Martin was ten years old, he expressed interest in becoming a Christian. His
father, a Roman army officer, forced Martin into the army at
fifteen to prevent him from receiving instructions in the Christian
assigned to a ceremonial cavalry unit
that protected the emperor and rarely saw combat. Like his father, he became
an officer and eventually was assigned to garrison duty in Gaul (present-day
Martin was eventually baptized and asked for a discharge from the army on
the basis that he was a Christian and
not allowed to fight. Accused of cowardice, Martin retorted with an offer to stand unarmed between the
lines. The offer secured his discharge and Martin's position as the
patron saint of conscientious objectors.
then became a priest, founded the first French
monastery, and was eventually appointed the Bishop of Tours in 374.
There are several other legends about St. Martin's life. The most
popular is the story of how Martin was converted
to Christianity. When
Martin was eighteen, he rode by a beggar in rags when Martin's regiment
was entering Amiens.
It was a bitter cold day and Martin was sympathetic to the beggar's suffering. Since
Martin did not have any money,
drew his sword, cut off half his cloak, and gave it to the beggar. Later
that night the beggar appeared in
Martin's dreams and revealed himself
According to another legend, Martin was reluctant to
become bishop and hid in a barn filled with geese. The noise
made by the
geese betrayed his hiding place
and he was literally forced to be
consecrated as bishop.
has made roast goose the traditional
St Martin's Day feast in Europe similar to roast
on Thanksgiving in the
United States. According
to an old Hungarian saying,
||"Who does not eat goose on St. Martin's Day,
will be hungry all year."
Weather was predicted from a
of the goose
eaten on St. Martin's Day: if it was long and white, winter was going to be
snowy, but if it was
short and brown, winter would be warm and muddy.
St. Martin's Day also celebrates the end of the
agrarian year In Europe and the beginning of the harvesting. Like so many
other Christian celebrations, St Martin's Day coincides with pagan rituals
from the pre-Christian era. This falls at the same time as the early winter
festivities of light and fertility celebrated by the pagans.
The celebration of St. Martin's
Day or Martinmas began in France and spread to Germany (where is was known
as Martinstag) and later to Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
Martin Luther was purportedly named after St. Martin, as he was baptized on
November 11 in 1483.
In eastern Hungary, the town of
Nyíregyháza celebrates the holiday with a two-day gastronomy show the Nyíregyháza-Sóstó Museum Village where guests will be greeted with bread
slathered with goose fat (libazsíros kenyér) and wine. Visitors can
participate in various Márton-related contests ranging from "barrel riding"
to "wine stealing," and watch dance performances and a goose "beauty
contest." Programs on Sunday start at the same time and will include a live
rendition of popular children's tale "Ludas Matyi" ("Matyi, the Goose
Herd"), baking of mézeskalács (gingerbread-type cookies made with
honey) and candle-making.
In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, November 11 also marks the beginning
of the Karneval season
giving the German-speaking countries a much longer celebration of
Carnival than in most other countries. Officially it starts am
elften elften elf Uhr elf (11 minutes
past the eleventh hour on the 11th of November) and continues in a fairly
low-key way for about three months before the
Tolle Tage (Crazy Days) which climax on
(Rose Monday) the 42nd day before Easter.
is the highlight of the German
"Karneval" and is on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
Karneval was a pre-Christian celebration
and started as a ritual to drive out the winter ghosts of darkness. However. due to local traditions, the celebration
has different names. It is called Karneval primarily in
Fastnacht around the city of Mainz,
Fasnet in Swabia in the southwest region of Germany
and in the southwest of the state of Bavaria, Fosnat in the
northern Bavaria, and
Fasching around Munich and in Austria.
In pre-Christian times,
Karneval was kicked off with processions of people with horrifying face
masks, and who made a lot of noise to drive the ghosts of winter away. Freya,
the Goddess of fertility, was honored and the beginning of spring
celebrated. When Christianity came along, the Churchtried to alter
these pagan rituals so Karneval or Carnival came to mark the
beginning of Lent. However, the older pre-Lent form of the celebration
continued in the German countries and Karneval
celebrations usually include dressing up in fancy costumes, dancing,
parades, and heavy drinking - similar to Mardi Gras.
The multimonth Fastnacht celebration is
also marked by the enormous consumption of thousands of potato-flour
doughnuts called fastnachts that help soak up the all of the alcohol
consumed. Fastnacht is also celebrated by the
Pennsylvania Dutch who possibly make the best fastnachts., but they
confine it to a single day - Shrove Tuesday - the day before Ash Wednesday.
