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Monday, November 14, 2011

St. Martinstag Festival in Dortmund's Westfalenpark

This past Saturday night (November 12th) I attended an interesting festival that is an historically important Catholic tradition, based on the life's work of St. Martin (Martin of Tours), and one particular event in his life, specifically.

This festival takes place to commemorate St. Martin (a knight in the Middle Ages, and then later on a monk) who met a beggar on his travels who was on the verge of freezing to death on a particularly cold night.  The back story to the beggar is that he had been robbed shortly before he meets up with St. Martin, and that he was previously a middle-class citizen who was on the way home to his family when the night grew colder and he decided he'd never make it with his heavy cart full of his master's goods to sell the next day at market, all the way home on dark roads with the potential danger of getting lost or getting robbed.  Therefore, the man decides to camp outside the city gates of where he came from, and then gets accosted by two bandits who steal his cart, his money and his clothing.  That's when Martin comes along the man and the man begs Martin to help him, whereupon Martin takes his cloak and cuts it into two pieces.  He gives the man half of it to keep him warm and thereby saves the man's life.  Thus, Martin is sainted for this action, and a heap of other good deeds he accomplished in his lifetime.

And, to finish this story with some fun photos, here are a few of me with my 'lantern' (there are traditionally parades of children with their parents and homemade paper lanterns who follow behind someone dressed up as St. Martin on a horse and parade through the town, or in my case, a public park, to reenact the noble deed that Martin did that cold night).

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