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St. Martin's Day in Germany

Quick Facts

St. Martin's Day is celebrated in Germany every year on November 11.

Local names

NameLanguage
St. MartinGerman
St. Martin's DayEnglish

Alternative name

Martinstag

St. Martin's Day 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

St. Martin's Day 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
List of dates for other years

St. Martin's Day (Martinstag) on November 11 is a religious observance in Germany that is particularly popular with children. It is dedicated to St. Martin of Tours and celebrates modesty and altruism - both values commonly associated with the Saint. As the holiday was traditionally followed by a fast that lasted until Christmas, many traditons on St. Martin's Day center on food.

Lantern processions are held all around Germany on St. Martin's Day.

©iStockphoto.com/winhorse

What do people do?

Many children build their own lanterns in the run-up to November 11. In the evening on St. Martin's Day there are lantern processions (Martinsumzüge or Laternenumzüge) in towns and cities all over Germany. Often they are lead by an actor impersonating the Saint, usually dressed up as a Roman soldier riding on a horse. At the end of the procession people gather around a large bonfire to sing songs dedicated to St. Martin, eat sweet pastries and drink mulled wine (Glühwein). Many Germans celebrate St. Martin's Day with a festive meal where roasted goose or duck (Martinsgans) is traditionally served as the main course.

Public life

St. Martin's Day is not a public holiday in Germany. Offices, banks, schools and business are open as usual. Public transport runs on a normal schedule. The lantern processions may cause minor delays.

Background

Saint Martin of Tours (316 - 297 CE) initially worked as a Roman legionary but was later appointed the third Bishop of Tours. According to lore, he was a modest and altruistic man. The legend about his saving a homeless person from freezing to death by giving him half of his cloak is known to children in all parts of Germany.

The tradition to eat a goose (today often replaced by a duck) on St. Martin's Day is thought to be based on the medieval tax system. November 11 was pay day, and often the tax debt was paid with a goose. It is believed that this is also the reason why geese play such an important role in legends about the Saint. Another popular story is about a flock of geese who betrayed Martin's hiding place as he was trying to hide from the people of Tours when they wanted to make him a bishop.

St. Martin's Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SunNov 111990St. Martin's DayObservance 
MonNov 111991St. Martin's DayObservance 
WedNov 111992St. Martin's DayObservance 
ThuNov 111993St. Martin's DayObservance 
FriNov 111994St. Martin's DayObservance 
SatNov 111995St. Martin's DayObservance 
MonNov 111996St. Martin's DayObservance 
TueNov 111997St. Martin's DayObservance 
WedNov 111998St. Martin's DayObservance 
ThuNov 111999St. Martin's DayObservance 
SatNov 112000St. Martin's DayObservance 
SunNov 112001St. Martin's DayObservance 
MonNov 112002St. Martin's DayObservance 
TueNov 112003St. Martin's DayObservance 
ThuNov 112004St. Martin's DayObservance 
FriNov 112005St. Martin's DayObservance 
SatNov 112006St. Martin's DayObservance 
SunNov 112007St. Martin's DayObservance 
TueNov 112008St. Martin's DayObservance 
WedNov 112009St. Martin's DayObservance 
ThuNov 112010St. Martin's DayObservance 
FriNov 112011St. Martin's DayObservance 
SunNov 112012St. Martin's DayObservance 
MonNov 112013St. Martin's DayObservance 
TueNov 112014St. Martin's DayObservance 
WedNov 112015St. Martin's DayObservance 
FriNov 112016St. Martin's DayObservance 
SatNov 112017St. Martin's DayObservance 
SunNov 112018St. Martin's DayObservance 
MonNov 112019St. Martin's DayObservance 
WedNov 112020St. Martin's DayObservance 

Other holidays in November 2014 in Germany

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