I love this time of year! Finally, the temperatures have finally dropped here in the Deep South, it hasn’t rained for too many days in a row yet (winters have tended to be rainy the past few years), and we still have had blue skies most days! The leaves are finally turning colors, and the world is full of October.
But even more than that, I love this season of light we are entering into. I love how it begins with the ideas of harvest and jack o’lanterns, and heads into the festivals of All Saints Day, Diwali, Martinmas with its Lantern Walk, the soft candles of Thanksgiving dinner, and the lights of the winter holiday season.
Are you ready to bring this light to your family? Here are some of my favorite ways, by festival and by seasonal ideas:
Diwali is actually coming up on October 27, 2019 this year. We usually celebrate this within our neighborhood. There is also usually a large celebration at our local library, and at our local mandir that is open to the public. The largest mandir outside of India happens to be in my metro area, and it is always open for tours; you can read more about it here.
I don’t love Halloween, (sorry, I know many do), but I do love harvest and pumpkins (and i do have a few back posts about Halloween on this blog if you are searching). I so like what the book “Festivals With Children” by Brigitte Barz says about experiencing Halloween as a transition point between Michaelmas and Martinmas: “The candle inside the pumpkin or turnip, both fruits of the earth, is like the very last memory and afterglow of the summer sun with its ripening strength. Then for Martinmas a candle is lit within the home-made lantern; this is the first glow of a light with a completely different nature, the first spark of inner light.” The holiday we actually celebrate the most is All Saints Day and you can read some of our traditions in this back post.
November 11 is Martinmas. 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. 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.” There is more about this festival with links to stories, how to make lanterns, the idea of coat drives and warmth and more in this post.
Then that leads into the gratitude of Thanksgiving in the United States; Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress. Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789. Thanksgiving was celebrated erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the and , championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the Thursday in the month of November in 1863. We can use this holiday for gratitude, for being together and making wonderful food, and for serving others.
Lastly, we head into the Season of Light. My family celebrates Advent, so I have many posts about Advent but also other different winter festivals on this site. Here is a back post about Advent and other Winter Festivals in the Waldorf Home but there are many back posts about each specific winter holiday (St. Nicholas Day, the weeks of Advent, Winter Solstice). If you are looking for Winter Solstice ideas, try this back post as the reader comments with ideas were terrific!
This is a wonderful time to draw inward, and to really penetrate what you want these festivals to be about for your family and how you will celebrate these special times of closeness together.
I can’t wait to hear what you have planned!