November 11th is a day wine lovers look forward to in Slovenia
St. Martin’s Day celebration in Ljubljana, Slovenia (Photo: Brent Petersen)
November 11th is St. Martin’s Day, a feast day celebrated throughout Europe to commemorate Saint Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who became a monk. Saint Martin is known for giving away all his possessions except his cloak. One day he saw a beggar in snowstorm and cut his cloak in half, giving one half to the beggar.
St. Martin’s Day is celebrated in different ways across Europe. Many customs include roasting a goose. In Germany, bonfires are lit.
One year I was in Slovenia for St. Martin’s Day. There were signs all over Ljubljana advertising the uncorking of the “new wines” for the holiday. It didn’t matter that I had never heard of St. Martin or his day before, new wines had me sold.
It’s cold in Ljubljana in November so we ducked inside a small bar for a piece of cake and a hot chocolate. The bar was decorated with huge antique armoires, dressers, and hutches, draped with lace and stacked with mismatched antique plates.
Inside, a few locals were sitting at the bar and tables. The young lady tending bar took our order and when she returned I asked her about all the signs I had seen for “St. Martin’s Day.”
She explained that tomorrow, Nov. 11th, was the day when the must was christened and could officially be drunk as wine. She also mentioned that their wine was sitting in the basement, waiting for tomorrow’s official celebration.
It was getting late, so I cheekily commented that it’s almost “tomorrow.” She must’ve liked my observation because she went to the basement and brought up a couple bottles of the unofficial “wine.” Pouring a glass for each of the patrons, she reminded us not to say anything to anyone about our crime against viticulture.