Today is Veteran’s Day in the US. I get a holiday out of it and I appreciate that. Other than enjoying the time off, I don’t really know what to do with this day. I don’t mean to seem rude or disrespectful. I do thank the service members that have served and still serve this country, but I have no direct, personal close connection to anyone in the military.
For me, November, 11 is and will always be a German holiday. We celebrate St. Martin’s Day today. It’s a catholic tradition (although it doesn’t have a lot of religious meaning for me) and the famous legend of Saint Martin of Tours 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.” (Wikipedia)). Saint Martin is known as the friend of children and patron of the poor.
St. Martin’s Day is one of the holidays that fall into the harvesting/fall festivities and is mostly for children. In Kindergarten and Elementary school, the children make colorful paper lanterns in art class. The nights before and on the night of November, 11, children join a procession, lead by a man on horseback dressed as St. Martin. The children carry their lanterns and sing songs about St. Martin. It’s quite the beautiful sight. After a march through town, they all come together at a bonfire where the story of St. Martin is re-narrated. Afterwards, they go back to their class room and every kid gets a bag with candy, fruits and a “Weckmann” [a pastry in the form of a gingerbread man, which is made from sweetened yeast dough].
In the Rhineland (where I am from), we also go from door to door in our neighborhood with our paper lanterns and sing songs in return for a treat. Very similar to the American tradition of trick-or-treating (minus the tricking). In a lot of areas, trick-or-treating has been adopted now for Halloween, but that didn’t used to be the case when I was a kid.
Today, all my family is getting together to enjoy traditional St. Martin’s Day food, “Martinsküchlein” (yeast-dough cookies), which were traditionally given to the servants and children back in the days. They’re delicious and I hate missing out on these traditional family get togethers. I am just going to pretend I could put one of those delicious treats in my mouth right now.
What are you doing today?