November 11: St. Martin’s Procession to be Held on the Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge Museum together with the City of Prague is holding St. Martin’s celebrations on Thursday 11th November.

The celebration will start at 11.11 am. On this day, Czechs traditionally roast a goose and at exactly 11:11 they open the first bottles of young wine, which are called St. Martin’s (Svatomartinské víno).

St. Martin was a Roman Catholic saint, the bishop of Tours, who lived in the years 316 – 397.  The most-repeated story about his life says that while he was a soldier, he encountered a scantily dressed beggar at the gate of the city of Amiens.

He cut his military woolen cloak in half and shared it with the freezing man. The following night he had a vision of Jesus Christ, surrounded by Angels, and arrayed in the half of the cloak. As a consequence of the experience, he received baptism, left the army and became a monk.

People in the Czech republic associate the feast with the onset of winter and snow. There are a lot of proverbs in Czech, which feature predictions for the winter weather. According to the most popular saying, the first snowfall of the season can be expected on this day since Martin may arrive on his white horse.

St. Martin´s celebrations are particularly popular with children, who create colourful handmade lanterns. After darkness falls, kids participate in lantern processions and sing songs. The candles in the lanterns flicker and the kid´s eyes are brimming with excitement.

It is a tradition to eat roast goose because a flock of geese betrayed St. Martin’s hiding place as he was trying to hide from the people, who wanted to make him a bishop.

In Prague, it is customary to drink young wine called St. Martin’s wine (Svatomartinské). The Prague Botanic garden annually offers the tasting of young wine from St. Claire’s vineyard.

Lively celebrations take place on the Vltava river bank, in Náplavka, and include music, traditional culinary delights, fantastic wine and breathtaking views of the city.

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