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Saturday, November 19, 2011

rude ducks

Last week, Germans celebrated St. Martins Day. I would describe it as Thanksgiving mixed with Halloween - does that paint a good picture? Probably not.

St. Martin was a knight, back in the day when there were knights, and apparently one wintry evening he pulled his steed to a stop to cut off a piece of his cloak, handing it to a coatless beggar on the side of the road. His fellow knights were impressed by his generousity. And, as with many of these simple, kind gestures the guy became a saint. I mean, didn't a guy named Valentine also just give someone he liked a card?

There is a very cool blog called, in which a Richmond, Virginia woman encourages people to do good deeds, and shows by example. She does things like leaving sweet notes in library books, putting ice cream cone gift certificates into the pockets of new backpacks at department stores during back-to-school season, tying messages like 'It's going to be okay!' to a flower and leaving it in a public place, or leaving $5 Starbucks gift cards on bus stop benches. She should be nominated for super-sainthood! Is there a form or a call-in process for that?

So, back to St. Martin's day. What happens on this day is that all the kiddies, who have spent the week making lanterns, dress up warmly and wander together through the nighttime streets, following a guy on a horse (St. Martin) and singing their hearts out...'Ich geh mit meiner Laterne...'. Seriously, it's the cutest thing. I asked every one of my kiddie-English classes to sing this song for me (it's like 4 verses long) and they just belt it out, and sing and sing and sing. I'm going to start teaching them English Christmas songs because hearing kids sing is a great noise. Oh, there are also lots of Duck-eating feasts on St. Martin's day. Legend has it that after Mr. Martin became a bishop (because of his good deeding) he was giving a mass and was interrupted by a group of 'schnatternden' (a new German word for me, which sounds very funny) ducks. So, of course, now ducks everywhere have to pay for the sins of a few. Be kind (ducks and y'all).

A note: two quotes which helped me get through this particular week.

'If you fall down 7 times, stand up 8' – a good ‘ol Chinese proverb.
'When you don't know what to do, do nothing. Get quiet so you can hear the still, small voice.' - that one from good 'ol Oprah.

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