But I’ve a lantern gleaming bright, to find a way though dark’ning night.
As through winters night you pass, and dark grey storm clouds hide the stars,
Still you’ll see my tiny spark, shine before you in the dark.
On November 11, children around the world gathering together with homemade lanterns of all colours, shapes, sizes, and materials in celebration of an annual lantern walk. Warm soups are often made to be shared within the community which bring inner warmth, while warm woolens support each person’s outer warmth. The magical light of the candle brings warmth to us all.
The History of Martinmas
Festival celebrations like Martinmas and the Lantern Walk are traditions passed down from ancient festivals and practices linked to the deep wisdom of the earth and cosmos. As Winter approaches, humans experience a darkening aspect, and so, with the earth’s daylight hours diminishing, a festival of inner light is timely.
When we speak of Martinmas, we are in fact referring to St Martin, best known for his act of kindness towards a poor beggar he encountered who was freezing in the Winter cold. Martin used his sword to cut his own cloak into two pieces, offering one to the beggar. This act of compassion gave the beggar warmth, hope, and comfort during a dark and cold moment.
Martinmas Symbols and Ways to Celebrate
The traditional symbol for the Martinmas holiday is a lantern. The lantern is the symbol of our own light, which we can shine on the darkening world. In Waldorf schools and communities around the world, the festival of lights and Martinmas is celebrated by making lanterns and holding a lantern walk.
Inner Work and Contemplation for Caregiver’s at Martinmas
As the light of day is now less available, we take this time to reflect upon the light of summer that we remember. The glow and glimmer of sunlit days are a healing memory for us all to hold within as there is less light, and the dark nights are long.
The earth in its deep wisdom stores sunlight and energy throughout the slumbering colder months, storing all of its growth potential in the roots of the trees and in all the little brown bulbs we have planted. Many practices, rituals, and festivals still reverberate in our present lifestyles with nearly every culture on earth sharing a commonality through processions or rituals of light. These traditions continue out of a deep intuitive understanding, that we too are light bearers. They are a reminder that we are all connected and need inner light and warmth to find our own way throughout the cold and blustery days ahead.
Simple ways to Celebrate Martinmas Together
The simple words of seasonal songs sung together as we carry our lights are filled with wisdom and insight that we can all understand and share as we support one another throughout our own Winter’s journey.
Martinmas is a very beautiful and symbolic festival that can be celebrated at home in a very simplistic and meaningful way. It is also a wonderful time to begin new rituals in the home such as a new meal blessing, lighting of a candle at meal times, beginning a new bedtime verse or a change of rhythm in the home. It is a time to slow down and connect to the rhythms of the earth and one another. Here are some simple ways in which you might like to celebrate Martinmas in your home.
- Making a lantern together
- Lighting a candle or a fire together and holding a reverent space or singing some seasonal songs by candlelight
- Going on a lantern walk or candlelit walk in the early evening with your family and/or a few friends
- Making a warm soup to be shared around candlelight
- Telling the Grimm’s Fairy Tale story of the Star Money (Star Gold) or the story of St. Martin
Crafting a Lantern at Home:
- A mason jar, old jam jar, or any glass jar
- Tissue paper
- Craft glue
- Flexible wire
- Tealight candle
- Autumn leaves for decoration
Wrap tissue paper around your jar and paint with craft glue to secure the paper. Add autumn leaves to decorate if you wish. Once dry, twist the flexible wire around the top of your jar to create a handle.
A Lantern Walk Song or Verse
Here is a song you can sing (you can make up a melody or listen to the one in this album)
Glimmer lantern glimmer, little stars a-shimmer.
Over meadow, moor and dale flitter flutter elfin veil.
Pee-wit pee-wit, tick-a-tack-a-tick, roo-coo-roo-coo.
Glimmer lantern glimmer, little stars a-shimmer.
Over rock and stock and stone wander tripping little gnome.
Pee-wit, pee-wit, tick-a-tack-a-tick, roo-coo-roo-coo.
Do you celebrate and recognize the change of the season from the warmer months to the cooler months in your home? How do your family’s cultural traditions use candlelight to come together? We’d love to hear from you.
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