Today, 11/11 is the name day of saint Martin. Saint Martin was a soldier, who, on coming back to the city on a very cold day, saw a beggar who certainly wouldn’t survive the cold night without some cover, and he cut his own mantle in two and shared it with the beggar. That night he had a dream with a message from God, and he decided to stop soldiering, became a monk, and later became a bishop.
And after his death a saint.
He is most important because he inspired a really nice party-day. I loved saint Martin’s day as a kid!
So, in the south, and Belgium, and here in the (protestant) north, The nameday of saint Martin is celebrated. It is a feast of goodwill and generosity. Children make lanterns at home, or school, and as it get’s dark they light them with candles, or small electriclights, and go by the doors in small groups, singing special ”saint Martin”-songs, and being given candy and fruit.
Traditionally the lanterns were made from beatroots. Every year there is a competition in my city for the best lantern made out of a beetroot! These are made by 10 year old kids! The shark is brilliant! It is clearly a great white! It didn’t get first prize which is a totally stupid decision by the judges.
These lanters are very heavy, modern lanterns are made out of cardboard, and thin paper which let’s through the light. They are carried around by hanging them on sticks.