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St. Martin’s Day co-shapes Slovenia as a wine country

St. Martin`s Day is the main autumn thanksgiving holiday when must is symbolically transformed into wine. It is condsidered to be one of the most important Slovenian holidays and although it is a working day, its celebration in Slovenia is still very popular. St. Martin`s Day also co-shapes the modern image of Slovenia as a developed vineyard and wine country.

St. Martin`s Day or the name day of St. Martin from Tours is the day on which European countries remember the saint who gave his coat to a beggar in order to hide from his poverty. In Slovenia, St. Martin`s Day is celebrated primarily as a wine holiday. Until this day, must is considered to be an impure and sinful new wine that is transformed into real wine through a blessing. The beginnings of the celebration of St. Martin`s Day in Slovenia can be traced back to the period between the 7th and 10th century as well as later on, while the general popularity of St. Martin`s Day can only be seen in the last twenty or thirty years, alongside the general development of the vineyards, winemaking and wine culture in Slovenia.

When talking about St. Martin`s Day, we cannot avoid Slovenian wines. Wine quality of Slovenian wines is marked by three wine-growing regions of Slovenia, which, with its hundreds of years of cultural entanglements, is building its modern recognisability at the junction of the European Alps, the Mediterranean and the Pannonian Plain. It is this very junction that gives special and recognisable character to all of Slovenia`s wines and cuisine. The oldest wine in the world even hails from Maribor and still bears fruit every year. All this is reflected in current Slovenian wines, which are among the best in the world. At this year’s Decanter wine evaluation, one of the most important wine competitions in the world, Slovenian wines received quite a few medals.

Even in the celebration of St. Martin`s day, each of the three Slovenian wine-growing areas (regions of Primorska, Posavje and Podravje) has its own habits that represent the heritage of St. Martin`s Day. Many extraordinary features were preserved; for instance, in the wine-growing region of Primorska, the celebration of St. Martin`s day was connected with the forecasting of the future harvest. Elsewhere, a custom exists that, on this day, wine is blessed but not baptised, since the "baptism of wine" in Slovenia represents a cheeky deed of innkeepers – adding water to wine to increase earnings.

The recognised Slovenian ethnologist, Prof. Dr. Janez Bogataj, says that St. Martin`s day should be an opportunity to become familiarised with the messages of each glass of wine, to hang out with friends and not only for exaggerated drinking. At the same time, Dr. Bogataj establishes that St. Martin`s day is one of the few holidays on which no gifts or other motifs exists, promoted by commercialism; on the contrary, St. Martin`s day still primarily represents a preservation of the heritage of long-held celebrations, when our ancesors celebrated the new wine harvest.

In connection with St. Martin`s day, several events will be held in November, with the central event on Saturday, 12 November 2011. The most interesting events include:

- Vinakoper is organising the traditional, 14th celebration of St. Martin`s day, which will be held between 5 and 11 November 2011 (information at Vinakoper (information by email ).
- The cultural, entertainment and tourist event for St. Martin`s day 2011 will be organised in the town square of Ptuj. Several winegrowing games will be organised, including a cultural-entertainment programme, a toast of the mayor, the comical baptism of must and the central event, the inauguration of the 13th prince of the Kurentovanje carneval, 2012 (information by email ).
- The Črnomelj and RIC Bela krajina association of winegrowers would like to invite everyone to a celebration of St. Martin`s day on Friday, 11 November 2011, and Saturday, 12 November 2011, in a heated tent in Jurjevanjska draga in Črnomelj (information by email )
- The spa town, Rogaška Slatina, is also organising a celebration of St. Martin`s day by preparing a special programme for the week between 5 and 11 November 2011 (information by email ).

Finally, we would like to announce the central autumn wine-culinary event, the 14th Slovenian Wine Festival and the 4th Culinary Festival (Ljubljana, 17th – 18th November 2011). The Slovenian Wine Festival and the Culinary Festival, as the leading Slovenian events in this field, have been bringing together the best providers and consumers of excellent wines and culinary delights for many years now. In the framework of the festival, a variety of guided tastings, presentations and workshops are prepared, during which selected chefs present their culinary delights, along with the selected Slovenian and foreign producers of cheeses, hams and other meat products, oils, bread, vinegar, honey, truffles, chocolates, etc. As the Culinary Festival takes place simultaneously with the Wine Festival, delights that are well complemented with excellent wines are presented.



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