St. Martin's Fest is a holiday in Germany that is celebrated on Nov.11th to honor Martin of Tours. We were very sad because we realized we would be in Belgium over this holiday. Luckily, a friend of ours whose daughter is in kindergarten was celebrating this festival a little later and invited us to come along.
The Story of Martin of Tours can be found in detail but the basic story goes that St. Martin was a Roman solider and gave everything away and even cut his cloak in half in a snowstorm until eventually he had nothing. You can read more about him here from a much wiser expat*.
*translation - has been in Germany much longer than I!
The children started off long before St. Martin's Day by making lanterns. (You can also buy lanterns but our kindergarten is awesome!) Baby Bird's lantern is below and even had a candle in it. He made it himself!
When we arrived at the festival, there was a giant bonfire. Eventually a horse with a child with a cape on walked around the fire while they spoke in German and retold the story. (I realize these pics are not very good but the lighting was not great)
Then, some girls dressed in Princess outfits and boys in pirate or soldier (?) outfits came out. I am not sure what they did but they ran around the fire a lot and tripped. (I held my breathe every time!) I didn't understand much due to a few factors: the story was all in German, it was rainy and windy and the microphone was kind of muffled.
Here is a closer up of the horse and the child with the cape.
Then the horse went around one more time until he reached a little beggar who asked for help (and kept forgetting his lines!) and "St. Martin" gave him his cape to which everyone clapped.
After that, the little children came around and gave everyone some delicious bread!
We don't have anymore pics but after the children had their bellies full of bread and the parents were warmed up with Glühwein (a warm fermented wine-like alcoholic drink), we went for a parade complete with marching band! The children held their lanterns out proudly and sang the special Lantern Fest songs.
We could all use a little reminder of how important it is to share...especially in a household with a 2 year old!