Over the last few weeks our children have been preparing for Martinmas - learning songs, listening to stories and making these beautiful lanterns with our wonderful artist Rainna Erbas. Throughout the year, Waldorf education celebrates festivals to connect with the cycle of nature, establish a yearly rhythm for the children, and strengthen the community.
Martinmas honours Saint Martin's story, patron saint of beggars and outcasts, who was known for his gentleness and his ability to bring warmth and light to those in need. Saint Martin used his sword to cut his cloak in two and gave one half to a beggar freezing outside in the cold. This act of compassion, which gave the beggar warmth and hope, is why this festival is also called the Festival of Compassion.
At New School we celebrate this festival by making lanterns with the children and gathering together for a Lantern Walk around our beautiful site at dusk. Through this tradition we honour the light within each of us that we need to nurture throughout the dark of the winter months - a light that needs to be protected, just as the lights inside our lanterns do, so they don’t blow out as we walk. At the end of our walk, each child is given a cinnamon role and is encouraged to break it in half, sharing it with their friend - to symbolise St Martins cloak.
Autumn is a time to deepen our understanding of our inner selves and the festivals we celebrate support us in this way. As we journey into the darkest time of the year and nearer to the Solstice, it is increasingly important for each of us to kindle warmth and light in our hearts and to show how our inner light must shine ever brighter against the cold.
Here are some beautiful photos of our Lantern Walk kindly taken by Lisa Burden.
How to make these beautiful star lanterns:
Our children from class one upwards managed these with some help…
To begin, you fold a willow stick in half (don't snap it). You then make another one of the same length. You lay these on the floor to make an M shape.
You then bind the bottom of the two middle sticks together with tape - (joining the two 'V' shapes to make you 'M' solid)
You can then cross one of the 'V' shapes over the other to make a star shape that is missing one side. You then cut one more piece of willow to add this one side and tape it in place.
Then you bind all the points where the willow cross each other together with tape.
You make 2 of these stars and try and make sure that they sit on top of each other well.
When you have 2 stars you bind the points of both stars together with tape. When this is strong enough you should be able to pull the stars apart enough to add some short sticks that sit at each point where the willow crosses and between the two stars. These sticks hold the two stars apart enough so that you will be able to add a little shelf for your candle. Pulling your stars apart is quite hard so will need some help from a friend.
You then decide which is the top of your star and add a little cardboard shelf inside bound with wire to one of the sticks that hold your stars apart. This shelf has a tea light holder stuck to it. You also add 6 sticks of willow to make the stick to hold the lantern.
Lastly you cover the whole star with white tissue using PVA glue. When this is dry you can cut out one side of the top point of the star so that you can use a taper to light the candle, or change the candle when needed. It is important that the stars you make are big enough to avoid the candles getting too close to the tissue. And please make sure that these are only used with adult supervision.