On 11 November the church holiday, Saint Martin's Day is celebrated. In South Tyrol it is called "Martini".
Saint Martin is one of the best-known saints in South Tyrol. He is the patron saint of beggars, innkeepers, clothiers and cattle.
"Martini" is an important day for the farmers in South Tyrol. The last apples are harvested at the time when autumn comes to an end and winter is on the horizon. In the past, the shepherds, harvesters and so called "Saltner" (they were in charge of guarding the farmers' vineyards)
received their wages on "Martini" and the end of the harvest was celebrated with a hearty meal. There was barley soup, sauerkraut, a slaughter platter, chestnuts and fresh "Krapfen" (doughnuts). The new wine and the fresh grape must, the "Suser", were drunk. This custom is known today as "Törggelen"
. Did you already know? On St. Martin's Day the must is transformed into wine.
In honour of St. Martin, numerous lantern parades are held in South Tyrol on St. Martin's Day and the traditional roast goose "Martinigansl" is eaten.
After Martin's death, his body was brought to Tours in a candlelit procession on a boat. Since then, kindergarten children parade through the streets of Partschins/Parcines and Rabland/Rablà on 11 November with lanterns they have made themselves, singing songs like: „Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne, brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht, aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.“
("Lantern, lantern, sun, moon and stars, burn on my light, burn on my light, but just don't burn my dear lantern." )
In some places a Roman soldier dressed in a red cloak
rides along with the children. After the lantern procession, the scene of Saint Martin the Samaritan is then re-enacted. According to legend, on a cold winter's day he divided his red coat with a sword and gave half of it to a freezing beggar. Afterwards, the traditional St. Martin's bread
On St. Martin's Day, many families in South Tyrol also serve the St. Martin's goose. The custom of roasting a goose could be traced back to another legend of Martin. When he was to be appointed bishop, he hid in a goose house because he felt unworthy of the office. However, the geese betrayed him by their loud cackling and Martin was discovered and consecrated bishop. Since then, St Martin has been depicted with a goose.
The custom could also be that the servants changed their jobs at the end of the harvest year and received a fattened goose as compensation
By the way, farmers used to read off the breastbone of the goose to see what the coming winter would be like. If the breastbone was white, then a harsh winter was just around the corner. If it was bluish, they hoped for a mild winter.