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Martinmass Beef


(Or Martinmas Beef)

Dried, salted beef, it being common practice to slaughter cattle on the feast-day of St Martin, November 11th, to be preserved for winter.

John Wood Warter's 'An Old Shropshire Oak' of 1886 has the rhyme:
And Martinmass beef doth ben good tacke,
When country folke do dainties lacke

'Brand's popular antiquities of Great Britain' of 1800 has "Almost no beef, and very little mutton, was formerly used by the common people in Wigton, generally no more than a sheep or two, which were killed about Martinmas, and salted up for the provision of the family during the year. The weather on Martinmas Eve is anxiously watched by the farmers in the Midland counties, as it is supposed to be an index to the barometer for about two or three months forward. That this belief is wholly unfounded, is almost a superfluous remark. The fine weather often experienced about this season is known as "St. Martin's little summer.""

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