Friday, November 11, 2011

Lanterns on St. Martin's Day

Candle-lit holidays come every few weeks now til the end of the year. St. Martin's Day fit the bill tonight, and Caroline's school celebrated with a lantern* parade through the streets of our neighborhood. Caroline and her friends led the parade with their teacher; we were cordially acknowledged and then ignored as C turned her attention to the important business at hand: voices to be warmed up, lanterns held high and the parade kept from wobbling too far off its path towards Jiřího z Poděbrad, one of the main squares nearby.

St. Martin's day in central Europe is traditionally the day new wine turns from stormy to clear. To celebrate, vineyards from around the country set up stands in the square to offer up tastes of their young wine.** After the classes gathered to play recorder and sing, parents sorted out children and headed straight to the wine stands to receive our reward - svařené víno, or mulled wine! Fingers warm for the first time since the parade began, we headed home, lanterns still lit and children humming, ready for the weekend.

* Paper lanterns, with candles. The type of lanterns that boys like to play swords with.
** The festival began at 11:11 this morning, in a nice nod to the date, and borrowing a tradition from our German neighbors.

8 comments:

lizardek said...

Oh goodness! I forgot it was Martin's name day!! DOH!

Julia said...

Tell him happy name day!

Barrett Bonden said...

What's the position regarding the education of atheist children in Czecho? Assuming that St Martin is in fact related to some church or other. I demand equal time.

Julia said...

BB - From what I can tell, St. Martin's day is a harvest holiday across central Europe, a slightly early version of Thanksgiving but with better wine. It hasn't been celebrated much here before, but Prague is slowly picking up old holiday traditions that got cut under communism and adding them back to the calendar. We're very happy with this turn of events as it makes up for the official (and mostly bland) state holidays. Public schools steer away from religious topics so all kids are treated equally, at least from a religious stand point.

Where Is Prague said...
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Where Is Prague said...
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Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I've never heard of St. Martin, but I like the sound of that celebration.

Lucy said...

The lanterns look pretty. I didn't know about St Martin's till this year, my Dutch friend and I were discussing all the festivals of light this time of year - Guy Fawkes, Halloween etc and she sang a little song she remembered from St Martins.

The Dutch seem even more protestant-to-the-bone than we are; she was brought up in a very secular way but she said the worst you can say in Dutch is 'god damn', far worse than anything sexual or whatever, and her she remembered her mother saying she didn't like someone because they had 'a very Catholic face'. Even so, they go in for both St Martin and St Nick with enthusiasm.

If we got hung up by our consciences about the religious origins of every celebration we went in for we'd have a lean time of it. I feel happier about taking the day off for the completely weird and not even biblical Assumption than I do for Bastille Day anyway.