San Martin Feast, is a beloved Maltese tradition that groups together the island’s rich culture and heritage. We’ve compiled a list of the top 3 things to do with kids this San Martin. From mouthwatering treats to age-old traditions, it will leave your little ones enchanted and eager for more.
Did you know?
In Malta and Gozo, the 11th Novemember is quite popular for the Feast of Saint Martin – or as we locals know it Il-Festa ta’ San Martin. The celebration of this Saint, a Roman soldier renowned for splitting his cloak in two to provide warmth to a needy elderly gentleman during cold weather, is linked to a set of customs and rituals.
The Top 3 things to do with kids this San Martin
1. Assemble a San Martin bag (Il- Borża ta’ San Martin)
On this day, you and your child can find a simple cloth pouch. This can be filled with an array of treats, including sweets, fruits, and nuts. According to tradition, this bag typically contains an apple, an orange, a tangerine, a pomegranate, as well as an assortment of walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, shelled almonds, and figs. It’s not uncommon to discover sweets tucked inside, often topped with a glazed bun and a liquorice sweet. In the past, children used to hang this cloth pouch by their bedside before bedtime, and to their delight, it would be brimming with goodies the coming morning. The fortunate children who received the bag have the festival’s rhyming verse to recite.
“Ġewż, lewż, qastan, tin,
Kemm inħobbu ‘l San Martin!”
This charming tradition may be linked to the charitable spirit of Saint Martin. Some believe it originated from a time when the Church prepared for the Advent fasting period, making this pre-fasting spread a great treat before the 40 days of Advent.
2. Festa u Fiera ta’ San Martin in Baħrija
The Festa u Fiera ta’ San Martin in Baħrija, Malta, is a lovely celebration that offers an enjoyable experience for families with children. This traditional feast brings the picturesque village of Baħrija to life with colourful processions, lively music, and also features the borża ta’ San Martin. It’s a perfect opportunity for kids to immerse themselves in local culture. This is a great excuse to indulge in the delicious treats and spend a good day outdoors with the family.
3. Il-Ħobża ta’ San Martin (Saint Martin’s sweet bun)
Il-Ħobża ta’ San Martin is a gently spiced, sweet bun that is an essential component to the traditional St. Martin’s bag (il-borża ta’ San Martin). Once November arrives, you’ll notice bakeries and stores offering this delicious bun, whether it’s for individuals to begin assembling their borża or simply just to enjoy this delightful seasonal treat.
Here’s the recipe:
400 g bread flour
75 g butter room temperature
90 g sugar
250 ml milk lukewarm
1 sachet yeast 11g
1 tsp whole aniseeds
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
Syrup and decoration
20 ml water
20 g sugar
- In a small bowl mix the lukewarm milk, yeast and 15g of sugar. Let the mixture foam for about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, mix the flour and the butter until you get a crumbly texture. Once ready add all the remaining ingredients together and knead the dough for about 15 minutes.
- Cover the dough and let it rest for an hour in the warmest place in your kitchen until it doubles in size.
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Once the dough is ready, punch it down and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and form into balls.
- Place the buns on the tray keeping a good amount of space between each one. Cover and let rise for another 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C or 390°F. Make the syrup by mixing the water and sugar.
- Before placing the buns into the oven, brush them with the syrup and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
- Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the buns have a nice golden-brown colour.
- As soon as you take them out of the oven, place a liquorice pastel in the middle of the bun. Let the buns rest and enjoy!
‘Il-Festa ta’ San Martin’ here in Malta is a cherished tradition. We hope that you will experience any of these top 3 things to do with kids this San Martin. Happy celebration!
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