Saint Martin's Day in Austria

Saint Martin's Day, also known as Martinstag, is a popular autumn celebration in Austria. It is a time when people come together to honor Saint Martin of Tours, who is known for his acts of kindness and his role in spreading Christianity throughout Europe. In Austria, Saint Martin's Day is celebrated on November 11th every year.


The origins of Saint Martin's Day in Austria can be traced back to the early Middle Ages when the feast day of Saint Martin became a widespread Christian tradition. The celebration of Saint Martin's Day in Austria, as well as in other European countries, is closely linked to the agricultural calendar. November 11th marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. Historically, this was a time when farmers finished their work in the fields, and people prepared for the colder months ahead. Saint Martin's Day was an opportunity to celebrate the fruits of their labor and give thanks for the successful harvest.


National customs for Saint Martin's Day in Austria

One of the most well-known customs associated with Saint Martin's Day in Austria is the consumption of a traditional meal featuring roasted goose, known as Martinsgans. This dish is typically served with red cabbage, dumplings, and a rich gravy. The tradition of eating goose on Saint Martin's Day dates back to medieval times and is believed to be connected to the legend of Saint Martin hiding among geese when he was called to be a bishop.

Another widespread custom is the organization of lantern processions, known as Martinsumzüge or Laternenumzüge. Children create colorful paper lanterns in various shapes and sizes and then walk through the streets with their lanterns, singing traditional songs about Saint Martin. These processions often end with a bonfire, where people gather to enjoy warm beverages and snacks.

Local customs for Saint Martin's Day in Austria

In addition to the national customs, there are also regional and local variations of how Saint Martin's Day is celebrated in Austria. For example, in some parts of Austria, young people dress up as Saint Martin and go from house to house, reciting poems or singing songs in exchange for treats or small gifts. In other regions, the lantern processions might be accompanied by a person dressed as Saint Martin on horseback, reenacting the famous scene where Saint Martin cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar.

Another local custom is the celebration of Martiniloben, a wine festival that takes place around Saint Martin's Day in the Burgenland region of Austria. During this event, wineries open their doors to the public, offering tastings of their new wines, as well as traditional food and entertainment. This custom dates back to the time when Saint Martin's Day was considered the start of the new wine year.


Saint Martin's Day in Austria is a time-honored tradition that brings communities together to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. From enjoying a delicious Martinsgans meal to participating in lantern processions and local customs, this festive occasion allows Austrians to honor the memory of Saint Martin and his acts of kindness and generosity.