If there is one thing Germans do well, that is traditions and celebrating them. Take Christmas markets, for example, they are great. While Christmas markets are very popular and spreading around the world, this week we are celebrating a lesser-known tradition (in my eyes anyway).
We are celebrating the German St Martin's Day. To be fair, last year we had no idea about it. As newly-arrived foreigners, we had never heard of it and had to be explained the gist of it. But it seems to be a very popular tradition for children.
is a time for feasting celebrations. This is the time when autumn wheat seeding was completed, and the annual slaughter of fattened cattle produced "Martinmas beef". Historically, hiring fairs were held where farm laborers would seek new posts. November 11 is the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life 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.
In Germany, children of all ages make their own lanterns and march through the streets singing songs (usually with their school). Last year, for a small group of 2-3 year olds, the police had even closed the two streets we marched through. German efficiency is not just a myth! I am told in some areas the children get sweets given to them too.
Goose is often eaten on this day and you will see many German restaurants offering goose from now until Christmas. Last year, parents at our playgroup had baked goose-shaped cookies.
In some regions of Germany, the traditional sweet of Martinmas is 'Martinshörnchen', a pastry shaped in the form of a croissant, which recalls both the hooves of St. Martin's horse and, by being the half of a pretzel, the parting of his mantle. In parts of western Germany these pastries are shaped like gingerbread men and are called 'Dambedeis' (where we are). This is what our daughter is having this year.
|Dambedeis - © Philuko|
Another widespread custom in Germany is bonfires on St. Martin's eve, called 'Martinsfeuer'. Previously, the Rhine River valley, for example, would be literally lined with fires on the eve of Martinamas. Today bonfires and fireworks are more local.
|Last year's leaves lantern|
Want to join in? Here is the most popular song.
This post was written for the Fall Traditions Multicultural Kids Blogging carnival. You can find the article here.