November 11th was St. Martin's Day. Alonzo and Colin made lanterns at school to get ready. After school Tuesday we headed over to a St. Martin's Day celebration so they could put those lanterns to use. I am still not exactly sure what it was all about, but it was definitely a lot of fun.
When we arrived at the festivities there were lots of children all with lanterns gathered around a fire. The fire was roped off so no one could get too close, but I am not sure that made it any safer since many of the lanterns were lit by candles. Alonzo and Colin both had the candle variety, but they managed not to catch themselves or anyone else on fire. Small blessings!
After a bit a gentleman came out, he talked a bit then there was singing accompanied by trumpet music. The singing was in German but Alonzo and Colin must have practiced at school with Ms. Birgit because they sang right along! St. Martin appeared on horseback and rode around the circle a few times before leading us all in a parade to a church some distance away.
As we walked along we noticed the windows in the buildings above us were filled with people enjoying the sight of hundreds of lantern carrying children flowing down the street. Even with the crowds the boys found some of their friends from school, they giggled and talked as we went along. From time to time we could hear the trumpet music and the singing would resume.
At the church there was another fire, sweet pretzels and kinderpunsch for the kids, with mulled wine for the adults. The warmth of the drink help thaw out my fingers before we began the walk back to the starting point so we could grab the van and head home out the cold.
Next year I want to take the whole family instead of just Alonzo and Colin. Hopefully by then I will be able to understand at least a little what is said. Alonzo has pointed out that if I want to do it right I should cook a big goose for St. Martin's day. Apparently at some point St. Martin hid in a stable or barn. Honking geese gave him away and he was found, now his goose is cooked each year.