Taking inspiration from the '"Klausjagen" (Nicholas Chase) in Switzerland and the "Laternelaufen" (Lantern Walk) in Germany, we bring you one of our favorite Eastern European traditions - The St. Nicholas Day Lantern Parade, a now annual tradition at the Steubenville Nutcracker Village! Each year, we gather and follow St. Nicholas through the streets of Steubenville, singing traditional carols and carrying our lanterns to the Nativity Creche. Attendees are invited to leave their petitions for the Christmas season with the Christ Child before moving on to festive revelry with hot cider, gluhwein, and of course, chocolate coins from St. Nick!
This year, the Lantern Parade will take place on December 4th, just before St. Nicholas' Feast Day. We will gather at the parking lot of First Westminster Presbyterian Church (235 N. 4th St.) and at 7PM, process 3 blocks down the center of 4th Street to the Nativity Creche in the Sanctuary Garden at St. Paul's Church (415 Adams Street). Anyone is welcome to join the parade and participants are invited to make & bring their own lanterns and bells to ring!
If you have a club, group, school, etc that would like to participate in the festival, we invite you to fill out this form so we can share inspiration, lantern crafts, and event information with you!
History of Lantern Parades
Klausjagen, or "Nicholas Chase" is a festival that takes place in Switzerland on the eve of St. Nicholas's feast day - Dec. 5th.
The procession is organized in six stages. First come men cracking long two-handed sheep whips. Next come men wearing Iffelen, which are enormous, incredibly ornate paper hats resembling a cross between a bishop's mitre and a stained glass window, lit from the inside by candles, and as much as seven feet tall! Behind them is St. Nicholas himself, with four attendants in black robes and hoods known as Schmutzlis, who hand out pastries. After them comes a brass band playing the traditional Klaus song, followed by a large group ringing trycheln, large bells which are descendants of cow bells. Lastly, the entire procession is followed by men blowing cow horns. Participants and watchers then generally head on to celebrations in local taverns.
You can find more info here: https://www.stnicholascenter.org/around-the-world/customs/switzerland/klausjagen
Laternelaufen, literally "Walking with Lanterns", is a German tradition for the time around St. Martin's Day. On 11 November (or later/earlier for reasons of appointment) children (usually in kindergarten and elementary school age) walk along the streets holding colorful, often self-made lanterns. It is not quite clear why the stories concerning St. Martin led to the custom of Laternelaufen. Maybe just like Advent wreaths, Laternelaufen is a symbolic act of ‘bringing light into the world’.
You can find more info here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laternelaufen