I am – you figured – back in Germany! My apartment is a mess because my unpacking consisted of throwing everything out to quickly find the most needed things, Ingrid has abandoned me for the day and night, the freezer is empty, my sleep deficit has reached an all time high and I just came home at 10 p.m. (Lucia coming up, you know, no option to miss choir practice). So why on earth am I blogging then instead of redoing my nails and cooking tomorrow’s lunch?
Well, because today is an important day in the German traditional calender: it is Sankt Martin. The 11th of November is an important day mostly for children when they make lanterns and follow a man who rides on a horse through town. The train of children (and parents) sing and they are usually even accompanied by a marching band. Saint Martin is in most Germans’ memories connected to lanterns burning up and the special atmosphere of going all through one’s town (because literally every little village does this) with many colorful lanterns, singing “Sun, moon and stars, I am going with my lantern, burn my light, burn my light, but don’t burn up my lantern” or “I am going with my lantern, the stars are shining above. Down here, my lantern and I are shining, my light burns out, I go home, rabimmel, rabammel, rabumm”. (No, I don’t know what the last three words mean). We also sing religious songs about Saint Martin who was “a good man” riding through the snowstorm when he met a beggar that he shared his coat with. The cavalier who leads the children reminds us of Saint Martin. One of the best parts was always at the end of the walk when all children got a Weckmann mit Tonpfeife (see picture). Some people also eat Martin geese on this day.
Depending on which part of the country you live in, there might even be children coming to your door to sing with their lanterns and of course you give them candy afterwards. Bascially, Saint Martin is a German combination of Lucia (light/lanterns) and Halloween (getting candy).
One of my coworkers who has children had to leave a little early today because of Saint Martin and I told my other coworker that I would want to have a lantern as well. She didn’t need to be told twice – after we had finished work, she gathered together the very scarce craft materials and managed to make a very nice lantern for me. I was happy like a five-year-old and we even sang one Saint Martin song. (No, I am sparing you from the video.)
Can’t get enough of this lantern thing? Read more about Saint Martin of Tours here.