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Myth of No.11, Geese Betrayal Turns into Carnival in Austria

Myth of No.11, Geese Betrayal Turns into Carnival in Austria

Monday, 13 November, 2017 - 06:00
A farmer stops the traffic so his gaggle of geese can cross the road to get to their night time enclosure, in the western town of Duisburg December 8, 2011. (Photo by Ina Fassbender/Reuters)

The myth says that geese have betrayed Saint Martin. Therefore, since Saturday, precisely since the 11th minute after 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, Austrian people slaughter and eat geese to celebrate the Saint they call "the shepherd of poor.”

According to the myth, when the shepherd found nothing to give to a poor man, he ripped his cloak and shared it with him on a cold day.

Strangely, sources do not recall the exact reason why No. 11 was linked to St. Martin, who died on November 8, 397, and his exact date of birth in 316 is unknown.

But, sources point out that St. Martin of Hungary lived in Italy and then moved to France where he died. Like his father, the priest Martin worked as an army officer, and lived as a monk refusing to take part in the war. He had no choice but to hide, with a flock of geese. However, these babbling birds betrayed him; he was arrested.

On the other hand, since Middle Ages, Austrians fast the day after St. Martin Day, preparing a meal with full-fat goose along with side dishes such as boiled potatoes, red cabbage and toasted chestnuts. Then things got different, and the Austrians delayed the St. Martin's fasting date so it coincides with the celebration of harvest, end of autumn, and to the beginning of winter; when they hold feasts and dance parties, known as "fashion season” in Austria, and as carnival in Germany.

In this celebration, children take to the streets to wander and sing, dressed in colors, carrying lanterns, while institutions, unions and bodies also celebrate in an elegant ceremony that suits their social position.

The concert, which is organized at the Opera Hall, is an official Austrian ceremony attended by the President of the Republic, members of the Government, elites and celebrities from all over the world. Its tickets are worth thousands of Euros, and they are usually booked a year ahead.

As in most occasions, businesses rush to announce a shopping season to make big profits by selling food, gifts and outfits.

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