Oh how we adore Martinmas! We spent our Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of homeschooling this week telling the story of Saint Martin and the Beggar, donating warm clothing, crafting our lanterns, making window transparencies, wet on wet watercolor painting a lantern's glow and just learning more about Saint Martin. K was really interested in his life as a young catechumen and his later years when he was elected Bishop of Tours. She can't seem to get enough of him so I think I might just finish out the week with more of his life stories.
K asked me why we do a lantern walk on Saint Martin's feast day - what did a lantern have to do with him? I responded by telling her that was a really good question and that I would have to get back to her the next day about it. Then, thanks to a friend, I found the perfect simple answer:
"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.”
That was exactly what she was looking for. She even wrote it in her main lesson book because she "didn't want to forget something that important."
We had our lantern walk after dinner that night. That was quite the learning experience. It was our first time doing a lantern walk here in Idaho. The wind was so strong and the air so bitter cold that K's recorder wouldn't work for her to play the song she had been practicing for two weeks just for the lantern walk. Little L was too tired to walk and poor C tumbled in the darkness. There wasn't a whole lot of singing going on that night but we all learned what to expect for next year and now know how to prepare better. Thankfully hot apple cider always makes everything better around here.
I hope you all had a wonderful Martinmas!
p.s. - Our past Martinmas posts (including lantern tutorials, songs, etc.) can be found here.