Today we celebrate St. Martin’s Day in Germany, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours, who gave half his cloak to a beggar so he could stay warm at night.
The day is celebrated in the evening of November 11 in most areas of Germany. 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.
I remember vividly celebrating St. Martin’s Day in Elementary school when our teacher would make paper lanterns with us in our art class. We would join a procession in the evening through our town, sing songs about St. Martin and all come together at a bonfire where the story of St. Martin was performed. Afterwards, we went back to our class room and every kid would get a plastic bag with candy, fruits and a “Weckmann” [which is made from sweetened yeast dough]. Then we would also go by the doors in our neighborhood with our paper lanterns and sing songs in return for a treat.
Sometimes, I wish I was in Elementary school again :)
P.S. Today is also the beginning of the new Carnival season in the Rhineland area. It starts on November 11 at 11.11 a.m. :)