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Posts tagged ‘november’

Your Goose is Cooked – or roasted and served with Red Kraut, Dumplings and Zweigelt

November 11, St. Martin’s Day (Martinitag) with goose served the week before and after all over Austria

If you’ve been to Austria in early to mid-November and noticed all the laid-back turkeys gobbling around their wide-eyed heads-in-the-pile-of-leave goose feathered friends, you may have asked yourself, “What’s up with that?” It’s November and the turkeys are chilled but the geese look baked? Or roasted rather. Yep.

Here in Yodel land the geese have a lot to ruffle their feathers about come November because the week before and after November 11 is all about getting some geese. On November 11, Austrians celebrate Martinitag. And no, stop thinking of trips to the cocktail bar all the time. It’s not that kind of Martini, Mr. Bond. It is Martini as in St. Martin’s Day. So get a bit saintly now. And just like we will traditionally eat ourselves some light and dark turkey meat for Thanksgiving, the Austrians are digging into some red Kraut and goose meat for St. Martini.

Martini Celebration 1863

Martini Celebration 1863

The tradition of eating a goose on Martini Day might be traced back to Martini Day also being the Hauptzinstag (Main Interest Day – interest as in finance not in, I’m heading to the dance floor, got any interest?). Anyway, the Hauptzinstag was the first day of the new business year and also the day that the farmhands got paid, leasing contracts signed, taxes settled, and servants could change their employers. In order to keep down the costs associated with feeding the livestock throughout the long cold hard winters, a lot of farm animals were slaughtered. Including – yes, my feathered friends, sorry to say, including geese. So long story short – a good excuse to fill up the bellies before advent fasting rolled around.

What’s up with the lanterns, kids?
Another, younger tradition on Martini Day, is for children to make colorful lanterns out of paper and cardboard in kindergarten class. Then on the eve of St. Martin’s Day (November 11) the kiddies proudly carry their self-made pyro masterpieces in a procession around the local church while singing sweet little lantern carols and reciting St. Martin poems to all the goo-goo eyed Mas and Paps worried about the flames the little ones are toting dangerously clothes to the winter coats and scarves of their lantern carrying kindergarten peers. So if you see a bunch kids playing with matches, carrying lanterns and singing somber songs, don’t get worried that the apocalypse might be coming and you missed the memo.

Who was this St. Martin Fellow  anyway?
St. Martin’s Day is a celebration of Martin of Tours and the date coincides with his burial date on November 11, 397. Martin was apparently a Roman soldier who, seeing a beggar freezing in the middle of a snowstorm, cut his own cloak in half to share with the beggar. That night Martin had a dream that Jesus was wearing the other half of his cloak and an angel praised the soldier who had never been baptized for his benevolent act of charity.

Roasted goose, dumplings and apple kraut

Roasted goose, dumplings and apple kraut

But why the goose? There are many legends why of course. Here are some of my favorites: The townsfolk all wanted Martin to be a bishop but humble Martin didn’t feel worthy of the honor and hid in a goose stall and the cackling disturbed feathered residents betrayed their intruder’s whereabouts with their yattering protests. A second legend is that a gaggle of geese (yep, that’s what a legion of geese are called – a gaggle – aren’t you impressed? Learned something today, didn’t ya?) interrupted Martin during his sermon by marching right into the church right in the middle of the hallelujahs and the serious townsfolk served them up their due, right on the dinner table with Kraut and Knödel.

What’s For Dinner?

Martini Goose at Radatz

Martini “Fastfood” Goose at Radatz in Vienna

Always thinking about your stomach, aren’t you. Well, almost always.
A typical Martini Dinner will include roasted goose served with red kraut (which I adore and it you’ve never tried, you must!) and some stuffing-kind-of-yummy-dumplings. And wine. Don’t forget the wine!

Random Facts about Martini:
Martini Day often marks for Austrian farmers the day that their animals will no longer be “ausgetrieben” (put out to pasture) and will be “eingestallt” (kept in the stalls).

Goose Words 101: Martinsgansessen (Martin Goose Meal), Martinigans (Martin Goose), Martinigansl (Cute little Martin Goose), Rotkraut (red Kraut), Serviettenknödel (Yummy dumplings), Wein (wine – don’t forget the wine for Pete Martin’s sake!), Gänseschar (goose gaggle – you didn’t forget already, did you?)

Where to Get Your Goose:
for a goose on the run, fast food style – inexpensive, quick, but still scrumptuous
Heuriger: really, if you’re in Vienna, there’s no excuse not to call up a Heuriger of your choice and make goose meal reservations for you and your friends (unless they’re booked). I did (@ Schübl Auer and the goose was great) just make sure you specify that you’re coming for the goose and don’t do what I did and forget to specify if you prefer non-smoking. Print This Post
Other places to get your goose:

Heuriger Kierlinger

Zum Martin SeppWeingut Klager

Heuriger Wolff
Heuriger Bach HengelHeuriger Rudolfshof

Heuriger Muth

Heurgier Fuhrgassl Huber
Heuriger ReinprechtHeuriger FeuerwehrwagnerHeuriger Zimmermann


Lyrics to the Martini Song

Ich geh mit meiner Laterne und meine Laterne mit mir, dort oben da leuchten die Sterne, da unten leuchten wir. Mein Licht geht aus, wir gehen nach Haus, rabimmel-rabammel-rabumm! I walk with my little lantern, my little lantern walks with me. Above the stars shine brightly, done here we shine brightly too. My light goes out, I go home now, ra bimmel, ra bammel ra bumm!


Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) and a Databank of the Murdered and Survivors

“I am witness! I am witness!”
The words of 56-year old actress, Lina Loos, as she followed in horror and rage the
raving mob of her fellow Viennese on Kristallnacht as they destroyed the places of
work, worship and home of many of her dear friends and colleagues.

Sign in Sidewalk in Herminengasse, Vienna, in memory of Holocaust victims who once resided there.

Plaque in Sidewalk in Vienna’s 2nd District: “In memory of the 1o2 Jewish men, women and 12 children who resided here before being deported by the Nazis. Only 5 survived.”

November 9 and 10 marks a very sad anniversary in the history of Vienna – the so-called Kristallnacht, or Night of Broken Glass – which occurred in 1938 and was part of the Nazi plan to terrorize Jews to such an extent that they would be forced to leave the safety of their homes to seek refuge abroad. It was the start of the atrocities committed against Jews and other ethnic and social groups by the Nazis during WWII. In Vienna 6547 Jews were arrested on Kristallnacht, and 42 synagogues and houses of prayer were set aflame. Over 5000 shops belonging to Jewish owners were closed, plundered and destroyed.

In Vienna, the action began at 4 am. The name “Reichskristallnacht” is largely a misnomer since much of the damage was carried out in broad daylight.

Under the command of Adolf Eichmann, the city temple in Vienna in the Seitenstettengasse was taken by storm, destroyed and occupied, but because it was so close to neighboring buildings, was spared a fiery end. Around 4 pm, other synagogues and prayer houses throughout the city, 42 in total, were set aflame. Fire trucks were only dispatched to ensure that the flames remained confined to the Jewish buildings and did not cause any damage to neighboring houses. An order was sent out to all police stations to arrest wealthy Jews, remove them from their larger apartments and place them and their family members in smaller living quarters.

Sidewalk Marker of Victims of Holocaust in front of house in Herminengasse, 1020 Vienna

Sidewalk Marker of Victims of Holocaust in front of house in Herminengasse, 1020 Vienna

All at once, two thousand apartments in Vienna became vacant.

“Cum tacent, clamant.”
     – Cicero, (With silence, they cry out.)

Today, the horrifying extent of this action and what would follow can be witnessed in historical markers that have been placed on the sidewalks and houses of some of the residences. The brass plaques detail how many Jewish residents lived in the house, and how few survived. Some even detail names. Many of these signs can be found in the city’s traditionally Jewish Quarter such as the Leopoldstadt, Vienna’s second district, sometimes referred to as the “Mazzes Island” ( If you take the U4 or U2 subway to Schottenring, take the elevator up from the U2 up to Herminengasse and simply walk down the street, you will already find two such markers – one on a house and one of the sidewalk.

Herminengasse Vienna Holocaust Remembrance Sign

“In remembrance of the 39 Jewish men and women and one girl who lived crammed together in a collection apartment before they were deported by the Nazis. Only one woman survived.” Includes also the birth dates and names of some of the victims along with the deportation date and destination.

“A Letter to the Stars,” which you can visit under the following website,, is an initiative that attempts to ensure that history is never forgotten and never repeats itself and also contains information about the fate of the city’s persecuted members. On one part of the website, users can access two databanks – one about those who were murdered and one about the survivors. The “Databank of the Murdered” details the fate of thousands of Vienna Jewish residents who were deported during WWII. Once you are on the webpage, enter the name of a Vienna street into the space entitled “Strasse / Hausnummer” and click the “Suchen” button below. You will then see a list of all the people who once lived in that street,  and, if known, information about what became of them. Don’t enter more than the street name, however, since the databank tends to not produce any results if too much information is entered.

Sign in Memory of Holocaust Victims forced to reside in a collection apartment in the Herminengasse before being deported by the Nazis.

Plaque in Memory of Holocaust Victims forced to reside in a collection apartment in the Herminengasse before being deported by the Nazis.

In another project entitled, “The Last Witness” teachers and school children can get in contact with Holocaust survivors living all over the world. These “last survivors” would like to share their life stories, and legacies with youth living in the former homeland.

In a second project entitled “The Righteous” teachers and school students investigate the life stories of those who did not act as silent witnesses to the Nazi regimes but rather showed the civil courage to help those being persecuted by saving their lives.

The Austrian magazine, Profil, has two articles about Vienna and Kristallnacht online. Both are in German.

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You can also read more about Kristallnacht on the website of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Here is the link to an interesting trailer of the movie Kristallnacht Remembered on Youtube. The movie includes personal stories and the trailer also has a short interview with Austrian author Frederic Morton