St. Martin’s Day is a traditional Christian holiday that takes place on Nov. 11, and for Czechs, the day not only features a feast of wine and goose but also serves a predictor of winter weather in the country.
This day is celebrated in honor of Bishop Martin of Tours, who was originally a soldier. When he gave a coat to a beggar, Jesus Christ appeared in his dream. After this experience, Martin was baptized and left the army to serve God.
However, the holiday is mainly celebrated as a symbolic day of autumn-winter transition. St. Martin is typically depicted riding on a white horse, with the horse becoming a symbol for the snow many Czechs start to expect at this time of the year. That is why if it starts to snow on St. Martin’s Day, it is an indication that the whole winter will be “white” according to the popular Czech legend.
This year, however, St. Martin did not arrive on his white horse and the day began with the gloomy skies.
“According to the folk saying, if St. Martin does not arrive on a white horse, but on a dark gray one, we will have constantly changing winter weather ahead of us,” said Dagmar Honsová of the Meteopress weather company.
However, for many Czechs, St. Martin´s Day is primarily about good food and drinks. Traditionally, the St. Martin´s Day feast consists of baked goose and St. Martin’s wine, as well as cakes made specifically for this occasion.
Even though the holiday is popular across the Czech Republic, a survey conducted by Ipsos shows that St. Martin’s Day is most often celebrated by people in the South Moravian region and the Highlands region as well as by people from larger cities and university graduates.