Like China and Thailand, Austria has a Lantern Festival celebrated on November 11 (along with Belgium, Germany and Netherlands, other European countries have theirs too in a different form). It is the the Feast of St Martin of Tours or Martin le Miséricordieux,a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying of the cold. That night he dreamed that Jesus was wearing the half-cloak Martin had given away. Martin heard Jesus say to the angels: “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptised; he has clothed me.” (wiki)
Since the celebration is one for the dead, I do not participate in it – not the lantern-making nor the paper lantern procession that the kids would do in the kindergarten. Naturally, the kids don’t attend as well. This year though I went to observe and take some photos and is their first year to attend. The kids have been doing the lanterns yearly and uniquely – as an art activity per direction of the pedagogues. Above from left was C’s in 2008, D’s in 2010 and D’s this year, 2009 they made glass lanterns which I’m not sure where the kids have stored since bringing them home. They’ve always made the lanterns colorful.
This year, the procession was around 4:30 but it was really dark already when it started. To avoid accidents with fire, they’ve decided to go with led lights shaped as candles. These candles blink giving the illusion like how a real candle flickers.
After the procession everyone went back to the Kindergarten’s yard to have some Lebkuchen (similar to gingerbread) and variations of Glühwein (hot mulled wine) – there’s also punch for the kids.