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December 2000 - Nr. 12


The Editor
Antje berichtet
Toys under the Tree
St. Martin
St. Martin's Full Moon
Toronto hosts...
Christmas Light Tours
The Merry Widow...
Views & Reviews
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?

Saint Martin's Full Moon

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

Rich and round he hung in a cloudless sky just above our trees, but not high enough to clear the Toronto skyline. This was the stuff fairy tails are made of or legends and such. And it so happened that a few dozen munchkins and their guardians, otherwise also referred to as parents, carrying replicas of Madame Luna or Mister Moon, were seen walking through the neighbourhood close to the German Consulate General in the heart of this fair city of Toronto.

It's a family affair (St. Martin's parade)What we call this heavenly body depends much on our heritage. If you were lucky enough to get close to one of the teachers of the new(er) German School, you might have learned that "der Mond" plays a prominent part in many of the songs that were sung that night, as do the sun and the stars. And all this of cause happens to commemorate one especially good person who once, many moons ago, cut his cloak in half to share it with a beggar and thus changed his life forever.

Last Year Echo Germanica published the story of St. Martin, the Good Samaritan, who, born in Hungary to a high Roman officer, detested this life of war, which was thrust upon him. His encounter with the beggar left a profound impression on him and he turned ultimately to a life of Christian charity.

I carry the lantern and dad carries me (St. Martin's parade)No matter which religion we consider, all of them hold the premise that taking responsibility for one’s fellow man is a desirable thing to do. To introduce even our smallest children to this concept in the celebration of St. Martin’s life is as valid today as it has always been; and doing it with this charming German custom of walking the streets with lit lanterns illustrates like few other things the universal meaning of light. In the absence of light dark and cold prevail. Life cannot Mine is getting to heavy, Mutti! (St. Martin's parade)exist in such conditions. By this token we also associate light with truth, perhaps because we can examine everything in the light, yet in darkness we are blind and mostly pretty helpless. There are many literary examples to remind us of this concept, such as Schiller’s "Kraniche des Ibicus", where we are reminded that it is the sun which will bring it (the truth) to light; "Die Sonne bringt es an den Tag."

Down here, we shine the light (St. Martin's parade)Light and darkness, good and evil are very old concepts. We are familiar with them since long before even our pagan past, and we still more or less operate on this ancient agreement.

It was no surprise to us that we were stopped in the streets by onlookers unfamiliar with the significance of this procession. Even impatient motorist stopped honking their horn impatiently when it was explained to them that we were lighting up the night with lanterns in memory of St. Martin and his good deeds. And as the 200 or so marchers made their way around the neighbourhood singing the old traditional songs-so ideal for children-the moon above shone brightly and smiled down on us, or so it appeared.

Sharing the warmth at the Consulate (St. Martin's parade)At the consulate, in the big garden, a big huge fire was waiting to light up the night and to warm cold hands. Caring personnel handed out juices for the children and red, hot mulled wine, or Glühwein as we call it, to the grown ups. There were sandwiches and sausages, but best of all there was cake and a variety of seasonal cookies, all donated by Brandt and Dimpfelmeier.

Somewhere near the entrance, on an easel, we could examine the progress of the new German School in the heart of Toronto. Many photos testified to the activities of happy children and their interaction with other children of the French school under the same roof. Able to expand as the need arises this school offers an ideal environment for today’s international requirements in education.

It also is no surprise that the St. Martin custom was picked up by the parents of this school. The core of interested parties currently consists mainly of families that are in Canada only for a few years and wish their children to be educated in a German, yet international setting. Likely they also live or work in the vicinity of Toronto’s centre. Interest in the school is growing. Perhaps the revival of old and dear German customs, so enthusiastically carried forward by these young families with ties in Europe and here, will rejuvenate our local German establishment.


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