Sunday, 11 November 2007

Remembrance Sunday / 11.11 / Martinstag

Here in Germany, the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the year marks two specific occasions. Firstly, the beginning of the carnival season in the Rhineland and elsewhere - but predominantly in the cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf and Mainz. At 11.11 a.m. on 11 November, to be precise. According to the Alemannic tradition practiced here, the Fas(t)nacht season strictly shouldn't begin until Epiphany (6 Jan). Instead, 11 November marks St Martin's Day - the day on which the children go through the village holding lanterns and singing from house to house. Goose is traditionally on the menu on Martinstag.

In the UK, meanwhile, 11 November this year (or the first Sunday after 11 November) is, of course, Remembrance Sunday. The German equivalent thereof normally takes place slightly later.

Slightly ironic that, as I write, people in Cologne are dressed in costumes, singing and acting strangely, while back in London HRH Queen Elizabeth is laying a wreath at the Cenotaph. Andere Länder, andere Sitten, I suppose...

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