Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Saint Martin's Day Story

Germans have this respected holiday....which isn't a off-day or anything, but generally recognized by the public....Saint Martin's Day.

The original Saint Martin was a Roman soldier who converted at some point and became a monk.  The legend holds that one day.....he saw someone who was cold, and he cut half of his robe to give to the poor guy.  Folks thought that was a very humble thing and recognized the guy.

So this holiday has developed in Germany around this one saint.  What happens these days is that church bells will ring....ceremonies will be held in local churches....and kids will go out with lit lanterns and get candy in return.  You could refer to it as a Christian-like Halloween...with a good character instead of anything scary.  Generally, in the Rhine Valley will socialize with neighbors or relatives and it'll be some lite social occasion.

So, this is the rest of my story.....which revolves around Saint Martin's Day for the most part.

We have a community....a Hessen town of 60-odd thousand people.  I won't give the name or ID the town....other than to say that it's fairly industrialized.

This is a town that was impacted by Turk migration in the 1960s because of the industrialization. Out of the 60-odd thousand least 15,000 are Turk or "other" (the new immigrants, Syrians, Iraqis, Africans, etc).

It doesn't matter where you go in this town....the reflection is multi-culty.  On the positive side, jobs exist and the industrial strength of the town isn't going away.

The principal Lutheran church authority in town has looked at the demographics and the make-up of the town, and tried to envision how Saint Martin's Day will continue on.  The suggestion to the public is that they need to modify the holiday and simply call it the "Licht Fest" (the light fest).  This would avoid any religious connection and everyone could participate in some way.

German residents in town?  They haven't exactly taken to this idea of  "change".

No, they'd just rather not give up the Saint Martin's Day term, and call it a "Licht Fest".

You can sense that down the road, there's going to be some confrontation coming.  Here is one element of the community trying to undo what has existed for several hundred years in the community.

The problem I see is that there are literally thousands upon thousands of these religious or traditional German things which won't easily fit into a non-German's lifestyle.  To have some effort put upon modifying these German traditions?  These are Germans....stubborn to the core.  I just don't see things easily undone.

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