Laterne, Laterne

Friday was the last day of school. Now I only have to survive the family function tomorrow (I should just be rude and cancel these things), then I have two weeks of autumn holidays.

Tonight was also the annual lantern procession in my area. The local children gather with paper lanterns and torches and walk around the neighbourhood, accompanied by the volunteer fire brigade (for obvious safety reasons) and a marching band, while the people decorate their houses with paper lanterns and in more modern times Christmas lights.

The custom is ancient and the processions are often held on St. Martin’s Day a.k.a. Martinsmas, i.e. November 11. Though in Bremen and vicinity, the lantern procession has always been in October for as long as I can remember. Ours is a majorly protestant area, so saints and their days play no role here. Indeed, I strongly suspect that the origin of the custom is pre-Christian and that it was linked to Saint Martin purely for convenience sake.

Our procession was quite sizeable. Two fire engines, the marching band (lots of young musicians in that one) and a whole lot of children with their parents. Many torches, but you also saw the traditional paper lanterns, including several homemade ones. We put up a few lanterns on a string and the kids seemed to enjoy it. As usual, it was only people without kids who decorated, the people with kids can’t be bothered. The lawn in front of the house suffered a few burn marks, though, since a fireman used it to extinguish a torch that was making its young owner nervous.

I don’t have any photos, since the light was too bad. The city switches off the streetlights for the procession, so the lanterns are more visible. However, on Wikipedia I found this photo from a lantern procession in Düsseldorf from 1949. Except for the obviously outdated clothing, the photo looks strikingly current. The design of the moon face lanterns seen on the photo is unchanged even more than 60 years later. Indeed, I saw almost identical moon face lanterns today. One of the lanterns I put up outside the house is of an almost identical design as well.

I also have a post up at Pegasus Pulp, though it’s mostly repeating stuff I have already said at this blog.

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4 Responses to Laterne, Laterne

  1. Estara says:

    Our autumn hols start at the end of October – but then school started the middle of September – and we only get one week. Still, yesterday two female teachers in the teacher’s lounge agreed that we had already started to work with one eye towards the holidays. The kids were really stirred up because of the cold weather and beautiful sun – so it was like herding fleas. I was happy to not be the only one who felt like that after the sixth lesson, heh.

    • Estara says:

      Forgot to add – hope you have a relaxed time to recharge after that family function.

    • Cora says:

      The Bremen and Niedersachsen autumn holidays always coincide with the Freimarkt fair, so it’s always the last two weeks of October. And I can understand that the sunshine and nice weather stirs up the kids. My 8th graders were really restless yesterday.

      And I can totally understand that you’re looking forward to the holidays.

  2. Estara says:

    ^^ Makes me feel normal to think so then.

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