Saint Martin

18.11.2018

Welcome to another article after a long time. School, work, school again plus the start of Holiday season, it's very hard to find time to actually sit down and write for you. But here I am.

In previous months, I was mostly attending and writing about exhibitions and lifestyle events, so I want to tell you something about history now, something traditional. There are lots of traditions in the Czech Republic. Some are famous, some not so much. Have you ever heard about Saint Martin's tradition?

Many local people imagine a day where you have a goose with dumplings and cabbage. In a way they're right, but there's a lot more to it than food.

I'll start with the beginning, with Saint Martin. He was a son of an officer, who had to become a member of military cavalry at the age of fifteen. Then he traveled to Italy, where he studied and became acquainted with Christianity. The first legend of Saint Martin tells that one cold night he met a beggar who was cold. Saint Martin divided his coat into two parts and gave one part to the beggar. Thanks to this legend, he has been associated with a sense of justice, protection of poor people and kindness. Later he became a bishop.

Another symbol of the tradition is the already mentioned goose. I admit that I had to read the articles so I could write something down here with a quiet conscience.

Two legends from the life of St. Martin are connected to the goose eating. The first tells that when St. Martin was supposed to be named a bishop, he could not accept this honor from his modesty, and thus he hid next to geese. They revealed him because they are always gurgling and that's why they ended up on a baking pan. The other tells of St. Martin's sermon when the geese disturbed him and ended up on the pan. 

None of the legends appear true to me, and I'm glad I came across a more rational explanation. 11th November was the day when the working people were ending their work, for which they were paid and all the harvest was harvested. It was also the day when the farmer and his people met at one table. They were celebrating, eating goose and drinking wine.

The last symbol of this tradition, probably my favorite, is a young wine tasting. Most people know the famous French Beaujolais, which starts to sell on the third Thursday of November. Our Saint Martin's wine is a lot different. While most people think Beaujolais was before St. Martin's, they are wrong. The tradition of St. Martin's, not under this name, was formed during the reign of Joseph II. It got its name later in Moravia when the wine was symbolically opened on 11th November. The wine has a fruity taste and I recommend it to be consumed before the New Year, after a long time, it's no longer as good.

If you were in Prague next year on 11th November, remember this article and get a goose with dumplings, try out our wine and enjoy your stay!