Friday, November 19, 2010
Poor blog. I feel like I haven't sat down in over a month. That's not the hard truth, but it's pretty close. From the moment I wake up in the morning, I am running to catch up. There just doesn't seem to be enough time lately. I may not have been actively blogging, but I'm still here. Somewhere.
Both Halloween and Martinmas came and went since my last post. I'm still shaking my head over how that happened. We had a lovely time on both accounts. We felt blessed to spend Halloween with sweet friends, and the kids were delighted to trick-or-treat a few houses-- their first real Halloween since we left the states. Martinmas was spent at home, trekking through the forest with three local families, singing, sitting around the fire, and sharing a meal on our back porch.
I've been sort of reflecting on the Martinmas celebrations gone by, when we were just one family celebrating on our own... first with the two children, and then with all three. Like any tradition, it has definitely changed over the years, especially after moving to Europe.
It's an interesting celebration in Switzerland. Our first year here we didn't celebrate it. Last year we celebrated it three times, in two languages. This year I finally figured out what the locals are doing, which isn't what we're doing at all. That's actually the extent of my understanding... ha. The Steiner school families celebrate it as one with Martinmas, but the regular folks, they just carve their turnip lanterns and sing songs without all the St. Martin references. At least some of them sing. In Switzerland traditions seem to change every few kilometers, so you never know what to expect.
This would explain why my girls seemed to know the songs better than some of the neighbors. And it also explains why some of the neighbors don't bother with the singing at all. The point for them is to carve the lantern and go for a walk, period. It's more like a party of sorts than the reverential thing we had been celebrating in the past. Both ways are kind of nice, and at the end we dissolved into singing in English anyway.
A few days later we managed to visit Richterswil, a small village near Zurich, where the town goes totally nuts and decorates the whole town with turnip lanterns. They call it Räbechilbi," and it was amazing! But it also wasn't overtly reverential. There was a parade with the strangest sorts of turnip pictures (imagine giant pictures where all the white parts were filled with burning turnips). The local kindergartners walked with their lanterns as part of the parade, but no one was singing. Instead they had marching bands playing tunes like "Smoke on the Water" and something that sounded suspiciously like "You're a Grand Ole Flag." (I'm sure it wasn't... but it was that similar!)
The streets were jam-packed with people. There were a few vendors selling odd items, like purse holders-- something you would apparently use in a restaurant to hang your purse. There were also the typical würst, glühwein (hot mulled wine), and chestnut stands, but they also sold hot orange punch (alcoholic and non). Hot punch? That was new for me. But seeing all the lanterns everywhere... that was amazing.
I love that towns like this exist in the world. It wasn't our typical Waldorfy Martinmas, but seeing a community come together like this filled me with a different kind of hope.
P.S. New camera. Still getting the hang of it.