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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Denmark, Lesson 10 - St. Martin's Eve
Hello and welcome to the Culture Class: Holidays in Denmark Series at DanishClass101.com.
In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Danish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 10, St. Martin's Eve. In Danish, it’s called mortensaften.
Now, before we go into more detail, do you know the answer to this question:
Which important historical figure is named after Martin of Tours?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The story of Morten Bisp, whose real name is Martin of Tours, is something of a comic tragedy.
Morten didn't want to be appointed Bishop, so he hid from the town's people on a goose trail. The geese flew up, and Morten was revealed and forced to become the "bishop," or biskop, despite his attempts to hide.
To avenge the discovery of his hiding place, he ordered everyone to eat goose every year on the day of his discovery. The "ducks," ænder, have probably suffered the most, since "geese," gæs, used to be very expensive in Denmark.
Common sides for the goose or duck roast on St. Martin's Eve are usually sugar-coated and/or boiled potatoes, red cabbage, and brown gravy. Some may also include sugar-cooked apples and cranberry compote.
Each family decides how extensive their St. Martin's Eve menu will be, based on that family's individual traditions. For instance, if you don't eat poultry, you may not celebrate St. Martin's Eve at all.
One-fourth of the Danish population celebrates St. Martin's Eve with a goose or duck roast.
Each year a few thousand geese are sacrificed, and approximately 600 times more ducks give their lives to celebrate the tradition.
In some parts of Denmark, it used to be a tradition that people would walk around with lit candles in hollowed-out "pumpkins," græskar, or "beets," roer.
The tradition really has its origin in Germany, where people still celebrate the saint with a light parade in some places.
Today, several cities in Denmark on the border with Germany make homemade lanterns in workshops and host St. Martin’s parties, just like in Germany, with a parade led by the saint on horseback, representing his time in military service.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question:
Which important historical figure is named after Martin of Tours?
The German Martin Luther, because he was baptized on the day of Martin of Tour's death. Martin Luther was responsible for the Reformation, which played an important role in the history of the Danish church.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you celebrate St. Martin's Eve in your country?
Leave us a comment telling us at DanishClass101.com!
And I’ll see you in the next lesson!

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