Again, the vines have given birth,
Friends, to our sweet wine,
That brings our veins to life,
Clears our hearts and eyes;
In the sorrowful breasts hope awakens.
(transl.: Miriam H. Monarres)
St. Martin’s Day is known as the celebration of wine and wine culture. It is celebrated on November 11th, with the celebration lasting for a week or more. It is a holiday dedicated to the new wine when the must is turned into wine. St. Martin’s Day is a holiday that is not limited to Slovenia but is celebrated in several European countries and the United States. The holiday is known by various names such as Martinloben, Martinmas, San Martiño, Martinovanje. The interesting thing is, however, that it is in each country celebrated in a slightly different way.
It is no secret that Slovenes love wine, as the vineyards are cultivated by as many as 28,000 agricultural holdings, and between 800,000 and 900,000 hl of wine are produced annually. In 2020, as many as 52.2 million litres of wine were recorded (Gov.si). The first written mentions of viticulture on the territory of today’s Slovenia date back to the 3rd century BC. Today, the Slovenes produce top-quality wines, which win the world´s most prestigious awards and recognitions.
Historically, St. Martin’s Day is a holiday whose roots go back to pre-Christian times. According to some sources, the celebration originated from a Celtic holiday, when people thanked the gods for the fertility of the fields and vineyards, that they were gifted in the Autumn (slovenia.info). During Christianization, the Church did not abolish this custom due to its popularity, but placed the saint St. Martin, because all the people knew him. In Slovenia, we celebrate three wine holidays. The first is Urban’s or Urbanovo (May 25), when the vine is in bloom, and the winegrower for the first time sees what the harvest will be like. The next is St. Martin’s Day or Martinovo (November 11), and the last is St. John’s Day or Šentjanževo (December 27), which is a holiday when a wine is blessed (Virtič, 2009).
But what does St. Martin’s Day look like? In addition to wine, this holiday also has its usual dishes such as roast goose (also known as “Martin’s goose”) or duck with grinders and stewed red cabbage. Sweet delicacies such as potica and pogača are also present (Slovenia.info). But where does the name “Martin’s goose” come from? According to the legend, when Martin was suggested to be elected bishop, he tried to escape by hiding among a flock of geese (Virtič, 2009). In Slovenian Istria, for Martinovanje, or Martinja are also eaten fuže (pasta) with rooster or chicken goulash (also called žgvacet), roasted turkey or goose, sauerkraut (also called kapuz), fried bread with refošk and other dishes related to olive oil. These dishes are usually crowded on home tables and in market stalls, surrounded by live music and a lively crowd of people.
Gov.si. (2021). Vinogradništvo in vinarstvo. Available at: https://www.gov.si/teme/vinogradnistvo-in-vinarstvo/ (08.11.2021).
Slovenia.info (2021). Martinovanje, veselje ob novi letini vina. Nazdravite mlademu vinu v Sloveniji. Available at: https://www.slovenia.info/sl/zgodbe/martinovanje-veselje-ob-novi-letini-vina (08.11.2021).
Virtič, P. (2009). Martinovanje nekoč in danes. Available at: https://mojaslovenija.net/tudi-okoli-martinovega-je-veliko-pregovorov-drijo/ (08.11.2021).