Thursday, November 11, 2010

St. Martin's Day

Laterne, Laterne
Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne!
Brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht,
aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne!
Sperrt ihn ein den Wind, sperrt ihn ein den Wind.
Er soll warten, bis wir zuhause sind.

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne!
Bleibe hell mein Licht, bleibe hell mein Licht,
denn sonst strahlt meine liebe Laterne nicht.

St. Martin's is a day much enjoyed by German children. This evening they roamed about their towns, villages and neighborhoods carrying lanterns and singing songs such as the one posted above.  We would make lanterns and then carry these shining beacons of light with us in the dark as we went about singing. There was usually at least one mounted rider and his horse representing St. Martin and his mount. It is common to see this rider wearing a bishops miter, robes and carrying the staff. In our town we often had the entire equestrian club riding along with the designated St. Martin. It was beautiful. Imagine dozens of children walking together with colorful lanterns singing together in the dark of night.  The fact that we received treats in return for our signing was an added bonus. Today is incidentally also my mother's and IT man's birthday.
St. Martin was a bishop who shared all he had and when he had no more and he saw a beggar freezing and cold he took out his sword and cut his cloak in half. He gave half the cloak to the beggar to keep him warm.  According to legend he dreamed of the beggar that very night and in his dream the beggar was Jesus.
St Martin of Tours started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized when he was grown up and became a monk. He was a very good and kind man, and eventually became the Bishop of Tours. As well as being kind, he was quiet and simple. He didn't want to become Bishop, but he didn't have much choice. There are many legends about his life. The most famous is when he cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. Another legend is about his trying to hide so as not to become Bishop. The story is that he hid in a stall in a barn, hoping to escape the people who were hunting for him. They had come to take him to be appointed Bishop. A flock of geese made a lot of noise and gave away his hiding place. The goose is the animal symbol of St Martin and a favorite food on Saint Martin's Day. (from


Eva said...

Oh, Marlis, ich habe in meinem ganzen Leben noch nie die zweite und dritte Strophe von "Laterne, Laterne" gesehen. Wo kennst Du die denn her?

Marlis said...

Ich erinnerte mich an die dritte Strophe aber nicht die zweite. Die fand ich im Net.

JunebugJones said...

Where did you live in Germany? We're there now, and loved our village's St. Martin's Day celebration! I'm a new afterschooling blogger at: