Friday, November 11, 2011

You are ordered to drink wine today

Oh, how we thank thee Martin, for today is St. Martin's Day and we must drink young wine!
(Well, if you say so...not that this is a difficult request)

St. Martin's Day, or the Feast of St. Martin, is a time for feasting celebrations, for it's the time when autumn wheat seeding is completed.

A Czech proverb associated with the Feast of St. Martin is this:  Martin přijíždí na bílém koni (Martin arrives riding a white horse).   The white horse represents snow, and the saying signifies that the first half of November in the Czech Republic is the time when it often starts to snow.  There used to be (and I'm sure still is in some parts of the country) a festival (posvícení) complete with roast goose as the main feast dish.  Even without a festival, many restaurants and homes will be making roast goose with red cabbage and either bread or potato dumplings.  Mmmmm....

St. Martin

And this shouldn't come as a shock... there's a legend associated with the goose!  No, make that two legends!  One legend states that the goose is eaten because geese disturbed St. Martin’s sermons, thus they are now being punished in the pan.  The other legend states that St. Martin was so modest that he hid in a goose house to avoid his appointment as bishop, but the cackling of the geese gave him away.

Another tradition (and my favorite one!) is the praise of young wine...because young wine deserves to be celebrated!  The first bottle of the new vintage is opened every year on November 11th at precisely 11 am in every wine bar and restaurant (and home) in the Czech Republic.  I wrote about young wine during Burčák
season here - and now we get to uncork those bottles.  Look out for drunk happy people!

The St. Martin’s tradition is like the French celebrations for Beaujolais nouveau, however, the Czech ritual is much older.  These celebrations date back to the times of Emperor Josef II.  It was on this day that people were able to start pouring young wine from the autumn harvest.

Emperor Josef II

I say we pop open a bottle.  I mean, it's noon somewhere, right?