk the streets of Lisbon in search of a roasted chestnut vendor. It’s Saint Martin’s Day.
Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated in several countries around Europe, namely Spain and Germany, and in Portugal, on this day, portuguese people celebrate it by having a “Magusto” celebration.
In the old days, a “Magusto” party consisted of a group of people, friends and neighbours, gathering around a bonfire. People used to tell jokes, roast chestnuts and drink “Jeropiga“ (a portuguese kind of strong liqueur made from partially-fermented malt or wine) or “Água pé” (also an alcoholic beverage made by adding water to bagasse).
Nowadays, at least in big cities like beautiful Lisbon, we no longer light a fire but we still eat roasted chestnuts and, in some cases, drink “Jeropiga” or “Água pé”.
Chestnut street vendors have been around for decades, they belong to every lisboners memories and are easy to find. Just look for a small cart, with a tin or clay recipient over it, where the chestnuts are roasted.
You can also find them by following the marvelous smell of roasted chestnuts, the perfect treat to warm or cheer you up on a gloomy Autumn day, just like today.