Relaymedia

Traditional Christian Holiday in Germany Renamed 'Festival of Lights' to Help Muslim Refugees Feel Welcome

( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2015 03:02 PM EST
In an effort to help Muslim migrants in Germany feel welcome, several schools and daycare center in Düsseldorf have have renamed the Christian festival of Saint Martin's the secular "festival of lights".
The lantern procession is an integral part of St. Martin's Day celebrations. picture-alliance/ dpa

In an effort to help Muslim migrants in Germany feel welcome, several schools and daycare center in Düsseldorf have have renamed the Christian festival of Saint Martin's the secular "festival of lights".

According to a report from Breitbart News, St. Martin's Day, also known as the Feast of St. Martin, is a traditional autumn event in the Christian calendar, held on the 11th of November after the harvest.

St. Martin, also known as Martin of Tours, is one of today's most recognizable saints. A Roman soldier for many years, Martin eventually became a monk after an encounter with a freezing beggar at the gate of Amenes. After giving the beggar his coat, Martin had a vision of Christ, which impelled him finally to receive baptism and to leave the army for the life of a monk.

For hundreds of years, communities have celebrated Martin's life, gathering around a bonfire on St. Martin's eve, called "Martinsfeuer," before participating in a lantern procession through the local conurbation.

That's all about to change, as this year, many Germans decided to cancel the annual event to give "consideration for the refugees."

"We have deliberately chosen [the new name] because we want the meaning of integration and unity to reach as many children as possible, and because more people will participate in our procession," the head of the German Red Cross in Gerresheim explained.

Additionally, the Acting Headmistress of Salesian Montessori Community School in Oberkassel, Nanette Weidelt, told the Rheinische Post that the new name had been adopted, "in order to facilitate integration".

Others, however, are not so supportive on renaming the Christian celebration. Breitbart notes that the director of Sun Road primary school in Düsseldorf said their Muslim parents "appreciate the traditional lore of the Martin procession" so in their school, "the celebration of St. Martin will stay."

Kerstin Breuer, head of Urban Street School in Kita Velberter, Oberbilk, also said her school will continue to observe the event.

"We celebrate St. Martin and not 'Festival of Lights.' This was the parents' decision as well," she said, explaining that 90 out of the 100 children in their school actually come from immigrant families, and about 3/4 of them are Muslim.

Latest estimates are that Germany might expect as many as 1.5 million refugees by the end of the year, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. There are no signs the numbers will let up in the near future, as an estimated 10,000 people continue to arrive every day.

A report from InfoWars.com notes that blogger Pamela Geller contends that the change is yet another example of how Germans are being forced to integrate with Muslim culture -- not the other way around.

"These migrants are coming to our countries from failed, devastated cultures. When and why was it decided that we have to mute and censor our traditions and mores for theirs - a failed society that suffocates and destroys?" writes Geller. "They are running from devastation and failure; why adopt that?"

According to the Epoch Times, this is not the first time the celebration has come under attack. In 2013,  Rüdiger Sagel of The Left of North Rhine-Westphalia party insisted that the Feast of Saint Martin should be changed to accommodate the "high proportion of Muslim children in the day care centres."

"You should not impose the Christian tradition," he said.