Local community welcomes American neighbors to Saint Martin processions |
Posted 11/8/2012 Updated 11/8/2012
by Staff Reports
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
11/8/2012 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- If you see a train of small children with lanterns following a Roman legionnaire on a horse one evening, don't be alarmed. You are witnessing an age-old tradition known as St. Martin's Day, or Martinmas.
St. Martin's Day was named after a Roman soldier whose humility and kindness eventually led him to become the Bishop of Tours in France. This holiday is celebrated throughout Europe, but each region observes it uniquely. In the Eifel region, Martinmas is a time for feasting celebrations. Very much like Thanksgiving in America, the holiday also celebrates harvest time and the end of winter preparations.
Martinmas is traditionally observed with a roasted suckling pig, shared amongst neighbors. Some families exchange gifts while others participate in the local parades. The procession of children with lanterns is often accompanied by large bonfires lining the Rhine River valley. These bonfires are lit on Martinmas Eve and are called "Martinsfeuer." Oftentimes, children will construct their own lanterns, going from door to door, and sing St. Martin songs for sweets. The traditional Martinmas sweet is either a traditional "Martinsbretzel," or the "Martinshörnchen," a croissant-shaped pastry that represents the hooves of St. Martin's horse. In other areas, the tasty pastry is shaped like gingerbread men, an edible representation of the saint.
Another treat often enjoyed on Martinmas is roasted goose, which is a reminder of St. Martin's humility. When St. Martin realized that the local population wished to make him bishop, he hid in a barn, where he had the unfortunate meeting with a honking goose. Thanks to the goose, the people of Tours found their bishop and St. Martin found his dinner. He faithfully served his parish until he passed away at the age of 82, and the traditional roasted goose has been enjoyed on Martinmas since.
The following processions are scheduled to take place in the local area. American families, particularly those with children, are invited to participate. Battery-operated lanterns can be purchased in most German stores for the Saint Martin processions. Participation in all events is free.
Bitburg North, Nov. 7, 6 p.m. from the Bitburg Elementary School North or Grundschule Nord
Bitburg South, Nov. 8, 6:30 p.m. from the Bitburg Elementary School South or Grundschule Sued
Binsfeld, Nov. 9, 5:30 p.m. from the local church
Bitburg-Moetsch, Nov. 9, 6 p.m. from the village center
Beilingen, Nov. 9, 6:30 from the local church
Auw an der Kyll, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. from the Gemeindehalle or community hall
Hosten, Nov.9, 6 p.m. from Dorfbrunnen or the village fountain
Gladbach, Nov. 9, 6 p.m. from the local church
Greverath, Nov. 9, 7 p.m. from the street "Zum Weissenstein"
Landscheid, Nov. 9, 6 p.m. from the village center
Salmtal Doerbach, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. from the street "Vor den Gruben"
Salmtal Salmrohr, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. from the intersection Moselstrasse and Michael-
Osann-Monzel, Nov. 9, 6 p.m. from the local Elementary School or Grundschule
Herforst, Nov. 10, 5:30 p.m. from Eligiusstrasse
Niederkail, Nov. 10, 6 p.m. from the village center
Burg/Salm, Nov. 10, 6 p.m. from the village center
Niersbach, Nov. 10, 6 p.m. from Toepferstrasse
Hupperath, Nov. 10, 5:30 p.m. from the local church
Phillipsheim, Nov. 10, 6 p.m. from the Kallenbachbruecke bridge
Preist, Nov. 10, 6:30 p.m. from the local church
Wittlich, Nov. 10, 5 p.m. from the citie's market square
Dreis, Nov. 10, 6 p.m. from the village center; a Saint Martin concert and market take
place the following day, starting at 1:30 p.m. at the "Dreys-Halle" community hall
Dierscheid, Nov. 10, 5 p.m. from the Fire Department
Dodenburg, Nov. 10, 6 p.m. from the village entry
Spangdahlem village, Nov. 11, 5 p.m. from the 'Spang' church
Orenhofen, Nov. 11, 6 p.m. from the local church