“Rabimmel, rabammel, rabumm” – St. Martins Day Celebrations in Bonn

On Thursday evening, after a day and a half practically bed bound with a cold I went to pick up a friend, Rebecca (from Uni) from the Hauptbahnhof (main station). She had travelled up to Düsseldorf by coach from Karlsruhe, which is in Baden-Württemberg (another Bundesland) in the South. After her 6 hour coach journey she was greeted by rain and delayed trams, not the best start but on the way back to my flat we stopped off at a local Pizzeria and treated ourselves to a very delicious takeaway dinner. The first evening was spent catching up on everything that had happened since the Induction course back in September and exchanging school related stories.

The next morning, we were up relatively early and headed to the station where we caught an RE train to Bonn, about an hour on the train. We arrived just before midday, meaning we had about an hour to spare before Gemma, another friend of ours would arrive. We spent this time strolling around the town centre, visiting the Münsterplatz (Cathedral Square) and exploring some of the side streets where we came across a shop called Baerenland (Bear Land) which sold a vast array of Gummi sweets like Haribo but also arranged in the shape of pizzas, chips and glasses of beer etc. We were very impressed with the assortment of goodies, although it may have helped that the Lady inside kept giving us things to try!

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Münsterplatz Bonn (Cathedral)

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Baerenland Gummi Pizza

After out short wander, it was time to return to the station to meet Gemma. Once she had arrived we stopped off for a quick bite to eat and then made our way to the newly opened Haribo shop in the city centre. It was quite wonderful and I felt like a kid again, greeted with so much choice. Naturally I jumped on the Pick ‘n’ Mix offer and can safely say I am now stocked up.

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As you can see, we rather enjoyed ourselves!ImageIn the upstairs part of the shop was a sort of Art Gallery with pictures made from or including Haribo. Some were rather clever and interesting..

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Of course, there was also a huge Haribo bear to whom we had to say Hello..

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As if that wasn’t enough Haribo for the three of us, we then jumped on a train and took a short ride to another part of Bonn, Bad Godesberg, where there is an even bigger Haribo Factory Store. There, they had even more choice, some Haribo types that I have never seen before in my life and they even sold clothing and bedclothes with Haribo designs!

After our Haribo-fest was over, it was return to the city and join in with the Martinstag (St. Martin’s Day) celebrations. Martinstag is celebrated in much of Europe and falls on 11th November, as this was the date on which he supposedly died. St. Martin was a Roman soldier who mercifully shared his coat with a poor, cold beggar at the gate of Amiens. Due to the fact that the soldiers body was taken by boat to Tours in a candlelight procession, the Martinstag festivities include a large parade, lanterns and a great deal of singing.

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St. Martin and the Beggar (circa 1597-1599)
El Greco

My friend Anja, who spent her Erasmus semester in Southampton last year, had arranged a lovely evening for the International Geography students of Bonn University and kindly invited the three of us along too. We were greeted with delicious Glühwein (mulled wine) and the chance to bake the traditional Martinsgans (Martins goose) which was a type of sweet dough, in the shape of a Goose as well as to make our very own lanterns, ready for the parade later in the evening. 

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With our Martinsgänse (Geese)

After the baking and lantern making was over we all walked the short distance to Bonn’s Marktplatz (Market place) where the festivities had already begun. There was a huge fire and it was so picturesque and lovely!

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Bonn Marktplatz

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Myself, Rebecca and Gemma with our lanterns

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The group

After a wonderful evening, we said our Goodbyes and Rebecca and I set off on our return journey to Düsseldorf ready for another busy day on Saturday.

Saturday brought beautiful weather with it (lucky for us as we were going to be spending the day outside). After a slightly more chilled out morning than on Thursday we started our day of ‘Sightseeing’. We went all over the place, to the Altstadt, Koenigsallee, Benrath, the Media Hafen (media docks) as well as many other places. We also made the necessary pit stops including Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks and one of my favourite places for Kaffee und Kuchen Otto Bittner. 

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On Sunday morning we were up early as Rebecca’s bus left at 7.30am. After saying goodbye, I slowly got myself ready for another busy day. During my Gap Year, I spent two months in a small village north west of Düsseldorf working as an Au-pair for a lovely family. Since then we have kept in contact and I jumped at the chance to visit them, seeing as we are now so close by. I had to catch the train from Düsseldorf to nearby Duisburg, a mere 20 minutes by train, where I was picked up by Claudia and the two children, Anouk and Ella. Once we got back to their house, Thorsten (the father) had prepared a tasty lunch and then just like back when I was living with them, we had people to see and places to go. First stop was the nearby ‘town’ (if you can call it that) where there was another Martinstag – related festival. There was a sweet little market surrounding the church with small stands, run by local schools and clubs selling winter-y biscuits, crepes, waffles and mulled wine. Needless to say we all took the opportunity to taste the ‘delicacies’ before meeting up with Claudia’s sister and family for a choir concert in the church. In the evening, the children’s friend arrived and we, the adults, joined them on their ‘journey’ to sing songs to their neighbours. In return for these songs (a bit like choir singing in England or even Trick or Treating), the children get given sweets or goodies. The children had all made impressive looking lanterns at school and naturally knew all the Martinstag songs off by heart. It was so nice to spend some time with my Aupair family once again and I hope I will be able to visit them again soon! 

A typical Martinstag song

Ich geh’ mit meiner Laterne
und meine Laterne mit mir.
Da oben leuchten die Sterne,
hier unten da leuchten wir.
Ein Lichtermeer
zu Martins Ehr.
Rabimmel, rabammel, rabumm.
Ein Lichtermeer
zu Martins Ehr.
Rabimmel, rabammel, rabumm.

I’ll go with my lantern and my lantern with me. Above the stars are shining, and beneath we shine too. A sea of lights in Martin’s honor. Rabimmel, rabammel, rabumm . A sea of lights in Martin’s honor.

Rabimmel, rabammel, rabumm.