November 11 – Martinmas in Germany

Posted on November 11, 2015

Martinmas is celebrated in many nations – not just Germany – but the holiday is especially important in what might be called Germanic or “Teutonic” countries: Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands, British, other Scandinavian countries, and the Flanders portion of Belgium.

The killing of the St. Martin's goose – or, in other regions, the butchering of fattened cattle to produce Martinmas beef – and the serving a large feast are part of the holiday. Some other customs include giving horseshoe shaped pastries called “Martin's horns” and “sacrificing” a basket of fruit by tossing it into a bonfire. 

Speaking of fires, plenty of bonfires are lit for Martinmas, and people dance around them and even leap through the flames.

In some places, children make paper or turnip lanterns and parade around with their lanterns on St. Martin's Eve. Some St. Martin's processions feature St. Martin figures on horseback.

St. Martin is sometimes said to bring gifts of presents to children – although usually the presents consist of apples and nuts and cakes (not, say, X-Boxes and remote-control cars!).

Check out...

  • Here is a Pinterest page with instructions on how to make many different kinds of Martinmas lanterns!
  • Waldorf Schools seem to be big on Martinmas! This page features a story about St. Martin's life plus a few songs for the holiday. 

Hey, what a great coincidence!

Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is on the same day as St. Martin's this year!

Also on this date:

Veteran's Day also known as

Independence Days in Angola and Poland


Plan ahead:

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