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Sing-a-longs and lanterns: What’s taking place in the absence of traditional St. Martin’s festivities

Sing-a-longs and lanterns : What’s taking place in the absence of traditional St. Martin’s festivities

The Catholic Church in Bonn is preparing a special event for St. Martin's Day. Those who want to participate should stand at their windows and join in the sing-a-long. Then all the bells will ring. And there are even more alternatives for the cancelled St. Martin's processions.

The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in November: restrictions on contact at all public levels, no St. Martin's processions, no Christmas markets, and no carnival. Many people are missing the feeling of togetherness, of coming together at this time of year when skies turn dark early in the evening. For that reason, the Catholic Church of Bonn and many local and citizen groups in the city have come up with alternatives for St. Martin's Day on Wednesday, November 11th. They are meant to bring people together in the spirit of community while still maintaining a distance.

But many people are undertaking some creative endeavors on their own too: singing songs, reading the legend of St. Martin out loud, baking “Weckmänner” - the traditional bakery roll shaped like a person. Some are going for torchlit walks at dusk, decorating houses and putting up lights - there are many ideas for observing St. Martin’s Day while still being in compliance with the measures put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus. Families, neighborhoods and circles of friends are busy developing alternative forms of festivities for St. Martin's Day.

Catholic Church of Bonn organizes sing-a-long

The Catholic Church in Bonn is planning a sing-a-long: people are to sing together at open windows on St. Martin's Day at 6 pm. And the General-Anzeiger will broadcast the songs. Bonn's new Mayor Katja Dörner will also take part in the event.

The fact that neither St. Martin's processions nor alternative public events are allowed to take place in Bonn this year because of the coronavirus pandemic is causing great sadness in Bonn's Stadtkirche (City Church). "Even though this is understandable in view of the increasing incidence of infection, it is still very sad, especially for the children," says city dean Wolfgang Picken. "Especially in times like these, topics such as neighborly love and mutual respect are of great importance," he adds

For this reason, the city dean and the presiding pastors have thought about how to honor St. Martin’s Day in the city area and how to get people closer together - if not physically, then at least mentally. The idea: At the beginning of the sing-a-long on St. Martin's Day at 6 p.m., men, women and children are invited to open the windows of their apartments and houses and sing: „Sankt Martin ritt durch Schnee und Wind“ (“St. Martin rode through snow and wind”) and „Laterne, Laterne“ (“Lantern, lantern”). Afterwards, the bells of the Catholic churches in the city area will be rung at 6:10 pm. Those who wish can decorate their windows with colorful lanterns in the days before.

To support the singers, the General-Anzeiger will broadcast or stream the songs simultaneously. Before that, there will be a greeting from Mayor Katja Dörner and the city dean. "In these difficult times of the pandemic, in which we all have to live with restrictions to protect ourselves and our fellow human beings, events like this are a special ray of hope. With creativity, ways can be found to jointly experience the events that are important to us, even in the current situation. In spite of physical distance, we can show that we stand together as a society", said the Mayor.

"We hope to raise awareness of the ideals embodied by St. Martin and to give the children joy in corona times," said Picken. On the right side of the Rhine, church bells will also ring at 6:10 pm.

On Sunday, November 8, there will be a special mass for children and families at the St. Josef Church on Hermannstrasse, starting at 10 a.m. "St. Martin will personally be at the service and at the end he will distribute “Weckmänner” to the children and the parents", Pastor Wilfried Evertz explained to the GA.

There are also the "Kessenicher Balcony Concerts" - this initiative for St. Martin's Day was developed by the two Kessenich church communities in the village together with numerous local associations. Starting at 5:30 pm, as many people as possible should go to their balconies and windows to sing together. Afterwards the church bells will ring.

(Orig. text: Holger Willcke / Translation: ck)