In polish tradition, in addition to birthday, there is also nameday. Each calendar day has assigned few names and people who are named like them have their nameday on that day. Some names (more popular) have their namedays more than once a year. Then the tradition says that you should have your nameday on the day with the nameday closest to your birthday. But people sometimes choose their owns, fitting better for them. Complicated. Some people are more (or less, depending on the attitude) lucky and do not have choice. E.g. Adam end Eve have their nameday on 24th of December only. Not the best choice taking into account that in Poland 24th of December is the most important day of Christmas and all family meets that day to have Christmas dinner etc. Nameday usually doesn’t exist for those people (and I am one of them).
Normally, nameday is only for people. But there is an exception. St. Martin’s street in Poznan has its own nameday. 11th of November is an Independence Day in Poland. Almost every city, especially those bigger, has its own parades or marches and they are the most important event of that day. Everywhere except Poznan. For Poznań the Saint Martin’s Street Nameday is the biggest event, always full of people and… St. Martins Croissants.
The tradition came probably from pagan times when the autumn holidays were submitted to the gods sacrifices of bullocks, or in place of – the dough rolled in crop horns. Than the Christian Church took over the tradition, linking it to the St. Martin’s legend and the croissant were linked to Martin’s lost horshoe.
The tradition in Poznan started in November 1981. A parish priest called people to do something good for those poor. One of confectioners present there decided to renew the tradition. Rich bought croissants and those poor get them for free.
Nowadays St. Martin’s croissants are certified and became tradition known across the country. Every year confectioners wanting to produce St. Martin’s Croissants (and be able to call them like this) need to prove every year that they follow strict recipe. Only certified croissants have traditional tastes and may be called Rogal Świętomarciński. All others usually use cheaper ingedients (black instead of white poppy, different kind of nuts and a lot of raisins).
So, if you really want to taste the tradition – do not try to save money. Such occassion is only once a year!
Bon appetit! :)