The Slovenia Times

The Day That Must Turns to Wine and Geese Dread



November 11th is the name day of St Martin, the patron saint of beggars, vintners, equestrians, soldiers, tailors, innkeepers and wine drinkers. Born around 316 in Pannonia (in present day Hungary), St Martin was a soldier before laying down his arms to become a priest. Due to his charitableness, he was one of the first non-martyr saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. He is traditionally depicted either relinquishing his arms or on horseback, handing half of his cloak to a beggar to hide his poverty; hence, the Western European tradition of begging for charitable gifts on this day. You may also see him depicted riding a donkey, which stems from the apocryphal tale of him walking to Rome and meeting up with the Devil, who mocked him for not riding a donkey as a bishop should. St Martin turned the Devil into a donkey and rode him the rest of the way to Rome, all the while urging him on with the Sign of the Cross. Another legend has it that St Martin turned water into wine much like Jesus did in the Galilean village of Cana; therefore, St Martin's name day signifies the turning of must into young wine. A Celebration of Harvesting Martinmas has two meanings: in the agricultural calendar it marks the beginning of the natural winter, whereas in the economic calendar it is seen as a celebration to mark the end of field work and the harvesting period. In Slovenia, Martinovo (St Martin's Day) has been celebrated with Martinovanje (Martinmas celebration) for centuries in an elaborate manner, with traditional folk dances, musical performances and games. Following these holidays, women traditionally moved their work indoors for the winter, while men would proceed to work in the forests. The Germans say that "St Martin comes riding on a white horse," but this may not always be the case, especially if we think about this year's superb Indian summer. Another old saying says that one can predict what sort of winter is coming by the conditions on St Martin's Day: "If the geese at Martin's Day stand on ice, they will walk in mud at Christmas". On this day, fairs were traditionally held and cattle were slaughtered and salted for winter consumption. The culmination of these activities was the St Martin's Party and the rich Martinmas feast. Since Advent required some fasting, this sumptuous dinner provided the perfect excuse to put the abundant meat produce, which otherwise would not have lasted long before spoiling, to good use. Traditionally, the centrepiece of the meal is goose, which has been depicted as St Martin's bird in sacral pictures since 1171. The goose is a symbol for St Martin himself - legend has it that he hid in a stable filled with geese to hide from the people who wanted to make him a bishop, but a honking goose betrayed his whereabouts. As punishment, geese have become the staple fare on St Martin's Day.


More from Nekategorizirano