October is a month where the leaves are changing colour, and starting to fall, the air is getting colder, and we see momentos of Halloween in every shop window.
The love of ghosts and ghouls at this time of year in Ireland got us thinking of similar traditions in Germany, and how we celebrate Halloween and other Autumn traditions.
This isn’t a huge holiday celebration in Germany, although children take great joy in dressing up in school and some often do trick-or-treating, albeit not this year due to the pandemic. You will find the supermarkets filled with face paints, costumes, candy, pumpkins and more to help people celebrate. Germany holds one of the world's largest pumpkin festivals Kürbisausstellung in Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart on the grounds of the local Residenzschloss palace. This event opened in August and runs till November 1st, where some of the world’s largest pumpkins can be seen, pumpkin statues, pumpkin story telling, pumpkin carving, and everything in between. One to keep an eye on for your visit next year.
Martinstag (St Martin's Day) is an old German custom on November 11th where children line the streets with lanterns at night time to celebrate St Martin. St Martin reminds me of St Patrick here in Ireland, as we celebrate him for his kindness and his services as a monk in the Catholic church. Laternelaufen, the carrying of the lanterns and the correlation between St Martin has yet to be known, however the procession along the street, a once Catholic tradition, is now a mainstream celebration all over Germany. We may even encourage our German language students to do some arts and crafts and make their own lantern and bring to class.
St Martin's Day marks the beginning of Carnival season with different traditions, locations and dates- Karneval, Fasching and Fastnacht.