Tuesday, November 21, 2017


frosted, twinkling, cold,
glittering ,rainbow melting
sun climbing higher

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veterans Day

Thank you to all who's service keeps the rest of us safe.
And my heartfelt thanks to the families of all the brave, who have served in the past, who serve now and who will serve in the future, because "they also serve who stand and wait."   ~~John MIlton

nov11th is St Martin's Day, guest blogger

The final post about Halloween, for now anyway.   This I must admit is entirely new and very interesting to me.

November 11: St. Martin’s Day–Halloween, German-style

Thanks to profit-minded businesses, American Halloween customs are increasingly infringing on German culture, but Halloween is not a traditional holiday celebrated in Germany. However, the customs associated with Halloween are not unfamiliar in Europe. A similar holiday has been celebrated in many European countries for centuries on November 11: St. Martin’s Day. In the traditional Catholic calendar, November 11, the birthday of Saint Martin of Tours, signifies the beginning of the forty-day fast before Christmas, and therefore is often accompanied by a special, last-hurrah feast of roast goose, the “Martinigans”. In some Potestant areas, however, the date was changed to November 10 to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther instead. It was also the day of the year on which temporary farmhands or workers were dismissed for the winter, which for them and their families signaled the beginning of lean times. So originally, the children went around at night with lanterns carved from turnips or sugar beets, singing songs and collecting food to be stored for the winter. Later, the survival aspect became less prominent and the sweet tooth took over. Today, the children, just as for Halloween, collect mostly sweets and candy. In some areas, the traditional carved and candle-lit lanterns are still displayed in parades, but in other areas paper lanterns with artificial lights are more popular, partly for safety reasons. Some of the St. Martin’s Day parades get pretty elaborate with a horseman leading the parade to a public area where a big bonfire caps the festivities. Various regions also have their own songs for the “Martinisingen”, but the most commonly used song is “Ich geh mit meiner Laterne”.
Ich geh mit meiner Laterne
und meine Laterne mit mir.
Da oben leuchten die Sterne              
und unten da leuchten wir.
rabimmel, rabammel, rabumm.

In addition to the traditional St. Martin’s Day goose with red cabbage and dumplings, some areas celebrate the holiday with “Stutenkerlen” oder “Weckmännern,” little bread men made from a sweet bread dough (recipe). In other areas, these bread creations are associated more with St. Nicholas Day.
Today, the holiday has lost most of its original religious and historical significance. But just as the carving of pumpkins for Halloween is a hallowed part of an American childhood, the carving of turnips or the fashioning of a paper lantern for St. Martin’s Day is a magical part of German childhood and even many years later is remembered more fondly than the number of candy bars collected.

A video for the song “Ich geh mit meiner Laterne” (with lyrics)German Embassy website about St. Martin’s Day (historical background, but also links to sites that show you how to make paper lanterns, as well as complete lyrics for the “Laterne” song above)
Lyrics and audio files for several St. Martin’s Day songs:
A German video explanation of St. Martin’s Day (the German is difficult to follow, even for intermediate learners, but there are subtitles and vocabulary explanations). Doable for more advanced German students.
Some additional teaching ideas for a St. Martin’s Day unit.
A couple of websites with instructions for making lanterns for St. Martin’s Day:
http://www.familie.de/diy/st-martin-laterne-selber-basteln-540299.html (German)
http://www.heimwerker.de/bauanleitung/feiertage-basteln-und-bauplan/sankt-martin.html (German and a few in English)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Nov 7th guest blogger

Halloween, might be over.  There is still leftover candy and a few forlorn costumes and remnants of décor in the stores.  some people have taken down their decorations, some not, some over eager souls have even put up their Christmas decorations.

So why and I posting about Halloween?

Halloween and Samhain are usually celebrated on the same day, but is that truly right?  Well no.

Halloween is a cross-quarter day

The 4 cross-quarter days fall between equinoxes and solstices. Halloween is the spookiest one – derived from a sacred festival of ancient Celts and Druids – coming as days grow short and nights long in the Northern Hemisphere.

Photo via Kurt Magoon/Flickr

Halloween – short for All Hallows’ Eve – is an astronomical holiday. Sure, it’s the modern-day descendant from Samhain, a sacred festival of the ancient Celts and Druids in the British Isles. But it’s also a cross-quarter day, which is probably why Samhain occurred when it did. Early people were keen observers of the sky. A cross-quarter day is a day more or less midway between an equinox (when the sun sets due west) and a solstice (when the sun sets at its most northern or southern point on the horizon). Halloween – October 31 – is approximately midway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice, for us in the Northern Hemisphere.

In other words, in traditional astronomy, there are eight major seasonal subdivisions of every year. They include the March and September equinoxes, the June and December solstices, and the intervening four cross-quarter days.

In modern times, the four cross-quarter days are often called Groundhog Day (February 2), May Day (May 1), Lammas (August 1) and Halloween (October 31).

Equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days are all hallmarks of Earth's orbit around the sun.  Halloween is the fourth cross-quarter day of the year.  Illustration via NASA
Equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days are all hallmarks of Earth’s orbit around the sun. Halloween is the 4th cross-quarter day of the year. Illustration via NASA

For us in the Northern Hemisphere, Halloween is the darkest of the cross-quarter days, coming at a time of year when the days are growing shorter. Early people once said that the spirits of the dead wander from sunset until midnight around this cross-quarter day. After midnight – on November 1, which we now call All Saints’ Day – the ghosts are said to go back to rest.

The October 31 date for Halloween has been fixed by tradition. The true cross-quarter day falls on November 7, representing a discrepancy of about a week. According to the ancient Celts, a cross-quarter day marks the beginning – not the middle – of a season.

The Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters, marks the radiant for the North Taurid meteor shower.  This cluster is part of the constellation Taurus the Bull.  Photo by Dave Dehetre on Flickr.
The Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters. This tiny, misty dipper is easy to pick out in the night sky. Photo via Dave Dehetre/Flickr.

The Pleiades connection. It’s thought that the early forbearer of Halloween – Samhain – happened on the night that the Pleiades star cluster culminated at midnight.

In other words, the Pleiades climbed to its highest point in the sky at midnight on or near the same date as this cross-quarter day. In our day, Halloween is fixed on October 31, though the midnight culmination of the Pleiades cluster now occurs on November 21.

Presuming the supposed connection between Samhain and the midnight culmination of the Pleiades, the two events took place on or near the same date in the 11th century (1001-1100) and 12th century (1101-1200). This was several centuries before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar.

At that time, when the Julian calendar was in use, the cross-quarter day and the midnight culmination of the Pleiades fell – amazingly enough – on or near October 31. But, then, the Julian calendar was about one week out of step with the seasons. Had the Gregorian calendar been in use back then, the date of the cross-quarter day celebration would have been November 7.

But Halloween is now fixed on October 31. Meanwhile, the true cross-quarter day now falls on or near November 7 and the midnight culmination of the Pleiades cluster on or near November 21.

Bottom line: The present date for Halloween – October 31 – marks the approximate midway point between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Halloween is one of the year’s four cross-quarter days.


frosted, twinkling, cold, glittering ,rainbow melting sun climbing higher