St. Martin’s Lanterns

November 11th is the feast of St. Martin of Tours; a soldier who, as legend tells, gave half his cloak to a beggar and then that night in a dream saw Jesus wearing that half of the cloak. He eventually became a bishop despite his wishes after, at least as legend has it, his hiding place in a goose pen was given away by the geese making noise. The full story of St. Martin of Tours is actually fascinating and pretty cool, so I recommend you wikipedia it. But for our purposes here, you should know that this is a random feast traditionally celebrated in Germany for years: something I just learned of a few short weeks ago.

The feast is celebrated primarily by children. They make a goose to eat (or perhaps a goose cookie), and when night falls, everyone gathers in the square with their lanterns and a singing procession commences to the Church were more songs are sung. Then everyone goes inside: stories are read, children re-inact the story of St. Martin, and they sing more songs.

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At least that’s the gist of what I gathered. As with most religious feasts here, it’s much more of a tradition than it is a celebration of faith. I won’t harp on that though. Having looked up the feast online, our little celebration was a very evolved event from what used to be a huge feast prefaced by great fasting and marking the beginning of Harvest. However this post is short since the event wasn’t long and I couldn’t understand much (German language…) but I thought it was worth sharing. 🙂



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