Martinmas is one of my favorite Waldorf Festivals. I love the warmth and coziness of this festival. We do not have a Waldorf Community to celebrate with, but we will be taking our lantern walk and singing some lantern songs just the same. Hope my neighbors enjoy the music! We have a hearty stew with fresh baked bread for dinner and horseshoe cookies and apple cider after our walk. I hope you enjoy reading Jenn’s post on how her family celebrates!
When I first discovered Waldorf Education I was really pulled into the beauty. I wanted this kind of beauty in my home, and to bring that reverence for nature to my children. I really loved the natural toys and the use of natural materials in crafts and play. All of these things were what really drew me to this kind of homeschool experience for my kids. But more than anything else I really loved the festivals.
Martinmas is a lovely festival celebrated in Waldorf schools. Martinmas is traditionally a Catholic feast day, but in Waldorf schools they do not worship the saints. Instead we look to someone like St. Martin and try to emulate his generosity and kindness. Many of the poems and songs surrounding this day talk about being a light in the darkness, but what does that really mean?
“THE CHARITY OF ST. MARTIN” By Louis Anselme Longa
St. Martin of Tours is mostly known for his unyielding generosity for the poor. The story goes that Martin was walking around Rome in his fancy soldiers armor with a beautiful lambswool cloak. He saw a beggar who was wearing rags and was very cold, so Martin took off his cape and cut it in half with his sword. He gave half of his cape to the beggar and wrapped the rest around himself. People who saw him laughed at his cape and how ‘ridiculous’ he looked, but it did not bother Martin. That night Christ appeared to him in a dream wearing the half-cape he gave to the beggar. This showed Martin that in caring for the poor, he was carrying out Christ’s will on Earth.
I am not a religious person, but this story shows me that we need to care for all of the people on this Earth. To me, Martinmas means being a little nicer to the people around me. I take this time to reflect a bit on how I could use my talents to improve my community. I have 4 small children, so the amount of community service I can do is limited. One of the things we will try to do this Martinmas is bake cookies and bring them to our neighbors. My older boys are going to write a letter to a family member telling them how they appreciate their influence in their lives. We are also going to donate some old coats to our local church in the hopes that they will bring warmth for a little boy or girl who need it. These are simple, yet powerful things that show love to others the way Martin showed love for that beggar.
The biggest part of the Martinmas celebration is the lantern walk. We will be preparing our lanterns this week using glass mason jars, mod podge, tissue paper, and some wire. You can also make the lanterns out of paper or wool. Happy Hedgehog Post has a kit and tutorial on creating a wet felted lantern.
Here’s the three part video tutorial for the lantern:
The lantern walk is supposed to be a literal translation of “being the light in the darkness”. It is a great way to bring children into this festival and it is so beautiful to watch. The children sing songs while they walk with their little handmade lanterns. It is such a peaceful tradition and it really sets the mood for the beginning of the holiday season. This festival is a great segway into Thanksgiving (in America on November 24th of this year), and really gets kids to start thinking of all the things they have to be thankful for that other people may not be as fortunate to have.
If you have Happy Hedgehog Post October envelope, you will be able to create this lovely window transparency for your home. It’s the perfect decoration for Martinmas. We plan to leave ours up all winter to remind us to “be the light in the darkness” all season long.
On November 11th, my family will be celebrating the Martinmas festival in our own home. We do not have a nearby Waldorf community so our little Lantern Walk will be just for us in our backyard, and that’s just fine. I actually really enjoy the meaning behind the festival and I feel it is really special to be able to celebrate with just my immediate family.
What kinds of activities will you be doing with your family this year for Martinmas? Let us know in the comments below.
Thank you Jenn for sharing your traditions with us! Visit Jenn’s instagram page to see more of her traditions and family life. If you enjoyed this post, please comment below and subscribe. We read every each and every comment and would love to hear from you!