November 10 marks a lesser known Swedish celebration, namely that of Mårtensafton (St. Martin's Eve). In the old days, Mårtensafton was celebrated throughout Sweden, but today it is mostly associated with Skåne, the province in the south, and is a surviving remnant of Sweden's days as a Catholic country.
The celebration got its name from Saint Martin of Tours, and the Feast of St. Martin (or Martin le Miséricordieux) is celebrated on November 11 in Germany. (Some say the connection between the goose and St. Martin's Day has an economic background: ‘Mårtens Afton’ - Gåsamiddag )
In Sweden (or Skåne) Mårtensafton is celebrated much like it is in Denmark, with "svartsoppa" ("black soup" with goose blood or pig's blood as the main ingredient) as an appetizer, thereafter goose, and as a dessert an apple cake. This menu was created by the innkeeper at Piperska muren in Stockholm during the 1850's. The combination became so popular that other innkeepers copied it.
Why goose for Mårtensafton? It is said that St. Martin originally took the goose as his personal symbol, because when trying to avoid being ordained bishop he had hidden in a goose pen, where he was betrayed by the cackling of the geese. He celebrates his nameday in November, when the geese are ready for killing. St Martin’s Day was an important medieval autumn feast, and the custom of eating goose spread to Sweden from France. It was primarily observed by the craftsmen and noblemen of the towns. In the peasant community, however, not everyone could afford to eat goose, so many ate duck or hen instead. 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.

If you want to try a typical goose dinner for Mårtensafton, here's one recipe:


Ingredients for 6-8 portions
1 goose (8-11 lbs)
1 lemon
1-1.5 Tbs salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 apples
about 250 g prunes (pitted)
1 cup hen bouillon

1 cup meat juice and hen bouillon
2 cups heavy cream
2.5 Tablespoons flour
1-2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
salt, pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 347 F. Half the lemon and rub the outside of the goose with it. Salt and pepper. Core and slice the apples. Fill the goose with apples and prunes and stitch the openings with a cotton thread. Put the goose sideways on an oven rack in a roasting pan. Put it in the oven. Take out after around 40 minutes. Turn it on the other side and put it back in the oven for another 40 minutes. Then put it with the breast up and let it in the oven until it's down, another half to one hour. Check in the goose thigh if it's done, if pink meat juice is coming out it needs more time in the oven. Pour the goose with the meat juice a few times while in the oven. Turn up the heat to 437F the last 10 minutes, so that the skin gets crispier. When you've removed the goose, let it sit a few more minutes before you remove the cotton string and cut the meat. For the gravy: Remove the fatty grease from the meat sauce. Mix the meat sauce with the bouillon if needed. Pour it in a pot. Mix the flour with a bit of the cream and stir it into the meat sauce/bouillon mix. Add the rest of the cream. Bring to a boil for about 3-5 minutes, stir frequently, and add orange juice, salt, pepper, and soy sauce to taste.