Martinmas, the feast of St. Martin of Tours is traditionally celebrated on November 11. 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 become 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 kid´s eyes are brimming with excitement. The parades are organized in many Prague quarters and locations including Riegrovy sady and Vyšehrad fortress. See the list of events and best things to do for kids on St. Martin´s day in Prague.
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. See special menus, dates of celebrations and tastings in “What´s on in Prague”.