November 11th is St. Martin’s Day in Hungary. The festival of goose and wine, celebrated all over the country with various events. It is worth taking a look behind the traditions to reveal where this joyful celebration stems from.

This time of the year, Martin’s Day fairs and balls were organized, and feasts were also favoured by the fact that Martin’s Day was a day banning activities. This meant that cleaning and washing were forbidden, because that would have caused the death of the livestock.

The twig picked on Martin’s Day, used for the herding of the animals, was placed above the stall door to protect the herd from diseases. The weather was predicted from the bones of geese: if the bone was long and white, the winter would be snowy; if it was short and brown, the winter would be muddy. They also predicted from the weather of that day: ”If Martin comes on a white horse, a mild winter is expected; if he comes on a brown horse, a hard winter is expected.” According to a calendar rule: ”On Martin’s Day, if geese walk on ice, they will amble in water at Christmas.”

Some believed that if vine leaves are still green on Martin’s Day, we can certainly expect a mild winter; and if it rains on this day, then next year’s harvest will also be abundant. Martin has already been admired as the patron of livestock int he Middle Ages. On Martin’s Day, the livestock were finally placed in the stalls, that was the time when shepherds gave accounts on the animals and on their own services, and also when they received their wages and renewed their services. Transylvanian shepherds asked for their allowances on this day, too. They went along the houses, greeted the farmers, and gave them twigs to use it them during letting the animals out in spring. This was the twig of St. Martin, believed to have so many branches, as the number of piglets.

This year, apart from Budapest, you can also experience the feast and taste great wines in Mór, Villány, or Sopron.

based on article of
translated by Vivien Pásztai



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