Martinmas In The Waldorf Home

Martinmas is coming!  Our family is hosting the Lantern Walk for our Waldorf homeschooling group for the third year in the row and this year I am really excited because Jodie from over at Home Music Making is leading us all in song! (Her blog is here: – You can start learning “The Pumpkin Pie” song to sing as entertainment after Thanksgiving dinner!  That is one of our traditions, but I am digressing).  If you and your homeschool group need festival music, perhaps you would consider contacting Jodie to assist you!

At any rate, Jodie has come up with a song for us to sing and act out during our Circle Time, a song to sing whilst we are getting ready and a song to sing whilst we are walking.  Our Lantern Walk always ends in a small playground surrounded by woods and it is lovely lit up by all the lanterns, and after that we all walk to my house to eat!  It is very reverent until we get to the merriment of eating :), but since our Advent Spiral is coming and that is especially solemn, so we decided on this format for the Lantern Walk.  It is a wonderful family event for Dads to network as well.  For a different take on this event, please see the beautiful suggestions here:

Martinmas is on November 11th, and is a wonderful festival.  “All Year Round” says this on page 163:  “This day celebrates the burial of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD) who devoted much of his life to establishing Christianity in France, and became one of her patron saints.”  Many of you know the story he was most famous for – that of meeting a poor beggar at the city gate, who was shivering in the cold.  Martin drew his sword and cut his own cloak in two and gave one half to the beggar.  Legend has it that Christ appeared to Martin in a dream the following night dressed in the piece of cloak Martin had cut.

“All Year Round” goes on to remark, “  Martin’s half cloak brought hope and comfort to the beggar-his compassionate gesture may warm us also, and protect us from wintry despair.”  We carry lanterns as a symbol of the small light we can shine into the dark world. 

A Martinmas meal is typically very simple and sometimes includes a food that can be cut in half and shared with your family member next to you in the same gesture of Martin cutting his cloak in half and giving it away.    Some European nations used to celebrate with the eating of a goose for that special meal; (it is said honking geese gave St. Martin away when he was hiding from people who wanted to make him Bishop!).  It also is a festival of harvest, preparation for Winter.  Tell me what you are eating on Martinmas, my dear European readers!  And my new readers from Hungary, do you all celebrate Martinmas?  Martin was born in Hungary, after all!

Music is also at the heart of this festival, and there are many wonderful Lantern songs that can be found in  “Festivals, Families and Food”.    This includes “The Sunlight Fast is Dwindling”, “Glimmer Lantern Glimmer” and “Father Sky”.  There are many, many others! 

Another thing to consider is the act of giving things away at this time of year in the spirit of Martin.  Giving away warm coats, sweaters, etc to those who have none seems especially appropriate this time of year.  You may decide this a wonderful time to deal with some of the clutter within your house and a great time to give it all away!

Much peace to you as you celebrate this special day!


6 thoughts on “Martinmas In The Waldorf Home

  1. Here in Italy we don’t celebrate St.Martin. We do as a family because we get to know the celebration through the Waldorf community and K.
    But in Italian there’s an expression “fare San Martino” “to make St.Martin” which meant to move, to change house. That’s because for the people (peasants) working the earth, it was time to leave the work in the fields and maybe go back to their far villages. In fact the expression is mostly used in Northern regions where winter was colder and snow would cover the resting coltures.


    • Oooh Federica, I love these little tidbits you leave me! Someday I hope to travel to your country for a visit!
      Carrie 🙂

  2. Pingback: A Waldorf View of Martinmas « The Parenting Passageway

  3. Hello!
    I know you wrote this post a while a got but maybe you still follow the comments.

    I’m living in Vienna / Austria and Martinmas is a pretty common festival around here. I’m working as a kindergarten teacher and every year we go on a lantern walk (sometimes we will go in the morning though if the children are really really young).
    This year the kindergarten will celebrate with the local church. There will be someone playing Martin (he will even ride on a horse).

    Some elements of a typical Martinmas around here:
    * Make your own lanterns in the weeks before Martinmas.
    * Go on a lantern walk.
    * Sometimes tell the story of St. Martin.
    * Sing songs while walking: “Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne!” or “Laterne, Laterne!” and many more.
    * In Kindergarten we often give out “Martinskipferl” which are a kind of croissant. There will usually be one croissant for every two people so they can share with each other.
    *Some people will cook a special meal (like you mentioned) the “Martinigans” (Martin’s goose). So yummy!

    Last year I was running a home based childcare center. You can see pictures of our Michaelmas celebration here:

    Martinmas is a very special celebration. It feels like the first “winter celebration” of the year.

    Blessings for this years Michaelmas to you and your family!


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