St. Martin's Day - Everything You Need for a Beautifully Laid Table
St. Martin of Tours is honoured on 11 November every year. The story goes that he cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar, saving the man from the cold. Every year on 11 November, many people mark St. Martin's Day to commemorate his burial on this day in the year 397 AD.
In Central Europe, it has long been customary to eat a goose (known as Martinigansl in Austria) to celebrate St. Martin's Day. One reason was that Eastern churches mark this day as the start of Lent, a period of fasting. Therefore, all the food that was forbidden during Lent needed to be eaten now. Also, it was traditional in many places to celebrate and feast on the eve of 11 November with food and drink.
However, no one knows the precise origins of this practice any more. Several plausible theories have been put forward. One of which is historical - in the past farmers had to pay their landowners their annual dues at this of the year. Usually, it was paid in the form of a share of their harvest which always included geese. Over time, it came to be known as the Martinigansl or Martinmas Goose. And because people used to celebrate St Martin's Day around this time, it was only natural to serve a goose as part of the feast.
Another plausible theory lies in the legends about St. Martin. One legend goes that the townsfolk of Tours wanted to ordain Martin as bishop. But he did not want it as he was a modest man and did not think he was worthy of the honour. He therefore hid in a goose pen when they came looking for him. But his presence in their midst disturbed the geese and their loud cackling gave him away. Thus the citizens of Tours finally found him and made him their bishop.