As promised, this is my second post of the month, to make up for my lack of during October. As November comes to a close and the cold really starts to creep in to Frankfurt, there is a certain amount of festivity in the air. The Christmas Markets officially opened in the city today and boy, am I excited 🙂
However, as advent does not officially start until this Sunday, I thought I would share a different festival with you that is celebrated at the beginning of November instead – the Laternenfest.
The Laternenfest, otherwise known as St. Martin’s Day, is a festival celebrated in many European countries. I, however, had not heard of it before living here. A widespread custom in Germany, St Martin’s day is a little reminiscent of the British Bonfire Night. It is celebrated on the 11th November and every St Martin’s eve, there is a huge bonfire called Martinsfeuer. It is usually considered a children’s festival as usually the children of Germany would sing a little nursey rhyme about it (click on the lyrics below to hear the song) and make lanterns at school to carry to the local bonfire.
German Section: See if you can translate the lyrics and learn the song!
Unfortunately, I had not realised that this festival existed prior to the evening, so I did not have time to make a lantern, so instead I went to the festival, camera in hand and just spotted all the lanterns I could!
So what is the story behind St Martin’s day anyway? Why is it celebrated in the first place? Well, my dear readers, I shall tell you….
Martin und seinen Mantel
Eine Winterabend, Martin und die anderen Soldaten fährt nach Amiens. Am Stadttur ist ein Bettler gesessen und er war so kalt, dass er nicht um Hilfe bitten konnte. Marten hat kein Geld oder Essen mitgebracht, so hat er seinem Mantel mit dem Schwert geschnitten. In dieser Nacht, hat Martin von Jesus Christus geträumt. Im Traum, hat Jesus ihm gedankt, weil Martin ihm den Mantel gegeben hat. Dieser Traum überzeugt Martin, Christ zu werden und sich taufen lassen.
Overall, the night was really lovely. Despite the fact that weather has now got Germany firmly in it’s grasp, the bonfire warmed everyone’s hearts. I found the sense of community spirit to be inspiring, and it was really lovely to see all the children running around together with lanterns that they had made. The sense of pride, the fun and youthful spirit
(Goodness do I feel old…).
It is times like these that I find German culture to be truly fascinating and although unlike bonfire night in the UK, there are no fireworks, the atmosphere more than made up for it. With Gluhwein in one hand, and a sausage roll in the other, the night ended perfectly with my friends and I all stood round the bonfire, listening to the live brass band and laughing the evening away.
And that, my dear reader, is the end of today’s post! I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any experiences to share or thoughts on the Laternenfest, please do write it in the comments below! I will also leave a link to the festival for all those who are interested in learning more about it, and ways you could even celebrate it at home – but other than that, I look foward to catching you again in December!