11 of November, wine tasting and goose roasting in the name of St Martin

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11 of November is St Martin’s day, which means in many countries the beginning of the winter period!
In Europe, in Austria for instance “Martinloben” is celebrated as a collective festival. Events include art exhibitions, wine tastings, and live music. “Martinigansl” (roasted goose) is the traditional dish of the season. St. Martin’s Day is celebrated the same way as in Germany. The nights before and on the night of Nov. 11, children walk in processions carrying lanterns, which they made in school, and sing Martin songs.

In Belgium, in my second homeland the St Martin’s day is celebrated on the evening of November 11 in a small part of Belgium (mainly in the east of Flanders and around Ypres). Children go through the streets with paper lanterns and candles, and sing songs about St. Martin. Sometimes, a man dressed as St. Martin rides on a horse in front of the procession. In some areas, there is a traditional goose meal, although in West Flanders there is no specific meal; in other areas it is more a day for children, with toys brought on the night of 10 to 11 November. In the east part of the Belgian province of West Flanders, especially around Ypres, children receive presents from either their friends or family as supposedly coming from St. Martin on November 11. In other areas it is customary that children receive gifts later in the year from either their friends or family as supposedly coming from Saint Nicholas on December 5 or 6 (called Sinterklaas in Belgium and the Netherlands) or Santa Claus on December 25.
In other areas, children go from door to door, singing traditional “Sinntemette” songs, sporting a hollow beetroot with a carved face and a candle inside. Later in the evening there is a bonfire where all of them gather. At the end the beetroots are thrown into the fire, and pancakes are being served.

In Croatia, St. Martin’s Day (Martinje) marks the day when the must traditionally turns to wine. The must is usually considered impure and sinful, until it is baptised and turned into wine. The baptism is performed by someone who dresses up as a bishop and blesses the wine; this is usually done by the host. Another person is chosen as the godfather of the wine. The foods traditionally eaten on the day are goose and home-made or store bought mlinci.
However the biggest event in Slovenia is the St. Martin’s Day celebration in Maribor which marks the symbolic winding up of all the wine growers’ endeavors. There is the ceremonial “christening” of the new wine, and the arrival of the Wine Queen. The square Trg Leona Štuklja is filled with musicians and stalls offering autumn produce and delicacies.

According to a Czech proverb- “Martin is coming on a white horse” – it signifies that the first half of November in the Czech Republic is the time when it often starts to snow and St. Martin’s Day is also the traditional feast day in the run-up to Advent. Czechs roast goose and drink the Czech version of Beaujolais nouveau, Svatomartinské vino, a young wine from the recent harvest. Wine shops and restaurants around Prague pour the first of the St. Martin’s wines at 11:11 a.m. Many restaurants offer special menus for the day, featuring the traditional roast goose.
A widespread custom in Germany is bonfires on St. Martin’s eve, called “Martinsfeuer.” At one time, the Rhine River valley would be lined with fires on the eve of Martin mas. In the Rhineland region, Martin’s day is celebrated traditionally with a get-together during which a roasted suckling pig is shared with the neighbors.

In Sicily, November is the winemaking season. On St. Martin’s Day Sicilians eat anise biscuits washed down with Moscato, Malvasia or Passito. More precisely, the hard biscuits are dipped into the Moscato. l’Estate di San Martino (Saint Martin’s Summer) is the traditional Sicilian reference to a period of unseasonably warm weather in early to mid November. Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated in a special way in a village near Messina and at a monastery dedicated to him overlooking Palermo beyond Monreale.

St. Martin’s Day is celebrated in Malta on the Sunday nearest to November 11. Children are given a bag full of fruits and sweets associated with the feast, known by the Maltese as Il-Borża ta’ San Martin, “St. Martin’s bag”. This bag may include walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chestnuts, dried or processed figs, seasonal fruit (like oranges, tangerines, apples and pomegranates) and “Saint Martin’s bread roll”. In old days, nuts were used by the children in their games. There is a traditional rhyme associated with this custom.
What to eat?
In Germany the most popular to eat Sankt Martin’s bread, in Italy Moffatella, and in Austria after finishing with the roasted goose, the dessert is always a baked apples with vanilla sauce
here is the recipe:
Use “Rome Beauty”, which is the variety of apple that is best suited to baking, and it is worth seeking out if you are making baked apples!

Ingredients: 4 large baking apples (such as Rome Beauty, Golden Delicious, or Jonagold), 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional), 1/4 cup currants or chopped raisins, 1 tbsp butter, 3/4 cup boiling water

Directions:
1 Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C). 2 Cut out holes in apples for stuffing: Rinse and dry the apples. Using a sharp paring knife or an apple corer, cut out the cores, leaving the bottom 1/2 inch of the apples intact.
2 If using a paring knife, first cut out the stem area and then use a small metal spoon to scoop out the seeds. Cut the holes so that they are an inch or so wide. 3 Stuff with brown sugar, cinnamon, and extras, dot with butter: Place the brown sugar, cinnamon, currants or chopped raisins, and chopped pecans (if using) in a small bowl and stir to combine.
3 Put the apples in a baking dish and stuff each apple with the sugar stuffing mixture. Place a dot of butter on top of the sugar.
4 Bake: Pour the boiling water into the bottom of the baking dish. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 30 to 45 minutes, until the apples are cooked through and tender, but not overcooked and mushy.
5 When done remove the apples from the oven and baste then with the juices from the pan.
6 Terrific with a side of vanilla ice cream or with luke warm vanilla sauce.
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