Monday, November 12, 2007

St. Martin’s Day

(This post started as a letter to a friend ...)

It is early on a Monday morning - St. Martin's day was Sunday - and this evening at dusk the children will go out and parade through the parks and streets with their lanterns and sing the traditional songs for this day and the adults will huddle around them with tears in their eyes and sing along. It is one of the things I love most about being here - the passing of these traditions from generation to generation. The children claim them as their own, but the adults derive just as much pleasure from them, maybe even a bit more because the experience of the day is flavored with memories of such days in their own childhoods. HH is very excited and has been learning all of the songs, singing them in the bathtub and on the way to kindergarten and just about all the time really.

Yesterday was also the first day of the Karneval season. At 11:00AM, on the 11th day of the 11th month, the streets of Cologne fill with costumed revelers and officially usher in nearly three month long celebration. It will conclude at the beginning of Lent with huge parades through the streets with much drinking and partying by just about everyone.

This week will also mark the third anniversary of our arrival in Germany - hard to believe. Where has the time gone? Yesterday we were in the Eifel at the home of HH's Oma, and we brought home with us an old photograph of HH's Great, Great Grandparents. We hung it in the living room. Oma was a bit surprised that we would even want it. She says that no one hangs these old pictures anymore but we love it and even though HH finds it a little scary, he was thrilled to have it up.

And so we take another step, a small one perhaps, just hanging a picture, but each such step roots us a little deeper here, establishing the links from generation to generation, just like the songs he has learned and will sing with the other children tonight. And Papa too will sing along in my broken German, not with the distinctive Kölsch accent that of my young son has developed, I don't expect I'll ever get the complete hang of that, but I’ll manage something approximating it.

Kölle Alaaf!

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Blogger Rositta said...

Enjoy Karneval, my friend and I got lost in the Eifel Mountain on our road trip. Beautiful countryside...ciao

3:40 AM  
Blogger spassliebende said...

Hi.. :) I enjoy reading your blog and your exploits with your son. I'm actually studying in philadelphia now but germany is where I'd rather be..

4:46 AM  
Blogger Steffi said...

hallo! ich bin auch eine ausgewanderte deutsche und habe gerade ganz zufaellig deinen blog gefunden. hoffe es ist ok wenn ich mal wieder vorbeischaue. liebe gruesse, steffi

4:59 AM  
Blogger d. chedwick bryant said...

Your post brought back memories of how little boys sing and sing all of the time. I still know the lyrics to all the little songs my son learned in elementary school, as he sang them over and over --in a sweet little voice. I hope you're making audio recordings. I lost the cassette tape I had made, but I still have some video.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Roz ... The Eifel is a pretty good place to get lost.

spass ... Thanks for stopping by and enjoy Phillie - they have some great food there!

steffi ...Please come again ... Danke!

DCB ... Nice to see you back and yes, I've been making recordings I just hope I can get organized enough to store them properly.

5:46 AM  
Blogger MollyB, Bloggerin said...

Your writing is so picturesque!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Molly ... Thank you - I' happy you enjoy it!

Carolyn in CT ... I hope all is well with you and thank you for the link.

5:21 AM  
Blogger Henner said...

Hi there,
I don't actually want to comment on the post, but tell you something else you might be interested in.
I was in Berlin for work and met up with an old friend from school. We decided to go to a pub in a street not too far from the Reichstag. They had great beer and good food and at the entrance they had a review from an American newspaper, which happened to be written by you. I wouldn't have realised, if it wouldn't have been for the photo next to the article, which was yours. It was a very nice review playing on the fact that at night the place becomes a bit of a red light district. Funny to see it as I read your Blog and maybe nice for you to hear that you are being read in Germany...

11:43 PM  
Blogger Berlinbound said...

Henner ...

Thanks for the note. I'm glad to know the food is still good ...

6:04 AM  
Anonymous europe trotter said...

I enjoyed reading your account of St. Martin’s Day – I was also lucky enough to spend St. Martin’s Day with friends living in an Austrian village a few years ago, but now living in Paris, the festival passed unmarked for me (except for the emergence of the new season’s wine in every market place!) Observing old customs and cultural festivities is one of my favourite things about living in Europe though!

9:57 PM  

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