• Sweden edition
Celebrating St. Martin: blood soup, anyone?

Celebrating St. Martin: blood soup, anyone?

Published: 11 Nov 2011 09:41 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Nov 2011 09:41 GMT+01:00

Which traditional holiday is celebrated in November involving a sizable roasted fowl?

Are you guessing North American Thanksgiving? Wait, hold your giblets. In accompaniment there is also a soup of sweetened, spiced whisked blood.

Well that pretty much rules Thanksgiving out. You are left with St. Martin’s Day.

Families and dining enthusiasts in Sweden continue to celebrate St. Martin with a roasted goose on 10 November, St. Martin’s Eve.

If you check your Swedish calendar, the name Martin actually is honored on November 11th but in true Swedish tradition, the celebration takes place on the eve of the holiday.

In the case of Mårten Gås – as it’s fondly called in Swedish – any weekend evening mid-November is considered seasonal for (this weekend is most likely this year.)

Most Swedes regard Mårten Gås as a tradition from Skåne, Sweden’s southernmost region, but are happy to embrace it as classically Swedish – and as good as any to throw a party.

However, as is the case with most traditions, there is more to the story and in this case the origins come from further afield.

St. Martin’s Day traces its origins back to the legend of the 4th century St. Martin of Tours, France. There are several unconfirmed versions of the story of how St. Martin and a goose share history’s annals.

The more colorful rendition tells of the betrayal of geese.

St. Martin was a humble monk who in a modest effort to avoid being ordained a bishop hid among the monastery’s geese. Their cackling ousted him from his hiding place and he begrudgingly received his benediction.

In a sardonic twist to Christian compassion, he exacted his revenge by dining on his Judas for dinner. Whatever the truth, the feast migrated from France via Germany and Denmark to Sweden sometime in the 16th century.

Over the years, it has come to serve as a way to commemorate Martin Luther, the father of modern Swedish Christianity.

The popularity of this holiday most likely caught on as it coincided with the festivity of the autumn harvest as it still brings to mind abundant geese in Skåne.

So now that you are motivated in the spirit of cultural integration to give Mårten Gås a go you ask, “Where does one find a goose to cook?”

Most market halls have some meat and poultry supplier who can probably sell you a goose.

Local farms in more rural Sweden often will sell you a freshly slaughtered one. Check to make sure they deliver it “ready to cook.”

If goose is too troublesome or pricey, a roasted turkey or even a baked chicken will do just fine to provide atmosphere for the feast.

Just expect a contemptuous look from your Swedish friends, undoubtedly defenders of tradition, but don’t let them get your goose.

And what of the soup of whisked blood? If you are a traditionalist and want to preserve the purity of St. Martin’s vengeance, you will have to prepare Svartsoppa, or Black Soup.

It is a sweet yet savory soup made from the blood drippings of the bird flavored with aromatic spices like cinnamon, clove and ginger.

If well prepared, the soup tastes more like rich gravy and is something to tell your family and friends you have ventured to prepare and eat.

In all fairness most Swedes gladly opt out of this tradition, so if it turns your stomach no one will hold it against you.

So what are you waiting for? Get goosed!

Cook your own Mårten Gås dinner!

Elizabeth Dacey-Fondelius (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

11:57 November 11, 2011 by Frobobbles
If you don't want to cook your own blood soup, some shops sell it premade. Btw it is awful
14:05 November 11, 2011 by Shibumi
I liked it alright. A bit too rich... heavily spiced with Christmas flavors. I never would have guessed there was blood in it.
16:09 November 11, 2011 by roaringchicken92
You can reduced the richness of the "soup" merely by adding some mashed potato to it. Not as traditional, but really good.
19:39 November 11, 2011 by Tuomi1980
I had blood pancakes when I lived in Finland but never blood soup, bring it on! :)
Today's headlines
Top ministers count cost of 'less secure world'
Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

Top ministers count cost of 'less secure world'

Foreign and Finance Ministers Carl Bildt and Anders Borg held a press conference on Wednesday to discuss how Sweden was being affected by a "less secure" world, and how it would foot the bill for a growing influx of refugees. READ  