In parts of Maryland,
Fastnachts are called
Kinklings, and is only sold in bakeries
on Shrove Tuesday. The German version is made from a
yeast dough, deep fried, and coated or dusted in sugar or cinnamon sugar;
they may be plain, or filled with fruit jam. Pennsylvania Dutch fasnachts
are often made from potato dough, and may be uncoated, or powdered with
table sugar or dusted with confectioner's sugar
(Martin's Goose with Apple Stuffing)
|1 ready-to-cook goose (8 to
2 cups water
1 medium onion, sliced
1&1/4 tsp salt
6 cups soft bread crumbs
3 Granny Smith applies apples, pealed, cored, and chopped
2 stalks celery (with leaves), chopped
1 TB grated lemon rind
|1 TB grated orange rind
6 prunes, pitted and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
|1. Trim excess fat from goose.
2. Heat giblets, water, sliced onion and 1&1/4 tsp salt to boiling;
reduce heat. Cover and simmer until giblets are done, about 1 hour.
Strain broth; cover and refrigerate.
3. Chop giblets; toss with remaining ingredients reserving 1
teaspoon salt and the flour.
4. Rub cavity of goose with 1 teaspoon salt. Fold wings across back
with tips touching. Fill neck and body cavities of goose lightly
5. Fasten neck skin of goose to back with skewers. Fasten opening
with skewers; lace with string. Tie drumsticks to tail. Prick skin
with fork. Place goose breast side up on rack in shallow
6. Roast uncovered in 350° oven until done, 3 to 3&1/2 hours,
removing excess fat from pan occasionally. Place a tent of aluminum
loosely over goose during last hour to prevent excessive
browning. Goose is done when drumstick meat feels very soft. Place
heated platter. Let stand 15 minutes for easier carving.
5. Meanwhile, pour drippings from pan into bowl. Return 1/4 cup
drippings to pan. Stir in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring
smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. If necessary, add enough
water to reserved broth to measure 2 cups. Stir into flour mixture.
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.
8. Serve goose with apple stuffing and gravy.
WINE NOTE: To make
the celebration more appropriate, We would suggest a Touraine Chenin Blanc or the
traditional Hungarian wine, Szent
served on Márton nap
(St. Martin's Day). There
is another legend that the vineyards of Touraine were founded by St. Martin
who planted the first Chenin Blanc vine in France after smuggling it out of
Hungary inside a hollowed horse's thigh bone. St. Martin is also credited
with teaching the French the art of pruning their grapevines.
1 cup hot
mashed, unseasoned potatoes
2 cups sugar
1 cake yeast
1 cup warm water or potato water
7 cups of flour
1 cup warm water or scalded and cooled milk
3/4 cup melted butter
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
3 cups powdered sugar
oil for frying
1, Combine the hot
mashed potatoes, 1 cup of the sugar, the yeast, warm water or potato water,
and 1 cup of the flour. Beat until smooth and let rise until dough is light
and full of bubbles.
2, Stir the mixture
down and add the remaining 1 cup sugar, the warm water or scalded and cooled
milk, melted butter, eggs, salt, and the remaining 6 cups flour.
3, Beat together,
add more flour if necessary to make a firm dough. Brush with butter, cover,
and let rise until doubled. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a
board. Knead lightly.
4, Roll out and cut
with a doughnut cutter, or cut with a knife into the traditional diamond
shapes. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
5. Fry in deep fat
at 375ş F until browned. Roll in powdered sugar when done.
makes from 5 to 6 dozen doughnuts
(Hungarian Honey Cookies)
cookies are made in a variety of shapes. However, on
(St. Martin's Day), they bare
often shaped into a horse and rider and decorated with colored icings.
|2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
4 level tsp baking soda
|grated zest of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 orange
extra egg(s) for egg wash
red food coloring
1. Sift together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and
baking soda. Melt together the butter and the honey, and zests.
Pour over the flour combination and stir to mix.
Add 1 egg and knead
together. The dough should be soft (add a bit of lukewarm water if
necessary), since it will harden a bit during its resting period.
2, Cover the dough in a bowl and let it rest at least one
day at room temperature.
3 Roll out the dough between two pieces of waxed paper. Cut
desired shapes out of the dough (about about 3/8 in. thickness on average)
4. Place cut out pieces of dough on a cold, greased cookie
sheet. Brush with the yolk of an egg to which a few drops of red food
coloring have been added.
Bake in a preheated 350ş
F oven for about 6-8 minutes. Thicker pieces may need a longer time (ovens
temperatures also vary).
5, These cookies are sometimes decorated with icing.
mézeskalács, depending on size.
To accompany these Martin's Day
celebratory treats, We iewed
Day (1985) which was awful,
and may have been Richard Harris's only bad film. So instead, We
recommend A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
(2006) which has nothing to do with St. Martin or any other saint.
unless Robert Downy, Jr,
and Channing Tatum who
starred in the film can earn
Hollywood sainthood for their recent film grosses.