St Martin of Tours celebration on November, 11th

To those who do not know the story I will explain why on November 11th in Germany we eat a Weckmann from brioche and a goose (real or sugar as we prefer).

It’s a German tradition that started in… France!

On November 11th in Germany, children celebrate Saint Martin, a bishop of Tours in France, who lived more than 1600 years ago. On that day in the year 397 he had been buried.

Martin was born in Pannonoie (present-day Hungary) and found himself enlisted at a very young age in the Roman legions in Italy and Gaul. In the winter of 337, while in Amiens, he met a naked and cold-shivering beggar to whom he gave half of his coat (it would be specified later that he gave only half of it because the other half remained the property of the Roman army). Christ appeared to him the following night, clothed in the half coat given to the poor. Martin then decides to leave the army and convert. He was baptized and put himself at the service of the illustrious Saint Hilaire, bishop of Poitiers.

After founding the monastery of Ligugé, Martin became bishop of Tours in 370. Although he held this position for 26 years, he continued to live as a monk at the monastery of Noirmoutier, which he founded on the Loire.

After the death of St. Martin, Tours became one of the great European pilgrimage centers. The cloak of St. Martin was the most precious relic on the soil of France and the Merovingian and Carolingian kings made it a symbol of their dynasty. It is this word “chape” (cape in old French) that is the origin of the word “chapel”.”

On November 11th we like to eat a goose, whether it is meat, or as in my home, a brioche because according to the legend St Martin was hiding in a stable not wanting to become bishop . The geese that were in the barn made such a noise that St Martin was quickly found.

In Germany and some other countries, children build lanterns in nurseries and schools, and at nightfall, make a procession through the streets singing songs commemorating St Martin and his life.

It is a beautiful tradition that makes children and adults alike very happy, similar to the Santa Lucia festival in Sweden, which is also a festival of light in the dark period of the year. Besides, it’s an evening that we like to celebrate with others, so after the lantern procession, many invite friends to dine at home to make the pleasure of being together last.

What a joy of parade at nightfall with lanterns of all motifs with other children and adults, often being preceded by Saint Martin, riding his horse, singing songs, while a good hot goose (sweet or salty) awaits everybody at home.

Here is my goose, a little rudimentary, accompanying the ‘Stutenkerl’ or ‘Weckmann’, a brioche in the shape of a man, which the participants of the parade receive at the end.

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