Sunday, February 2, 2014

Liichtmëssdag 2014

Hmm, let's see: how does one best describe Liichtmëssdag?

Liichtmëssdag: like Halloween, but not scary and without the hassle of costumes.
Liichtmëssdag: like caroling, but with candy.

February 2nd is Liichtmëssdag (Candle-mass-day) in Luxembourg.  Not unlike Groundhog Day, it is a marker that looks toward the beginning of spring and the promise of a good year ahead.  The local school kids craft lanterns at school, and all the shops and grocery stores sell little lightbulbs hanging from plastic fishing-pole-like sticks to go inside the lanterns.  The children head out knocking on doors and singing a song they learn in school in exchange for candy.  (The song actually asks for bacon and peas!)

Last year the kids both made lanterns at school, but we already had dinner plans with friends before we even knew about the holiday.  This year, our kids decided to skip Halloween, but made us promise to take them out for Liichtmëssdag in February as part of the deal.

The problem is, because Luxembourg is a country full of immigrants, you can't count on the fact that the people in your neighborhood will know about the existence of Liichtmëssdag at all.  In fact, it's almost guaranteed that the vast majority won't.  For this reason, I made sure we teamed up with some Luxembourgish moms who have lived in the neighborhood a long time and know exactly which homes to visit.

Here are a few photos from our first full-fledged Liichtmëssdag:

each class makes a different type of lantern
Because you're selective on the houses you visit, it's also a time to stop and catch up with your neighbors
finally getting dark enough
Partway through we met up with two of James' classmates and split off from the girls.
apparently this is a traditional chocolate of the holiday, and they are referred to as chocolate "mice," even though they look more like elephants.

And here are 3 bonus videos!

1. Daphne attempts the full Liitchmëssdag song.  They sang an abbreviated version when out knocking on doors.

2. James and his classmates singing a simpler song than the big kids sing.

3. This 89-year-old's unique twist on the holiday.