St. Martin in Jihlava 2012 St. Martin in Jihlava 2012 3
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Enjoy young wine and fragrant goose with St. Martin!

St. Martin’s Day, or Martinmas (11 November) is synonymous in the Czech Republic with the sampling of young wines and goose feasts. Come and join in the fun!

According to folk tradition, St. Martin arrives in November atop a white horse. This means that this is the time when snow begins to fall, not just on the mountains, but also in the lowlands, and the occasion is marked by a traditional feast and young wine. You, too, can honour St. Martin’s Day by sampling young wines and fragrant, golden-roasted goose!

The Martinmas tradition goes back to the 18th century, during the reign of Emperor Joseph II, when vineyard owners would visit their winemakers on St. Martin’s Day to sample the new wine and decide whether to extend their contract with the winemaker for another year. Legend has it that St. Martin was originally a Roman soldier who later accepted the Christian faith, becoming a missionary and eventually a bishop. And why are gooses roasted on St. Martin’s Day? According to the legend, gooses interrupted St. Martin while he was preaching and they are now being punished on the roasting-pan. This traditional seasonal dish is now offered in all good restaurants, and is typically served with stewed red lettuce with autumn apples and bread dumplings or fine semolina dumplings.

Svatomartinské wine at Prague vineyards

In Prague you can sample svatomartinské wine at, for example, the wine shop in the St. Clare’s Vineyard, a traditional spot for the celebration of wine from the new vintage. Come and sample young wine and test for yourself the quality of the latest vintage this year, too. The first young wines from Moravia and Bohemia will be sampled from 11 o’clock on 11 November in the vineyard cottage at the St. Clare’s Vineyard.

Another Prague vineyard offering a traditional Martinmas menu is the St. Wenceslas’ Vineyard beneath Prague Castle, where visitors will have the chance to sample traditional Czech cuisine together with this year’s young wine at the Villa Richter.

Martinmas processions

St. Martin and his retinue arrive in Jihlava on Monday 11 November. He will be accompanied on his journey from the Gate of the Holy Mother by magicians, soldiers, peasant women and other historical figures. The procession will be followed by a fireworks display on Masaryk Square.

In Český Krumlov the Martinmas celebrations will carry on for a whole week, from Monday 11 till Sunday 17 November. You can sample goose, young wine and other gastronomic treats in selected local restaurants. The feasting culminates in garden wine celebrations on Saturday 16 November, where you can sample wine from Bohemia and Moravia, as well as abroad, together with local cheeses and meat specialities.

Christening of svatomartinské wines in Moravia

In Moravia, too, the young svatomartinské wines from the Moravian Slovakia region will be christened to the ringing of bells 11 November. Young wines will be brought by St. Martin himself, together with his retinue, dressed in traditional costume. The procession will be accompanied by dulcimer music and, naturally, samplings of the newly christened wines.

Visitors to the town square in Mikulov will be able to enjoy a craft fair and period music and performances, remembering the times of wandering magicians and comedians, from Friday 8 November. The restaurants, hotels and wine shops of Mikulov will offer a special Martinmas menu and samplings of young wine until 17 November. During the celebrations you can also visit monuments opened to the public specially for the occasion, including the Dietrichstein tomb, Jewish cemetery or Kozí Castle.

At Slavkov-Austerlitz Cahteau, Saturday 16 November will belong to thoroughbred horses, good food and the first wine of the year. Apart from this you can also look forward to the ceremonial arrival of St. Martin on a white horse. The programme will also include guided demonstrations of riding, falconry and, naturally, tastings of the first young wines. Visitors will be able to sample Martinmas goose at the Austerlitz Chateau Restaurant.