Christmas season started traditionally on this day. According to the Rule 1221 of the Franciscan Order the following was to be observed today:
CHAPTER II: ABSTINENCE
6. All are to abstain from meat save on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, except on account of illness or weakness, for three days at blood-letting, in traveling, or on account of a specially high feast intervening, namely, the Nativity for three days, New Year's, Epiphany, the Pasch of the Resurrection for three days, Assumption of the glorious Virgin Mary, the solemnity of All Saints and of St. Martin.
On the other days, when there is no fasting, they may eat cheese and eggs. But when they are with religious in their convent homes, they have leave to eat what is served to them. And except for the feeble, the ailing, and those travelling, let them be content with dinner and supper. Let the healthy be temperate in eating and drinking.
CHAPTER III: FASTING
8. From the Pasch of the Resurrection to the feast of All Saints they are to fast on Fridays. From the feast of All Saints until Easter they are to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, but still observing the other fasts enjoined in general by the Church. 9. They are to fast daily, except on account of infirmity or any other need, throughout the fast of St. Martin from after said day until Christmas,
and throughout the greater fast from Carnival Sunday until Easter.
CHAPTER IV: PRAYER
14. All are to go to Matins in the fast of St. Martin
and in the great fast, unless inconvenience for persons or affairs should threaten.
Here are the Matin readings if you care to read them: Matin Readings
yet here is extract that is fitting to reflect on. From the Book addressed To Virgins by St. Athanasius, Pope of Alexandria.
If any should come and say unto thee, Fast not so often, lest thou injure thine health, believe them not,neither listen to them. They are but the tools of the great enemy to suggest such a thing unto thee. Remember how it is written that when the three children, and Daniel, and the other lads, were led captives by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babylon, and it was commanded them to eat of his Royal table, and to drink of his wine, Daniel and those three children would not defile themselves with the King's table, but said unto the eunuch into whose keeping they had been given, Give us of the fruits of the earth, and we will eat. And the eunuch answered them, I fear my lord the King, who hath appointed your meat and your drink, lest perchance your faces should appear unto the King worse - liking than the other children, who are fed from his Royal table, and he should punish me.
Then they said unto him Prove thy servants ten days, and give us herbs. And he gave them pulse to eat and water to drink and, when he brought them in before the King, their countenances appeared fairer than all the children which did eat the portion of the King's meat. Seest thou what fasting doth It healeth diseases, it drieth up the humours of the body, it scareth away devils, it purgeth forth unclean thoughts, it maketh the intellect clearer, it purifieth the heart, it sanctifieth the body, and in the end it leadeth a man unto the throne of God. Think not that this is rash talking. Thou hast the testimony of this in the Gospels under the sanction of the Saviour Himself. His disciples asked Him why they could not cast out an evil spirit, and He said unto them This kind can come forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting. If any man therefore be troubled with an unclean spirit, if he bethink him of this, and have recourse to this remedy, namely, fasting, the evil spirit will be forthwith compelled to leave him from dread of the power of fasting. Devils take great delight in fulness, and drunkenness, and bodily comfort. There is great power in fasting, and great and glorious things are wrought thereby. How cometh it that men work such wonders, and that signs are done by them, and that God through them giveth health to the sick, unless it be from their ghostly exercises, and the meekness of their souls, and their godly conversation To fast is to banquet with Angels, and he that fasteth is to be reckoned, so far, among the Angelic host.
Legend of St. MartinSt. Martin de Tours - 316?-397 - STORY: On a bitterly cold day, the famous legend goes, Martin met a poor man, almost naked, trembling in the cold and begging from passersby at the city gate. Martin had nothing but his weapons and his clothes. He drew his sword, cut his cloak into two pieces, gave one to the beggar and wrapped himself in the other half. Some of the bystanders laughed at his now odd appearance; other were ashamed at not having relieved the man's misery. That night in his sleep Martin saw Christ dressed in the half of the garment he had given away, and heart him say; "Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with this garment."
Excerpt from Saint of the Day - July to December: Volume 2
, edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M.