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Gluttony is a must on St. Martin's Day

11 November is Martin's Day, on which, if we were to stick to tradition, we would be eating roast goose and sipping new wine. And why shouldn't we stick to tradition? Find new holidays to celebrate and learn about a piece of our past.

Martin's Day is a holiday with a rich background. It has religious, social and folk aspects. Peasants used to finish harvesting crops in November, and this is when hired workers received their annual salaries. Also, cleaning, and washing and drying clothes was forbidden at this time as people believed these activities killed livestock, so there was a good reason to have some fun instead. Martin's Day celebrations were regarded as the last great feast held before the traditional forty-day Advent fast. 

But who was this legendary Martin?

He did important missionary work, lived both as a beggar and a soldier, and performed miracles. His followers wanted to elect him bishop of Tours, but his modesty led him to hide in a shed. He didn’t stay hidden for long though as the geese started honking, giving away his hiding place. Many folk customs and beliefs are connected to 11 November, when we celebrate Saint Martin of Tours, both in Hungary and in other countries.

Play it safe

According to an old Hungarian superstition: “If you don’t eat goose on St. Martin's Day you will be hungry for a year". Nobody wanted to risk that, so there is a plethora of delicious goose recipes to choose from. Roast goose with steamed cabbage, goose soup, goose liver in fat, goose leg with garlic, boiled millet with goose giblets, stuffed goose with bread or potato balls... Should I list more? You're probably hungry already.


Another Hungarian proverb says: "If you’re going to have a goose, have a fat one!" Restauranteurs all over the country know this too, so if you go out to eat on St. Martin's Day (and even a few days before), they will be sure to offer a great goose dish. Winemakers pour new wine that has just matured into “Martin's glass" and invite you to taste the fresh flavours and aromas. Give in to temptation!     

Goose party

Goose days and festivals are held in rural towns and villages, and hotels also advertise their offers with special "goose" activities. It’s nice to enjoy wellness services in late autumn and early winter: to bathe in the warm thermal water or look at the yellow trees and evergreens through the sauna window. Lots of hotels and guest houses offer craft activities related to Saint Martin for children.  

Pro tip 1:

Szombathely is a place where the feast of St. Martin is especially important, since this is where the bishop of Tours was born, in the area of ancient Savaria, around 316. That's why a German-style lantern and torch parade is held every year. This is one of many events that bring the light, which symbolises good deeds, to the people, just like St. Martin once did.