Mortensaften: Danish version of Thanksgiving

Leaves in all shades of fall brilliance, blanket the landscape, cracking and squishing as we walk. It is November. That means one thing: Mortensaften or in English, Eve of Saint Martin’s day, which falls on November 11.

By Sanobar Elahi

Call it a Danish version of Thanksgiving if you will, minus the NFL games and change turkey with a different kind of bird, as in Denmark on the 10 November  it is duck you should have for dinner.

History has it that Martin of Tours (Morten in Danish), was a soldier who later on went on to become a monk. Deeply pious and religious, he was to be appointed the next bishop. Not wanting to attain higher office and preferring isolation over company, Martin hid in a goose pen trying to avoid the detection.

Obviously not used to having a human hiding in the midst, the geese cackled and gave Martin away.

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He went on to become first, a bishop and later on a Saint. Furious at this betrayal, Martin declared that every November 10, goose be served as the main meal.

Mortensaften is celebrated on November 10 in commemoration of this event, which for some believers, also marks the last day of feasting before the start of the 40 day pre-Christmas fasting period. It is also the end of autumn and the harvesting season, and the welcoming of winter.

Since Danes are not deeply religious people, the day holds no religious value but is celebrated nonetheless with full vigour in the embrace of family, a traditional menu and general merriment.

Goose has since been replaced by small birds like duck. The menu itself is very traditional: Roast duck or goose, roasted potatoes, brown sauce, red cabbage and lots of red wine.

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Where to buy?
You can buy your duck from any grocery store like Netto, Rema, Føtex, etc.

Since it is Mortensaften, all grocery stores have deals in place for all kinds of poultry as competition is tough.

Finding fresh goose can be difficult in the smaller supermarkets, whereas big ones like Bilka and Kvickly usually do have both fresh duck and goose.

Meny is also advertising fresh duck.

A few duck picks:

Netto: French Duck, 3,400g DKK 149 (it is frozen). This year they are also advertising a Peking duck at DKK 39!

Rema 1000: Several to pick from – Danish for instance 2,600g at DKK 179




Føtex: Also several to pick from – and prices down to DKK 39. Their Danish Oscar Duck for instance the one at 3,400g at DKK 199  and other offers at DKK 189.











Are you up for trying out a roast goose – find our recipe – courtesy of

Roast Goose With Fried Potatoes, Kale Salad & Grandmother’s Dressing