Volvo profits saved by Chinese devotion
Volvo Cars chief executive Håkan Samuelsson. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Volvo profits saved by Chinese devotion

The now Chinese-owned Volvo Car Group announced a return to profits on Wednesday - thanks to the Swedish brand's popularity in China. READ  

Ikea founder gives giant donation to hometown

Ikea founder gives giant donation to hometown

Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad donated a gift to his hometown on Wednesday to the tune of 53 million kronor ($7.7 million). The cash is to be used for developing the area. READ  

Police hunt masked thief after Stockholm fire
Photo: Fanni Olin Dahl/TT

Police hunt masked thief after Stockholm fire

The Slussen tunnel in Stockholm began billowing out black smoke on Wednesday afternoon. Police believe that the fire was connected to an attempted robbery earlier in the day. READ  

Elections 2014
Parties duel as refugee costs rocket
Photos: TT

Parties duel as refugee costs rocket

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and opposition leader Stefan Löfven clashed on Wednesday after the Migration Board asked for more money to handle Sweden's influx of refugees. READ  

Introducing: Sweden's five minority languages
The Sami in northern Sweden. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Introducing: Sweden's five minority languages

Did you know there are five official minority languages in Sweden? The Local's Isabela Vrba finds out what they are, how they're protected, and what rights their speakers have. READ  

Swedish docs puzzled by deformed penis trend

Swedish docs puzzled by deformed penis trend

More and more Swedish boys are born with deformed penises, and researchers are uncertain exactly what's behind the increase. READ  

The Local List
What Sweden means to you in just one Tweet
Photos: Shutterstock/Imagebank Sweden

What Sweden means to you in just one Tweet

The Local Sweden has been asking readers to squeeze their view of Sweden into just 140 characters or less. Here's what you came up with up for #SwedeninaTweet. READ  

Getinge Floods
Swedish floods hit day two as rain continues
Photo: Anders Andersson/TT

Swedish floods hit day two as rain continues

UPDATED: The flood in southern Sweden showed no signs of abating on Wednesday, with forecasters predicting that the rains are unlikely to stop any time soon. READ  

Sweden and the Bronx
Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx
The Bronx. Photo:Shutterstock.

Swedes celebrate 375th anniversary of the Bronx

What do the Bronx and Sweden have in common? More than an affiliation with the Yankees, it turns out. And one small Swedish town is about to make that abundantly clear. READ  

Did you know the Bronx in NYC was named after a Swede?
"Iraq reminds me of the Yugoslav wars. It's the same story."
Swedes slam Danes for 'racist' art
Majority of Swedes favour more or just as many refugees
Lock your bathrooms: Swedish toilet invader on the the loose
Blog updates

17 August

Sea Fever (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as its not something I take any pleasure in writing. After much deliberation I have made the heartbreaking decision to abandon my trip after 1200km due to reoccurring injury. It is not a decision I have made lightly and it is one that has been truly devastating..." READ »


17 August

St. Louis strong (Blogweiser) »

"It’s typically a bad sign when my hometown makes news in Sweden. St. Louis was in the headlines here a few years ago when a tornado struck the airport. The city also caught attention after a politician talked about ‘legitimate rape’. Now, shooting and riots this week in Ferguson, a part of St. Louis, are..." READ »

'Assange will not leave until safe'
See more images from the southern Sweden floods
Sponsored Article
Find out what gives this Swedish school executive appeal
Serial chicken smuggler caught at Norway border. Again.
This gold coin may be the key to solving a Swedish massacre
The Swedish mentor (and why you may need one)
Food agency warns girls: 'Don't eat stinky fish'
Reinfeldt calls for tolerance to refugees
People-watching August 16-17
Sweden celebrates 200 years of peace
Top ten literal Swedish words
'Terror training should be illegal': Liberal Party
Swedes talk about 200 years of national peace
Islamic extremist shakes Sweden with TV threat
Teacher fined for 'Hitler salute' in German class
Swedish politician proposes ban on begging
Swede asks for epidural and gets disinfectant
Swede reports 'expensive' sex to police
Sweden plans to scrap SFI for adult education
Sponsored Article
Introducing... ID cards and permits in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at: