November, it is getting dark early on the street, it is getting wet and cold, the snow in Germany will not fall soon, and it is still a long time before Christmas - how the German Laternenumzug (in free translation - “The procession with lanterns”) was invented!
Laterne is a paper lantern on a stick, children glue it in kindergartens and schools, so that on November 11, St. Martin’s Day, they can walk along the streets with lighted Laternes.
Who is Saint Martin?
He lived in the territory of modern France (which is why the French also love him) in the IV century. In his youth, Martin was a Roman soldier. It is said that once on a cold night, he drove on a horse past the gates of the city of Amiens ("Sankt Martin ritt durch Schnee und Wind") and saw a beggar in tatters. Martin himself was in a warm raincoat ("Sein Mantel deckt ihn warm und gut"), and a beggar in rags ("Hat Kleider nicht, hat Lumpen an"). Martin cut the beggar with half his cloak with his sword.
Legend says that the next night Martin had a dream - Jesus Christ, wrapped in a half cloak, appeared before him. Christ said to Martin: "You did good for my brother, which means you did good for me." Martin left military service and became a preacher, and later a bishop of Tura. For his kindness and care for the poor, St. Martin is called Merciful.
St. Martin is known to all German children. In kindergarten, they are told to share, as Saint Martin shared with everyone.
Why is the holiday of this saint associated with lanterns?
According to one of the versions, when Martin was offered to become the Bishop of Tura, out of modesty, he wanted to refuse, and even hid in a roaster. The townspeople were looking for him, with lanterns running through the streets of the city. The noisy birds gave Martin a grunt, and he had to become a bishop. A roast goose became a traditional treat on St. Martin's Day. Although this is only one of the versions.
Around this time, the peasants had to pay for the land, and often, instead of paying, they brought the geese. It is possible that the goose was chosen as a festive dish because the Christmas Fast begins at this time, when you cannot eat meat.
The children insert a low candle inside the laten (for safety, they put it in a glass jar). Now, electric flashlights are sold in stores. They look like a fishing rod with an LED attached at the end. At the end of such a "fishing rod" a paper lampshade is worn, which can be made by yourself.
Children leave from kindergarten or school and go with songs along the street. Songs are forgotten at school in advance. In addition to schools and kindergartens, colorful processions are organized by churches (sometimes a rider on a horse, symbolizing Saint Martin, also takes part in them). The holiday is celebrated by both Catholics and Protestants. (By the way, Martin Luther, a reformer of the German church, was born on November 10 and named just after St. Martin). Honors St. Martin and the Orthodox Church.
How it was in Leipzig?
For several years, parents themselves organized this festival in Leipzig. My kindergarten only provides territory. Many children come with their parents, all are treated to traditional sausages and mulled wine (naturally non-alcoholic). Everybody has fun and enjoying. Parents talk with each other, children playing. Around beautiful, often homemade lanterns and the smell of grilling. After this fire show. It is really beautiful. Everything ends with Laternenzug.
One of the most famous songs on this day:
“Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne”
The origin of this song is unknown today, but its words and melody are already found in the XIX century. At first, apparently, this song was not connected precisely with St. Martin's Day. Children usually sang it at the end of autumn, when they walked in the evening hours with flashlights. Lines that have a connection with St. Martin's Day come to the fore in the middle of the twentieth century.