We have some neighbors down the street who are from Germany. We have gotten to know them because they go to church with us and we are in the choir with Christiane, the mother. They are a sweet family and we have been glad to meet them. On November 11th, they were kind enough to share a European tradition with our neighborhood. For the first time ever, we celebrated St. Martin's Day. The two older boys were going to participate in a lantern march on that night, so the Saturday before, we headed down to the clubhouse for Mrs. Christiane to teach us how to make paper lanterns. Andrew and Coleman worked very hard on the project.
The finished lanterns were quite impressive!
So on the evening of the 11th, we met at Horseshoe Park for the celebration. We started off by lighting everyone's lanterns. It is very difficult to get good pictures in the pitch black dark, but here's a shot of our two lights.
Then the Maass family led us in a traditional lantern song, complete with recorders for accompaniment!
After the song, the children sat in a circle while Mrs. Christiane retold the story of St. Martin.
Martin was a soldier in Julius Ceasar's army long ago. The army was marching through France, pillaging towns and villages they came across. Martin and his friends were heading into a bar to warm up when a beggar approached Martin and asked if he could spare some money. Martin didn't have any money, but he gave the man half of his cloak. He could only spare half of it because the other half officially belonged to the Emperor. So Martin walked away to find his friends. The other soldiers laughed and made fun of Martin with half a cloak and called him crazy. Martin began to feel badly and that he might have made a mistake.
That night, in a dream, Jesus came to him and said, "Martin, what you do to the least of these, you do to me." Martin instantly knew he had done the right thing and shortly thereafter he left the army. He spent the rest of his life serving God. The church eventually made him a bishop, and after his death, a saint. The children in Europe remember St. Martin by lighting lanterns on his birthday to remind them to shine brightly in our dark world, just as he did.
Christiane asked for volunteers to act out the story as she told it. Coleman volunteered to be the beggar. Here is St. Martin (Mitchell) taking off his cloak and getting ready to cut it in two to share with the beggar (Coleman).
Now the beggar is nice and warm thanks to Martin's generosity!
Then we paraded through the neighborhood to the clubhouse. Jonathan rode bundled up in the wagon. Here he is trying to throw out his blankets as we are getting underway.
When we got to the clubhouse, Christiane had hot tea and German cookies and cakes for us all to enjoy.
It was a fun night with our neighbors!