The Feast of St. Martin of Tours will be on 11. Celebrated in November and differently oriented in many regions. Nevertheless, the story of St. Martin and the famous act - sharing the coat - are everywhere present.
The Fest St. Martin - traditional and still up to date
The 11. Incidentally, November was commemorated because it was the day of Martine's entombment. That was in the year 397 and since then the day is celebrated in Central Europe and made differently depending on the region.
If you calculate, this date is also about 40 days before Christmas and thus the beginning of Lent, as it is done from the Middle Ages, especially in the Orthodox Church.
Similar to the beginning of Lent on the Shrove Tuesday, St. Martin's Day gave people the opportunity to eat neatly and lusciously, before the next 40 days are just a meager meal or almost nothing.
In the Rhineland is the 11. November also the start of the carnival season. In addition, taxes were paid on that day, often in kind and by geese. The animals would otherwise have had to be fed through the winter, so the stock was decimated in this way and at the same debt paid.
The 11. November, however, was also a typical day on which the employment relationships ended or restarted, at which lease or interest calculations ended and began again. The Martini Day has always been a time for beginning and end in the economic sphere and was therefore called interest day.
St. Martin - Tradition and Modernity
The tradition of eating Martin's goose can be explained in this way, but it is also a legend tells about the connection with the Martinsgans. Martin was to be ordained a bishop, which he did not want and hid. Geese have chatted betrayed his hiding place and thus made it possible that he could still be consecrated. But there are also other stories about the traditional goose meal, in Germany the goose is served in most regions with dumplings and red cabbage.
For children, the St. Martin's procession is a cause for celebration for a variety of reasons. Such relocations take place in many European countries, although small details may differ regionally. All have in common, however, the procession with the lanterns or torches through the place of residence. The lanterns are either bought or tinkered by kindergarten and school children themselves.
The parades also take place in the small villages, the local kindergarten can have its own parade, which takes place at a different date than the move of the students from the school of the place. So it may happen that in some parish two or three times a St. Martin's parade can be seen. If there are not enough performers for the St. Martin, but it is waived and the train takes place only once.
The move to St. Martin
In this procession, people are also accompanied by a mounted St. Martin. This carries depending on the region the costume of a Roman soldier. The participants sing Martinslieder and are accompanied by bands. At the end of the procession, a St. Martin fire, prepared under strict supervision, awaits fire, which is ignited when the train members arrive.
The actor St. Martin will also say a few words to the participants of the train, perhaps to remember the story of the beggar and the coat division. In many places, this scene is also replayed.
Afterwards, the children who accompanied the train with their torch receive one Weckmann, Stutenkerl or Martin geese made from sweet yeast dough, different depending on the region.
The biggest moves to St. Martin take place in Worms-Hochheim, in Kempen on the Lower Rhine and in Bocholt. These trains are fast counting up to 6.000 participants. For children, the Feast of St. Martin is one of the most important festivals in autumn.
They look forward to it early on and are eager to make the lanterns. Of course, smaller children get the support of their parents, but it does not have to be perfect. Of course there is singing during the crafting, there is a hot cocoa and biscuits and during the handicraft lessons it can rain or storm outside, it is simply cozy inside.
Of course, older schoolchildren make a torch during class at school. Previously, it was customary to carve a grimacing sugar beet face and then use this turnip as a torch.
Other customs related to St. Martin
In addition to sharing the coat and eat the Martinsgans there are around St. Martin also other customs. The Martinssingen not only takes place during the move, but also afterwards or on a special date.
In many regions, the children move from house to house with their torches after the actual procession, sing a martini song to the door-opening occupants and ask for small gifts. These are of course sweets, fruit or other trifles.
Under the name Martinisingen an old custom is maintained in Protestant communities in East Frisia. However, he refers to Martin Luther, whose name day also on 11. November is celebrated. In southern Germany in Protestant communities is the belsnickel Expects to bring gifts on St. Martin's day and sometimes Nussmärtel heißt.