Hanover. Every year on November 11, children parade through the streets with colorful lanterns, sing songs and eat marshmallows by the large Martin bonfire. The Christian Martin’s Day is celebrated by many Christian communities throughout Germany, invites you to get together and commemorates Saint Martin.
When is Martin’s Day 2022?
This year, Martin’s Day takes place on Friday. Saint Martin’s Day is associated in particular with lantern processions – also Martin’s processions. Accordingly, the main part of Martin’s Day begins after dark. In the next few years Sankt Martin will be located as follows:
Is Saint Martin’s Day a Public Holiday?
Martin’s Day is not a public holiday in Germany. Although it is celebrated both religiously and secularly, no German federal state has a day off on November 11th.
On St. Martin’s Day – or Martini – you do not have to observe any unusual business hours or the like.
Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated by both the Catholic and the Protestant Church. In both cases it falls on November 11th.
What is Martin’s Day and who is Saint Martin?
Saint Martin’s Day is also known as Martin’s Festival or in Thuringia, Old Bavaria and Austria as Martini. It is the eponymous festival of Saint Martin of Tours, who was born in 316 or 314. Martin’s burial is commemorated on November 11th.
By the way: On Martin’s Day, Protestants not only celebrate Saint Martin, but also Martin Luther, the spiritual father of Protestantism. He was born in 1483 one day before St. Martin’s Day.
The Story of Saint Martin
The Saint Martin story has a Christian background and tells of two different events that happened to Saint Martin. In the first story, Saint Martin, as a Roman soldier, encounters a freezing beggar. Taking pity on the man, he cuts his cloak in half and gives one of them to the beggar. The following night, Martin has a dream in which the beggar reveals himself as Jesus Christ. This story takes place as a play at many parades and Martinsbonfires.
A second story is about Martin of Tours after his service in the Roman army, who is to be appointed bishop at the request of the people. However, Martin is considered a modest man who does not feel worthy of the office and therefore hides. He hides in a goose pen, but the geese betray him with loud cackling. Eventually the villagers found him and Martin eventually became a bishop. It is said that he had the geese roasted as punishment – hence the custom of the Martin goose.
What customs are there on Saint Martin’s Day?
Martin’s fire, theatrical performances, lantern crafts, yeast dough figures – Martin’s Day has a rich tradition to offer. The most common customs on Saint Martin are the following:
- Martin’s procession – Numerous parishes take part in a large lantern parade on Martin’s Day, sing songs and peacefully parade through the streets. A real Saint Martin’s parade involves a horseman (Saint Martin) wrapped in a red cloak leading the procession.
- martin fire – The Martin fire usually marks the end of the Martin parade. The congregation gathers and lights a big bonfire.
- filly or wake up man – During the Martin fire, pastries are distributed to the children. They are referred to as Stutenkerle or Weckmann or Martinsweck. These are small yeast dough figures, often decorated with raisins and a stylized plaster whistle.
- St. Martin’s singing – Traditionally, there is a lot of singing on Saint Martin, especially during the Martin parade. Numerous songs revolve solely around Saint Martin and his good deeds.
- Martin Lantern – The special Martin lanterns are carried by children and adults during the Martin parade. They are handcrafted in advance and often decorated with motifs such as Saint Martin on his horse. They should drive away the darkness and draw attention to the message of Saint Martin.
What songs do you sing on Martin’s Day?
There is a lot of singing on St. Martin’s Day, especially during the family lantern procession. Many children learn the associated songs in kindergarten and make their own lanterns in advance. The following Martinstags songs are well-known:
- “Saint Martin”
- “I go with my lantern”
- “lantern, lantern”
- “A beggar sat in the cold snow”
- “Saint Martin was a pious man”
We have a selection of lyrics for the lantern parade here compiled for you.
What is eaten on Martin’s Day? The traditional Martin goose
A typical custom of St. Martin’s Day is the traditional St. Martin’s goose meal. In Germany it is often served with red cabbage, bread dumplings or potato dumplings. Another custom associated with the Martin goose is the goose poem. As the name suggests, a poem about geese is recited.
Martin’s Day at a glance – all important information summarized
- Martin’s Day takes place every year on November 11th.
- Martin’s Day is NO public holiday in Germany. In none of the federal states do the residents have that day off.
- Nevertheless, Martin’s Day is celebrated throughout Germany with many customs – for example with Martin’s parades, lantern walks, Martin’s singing or a bonfire.
- Saint Martin and his good deeds are commemorated on Saint Martin’s Day. The topic of charity is considered by many church communities with special speeches.