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St Martin’s Day − or Mårten Gås

St Martin’s Day is a celebration of the goose − all other connotations have largely been forgotten. In early November geese are ready for slaughter, and on St Martin’s Eve, November 10, it is time for the traditional dinner of roast goose.

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Photo: Jakob Fridholm/imagebank.sweden.se

The filling goose dinner

Some people cook the dish themselves but the majority go out to a restaurant. The custom is particularly popular in Skåne in southern Sweden, where goose farming has long been practised, but it has gradually spread northwards.

A goose dinner is something of a banquet. It takes time to cook and is very filling. All parts of the goose are used. The dinner begins with a bowl of sweet and sour ‘black soup’ (svartsoppa), made from goose blood and goose broth, and richly seasoned with fruit pureés, spirits and spices such as clove and ginger. The soup is thick and reddish black in colour.

Black soup is served with entrails of various kinds, as well as goose-liver sausage, stewed prunes and potatoes. The goose is stuffed with apples and prunes and roasted slowly while being constantly basted in its own fat. The carcass is then boiled in water, which is thickened into sauce. The surplus fat is used to prepare the trimmings: red cabbage, roasted apples and potatoes. As if this weren’t enough, a proper goose dinner also includes apple charlotte.

Last updated: 25 March 2014

Po Tidholm & Agneta Lilja

Po Tidholm is a freelance journalist and a critic based in the province of Hälsingland. He regularly contributes to Swedish dailies Dagens Nyheter and Aftonbladet, the magazine Filter and Swedish Radio. His texts about society, culture and history often revolve around the Swedish countryside and the north of Sweden. Tidholm has written the main sections about how we celebrate in Sweden today. | Agneta Lilja is a lecturer in ethnology at Södertörn University College, Stockholm. Her doctoral thesis, The Notion of the Ideal Record, was a critical examination of collection strategies at an archive specialising in the documentation of customs and traditions. Her research has also included the study of songs and festive customs, and she has written a book about All Saints’ Day and Halloween. At present, she is engaged in gender research. She also writes reviews and appears on radio and tv. Agneta Lilja wrote the sections about the history of Swedish traditions and festivities.