By Julianna Dotten
It was the eve of All Saints’ Day in medieval Germany, and a coarsely-dressed monk wandered the streets of Wittenburg, weaving through the usual pressing throngs of peasants, beggars, and an occasional nobleman. Martin Luther didn’t seem to notice; he only fingered the yellowed parchment in his hand and murmured under his breath. Reaching the cathedral door, Luther forced through the crowd waiting for entrance, pulled a hammer out of the recesses of his cloak, and tacked his parchment alongside a few other tattered notices still clinging to the door. He stepped back, eyed his work, and returned home.
Little did he know he had changed the world. The mere 95 propositions intended for debate only amongst the elite clergy would spread throughout Germany, then Europe, and in time, America. That night of October 31, 1517, marked the beginning of the Reformation, a return to the biblical understanding of the Gospel and the immense implications it had for every area of life.
And we’re celebrating the 500th anniversary in just one week. Here are a few ideas as you learn about and celebrate this momentous event.
From Dark to Dawn by Elizabeth Charles
This historical fiction account follows the struggles of a peasant family, their developing friendship with Luther, and the momentous change that begins to spread across Germany. Great family read-aloud. Find the book here
Mr. Pipes and the Psalms and Hymns of the Reformation by Douglas Bond
Join Mr. Pipes and his two young friends as they travel through Europe, discover the stories behind the hymns of the Reformation, and even accidentally stay the night at Wartburg Castle. Find the book here.
Every Reformation Day, my family watches the 1950s black and white version of Luther. There’ve been countless more films made on his life since, but we love the accuracy and family-friendliness of this one. You can find it here.
Make a German dinner
Last year, we celebrated the Reformation with a simple (but yummy) dinner of bratwurst and sauerkraut. (Okay, probably not what Martin Luther would have eaten, but we had fun). If you’re feeling braver, you might try making a homemade apple strudel. Rolling out the crust is a fun job for little hands, and the result is delicious! I recently made a similar gluten-free version of this recipe (complete with step-by-step pictures).
Enjoy the music!
One of the most famous musical results of the Reformation is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” Luther’s famous hymn based off Psalm 91. For more fun, try learning the “Reformation Polka” to the tune of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” There’s a fun video version of it here.
Have fun learning about the Reformation!