Sankt Martin Celebration in the St. Mark’s Church with the VWGS

St. Marks Church Lantern Festival 2023
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Vancouver, BC – written November 15, 2023 – St. Mark’s Church in conjunction with the Vancouver Westside German School, the Deutsche Kindergruppe of St. Mark’s Church and the East Vancouver German School got together to celebrate an amazing event in German tradition. In one of the pictures, you might see a lantern decorated with a rainbow that was brought all the way from Germany from an “Oma” who used it when she was young. This lantern had a “real candle” in it, as the young man proudly informed me.

The Lantern Festival took place for the first time in 2022, and I have added a few pictures from last year in amongst the photos, just to remind people of the fact that this vibrant tradition has become a cherished annual event, filled with luminous memories and shared moments of joy.

The event started Tuesday, November 15th at 4 pm with home-baked goods, hot beverages and German books available by donation in the St. Mark’s Community Room in the basement.

This was followed by an opportunity for all students to drop off their lanterns on tables placed in the community room so that the judges could pick their favourites.

Just before 5 pm, the students, teachers and parent supervisors moved to the main room of the church in the sanctuary and sat in their reserved seats. All other guests were free to sit in any non-reserved seat.

There was a welcome message from Pastor Ingrid Cramer-Doerschel and Biz Nijdam who represented the Board of the VWGS. Then they turned the microphone over to teacher of the German School Antje Mahintorabi who helped facilitate an impromptu and interactive theatre of the main story of St. Martin.

The main story associated with St. Martin is that of Saint Martin of Tours, a Christian saint who lived in the 4th century. One of the most well-known episodes from his life is the “Legend of St. Martin and the Beggar.”

According to the legend, Martin, who was a Roman soldier and later converted to Christianity, encountered a beggar shivering in the cold. In a compassionate gesture, he cut his military cloak in half with his sword and shared it with the beggar to provide warmth. That night, Martin reportedly had a dream in which he saw Jesus wearing the half-cloak he had given to the beggar. This vision convinced him of the importance of charity and selflessness.

This act of generosity and empathy is often celebrated during the Feast of St. Martin, which is observed in various ways in different cultures. In some places, particularly in Europe, the story is reenacted through lantern processions, where children carry lanterns to symbolize the light that St. Martin shared with the beggar.

St. Martin’s Day, also known as Martinmas, is celebrated on November 11th in many countries, and it is often associated with acts of kindness, charity, and the sharing of a special meal. The story of St. Martin continues to inspire people to practice compassion and goodwill towards others.

Last year, I even was one of the participants in this play! I am standing on the stage wearing a brown cape.

Elke in the St. Martins Play.

One of the fun parts of the Festival is the Lantern Judging Contest by 3 judges: Deputy Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany Hans Stocker, Carola von Hahn, a Director of the German-Canadian Benevolent Society of BC and AnneKatrin Shaw.

At 5:30 pm or so, the students, teachers, parent supervisors gathered outside of the St. Mark’s Church. They managed to find an actual “St. Martin” who wore the red cape and Roman helmet proudly. Assistants picked up lanterns from the downstairs hall and handed them out to the awaiting students. Teachers and parents helped light the candles and buttoned up jackets. This took a few minutes.

Here is a short 1-minute video of this year’s Lantern Procession (Laternelaufen) on TikTok:

The procession made to their way to Clark Park, where there was singing in the dark. (Hey, this rhymes!). The picture right above is from November 2022. Were you there?

After the procession, the VWGS classes gathered in the basement hall to receive their “Weckmann” and were given another opportunity to purchase baked goods, hot beverages and German books.

Altogether it was a delightful event. Other events can be seen on the new Events calendar here: or on the pages of other websites that are part of the “Dachorganisation” (umbrella organization).

If you would like Westcoast German News to attend your event, contact Elke Porter at 604 828 8788 or find her on Tiktok! Westcoast German News now also has opportunities for you to publish your life announcements (births, deaths, weddings, moves) or to share your business information in our directory.

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