Home German Holidays and Festivals St Martin’s Day Germany – What is St Martin’s Tag and how is it Celebrated?
St Martin’s Day Germany –  What is St Martin’s Tag and how is it Celebrated?

St Martin’s Day Germany – What is St Martin’s Tag and how is it Celebrated?


st martin's day germany

St martin's day Germany
St Martin’s Day Lantern photo by Norbert Staudt via Flickr creative commons

I visited Germany in November a few years ago, and was delighted to experience my first St Martin’s Tag (St.Martin’s Day Germany). Kids were out in the neighborhood after dark (which comes VERY EARLY in Nord-Rhine Westfalen in November) on November 11, carrying lanterns on poles, and singing as they walked down the street.

But what is St Martin’s Day?

On November 11, the life of St.Martin of Tours is celebrated in Catholic regions in Germany with processions and bonfires, as well as a feast. (Like many “fun” holidays, this tradition has spread to Protestant regions as well…).

Children make their own paper lanterns, fasten them to sticks, and walk the neighborhoods singing songs. Often they are led by someone dressed in a St Martin outfit (which looks very much like a Roman Soldier carrying a sword). The procession ends at a bonfire with more singing, and delicious foods. Some children will then go door to door collecting treats like candy or money as a reward for their singing and beautiful lantern (a bit like trick or treating in the US).

st. Martin's Day Germany
St Martin’s Day Lantern Parade photo by Stephan Kissling flickr

 Who was St Martin?

St Martin's Day Germany
Statue of Saint Martin cutting his cloak in two above the Höchst Castle’s gate. Creative commons photo by Eva K
St Martin of Tours is best known for the story of how he cut his cloak in half during a snowstorm, to share it with a beggar (in images of St Martin, he’s usually holding a sword).  He started out as a Roman Soldier, but then found Christianity, and was baptized. His faith and modesty impressed Church Leaders so much; they made him the Bishop of Tours. After his death, he was canonized, and made the Patron Saint of Modesty and Altruism.

According to legend, he really didn’t want the job of Bishop, so he hid from the people of Tours in a barn full of Geese. The Geese honked and gave him away, so today; the traditional St Martin’s Day meal is Roast Goose. (Let that be a lesson!)

St Martin's Day Germany
Traditional St Martin’s day mean… the Geese gave him away, so we eat them. Creative commons photo by Nostrifikator

You Can Celebrate St. Martin’s Day Germany Style!

St martin's day germany
Home Made Lanterns for St Martin’s Day Germany- Pixabay

All you need is a Lantern and some songs…. throw in a bonfire and some wonderful German good, and it’s a party!
I’ve linked some CD’s for songs, and some you tube videos below…

st martin's day germany
Children in a St Martin’s day parade with St Martin on a horse… Bundesarchiv, Bild 194-0273-45

You can find Lanterns on Amazon

If you are Worried about Building your own Lantern?

Paper LanternsPaper LanternsPaper Lantern JellyfishPaper Lantern JellyfishBeautiful card paper lanternsBeautiful card paper lanterns

Blue Q Paper Lantern, PeacockBlue Q Paper Lantern, PeacockPaperLanternStore.com 14PaperLanternStore.com 14Luna Bazaar Navy Blue Block Printed Square Paper LanternLuna Bazaar Navy Blue Block Printed Square Paper LanternLuna Bazaar Turquoise Blue Beehive Designer Paper LanternLuna Bazaar Turquoise Blue Beehive Designer Paper LanternPaperLanternStore.com Soccer Ball Paper LanternPaperLanternStore.com Soccer Ball Paper LanternWish Stars (1 Pack, Wish Star - Tapestry White)Wish Stars (1 Pack, Wish Star – Tapestry White)

There are LED lights, or flameless candles instead of regular Candles, as a safe way to light your Lantern.

24x White LED Party Lights For Paper Lanterns Balloons Floral Decoration light (WHITE, 1)12 Flameless Tea Lights By Mars with Timer Function Bonus Decorative Rose Petals – White Bright Battery Operated Candles – Flickering LED Unscented Tealights for Wedding Gifts, Halloween Pumpkin

Build Your Own St. Martin’s Day Lantern

English Instructions
German Instructions

St Martin Playmobil set

I love this fun little Playmo set of St Martin and kids with Lanterns! Wouldn’t that be a fun thing to set out and play with? (I know that is says St Nicholas, but the German site got it right, it’s St Martin)

PLAYMOBIL St. Martin SetPLAYMOBIL St. Martin Set


St Martin’s Day Food

st martin's day foods
Weckmann or Stutenkerl… a Baked man with a clay pipe. Photo -wikipedia commons by Fammingo (selbst gebacken)

Around the Bonfire, people eat sweet pastries and drink warm beverages like Cocoa and Glühwein. At home, Roast Goose is popular.  Looking for a Roast Goose Recipe?

Some children are lucky enough to receive a Weckmann (or Stutenkerl, a sweet bread roll shaped into a man with raisin eyes and a white clay pipe in his mouth, sold at any bakery or made at home by mom. (My mother tells me that she and her friends would then sneak around smoking with the clay pipe).

Follow this link to make your own Weckman

Roast Goose is a traditional meal on St Martin’s Day… but around the bonfire, a nice Bratwurst in a Broetchen is perfect.

Gluhwein for the parents… and Hot Cocoa for the Kids…. to keep everyone warm on a cold night.

St Martin’s Day Songs.

St. Martin: Lantern SongsEin bisschen so wie Martin: 22 Lieder zu Laternenfest und Sankt Martin (German Edition)

Laterne Laterne

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne.
Brenne auf, mein Licht, brenne auf, mein Licht,
aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.

Laterne, Laterne, Sonne, Mond und Sterne.
Sperrt ihn ein den Wind, sperrt ihn ein den Wind,
er soll warten bis wir zu Hause Sind.

Ich geh’ mit meine Laterne

Ich geh‘ mit meiner Laterne
Und meine Laterne mit mir.
Dort oben leuchten die Sternen,
und unten, da leuchten wir.
Mein Licht ist aus,
ich geh’ nach Haus,
rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.

And When it’s Time to Go Home…

Mein Licht ist aus,
ich geh’ nach Haus,
rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.


Want to Learn More About Celebrating St Martin’s Day?

This Book by Conrad Bladey is loaded with information. You can find it as a Paperback, but it’s cheaper if you download it for Kindle (remember, you don’t need to have a Kindle, you just need the app on your computer or device.

Celebrating St. Martin’s Day November 11 In Germany. A guide to the celebration of St. Martin of Tours

See the Massive St Martins Celebration in Buschdorf

st martin's day germany



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *