The 11th November is known as Martinstag or Sankt Martin. Originally the start of a 40-day period of fasting before Christmas, it is now more associated with the processions of children holding lanterns that take place after dark. Many families eat goose on this day.

The day also sees the start of the Karneval season.

To hear a simple explanation, a short discussion, and a children’s song in German, listen to the podcast:

(Press the “play” button to listen to the podcast)

Laterne, Laterne,
Sonne, Mond und Sterne,
brenne auf mein Licht,
brenne auf mein Licht,
aber nur meine liebe Laterne nicht.

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Laternenfest in Bad Homburg

Each year at the end of August Bad Homburg celebrates Laternenfest, or lantern festival.

The stalls stretch all the way from the end of the Louisenstraße up to the junction with Saalburgstraße, and then cover the Festplatz, a large open space for such fairs. On the two weekend days there are long processions and on Monday a lot of businesses close early to allow their employees to go to the festival together.

We went yesterday afternoon and stayed into the evening. I was pleasently surprised that a number of stalls had reduced their prices so that with a few exceptions everything was reasonably priced – the exceptions being turkey bites in a cone (Knabberfleisch) for 4,50EUR and Tarte Flambee (Flammkuchen) for an astounding 7EUR!

The childrens’ rides were normally 1,00-1,50EUR per go which was OK. One of Sarah’s particular favourites are the ponies – at 3EUR per ride, but the ponies are well looked after and the rides are quite long.

If you are planning on visiting the Laternenfest at any time it’s best to park your car outside of the town centre and take a bus in, otherwise be prepared for a long walk. If you’re not planning on staying very late, make sure you’re back in the bus by 9pm on Saturday night, as most of them stop running to make way for the procession and it can be almost midnight before they get through again.


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