One of Poznań’s younger traditions is the celebration of St. Martin’s name day on November 11th. In Poland, name days (imieniny) are widely celebrated and have traditionally been given a greater importance than birthday celebrations. Printed in every local calendar, these name days represent the feast days of Catholic saints.
In 1994, the Zamek cultural centre organised the first name day celebration of the street it is on - Św. Marcin (St. Martin) - bringing the ancient tradition of public celebrations of patron saints back to prominence in Poznań. The city is associated with St. Martin’s thanks to St. Martin’s church, which originally stood in a settlement outside the walls of Poznań beginning around the 12th century, but was brought inside the boundaries at the end of the 18th century. Unsurprisingly the street gained its name from the church - though during communist times it was changed to 'Armii Czerwonej,' or Red Army Street, before being restored to Św. Marcin after 1989.
The festival naturally starts with a high mass in the aforementioned St. Martin’s Church. Afterwards, St. Martin himself, dressed in a Roman legionnaire’s costume and mounted on a horse, heads a colourful parade up ul. Św. Marcin to the square in front of the Zamek/Imperial Castle. There, the mayor hands him the keys to the city, marking the start of the celebrations.