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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