Friday, November 18, 2011

11.11 is St. Martin's Day in Germany

In Germany, November 11 is always a special day celebrating St. Martin.

The Feast of Saint Martin, is a Germanic celebration combining Halloween and Thanksgiving; commemorating Sankt Martin (c. 317-397), Bishop of Tours, one of the most revered European saints.

The best-known legend connected with Saint Martin is the dividing of the cloak (die Mantelteilung), when Martin, then a soldier in the Roman army, tore his cloak in two to share it with a freezing beggar at Amiens.

The celebration involves the school kids preparing their own Martinslaternen (lanterns) which are used to light the procession during the St. Martin's Day. A banquet of roast goose (die Martinsgans) is also a part of the feast. In older times, Martini was the “official” start of winter and the 40-day Christmas fast.

For the first time, my husband and I enjoyed a Martinsgans dinner with the Weinheimer Automobile Club (WAC) in a restaurant. I wasn't brave enough to try the gans (goose); I chose a shrimp plate and I just picked from my husband's plate. Well, the goose taste's good, maybe next time.

The St. Martin's procession was held on the 12th of November, the reason why we got to join the Martinsgans dinner. There was no time to create our own Martinslaterne (the school instructed the kids to re-use their old lanterns) so the girls settled for a store-brought lanterns as their old ones didn't survive the trip from Manila to Germany.

Although the night was cold, there were a lot of people. As soon as the city street lights were off, and St. Martin and his horse are both ready, the procession started. The kids walked, proudly holding their lanterns and singing with the band. Maybe because they know in the end of the parade, they would receive na traditional St. Martins männchen (a milk bread shaped like a man). There's also glühwein (mulled wine) and kiddie punch consisting of warm orange juice.
Plus, the firemen brigade has prepared a bonfire in front of the old castle where everybody assembled after the procession.
What was the highlight of our St. Martin's Day this time? MC, who has always been interested to join the firemen brigade, specifically the youth group -- finally got the chance to talk to the trainer. She is invited to try out next year.
Another thing, our pup Rikki, joined the procession, too. It was not easy to control her as Rikki wanted to stay with the kids; and yet she is so excited, she tends to jump on the kids. And there's the danger of being stepped on. Solution? My husband and MC decided to lead the procession with Rikki.

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