history of St. Martin

St. Martin's Lantern parade during German Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt Salt Lake City, at This Is The Place Heritage Park

St. Martin was a Knight in Roman times. While riding on horseback, he was returning home when a beggar stepped into his path and asked for alms. Martin had just given away his last coins but instead chose to share his warm wool coat. He took his sword and cut the coat in half giving the beggar one half and keeping the other half for himself. Later in life, all of his good deeds and his generosity resulted in Martin being chosen as a Bishop of Tours. Martin felt that he was not worthy and hid himself, according to legend, in a goose house. People old and young were looking all over for him and when nighttime came, they lit lanterns to search for him. He was finally found when the geese in the goose house began to quack. Each year, children in Germany celebrate St. Martin's Day by making lanterns and parading through the town streets in honor of this great act of kindness and service.