One of the things I love about Germany is the long-standing and deep-rooted culture, with many traditions that remain firmly intact. I actually think this is even more amazing in this day and age when smartphones and reality tv rule the public consciousness. Now I am not knocking American traditions mind you. Well, except Thanksgiving maybe. The only thing good about that day is pumpkin pie and stuffing. And football, naturally. That probably sounds pretty un-American doesn’t it? Then try this on for size…..I hate turkey. And I mean H-A-T-E. I am talking skin crawling, make me vomit into the back of my throat, runaway screaming like a little girl hate. If you want information from me, forget waterboarding or parading me naked in front of military prison dogs. Just tie me up and threaten to force feed me that junk and I will squeal like I’m in “Deliverance“, or (for those in the room who don’t get that reference) I will scream like a blithering idiot getting cut up in “Hostel“. How’s that for un-American?. Wow, I just realized they might not let me back in the country…….
TSA: “Excuse me sir, arent’ you that Germerican Denglish guy”
Me: “Yes I am. So you’ve read my blog? Cool.”
TSA: “Oh yes, we’ve read it.”
Me: “Check it out Baby, I have a fan!”
TSA: “We’re gonna need you to come with us sir.”
Me: “Check it out, we get VIP treatment.”
TSA: “Just you sir, they can go.”
Me: “Go? Go Where? What is going on?”
TSA: “Into America. They eat turkey.”
Me: “What are you going to do with me then?”
TSA: “You’re going to have to prove that you are, in fact, American.”
Me: “Just look at my birth certificate!”
TSA: “All you need to do is write a 100 page essay detailing the rules of football, baseball, basketball, and Obamacare. Then you can come in!”
Me: “What in the hell is Obamacare?”
TSA: “Auf Wiedersehen!”
Okay, maybe that’s a little over the top. That’s what happens when I ramble though. Anyway, traditions. Yes, we Americans have a few, but it’s just not the same. I mean, most of the traditions here are probably older than our entire country. And there is somehow more reverence and respect paid, but I think that probably goes back to how Germans view their holidays (as I talked about in this previous post). You know what though, none of this is my actual point so I am going to get to it.
St. Martin’s Day
The 11th of November was St. Martin’s Day. St. Martin was a nice old Roman guy, originally a soldier and later a monk, who gave half of his cloak to a poor guy so he didn’t die in the cold. Now, I have a little trouble making the connection between that and the present tradition, but it goes like this in our area. Kids make themselves (I use the term “themselves” loosely!) lanterns that were once lit by candles, but now use LEDs and such.
It is probably better not to make your kid’s first lantern the afternoon prior to the procession, but we got it done!
Once the time has arrived all the kids gather in a particular spot in their town or neighborhood, and a man on a horse portraying St. Martin shows up to lead all of the kids in a procession through the town/neighborhood.
This procession usually ends at the local community center where the kids all receive a Martin’s pretzel, which is similar to a normal German pretzel except it is a sweeter dough and covered and in sugar instead of salt.
After everyone has their pretzels, they conduct drawings for prizes.
This part is not free though, as the tickets are sold door to door in the week or so leading up to St. Martin’s Day. And that’s pretty much it. Oh, except for one of the other things I love about Germany. You can get a beer at events like this without anybody getting drunk & stupid and without the local conservatives shutting the place down. I actually have a lot more to say about that, but maybe that will be its own post one of these days. And hey, if they don’t let me back in the country I’m not gonna cry. Beer beats turkey any day of the week!