Monday, 16 November 2009

The day of lanterns

While this blog has been silent, we've been busy. To celebrate St Martin's Day in style, I'd brought lantern making equipment from Germany and last week saw us putting it together. What was meant to be fun ended in tears. The lantern was a bit difficult to make, and Cubling's fingers kept interfering at the wrong time at the wrong place. I was frustrated, so was she. Eventually, I gave in, let her cut into paper and make her own stuff (she used the scales of the mermaid to make a door and a door handle, which I was rather impressed with), and I finished off the lantern after her bedtime.

Next morning, her first sentence was "where's my Laterne?", and le voila, there it was, all done!
She was delighted, and I think she believed she had in fact made it herself. That's what counts, right?

Yesterday was the big day. Cubling's first Laternenumzug. We managed to just about sneak into the University Chapel before it all started, and luckily they were selling the right batteries and even the much needed light sticks - if only I'd known, I'd have saved myself a lot of worry and hassle. Cubling's eyes lit up with the little light. We met up with some of her little friends. Songs were sung, children read out the story of St Martin and Cubling was full of wonder of the interior of the chapel. As we left for the lantern parade in the "cloister" (it's not a real cloister), she broke into tears. It took me a while to realise why. She thought we were going home and no, didn't like this idea at all: "I want go Hause nicht!" It took some intense explaining that the parade was part of it and we were just going outside for the parade and no, we had no intention of going home just yet.

She carried the lantern as if it was a race, then found new uses for lanterns (they make good leaf holders) and finally found it much more interesting to run off. Posing for a picture? No chance.

The Umtrunk (wee dram) thereafter was busy and Cubling found some flipcharts she wanted to decorate. Malen! Laufen! (draw, run) were the battlecries of the evening. Just as well, it was so busy that by the time we got there all the food and drink was already finished. It didn't take her long to make some new friends and she loved it all so much that she was last to leave and even then only very reluctantly.

As we got home, she carried her lantern proudly, singing "Laterne, Laterne - Sonne, Mond und Sterne". It was the first time she'd sang this song, and it melted my heart. Of course she didn't part with her beloved mermaid lantern this morning either, showing it off to the childminder and the other girls.

I think we managed to make it into a successful day, one that she will hopefully remember.

Admittedly, I find the bicultural diary a bit demanding at this time of the year. Halloween, Bonfire Night, St Martin and Nikolaus all within five weeks of one another. Phew.


Mwa said...

That must be tiring. We tend to just go with the Belgian ones because we live here. Much easier, really, but if husband wanted some of his own, I would make the effort.

Dad Who Writes said...

I think it's great that you've made such an effort to engage across all these traditions! I don't think I'd have found the energy.

What do the lanterns stand for? I know nothing about St Martin's day, I'm afraid!

cartside said...

Dad Who Writes: I have no idea!

My guess is that it's to do with lighting up the now dark lights, a left over from carrying a torch or something like it. Part of St Martin's Day in Germany is making a paper lantern with kids, cooking goose, going on the lantern walk, headed by St Martin on a horse, making a bonfire at the end of it, going around houses singing for sweets, and also a sweet soft gingerbreadman-like cake which carries a pipe. How odd is that?

Some of these traditions may have been pagan (and in the UK, you go trick and treating, you have the bonfire night aroud the same time of the year). I've had a quick search online but can't find an explanation for the lanterns.

Anonymous said...

It is exhausting isn't it? We have two Christmases and New Year is a big blowout too, and that was before we had the need to keep up apearances for the Boy.

Sounds great, though and the lantern is fab.

Metropolitan Mum said...

Oh, it's all electrical today? I remember a few St Martins with a burning lantern in the end.



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