The feast of St. Martin (also known as Martinmas) is celebrated on
Nov. 11th. It is a time in which we recall the story of St. Martin who meets a begger and offers him his cloak. It is a story
of kindness. This time reminds us to bring light into the world at a time of year when the Earth is beginning to
turn inward. We carry this light with us as we journey deeper into the winter months, which tend to be colder and darker.
A lantern walk is usually celebrated at Martinmas.
This is a verse from a song that was sung at one of the lantern
walks we hosted. As with all of the writing exercises in main lesson books, words are written on unlined paper,
with an accompanying picture. In this case, there was a picture of St. Martin that was on the other side of the text. This
was part of a main lesson block on saints.
Here is a sample of a lantern that was made for one of our lantern walks.
They're very easy to make! First, blow up a balloon, and knot it. Then take pieces (randomly torn) of brightly colored
tissue paper, and dredge each one (completely soaking it) in a watery-glue mixture. Plain, old Elmer's
glue is perfect. Just mix a little glue with a lot of water until it looks like very much like milk. We used tin
pie plates to hold the mixture so that they can be discarded afterwards. Now stick the soaking wet tissue paper pieces all
over the balloon until it is covered. Don't be afraid to layer them
on! You don't want any holes (even pin-hole size) showing. You really need to cover the balloon thoroughly. We also
recommend that you layer the bottom fairly thickly, so as to make a nice, solid (not thin, flimsy) base where you are going
to sit your candle.
When you are done layering the entire balloon, set it aside until it is
completely dry to the touch. Then just prick the balloon with
a needle. It will deflate, leaving the piece of balloon inside the now-dry shell of your paper lantern. Take out
the balloon piece and throw it away. You will now need to trim around
the top of the lantern with a scissors to give it a wide open top. Here is what the
inside of the lantern will look like.
After you have trimmed the top of your lantern, you can punch some holes
in each side to attach a string. Just be sure to make the string fairly long. If you make it too short, the heat of
the candle may be too hot near your hands. A long string also makes it possible to tie the lantern onto a stick, too, which
we always enjoyed. For the candle part, just put some sand in the bottom of the lantern and stick a tea light in it.
(We don't recommend a votive. Tea lights really work best, and are quite sufficient.) We have used metal tongs to
place the lighted candle in the lantern so as not to burn our hands.
The finished product!
A lantern walk is a nice community gathering. There are many different ways
to create such an event. One idea is to start with everyone in a room and share a brief story by candlelight. Then
everyone can use this candlelight to light their own lantern before the walk. Another idea is to simply sing songs related to the theme of light, and not offer a story. In any case,
the walk itself is often fairly brief (especially because there are often wee ones in tow), which might follow along a path
lit only with carved pumkins or with paper bags with sand and tea lights. At the end, everyone might gather in a large circle
and sing one last song together. As everyone leaves, it's nice to offer a little snack, such as hot cider and cookies
in the shape of the moon and stars.
Here is another example of a verse that we used as a writing exercise. This
was done in the second year, and was also part of the block on Saints. It was said that Steiner offered this verse to
some of the first student teachers in Waldorf education.
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