Today is Martinmas, which is a traditional German (and French) festival. It is mostly celebrated by children in Kindergarten, as they get to walk around with their lanterns come dark. But everyone knows the story of Saint Martin, who chopped his coat in half to give one piece to a freezing beggar.
This holiday has always held a special place in my heart. For me, it marks the beginning of winter. The time of "hygge" as the Danes call the special feeling. It is the time of holding your loved ones close and spending lots of time with them, a time of inner peace and sharing joy with others. It might still be a few weeks away but soon enough Advent will start and christmas will be just around the corner. But this is the happy, relaxed time before the christmas stress starts. Which I still love, but the few weeks between Martinmas and the first Advent have always been my time to take a deep breath (figuratively) and recharge my batteries before the "proper" holidays start. During this time we tell each other stories in front of the fire, we drink hot juice or tea together and we start baking and celebrating the season.
My daughter, my husband and I made these little dough-people. The little men are traditional for Martinmas, along with the lanterns, but we made women as well. Because we want to teach our little one about equality (you may roll your eyes now).
So, while it might not be Thanksgiving yet (which we don't celebrate per se in Germany) I am thankful for getting to spend this time with my loved ones and instill some of the traditions in my daughter that make this time of year special to me.