The adventures of a born-and-raised-in-Michigan girl (OK, woman) who's moved to Bavaria with her husband, kids, and dog.

Monday, November 13, 2006

St. Martin's Day 2006 Report

From Wikipedia:

"St. Martin's Day (or Martinmas) is November 11, the feast day of Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized when he was grown up and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who lead a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold.

The day is celebrated in the evening of November 11 in Flanders, parts of the Netherlands and most areas of Germany and Austria. Children go by the doors with paper lanterns and candles, and sing songs about St. Martin and about their lantern in return for a treat, very similar to the American tradition of Halloween. Often, a man dressed as St. Martin rides on a horse in front of the procession.

In recent years, the lantern processions have become widespread even in Protestant areas of Germany and the Netherlands, despite the fact that most Protestant churches do not recognize saints as a distinct class of believers from the laity.

The food traditionally eaten on the day is goose. According to legend, Martin was reluctant to become bishop, which is why he hid in a stable filled with geese. The noise made by the geese betrayed his location to the people who were looking for him."

Well, we had a very simple, modified celebration with Nicholas' Kindergarten, on Friday, November 10th. The kids had made paper lanterns a couple of weeks before, and brought them home. Stephanie had even made a paper lantern in our German playgroup, using the sides of a Camembert box, a piece of wire, some transparent paper and paint.

We met at the Kindergarten at 5:00 (dusk here these days) and lit the lanterns (Stephanie had a small flashlight in the bottom of hers, for safety), and took off on our little "laternenumzug" or lantern parade. Seventy-five kids with parents and lanterns in tow (as well as a few representatives from Etting's Fire Dept.), we walked through the neighborhood until we reached a cul-de-sac and then the kids stood in a circle with their lanterns and sang a couple of songs. Then on to the next cul-de-sac for a repeat performance. (They handed out music sheets the week before, and had worked on the songs during Kindergarten as well.)

I tried to take photos, but as you can imagine it was difficult both with and without the flash to get anything decent. Here are a couple from one point when we stopped:





And here's a closeup of Nicholas in his red coat and hat (his lantern is in the middle) with some kids:



Stephanie and her lantern (which was used more like a punching bag than a lantern):



Here we all are, en route:



After about three cul-de-sacs, we returned to the Kindergarten for our party; store bought cookies and mugs of tea, water, or mulled wine (common on the streets here during Christmas), for $1 per mug. It was nice to chat with the handful of parents we know, and Nicholas had a great time eating cookies and playing on the slide. They had a small bonfire outside on the playground as well, which was a nice addition.

It must have been over all too quickly, because on the way to the car Nicholas kept saying, "No, I don't want to go to the car, I want more, I want more." More what? More everything... parade, cookies, and party.

We heard that on the actual date, the 11th, Ingolstadt always has an elaborate lantern parade downtown at the Cathedral... very beautiful apparently. We figured that nearby Eichstaett, with its Jesuit University, would also be a nice place to go (it's a smaller city, more manageable for parking, etc.).

So maybe we will try to hit one of those next year. I don't think I will be up for cooking a goose next year (particularly so close to Thanksgiving), but you never know.

1 Comments:

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