Monday, November 11, 2013

Celebrating St.Martin's Day in Saint Paul

I happened to check the web site for the Landmark Center this past week and learned that there was to be a St. Martin's Day celebration there on Sunday. I've been curious about St. Martin's Day's for two reason. First, people I know in western Poland talk about this celebration and people in eastern Poland tell me they've never heard of it.

Then when I was in Hungary, I was asked to attend a scientific conference in Sombathely. We arrived there in the late afternoon and by the time the evening meal was done, darkness had fallen. The university staff took me to my "accommodation" Walking inside it appeared to be a small hotel. But as I walked to the hallways, I noticed all the pictures were religious. When I opened my door I found only a small bed and crucifix on the wall. I thought I had landed in a convent! The next morning, in daylight, I got out for walk and discovered I was in a hostel used for the St. Martin's pilgrimage tour that wanders through Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary -- and maybe some places I don't know about.

Sunday started out beautiful.

 This lovely view from my living room window on Sunday morning.

So I was off to the Landmark Center in the late afternoon. By then the clouds had rolled in along with some wind. This was my first trip for this approaching winter season with a winter coat, and I was glad I had chosen to wear that. I stopped first at the public library by Rice Park and checked out some paperbacks. Then I walked across Rice Park and into the Landmark Center. I found everyone scurrying to get things set up-- the gift shop tables and the food booths.

The space, even though very large, got crowded very quickly. I think most in the audience were the proud parents or grandparents of students who attend the Twin Cities German Immersion School. This school, along with the Germanic-American Institute, were the day's sponsors.

The mistress of ceremonies explained she came to the United States from Dusseldorf and was determined to get a St. Martin's Day celebration started here. She went on to say that in Dusseldorf about 50,000 people would be expected in the city center for the celebration. And that this celebration was now being held at Landmark because the previous celebrations had now outgrown the school building.

I saw dancing.

The one immediately above involved dancing with some wooden swords. Then the group made a square with the wooden sword and one girl climbed up and stood upon the structure. It made me think of a Finnish dance that I had seen while living in Pecs.

The second graders sang some songs and acted out two legends about St. Martin. The first was based on the story of his sharing half his clock with a beggar. The second is about St. Martin hiding in a goose coop to avoid being found and declared a bishop. Certainly second graders can make a lot of noise when they are supposed to be geese!

Lanterns seem to be a prominent part of a St. Martin's Day celebration in Germany. Some older girls did a lantern dance.

 This dance featured the music of John Lennon's, "Imagine." Thought that a wonderful choice for a cultural celebration.

 The program closed with an adult choir singing some songs. Then everyone was preparing for a lantern parade. That sounded great until I went outdoors and met the stiff north wind. It was cold! I started to walk back home, stopping first at Caribou along the Mississippi River to warm up with a cup of coffee.

Recently I had visited my younger daughter's family and my son-in-law was talking about going sledding soon. My younger granddaughter said to me, "You have to get me a new snow suit. I got too big for my pink snow suit." I thought it was funny how she said it, because usually we say the clothing got too small. But she was absolutely right, it is the humans who change size, not the clothing!

So I shopped and was delighted to find something perfect, first on a 50% price reduction sale, and then I applied a 30% coupon and got a good deal. I had planned this for a Christmas present, but my daughter said it would be probably be needed sooner.

This morning I checked the Weather Channel on my phone and found it was 24(-4 C). Brrr! And a few minutes later a text message arrived saying they all would like to pick up the coat today. So they arrived soon. Perfect! A new warm coat for St. Martin's Day.

Background is messy because I'm still working on a paper that I'm writing as a volunteer researcher. And starting to sort and pack to move at the same time.

My daughter asked me about a storage container that I don't want to move. She took it along with her, and then a few minutes later came a text message saying she had loaded the kids into the van and was in hurry and left the container sitting on the grass. I went downstairs and looked both along the front and side streets, not knowing where she had parked, and it was gone already. I hope in the spirit of St Martin's Day it has found a good home.

So that's St. Martin's Day in Saint Paul. 

And now I'm off to donate 5 pairs of eyeglasses that "don't fit me" anymore. Amazing how things pile up. Moving it good!

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