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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Hungary, Lesson 21 - St. Martin’s Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Hungary Series at HungarianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hungarian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 21, St. Martin’s Day. In Hungarian, it’s called Szent Márton napja.
Do you know what it means if the roasted goose on St. Martin's Day has a long, white sternum? It’s quite interesting! In this lesson, we’ll learn more about this, and other traditions of November 11, which is St. Martin's Day in Hungary.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Where is the town that was called Savaria in the Roman times, where St. Martin was born?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Let's get acquainted more closely with St. Martin. St. Martin was born in 316 AD in the Roman Empire, in the town of Savaria, the child of a wealthy pagan family. At his father’s insistence, he became a soldier, or katona, of the Roman legion. According to legend he was eighteen years old when he saw a shivering beggar, so he dismounted and gave half of his robe to the beggar. Soon after this, Jesus appeared to Martin in his dreams in the robe he had given to the beggar. After this, Martin was baptized, left the army, and became a missionary, or misszionárius.
But what has St. Martin got to do with a goose, or libák? The legend says that when he was elected bishop, or püspök, of Tours in 371 AD, he hid in a goose pen to avoid becoming a suffragan or subordinate bishop. But the geese started cackling and uncovered the saint, so he accepted that he would become a bishop. It’s a tradition in some Christian countries that for dinner on St. Martin's Day, people kill a fattened calf, and the main course served is roasted goose.
Another important part of the Martin's Day feast is the broaching of the new wine, or újbor. It's not a coincidence that the development of the wine comes to an end in early November. That's why Martin is the patron saint of the new wine in major wine regions. Thus wine and geese have a surprising connection; in some regions Martin goose is also referred as "harvest goose" or "wine press goose".
There are many folk traditions for Martin's Day in connection with predicting the weather too. For example, if the roasted goose has a long and white sternum, it means that we will have a snowy winter, but if it’s snowing on that day, winter will be mild.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Where is the town that was called Savaria in the Roman times, where St. Martin was born?
Savaria is called Szombathely today. It’s in Western Hungary near the Austrian border; it’s said to be the oldest town in Hungary. The town received colonial status in 43 AD from the Roman Emperor.
Did you like this lesson? Did you learn any interesting facts?
What kind of meat do you eat during celebrations in your country?
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