St. Martin is a catholic saint who, according to the legend, cut his cloak in two and gave half of it to a poor man who was about to freeze to dead. To this day, this is remembered at the 11th of November (or some day around that date) with children walking the streets with lanterns, the singing of traditional songs, a big bonfire and, where I live, a Martinsbretzel, a sweet bread that is only made around that day. Oh I love it.
I don't love it because of some supernatural humbig, but because it is a celebration of many things I like and find good:
- First the kids and parents craft the lantern together. Spending time with my kids? Hey, that's wonderful. Sure, we could do that whenever we wanted, but that one time a year is something to look forward to.
- The procession. Colourful lanters in the dark November evenings, singing songs together and watching the big bonfire. That's quailty time. That's being together. And a 2m bonfire (the wood, not the flames) is a sight to be seen.
- The Martinsbretzel. Sure, we live in a world of plenty, we could have that everyday. But we all know it's not the same. Looking forward to something is a pleasure in itself. After having walked on the actual street, at a time when I was supposed to be inside and getting ready for bed, having a hot sweet tea or coacoa and a sweet Martinsbretzel when usually I would only get normal supper, that was a real treat for me as a child. All the normal rules were abandoned just for one night.
- The story of St. Martin. It makes much more sense than the usual christian stories, at least at a child-like level.* Nobody killed for their own good, no magical mystery birth. It's a story that works without any religion at all. Being good, being kind, sharing, those aren't christian virtues, those are human virtues.
*Well, actually he was a privileged asshole. How about taking the poor beggar up on your horse, getting him into your stables to keep warm, giving him a meal and finding him an odd job around the house?