Did you know there was a German community in little ‘ol Boise, Idaho? We didn’t. Well, not personally anyway. We had read on the internet about a club that met here occasionally, but we never ended up going to any of the meetings. We were told by our new friends from the Basque Soccer Friendly though, that there was an informal group with a lot of kids that we should definitely get involved with. Well our first chance just happened to come along today, in the form of a Martinszug (St Martin’s Day Procession). Once upon a time I would have never imagined Boise had any kind of German community at all, let alone practice one of the more involved traditions.
The first step, though, in taking part in a Martinszug is making a lantern. This is not a major undertaking in Germany, as you can buy kits all over the place. In America though, not so much. But hey, with Google and a craft store it shouldn’t be a problem, right? Well as it turns out, finding translucent yellow paper is actually quite a problem here. So after striking out absolutely everywhere I could find to look or call, adjusting the plan was the only option left. Luckily we had just enough material at home to still get the job done, just a little smaller than originally planned. After spending the afternoon on the day of the procession getting crafty, which after our last St. Martin’s Day is apparently now tradition, we finally had a lantern. And a Minion lantern to boot!
With Minion in hand, we made our way to the park where the procession was to begin. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot, I knew we were in the right place by how warmly everyone was dressed. Not that Americans don’t dress warm, but there is just a typical look to bundled up Germans. Anyone who has spent any amount of time in Germany during the winter, or spring and fall for that matter, will know what I am talking about. After the kids played at the playground for awhile, while I amused everyone by loudly and proudly announcing that we are new, we all assembled in two lines to sing some traditional songs while a mini St. Martin marched back and forth in between. Then we set off on our 4 block procession.
After ending at a neighborhood cafe, we were greeted by the pricelessly confused looks on the faces of the patrons as they tried to figure out why the place was suddenly filled with approximately 40 Germans. Once the beer and food was ordered, the conversations began in earnest. We happened to be sit between a Bavarian-Austrian couple and another German-American couple, so we enjoyed a full evening of where are you from, how did you meet, and how did you end up here stories. Meanwhile, the kids were having a ball chasing each other around the restaurant.
So no, before today we didn’t have any firsthand knowledge of the German community in Boise. But we do know, and after tonight we definitely looking forward to becoming a part of it.