St Martin’s Day
10. November, 2018

St Martin’s Day

A day when the grape juice becomes wine.
In a few days there will be a lot of events organised all over Slovenia in honor for St Martin, most of them will have something to do with wine, as by tradition on this day the grape juice becomes wine.   There is much more to this day than just tasting the new vintage.
Many of the traditional celebrations have their roots in Pagan times. Since they were so deeply rooted, they were simply just adopted by the Roman Catholic church and are to an extent still observed today. There must have been a harvest celebration at about this time of the year, this is also the time when farm animals would be slaugthered in preparation of the comming winter, shepards would celebrate the end of their work for the year and ask for favours for the life stock for the next season.   Let us look at some traditions that were common in Slovenia about 150 years ago.
In all regions of the country a feast would be prepared on November 11th. Regionally dishes would vary, but one thing was certain. The tables were full of great food. From pork to chicken roasts, pies and bread to potica and other pastries. In the wine growing regions this was also the first chance to try the new wine.
In Dolenjska region the joke has it, that on  St Martins somebody has stolen all the grape juice and replaced it with wine.   This is also the time of the year when the people would remember the deceased. In Bela Krajina, by tradition, they would leave a jug of wine and a glass on the table after the celebrations, in case a restless soul would stop by at night. Leaving food and wine on the table over night would also work as a recommendation for the next years harvest. In Slovenske gorice this was the time when rent was to be payed to the owners for rented pastures. The money was usually spent immediately there after on a large dinner and wine, sometimes even live music. In upper Bohinj Valley new members would be accepted in to the “Boys club”, those were the 18 year olds that got their draft ticket in the past year. They would have to pay for a “Stefan” of wine (a 5 litre jug) and sing, after they were done singing they had to present their girlfriends, if she would be present he would ask her to light a cigar for him, if she did he would be accepted, if not he would have to wait for one more year.
As we can see this time was a time of celebration of life and harvest, before the long winter months would set in and before the fasting leading up to Christmas time begun.

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