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Saint Martin's Day Parade
girl lantern photo
The History
On the eleventh day of November, Saint Martin's Day is celebrated all over Northern Europe.  Named for Saint Martin, the Fourth Century Bishop of Tours, this holiday originated in France, then spread to Germany, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe.  It celebrates the end of the agrarian year and the beginning of the harvesting.  It also marks the end of the period of all souls, that begins on November 1st which Halloween, or All Saints' Day.  Hence, Saint Martin's Day activities resemble those done on Halloween.  People, mostly children, walk down the streets with lanterns and torches, and sing Martin's songs praising the Saint's generosity.  Then kids come into the nearby houses and by singing songs, dancing, or citing poems, earn sweets, pies, or whatever the host can give them.  The lanterns the participants carry have become a distinctive part of the tradition.  The primary difference between age groups is seen in the lantern design, which becomes more elaborate with the age of the builder.  Older youth often opt to take a flashlight and attach craft paper with cutout designs augmented with transparent colored cellophane paper making them appear like stained glass torches.

The German Society's take on the Saint Martin Tradition
Our parade route will take us from the German Society in Philadelphia along Spring Garden Street to the Northern Liberties Land.  For those who do not know Northern Liberties, this is a well-kept neighborhood garden/park a few blocks from the Society.  We will all meet just before dusk at the Society.  The parade route will take us around the park and back to the Society for refreshments and light snacks.  Parents with small children should bring a stroller just in case they get tired on the way back.  All are welcome -- please join us for this lovely holiday tradition.

How to get a lantern
Lantern purchasing information will be available in the fall.

girl lantern photo


Saint Martin's Day Parade
November 14, 2008 at 6:00pm at the German Society
Cost: Free, which includes a snack
If you purchased a lantern from the Society, please come earlier to pick it up.


These are some of the lanterns that were available for purchase in 2007./

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German Society of Pennsylvania
611 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA  19123
(P) 215-627-2332
(F) 215-627-5297