Martinstag is Coming – and So is Martinsmarkt!

| October 14, 2014 | Reply

I’ll admit it: I arrived in Germany two years ago with no idea who St. Martin of Tours–in Germany, Sankt Martin–was. So when 11 November, or Martinstag, approached in our town, my daughter’s Kindergarten began preparations and I had no idea what was happening: Sequoia was making a lantern for a procession through town, we were ordering pretzels, and I was marking off some dates in our calendar.

martinstag lantern

Sequoia’s first lantern

St. Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier born in 316 AD. He is best known for cutting his cloak in half with his sword, to give it to a beggar dressed only in rags. That night, it is said, he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the beggar’s half of the robe. St. Martin is now the patron saint of beggars, among other things. He spent his time in the military conflicted: should he be killing on the battlefield, or following Christ?

Town procession

Town procession

In Germany on the evenings surrounding Martinstag, the children celebrate St. Martin. Sometimes schoolchildren gather in the town square to watch a reenactment of his kindness toward the beggar, and they sing traditional Martinstag songs. The horse then leads a procession through town, the children holding their lanterns proudly.

 

St. Martin on horseback

St. Martin on horseback

During our first Martinstag experience, the horse led us through the main streets of Dieburg and on to my daughter’s Kindergarten, which hosted the traditional bonfire at the end of the procession. There, everyone drank Glühwein, sang traditional songs, and received their pretzels.

Traditional bonfire

Traditional bonfire

During our second Martinstag, my daughter was in first grade. Her class walked in its own short procession to a parking lot, where they sang the traditional songs. “Laterne, Laterne” (“Lantern, Lantern”) and “Ich geh mit meiner Laterne” (“I go with my lantern”) are two very popular Martinstag songs.

In our town of Dieburg, there is a fall celebration and Middle Ages market called Martinsmarkt. This year, the market runs from Friday 07– Sunday 09 November 2014. Our town will become host to an awesome festival and market that stretches across the Marktplatz and through the streets of town. It rivals medium-sized Weinachtsmarkts and actually sells some items one would find at a Christmas market.

Ferris wheel view of the Marktplatz

Ferris wheel view of the Marktplatz

The market stretches throughout town

The market stretches throughout town

Glühwein and food stands line the street leading into town

Glühwein and food stands line the street leading into town

A vendor selling goose down comforters comes with a small pen of geese for the children to visit. We totally bought down comforters!

Honk, honk

Honk, honk

In a town garden, they hold a Middle Ages market where artisans sell wonderfully hand-crafted items made of materials such as leather, iron, and glass. And more food.

Renn Faire-meets-Christmas market

Renn Faire-meets-Christmas market

There is plenty of food and drink to go ‘round. Some people wear period costume, wandering through the Middle Ages kiosks in their Renaissance dress. It’s a great way to ease into the Weihnachtsmarkt season with food, fun, and Glühwein!

martinsmarkt martinstag rides

 

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Category: Activities, Christmas Markets, Christmas Markets, Ex-pat Parenting, FAMILY, Family Travel, Festivals, Germany, In Germany A Broad blog, Martinstag, Travel, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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