Today we celebrate the St. Martin’s Day over here in Germany.
In former times this was the time of the year when the work on the fields has been done and the servants of the farmers got their money and would seek for new posts. Also everyone had to pay their rent for their fields, even today the lease agreements in agriculture often starts or ends today. The tithe was often paid in natural produce. This is also the origin of the “St. Martin’s goose”, cause the geese were often the tithe for the landlord.
St. Martin is the beginning of the Christmas Season here in Germany. In former days on this evening the “Nussmärtel” came to the children. This first wintery character was a rough fellow. He was rumbling, violent and sinister. He wore a long dark coat and heavy boots, a big beard and a hat. His face was always invisible or he wore a mask. He clashed with his chains and made a lot of noise and he brought along a birch and a hessian sack. Every child was frightened by his visit. He left the house emptying his sack, where he carried nuts, chocolate, apples and mandarins.
Another tradition for today is the processions of children carrying lanterns, which they mad in school or kindergarten. Usually the walk starts at a church and goes to a square. A man on horseback dressed as St. Martin accompanies the children. When they reach the square, Martin’s bonfire is lit.
Actually today I have had a personal deadline. I wanted to have finished Quilt, a design by Martin Storey. This design is published in the Rowan Brochure Pioneer, a collection of designs for women and men.
Quilt is knitted in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted (Wool: 75%, Alpaca: 25%) and is available for men and women.
But the last weeks has been so full of work that I have not made it. But I finished the knitting part and the garment is already blocking. I hope I will finish it this week.
11 thoughts on “St. Martin’s Day”
Hello! I enjoyed reading this post; the information you shared is very interesting. Good luck finishing your sweater.
Thank you so much! Weaving in ends. 😉
That is one scary character! I like that. More like real life.
Good luck with Quilt!
I was always afraid as a child! It was really scary!
I enjoyed reading about your holiday tradition. Your Quilt is looking gorgeous!
Thank you so much Kristen.
Was St. Martin supposed to scare the kids to make them behave? He scares me…… :). That sweater is great and you’ll love it I think! Looking forward to seeing it finished.
Thank you Anne, I’m setting in the sleeves today. I hope I will finish Quilt tomorrow. To your comment: The “Nussmärtel” is not St. Martin. This character is much older. He’s a character of the tale of the so called “Wilden Heer” (wild army) or the “Schimmelreiter” = ghost rider, who were up to mischief during the winter nights. The “Schimmelreiter” is the old germanic god Wodan or Odin who is the leader of the wild army. The other name of the Nussmärtel “Waudel” reminds on the germanic god Wodan.
The Nussmärtel as a scarer of kids to make them behave is a character which was formed during the Reformation. The protestants didn’t want to worship the catholic saints St. Martin and St. Nikolaus (another wintery character, soon to come). Originally he only have had a birch, but after he has to take the place of St. Nikolaus he also brought gifts. Although the protestants do not worship any saints, St. Martin’s Day was also a festive day for the protestants.
And at last: St. Martin’s Day is 40 days before christmas and like the 40 days before Easter, this period of time has been a time of lent in former days. The last day before this time was a festive day and and also day for “saturnalia” like Mardi Gras (Pancake Tuesday) before the 40 days of lent before Easter.
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