Tuesday, 8 November 2011

"German Tuesday - Deutscher Dienstag" Part 11: St. Martin

With Halloween and Bonfire Night and its lovely fireworks just gone by I think it's time to take a look at a German tradition - and design in a very different sort of way.

On 11th November is St. Martin's Day, a widely celebrated feast in Germany and parts of Western Europe. It goes back to St Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who was baptised as an adult and became a monk. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm so the beggar wouldn't die from the cold. That night Martin dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given the beggar, saying: "Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me"

In Germany it is tradition for children to make their own lantern, go from door to door with the lantern, and sing St. Martin songs, in exchange for sweets. Another widespread custom in Germany is bonfires on St. Martin's eve, called "Martinsfeuer" with processions that accompany those fires.

Now, what has this to do with design?
Well, from kindergarden till later on in school you have to design your own lantern. Each and every year. So, I thought I share a collection of some of my childhood lanterns that my parents have kept all those years (bless them!). I guess you can tell which ones I did in kindergarden...

A small collection of my childhood designs.
The teacher gives you a theme to work on.

Secondary school if I remember correctly.

Primary school - we had to collect and
dry the leaves first.
It was all about a hunter and forests.

Picture of a procession. St Martin traditionally rides in it.

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