It's that time of the year again. All over Germany kids are making lanterns and (re-)learn the songs of the season. Mine are no exception.

This year's lantern form of choice involves balloons, colored transparent paper and paste, lots of paste. This here comes close, but my kids use smaller snippets of paper, several different colors and probably more paste. I'm not sure what they enjoy more - the sticky fingers or the part of the build process that involves a needle and ends with a bang.

We are booked for at least three if not five lantern parades over the next few weeks, so cold feet and wet noses are to be expected.

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I talk about sweets and Sankt Martin tradition in Germany and completely forget the most important part of it - no, not the fire, Weckmännchen.

Weckmännchen - that's what they are called in my part of Germany, they may have different names in other parts, I've heard Stutenmann at least once - are men (well gender has to be guessed) made of bread and may be covered by sugar or almonds. Very tasty, in particular with a nice thick layer of chocolate cream on top of it.

Here is a recipe and a nice picture for one. The pipe is definitively not optional.

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St. Martin has been a Roman soldier who - according to the legend - shared half his coat with a beggar who would have died because of the cold otherwise. At the beginning of November we have lantern parades in Germany in memory of this legend.

Children create their own lanterns - usually out of paper - in school or kindergarten and at dusk they are lead through the streets of town by a man dressed up as a Roman soldier sitting on a horse singing lantern songs (the kids are supposed to be singing, not the horse) - with the help of brass bands.

After the parade, the kids will get bags of sweets and as that usually is not enough they'll go from house to house and sing to gain more sweets. Unlike Halloween they won't threaten people who don't want to give anything, although I remember songs like "Hier wohnt ein reicher Mann, der uns noch viel geben kann" - so it is better to open the door and donate 8-)

This year I'll have to attend three of such parades, the first one was last Saturday. Sarah was sick so I went with Florian and the lantern he has made in kindergarten last year. I'm looking forward to next Wednesday when Sarah will be with us, it's hard to top the light in the eyes a two year old when she sees all those colorful lanterns. It will also be the debut for Florian's new lantern.

I hope I'll get through this without catching a bad cold.

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