St. Martin’s Day Kids' Activity at the Inquisitor’s Palace this Saturday

This Saturday 11 November, marks a prominent day in the Maltese calendar, as the feast of San Martin rolls around for another (albeit sunny) autumn. In celebration of the time-honoured tradition, Heritage Malta is organising a special event at the Inquisitor’s Palace in Birgu (Vittoriosa).

Saint Martin of Tours is a figure of generosity and mercy, known for slicing his red military cloak in half and giving it to a poor man who was shivering in the cold, as the story goes. After this encounter, the then Roman Empire soldier left the army to become a priest. On the feast of Saint Martin, the Church remembers this saint for his charitable qualities. Today, the Maltese commemorated his act of mercy through the custom of ‘Il-Borża ta’ San Martin’, or Saint Martin’s Bag.

On St. Martin’s Day, parents and schools give their children a multicoloured cloth bag containing an assortment of fruits, nuts, a bun, and other treats. These typically include an apple, an orange, a tangerine, a pomegranate, as well as walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, shelled almonds and figs. Desserts are sometimes included as well; A glazed bun or two topped with a liquorice sweet on top, or perhaps candy to appeal to today’s kids more.  

Hence, the Maltese rhyme “Ġewż, lewż, qastan, tin, kemm inħobbu ’l San Martin”, which roughly translates to “Walnuts, almonds, chestnuts, figs, we love Saint Martin so much”. In the old days, children didn’t just eat these nuts, but also played with them. They would go out into the street and place them in a row on the ground, then compete among themselves to see who could hit the most hazelnuts. Sometimes this was done to tempt gamblers and gain more hazelnuts from the games they won.

In the spirit of this tradition, Heritage Malta is holding a culinary activity for kids at the Inquisitor’s Palace titled ‘Ġewż, Lewż, Qastan, Tin…!’ Participants will gain knowledge about the life of St. Martin, the origins of his renown, and the customs surrounding this feast. After that, kids will cook the classic St. Martin buns and discover the science of the fermentation process that results in these incredibly soft buns. And ofcourse, a traditional ‘Borża ta’ San Martin’ stuffed with all the aforementioned treats will be handed out to each participant.

The event will happen this Saturday 11 November in two sessions, with Session 1 taking place from 12:30 pm till 2 pm, and Session 2 taking place from 2:30 pm till 4 pm. Do note that this activity shouldn’t be attended by those who are allergic to nuts, eggs, or flour, whether you’re a child or an accompanying guardian. Tickets are priced at €15, which covers 1 child plus 1 adult. To book a spot for Session 1 click here, and to book a spot for Session 2 click here.