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St. Martin - a special day for children

"Laterne, Laterne, ..."

This is what the children are now singing in kindergarten and elementary school.

Not only that: they are busy making their colorful lanterns and maybe already practicing walking with them.


Practice your German:


Do you know this tradition?

Here you will find out:

What is a lantern for St. Martin's Day?

A lantern for St. Martin's Day is hung on a lantern stick and carried by the children during the lantern parade.

That is why the lantern is traditionally made of paper so that it is light.

There is a solid base and usually a solid top made of thick paper or cardboard.

The top has a large opening with a bent wire attached to it.

The sides are mostly made of transparent paper. You can stick colorful transparent paper on it or paint it.

The lantern can have many different shapes.

The imagination knows no limits!

Would you like to make a lantern? No problem!

You can find many handicraft instructions on the internet. It is particularly quick and easy with a finished handicraft set that you can buy.

Lanterns are held on a wooden lantern stick. A wire is attached to the pole from which the lantern hangs.

There's a candle in the lantern. The children must therefore be careful to keep their lantern straight so that it does not catch fire.

By the way:

The fire is often blown out on windy days. If you walk with your children, it's a good idea to have a lighter or matches with you!

Nowadays there are also electric candles with batteries. This is useful for very young children. But ... if the children don't have to look after their lanterns, it's a lot less exciting for them.

On November 11th there is the lantern parade:

When it gets dark in the evening, the children from kindergarten or from a primary school class and their parents and teachers meet.

Every child gets their hand-made lantern and then the big moment comes: the candles in the lanterns are lit!

Then everyone starts walking through the streets together. The children are carefully carrying their glowing lanterns and everyone is singing songs.

Why is there a lantern parade?

November 11th is "Martin's Day", ie the day of St. Martin.

With the glowing lanterns on a cold winter evening, we remember the good deeds of Saint Martin.

Who was St. Martin?

His real name was Martin von Tours.

He was born in Savaria in 316 or 317. Savaria is located in Hungary today and was part of the Roman Empire at that time.

Martin's father was a Roman officer. That's why Martin had to join the military, even though he didn't want to.

When Martin was 17 years old, he was stationed in northern France.

It was a freezing cold winter day. A group of Roman soldiers rode their horses. One of them was Martin. They were on their way to the next town. To do this, they had to ride through the city gate.

Next to the gate, there sat a beggar who had almost no clothes, pleading for help. But all of the soldiers rode past him and paid no attention to him.

Only Martin stopped his horse. He wanted to help - but he had nothing on him to give the poor man. Therefore he took his warm cloak and divided it in half with the sword.

He gave one half to the beggar and kept the other half.

This is the good deed that we think of when we celebrate St. Martin's Day.

What is the Martin bonfire?

When the lantern parade is over, all the children and parents gather with the colorful lanterns.

Then a "Martin fire" is lit.

Sometimes there is even a rider with a Roman helmet, sword and cloak who reenacts the story.

This is really exciting for the children!

The story of the St. Martin and the geese

During the night Martin had a dream:

He saw Jesus with the half cloak that he had given to the poor beggar.

This way Martin came to the Christian faith and was baptized.

He left the military and became a priest.

In 360 he founded the first monastery in the Occident in Ligugé (in France, near Poitier) and in 375 another one in Marmoutier (near Tours).

Martin was very popular with the population.

When a new Bishop of Tours was sought, the people wanted Martin to take over this office.

But Martin had too much respect for this position and was too modest. So he hid in the goose barn. However, the geese chattered so loudly that they gave Martin away.

So Martin was found and elected bishop.

Martin as a saint

Martin became 81 years old.

He was one of the first saints not to die as a martyr.

Instead, he was revered for living exemplary: his ideals were

  • Discipline

  • Justice

  • Willingness to help the poor.

That also makes him a person we can talk about with little children very well - after all, there is a happy ending!

There are also special things to eat on Martin's Day:

Martin goose

A St. Martin's goose is traditionally served on the table at Sankt Martin. This reminds us of the story with the geese.

Special pastries are often given to the children after the parade:


It is made from yeast dough and is shaped like a man.

The eyes and sometimes also the jacket buttons are made of raisins and he is holding a clay pipe in his hand.

Martin Geese

Here in Bavaria, we have Martin's geese, that is, biscuits in the shape of a goose.

They are made from a quark-oil dough.

The most beautiful children's songs for the Lantern parade

Would you like to sing along on Martin's Day?

I've linked a version of every song for you on YouTube.

The recordings are actually made for young children ... but if you want to hear the melody or practice the song, they are very good 😉

Sankt Martin ritt durch Schnee und Wind

Dieses Lied erzählt die Geschichte von St. Martin.

Viele Kinder lernen es in der Grundschule auswendig.

St. Martin, St. Martin, St. Martin ritt durch Schnee und Wind, sein Ross, das trug ihn fort geschwind. St. Martin ritt mit leichtem Mut, sein Mantel deckt ihn warm und gut.

Im Schnee da, im Schnee da, im Schnee da saß ein armer Mann, hatt‘ Kleider nicht, hatt‘ Lumpen an. O helft mir doch in meiner Not, sonst ist der bitt(e)re Frost mein Tod!

St. Martin, St. Martin, St. Martin zog die Zügel an, sein Ross stand still beim armen Mann, St. Martin mit dem Schwerte teilt‘ den warmen Mantel unverweilt.

St. Martin St. Martin, St. Martin gab den halben still, der Bettler rasch ihm danken will. Sankt Martin aber ritt in Eil‘ hinweg mit seinem Mantelteil.

Laterne, Laterne


Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne.

Brenne auf mein Licht, brenne auf mein Licht

Aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht!

Sperrt ihn ein, den Wind, sperrt ihn ein, den Wind,

er soll warten, bis wir alle zu Hause sind!

Bleibe hell, mein Licht, Bleibe hell, mein Licht,

denn sonst strahlt meine liebe Laterne nicht!

Durch die Straßen auf und nieder…

Durch die Straßen auf und nieder

Leuchten die Laternen wieder,

rote, gelbe, grüne, blaue –

lieber Martin komm und schaue.

Wie die Blumen in dem Garten

blüh’n Laternen aller Arten,

rote, gelbe, grüne, blaue –

lieber Martin komm und schaue.

Und wir gehen lange Strecken

Mit Laternen an den Stecken

rote, gelbe, grüne, blaue –

lieber Martin komm und schaue.

Ich geh mit meiner Laterne


Ich geh mit meiner Laterne

Und meine Laterne mit mir.

Da oben leuchten die Sterne

und unten leuchten wir.

: Ein Lichtermeer zu Martins Ehr‘

Rabimmel rabammel rabumm :

: Der Martinsmann, der zieht voran

Rabimmel rabammel rabumm :

: Wie schön das klingt, wenn jeder singt

Rabimmel rabammel rabumm :

: Ich trag mein Licht, ich fürcht‘ mich nicht

Rabimmel rabammel rabumm. :

: Mein Licht ist aus, ich geh‘ nach Haus‘

Rabimmel rabammel rabumm :

You can ask anyone in Germany - everyone will know these songs!

And they will bring up fond memories:

Of walking through the cold, dark night (even if it's actually just evening), carefully holding the precious lantern so that it won't catch fire, and singing those songs at the same time. Then there is the bonfire afterward with the traditional cookies.

And, best of all, the story of a man who was really brave, good, and only thought of others.

This is why Sankt Martin or Martin's Day really is very special for children.

Do you want to practice your German?


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