Celebrating St. Martin’s Day (German Custom)

Self crafted lanterns for St. Martin's Day

On November 11th, Germans celebrate St. Martin’s Day. This day is very popular among children! Learn more about this old German custom and how to make lanterns and bake Weckmänner with your children. 

Details about St. Martin’s Day

All the facts you need to know:

Who was St. Martin?

He was the Bishop of Tours who was known for sharing his coat with a beggar during a snowstorm. Before St. Martin became a Bishop he was a soldier. Part of the legend states that St. Martin felt unworthy of becoming a Bishop so he hid in a barn filled with geese. The noises of the geese led him to be found and the people made him the Bishop of Tours.

Why do people love celebrating St. Martin?

This is a widespread Catholic custom in Germany. Children love to prepare and celebrate St. Martin’s Day. They are fascinated by the lanterns and walking around with them in the evening.

How do people prepare for St. Martin’s Day?

Kids craft lanterns for the lantern parade (Laternenumzug). Also, they help their parents to bake Weckmänner, also known as Stutenkerle. Some adults prepare a goose for dinner since it is part of the legend. While others get enough wood for the fire.

How do people celebrate St. Martin in Germany?

They usually have a bonfire and walk around the city/neighborhood with their lanterns. During the lantern parade, a man on a white horse rides in front of the group representing St. Martin. While walking through the city/neighborhood people sing German children’s songs. Some families prepare a goose for dinner to celebrate this old custom.

DIY Lanterns

Lanterns for St. Martin's Day

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Supply list for “St. Martin’s Day Lanterns”

Paper lanterns

I like this option from Amazon because you can choose your color (I used white) and it comes in different sizes. I used a smaller one for my 1-year-old since its more comfortable to carry around for her. My older daughter chose the bigger size for her unicorn lantern.

LED Lights 

These LED lights work very well and Amazon has a great deal on them. You can easily attach them to the metal part of the lantern. Some people also glue multiple lights into their lanterns.

Hooks

I love these hooks from Amazon. I use them all the time for wooden crafts. They are very affordable and work well. For some of my crafts, I have my husband bend it all the way to create a circle. That avoids things from falling off the hook.

Stick

The last thing you need is a stick. Any type of wooden stick that you can screw the hook into will work.

You will also need:

Scissors

Glue stick

Construction Paper

Felt mustache – Cowboy

Foam cones – Unicorn

Glitter PomPoms – Unicorn

Tissue Fringe – Cowboy/Unicorn. Colors of your choice. I used yellow and red.

Instructions:

Unicorn

  1. First, choose the size of your lantern and put it together using the instructions that come with them.
  2. Then, choose the paper for the foam cone and glue it around the cone. Use a fair amount of glue and apply the paper before it is dry. Hold it for a minute. -I chose yellow construction paper.-
  3. Cut the Eyes and Nose and glue it onto the lantern.
  4. Then cut out the Ears and attach them to each side of the lantern hole.
  5. Next, apply the Tissue Fringe – We rolled them up in a ball and glued them onto the lantern.-
  6. Attach the glitter pompoms on the tissue fringe and other places if you like.
  7. Take out your stick and screw the hook into the stick. The lantern will be attached to the hook of the stick.
  8. Last, add the LED lights of your choice.

Cowboy

  1. Cut out the Cowboy Hat and apply to the lantern.
  2. Next, apply the mustache to the lantern.
  3. Then, draw eyes, eyebrows, and a mouth on the lantern. Be careful not to poke a hole into the lantern.
  4. You can add some tissue fringe around the lantern to “add” a scarf.
  5. Take out your stick and screw the hook into the stick. The lantern will be attached to the hook of the stick.
  6. Last, add the LED light of your choice.

Bake Weckmänner (Stutenkerle)

St. Martin's Day Weckmann receipe.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups milk (warm)

1 cup melted butter (not hot)

0.5 oz active dry yeast

1 1/4 tsp salt

6 egg yolk (save the egg white)

3/4 cup sugar

7 1/2 flour

1 egg

Raisins for decoration

Ribbon for decoration (optional)

Baking instructions

  1. Use a big bowl for the dough.
  2. Put the flour in the bowl and create a hole in the middle.
  3. Put the warm milk in the hole as well as the dry yeast and half of the sugar.
  4. Now, let the yeast do its job for about 10 to 15 minutes. You will see little bubbles forming. That means the yeast is active.
  5. After 10 to 15 minutes, add the butter, the rest of the sugar, the egg yolks, and the salt to the dough.
  6. Mix everything for about 5 to 10 minutes. I did it by hand, but you can use a dough mixer.
  7. You don’t want the dough to stick to your fingers. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit of flour to the dough.
  8. Let the dough rest for at least 60 minutes in a warm place. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel.
  9. When the dough doubled in size its ready to use.
  10. Put some flour down on your workplace and place the dough on it. This recipe makes 10 Weckmänner. Each Weckmann is about 5.5 oz.
  11. Roll 10 dough balls and let them rest on your workplace for 15 minutes.
  12. Then, it’s time to create your Weckmänner. Use this instruction. The circles on the instruction represent the raisins.
  13. After you formed and decorated the Weckmänner carefully use a brush and brush them with egg white. Let them sit for 15 ms before backing.
  14. Set your oven to 425 F and bake them for 10 minutes. If they are not golden brown add another 5 minutes.
  15. Get them out of the oven and let them cool down a little bit before eating.
  16. Some people love to add some butter to them or honey.
  17. They taste the best on the same day!

Happy St. Martin’s Day

Now, that you created your lanterns and baked your Weckmänner it’s time to go outside and walk around with your lantern. Hopefully, you have practiced some songs to sing along. Create a bonfire when you come home and eat your Weckmänner.

This is how you celebrate St. Martin’s Day in Germany. 🙂

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