Saint Martin’s Day in Croatia – Martinje

Priest blessing wine on Martinje (Saint Martin's Day)
Priest blessing wine on Martinje; Image by Kutina News

Martinje or Blagdan svetog Martina (Saint Martin’s Day, The Feast of Saint Martin) is a holiday celebrated on November 11 in Croatia.

According to an old traditional Croatian custom, this is the day that mošt (grape must) turns into vino (wine). This Croatian holiday has been cherished since the 17th century.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

The Feast of Saint Martin in Croatia – Martinje

Who was Sveti Martin (Saint Martin)?

Martinje was named after sveti Martin (St. Martin of Tours), who was buried on November 11, 397. Sveti Martin was a Roman legionnaire and a great lover of wine. He is considered to be the protector of vineyards and winegrowers.

Sveti Martin is also the first saint who wasn’t a martyr, and yet he still has his own holiday. He was known for helping the poor and needy. Because of that, he is also considered to be the protector of the poor, beggars, soldiers, horsemen, and travelers.

[Read: National holidays of Croatia]

Christening of grape must in Croatia

The custom of turning the grape must into young wine is called krštenje mošta (the christening of grape must).

Krštenje mošta happens every year during the night between September 10 to September 11. People usually gather together and wait for midnight when Sveti Martin comes to christen the must.

Two months later, on November 11, Martinje marks the day when the produced wine is ready to drink.

[Read: Making Sense of Croatian Grape Varieties]

According to the legend, Sveti Martin was the first to introduce the ceremony of blessing the must. The must was considered impure and sinful. Once it turns into wine, it becomes mature.

This ceremony was banned in St. Martin’s time because it was considered a pagan ritual.

Martinje and the blessing of the vines in Croatia

Croatian vineyard
Croatian vineyard

In addition to Martinje, another custom is marked on November 11. In some Croatian cities, priests come to the vineyards to bless the young wine and vineyards.

It is a religious custom that gathers people together. This custom is especially nurtured in Sveti Martin na Muri (view map), a village in Međimurje county named after Sveti Martin.

Other places participate in narodni biškup Martin (People’s Bishop Martin). People dress up as bishops, sing, have fun, and act out the ceremony of blessing the young wine.

Martinje is especially appreciated in southern Croatia, Hrvatsko zagorje, Međimurje, Podravina, Baranja, and Slavonija. Some Croatian cities celebrate this holiday by organizing traditional folk and music gatherings. The biggest celebrations of Martinje in Croatia are organized in Sveti Martin na Muri, Požega, Velika Gorica, Kutjevo, and Sveti Ivan Zelina.

Martinje also marks the day when fieldwork comes to an end for the year.

[Read: 9 insider tips for buying wine in Croatia]

Martin’s goose as a Croatian delicacy

As part of the tradition, martinjska guska (Martin’s goose) and mlinci are served on this day. The goose is often filled with bread, liver, chestnuts, apples, or buckwheat. If you want to make it yourself, check out this recipe for Martin’s goose with buckwheat.

So, where did Martin’s goose come from?

Saint Martin was guided by the idea of love, and he fought against heresy. Bishop Hilary of Poitiers ordained him as a priest and gave him his house in Ligugé, which Martin turned into a monastery. He wanted to spend his life in loneliness and pray.

When bishop Hilary died, there was no one who would take over the bishop’s place except for Martin. To avoid being named bishop, Martin hid in a bush. A nearby goose started honking, revealing his position.

Martin was found and became the next bishop out of duty, not out of desire. But that’s life, isn’t it? Sometimes, we gotta do what we gotta do.

Wine tap bar on the island of Hvar
Wine tap bar on the island of Hvar

View our other Croatian holiday posts

Gdje se najbolje slavi Martinje? by
Slavimo Sv.Martina i Martinje: Što se zapravo štuje i kakvi su običaji? by

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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