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What’s the tradition about? The evenings are drawing in, now that autumn/fall is here. One of the typical treats of this time of year is the Martinigansl season in Late October to mid November. In Austria Martinigansl is the goose served to celebrate St. Martin of Tours.

It is a rich meal typically of goose, potatoes and red cabbage, although some places may serve Knödel (dumplings) and Maroni (chestnuts) along with the goose. Other side dishes vary from location to location. You may need to reserve in advance, or phone to check that restaurants are offering Martinigansl.

Who was St. Martin? Martin of Tours was a Bishop of Tours, whose shrine became a famous stopping-point for pilgrims on the road to Santiago de Compostela. Around his name, much legendary material accrued, and he has become one of the most familiar and recognisable Christian Saints. He is considered a spiritual bridge across Europe, given his association with both France and Hungary. From the late 4th century to the late Middle Ages, much of Western Europe, including Great Britain , engaged in a period of fasting beginning on the day after St. Martins Day, November 11. This fast period lasted 40 days, and was, therefore, called Quadragesima Sancti Martini, which means in Latin “the forty days of St. Martin.” At St. Martin’s eve and on the feast day, people ate and drank very heartily for a last time before they started to fast. This fasting time was later called “Advent” by the Catholic Church. The food traditionally eaten on the day before fasting is goose. According to legend, Martin was reluctant to become bishop, which is why he hid in a stable filled with geese. These geese then betrayed St. Martins hiding place by making noise. To get his revenge he proceeded to cook the geese.

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