The Saint Martin Story
Saint Martin, whose name comes from Martem Tenens
(one who sustains Mars), was born in Hungary during the reign of Emperor Constantine, and
spent his early childhood in northern Italy. Drafted
into the Roman Army at age 15, he later became a member of the royal cavalry guard. It was
while he was campaigning in Gaul, as an 18-year-old tribune, stationed in Amiens, that the
famous legend of Saint Martin and the beggar took place.
One bitterly cold day a beggar, naked and shivering, came near his station. Martin, like all the other soldiers, was in armor, but over his iron plated suit he wore a large military cloak. As none of his companions took notice of the beggar, Martin cut his cloak in two with his sword and gave half of it to the beggar. That night Christ appeared to him in a vision, dressed in the parted cloak, and commended the young soldier for his charity.
Saint Martin -- the patron saint of the Quartermaster Regiment -- was the most popular saint in France during antiquity and the early Middle Ages. It is said that French kings carried his cloak into battle as a spur to victory. Usually pictured on horseback dividing his cloak with the beggar, the image of Saint Martin as a Soldier-Provider offers a fitting symbol for Logistics Warriors charged with SUPPORTING VICTORY now and for all time.
Artist: Susan Seals
Used by permission The
true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the
third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek
and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who
raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas
was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give
the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist
the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to
serving God and was made Bishop of Myra
while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the
land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children,
and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day.
Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas' feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor—and sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint's horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.
In Germany, Nikolaus is usually celebrated on a small scale. Many children put a boot, called Nikolaus-Stiefel, outside the front door on the night of December 5 to December 6.
St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts, and at the same time checks up
on the children to see if they were good. If they were not, they will
have a tree branch ("Rute") in their boots instead. Sometimes a
disguised Nikolaus also visits the children at school or in their homes
and asks them if they "have been good" (sometimes ostensibly checking a
book for their record), handing out presents on a per-behaviour basis.
This has become more lenient in recent decades. http://stnicholas.kids.us/Brix?pageID=38
Germans call the pre-Lenten Carnival season die närrische Saison ("the foolish season") or die fünfte Jahreszeit ("the fifth season"). Except for Munich's Oktoberfest, it is the one time of year when many normally staid Germans (and Austrians and Swiss) loosen up and go a little crazy. Fastnacht or Karneval is a "movable feast" (ein beweglicher Festtag) that depends on the date of Easter (Ostern). In 2007 Fastnacht falls on February 20 (Faschingsdienstag). The official start of the Fasching season is either January 7 (the day after Ephiphany, Dreikönige) or the 11th day of the 11th month (Elfter im Elften, Nov. 11), depending on the region. That gives the Carnival guilds (Zünfte) three to four months to organize each year's events (Carnival balls, parades, royalty, etc.) leading up to the big bash in the week before Ash Wednesday (Aschermittwoch), when the Lenten season (die Fastenzeit) begins.
Masken sind beim
Karneval sehr wichtig.