SJ on the Move

Friday, November 10, 2006

St. Martin's Day

Tomorrow is St. Martin's Day, 11-11, although for some reason in our area it was being celebrated today. For St. Martin's Day in Germany, all the children make paper lanterns that they hang from a pole with a candle (or if you have a 2 year old) a battery powered candle.

The traditional story of St. Martin is that he gave his coat to a beggar who was following him, so that the beggar could hide his poverty. So, here they have a man dressed as a Roman Centurion (St. Martin) riding a horse through town followed by the beggar.

There also is a goose, as the legend is that St. Martin hid in a barn full of geese because the people wanted to make him a bishop. Unfortunately, because of fears of Avian Bird Flu, the geese in the parade were of the stuffed variety.

The children all follow along with their lanterns, and there are a number of bands that also march along as well. They march down to the center of town, where there is a large bonfire setup. St. Martin circles around the bonfire on his horse for awhile, followed by the beggar, and then eventually gives him his cloak.

After that, everyone is invited to share in the eating of a Weckmann, which is basically a large dinner roll in the shape of a man with 2 raisins for eyes. No one seems to know how the Weckmann fits into the story of St. Martin, but I guess it's good fun. Although, I might add, not necessarily good eating. Like many German "sweets", it is seriously sugar deprived.


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