“Laternezüge”, A whimsical lantern parade for children
Summer time returns to winter time on the last Sunday of October. This year, on October 25, 3 A.M. turned back to 2 A.M., and the time difference with Japan changed from 7 hours to 8 hours.
The autumn daylight becomes significantly shorter, and as the signs of winter slowly approach, the “Lantern Parade” (Laternezüge) draws near.
“Laternezüge” takes place on November 11, and is also known as the St. Martin’s Day Festival.
1,600 years ago, on November 11, 397 A.D., Sankt Martin (St. Martin) passed away. He was born into a family of the Roman Army and is known for having been a deeply compassionate person. One day in the middle of winter, Martin cut off and gave his cloak to a shivering beggar outside of the castle walls. The onlookers around saw Martin’s pitiful appearance and heckled him, but that night, Jesus came to him in a dream wearing the very same cloak that Martin had torn off. It is told that Martin was subsequently baptized and became a devout Christian.
“Laterne” is a lantern made out of paper. Children hold up lanterns they made on a stick and sing as they parade down the dark night streets.
The lyrics go something like this:
Sonne, Mond und Sterne
Oh sun, oh moon, oh stars
Brenne auf, mein Licht,
Spark a light quickly,
aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.
Don’t ever let my light go out.
The song is also very lovely. For those who wish to listen to the song, please check the references.
When the parade is over and the children reach their destination, the adults serve hot drinks that are prepared along with “Weckmann”, a bread that represents a motif of St. Martin.
The children looked courageous as they shone their lanterns through the dark autumn streets. The lights in the dark were also very whimsical, and it seemed as if the lights were leading them into the future.
She is in my 5th year of living in Germany. Not forgetting the spirit of Wa, she is engaged in Japanese cultural activities that involve ikebana and kimono. She will continue to devote herself to spread the beauty of Japan and to pass it on to the next generation.