The time of Martinmas (November 11) is upon us again! This is one of my favorite times of the year; I wrote about some of my thoughts regarding Martinmas last year here :http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/10/29/martinmas-in-the-waldorf-home/
Martinmas marks the burial of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD). St. Martin may be well-known for his compassionate gesture of sharing his cloak with a beggar. This charitable gesture is at the heart of this festival for many Waldorf schools, who hold coat drives and other charitable drives around this festival.
This festival is the middle point between Michaelmas and Christmas; the light of Martinmas fortifies our souls for the dark winter and prepares us for the birth of Christ. One symbol of this is working with light from lanterns in the traditional Lantern Walk.
Regarding Lantern Walks, the authors of the book “All Year Round” write: “The traditional way of celebrating Martinmas is with lantern walks or processions, accompanied by singing. St. Martin recognized the divine spark in the poor man of Amiens, and gave it the protection of his own cloak. When we make a paper lantern, we, too, may feel that we are giving protection to our own little “flame” that was beginning to shine at Michaelmas, so that we may carry it safely through the dark world. It may only be a small and fragile light- but every light brings relief to the darkness.”
As a parent, it is important for you to penetrate a festival or holiday and discover what it means to you. You can then bring that to your small child, and your older children, in a physical way. If you would like to know more about a Waldorf School perspective regarding St. Martin, one can read this article from the Gateways Journal for Waldorf Early Years teachers: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW57martin.pdf. Here is some information about St. Martin from a Roman Catholic website: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=81.
We usually host a Lantern Walk every year within our homeschooling group; this year my children walked with their German school but we were sadly not able to make our homeschooling group’s walk. However, as a special treat, this weekend we are attending a Lantern Walk held by one of the German churches in our area that will include not only the walk but St. Martin on his horse! This should be lots of fun.
Below find some links for ideas for your own Martinmas celebration.
Lantern Walk Story: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3808.pdf
And another story: http://herbnites.tripod.com/waldorfinspiredschool/id15.html
Examples of Different Kinds of Lanterns to Make: (German website, but good pictures): http://www.kikisweb.de/spezial/stmartin/Laternen/laternen.htm
Lantern Walk Songs: http://astorytellingofcrows.blogspot.com/search/label/lantern%20walk%20songs
A Waldorf Early Years Teacher’s Experience with a Lantern Walk: Here is one Waldorf teacher’s experience with a Martinmas Lantern Walk here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW53Gallardo.pdf