Martinmas is on November 11th. It's my favourite festival that my daughter celebrates at Kindergarten. St Martin was famous for cutting his cloak in half with his sword and giving half to a beggar to save him from freezing.  Legend has it that, the following night, Christ appeared to Martin in a dream dressed in the piece of cloak Martin had cut. “All Year Round” - a lovely book about celebrating the seasons with your family - says

“Martin’s half cloak brought hope and comfort to the beggar-his compassionate gesture may warm us also, and protect us from wintry despair.”

Image of Martinmas Lanterns - from

To celebrate Martinmas, we carry home-made candle lanterns as a symbol of the small light we can shine into the dark world.  There are links to making your own lantern below. Families join together for a lantern walk through the woods, and the candlelight and song make the experience a magical one for everyone. This year for us it was very special - the teachers had strung candle lanterns on the trees, lighting the path we followed as it wound through the woodland.  We rested under a the spreading branches of a sheltering tree, and the children gathered round to hear the story of St Martin, and each received their own gift of home-made biscuits. Here  is one version of a  St Martins Song that they sing
I walk with my little lantern, My lantern travels with me. Above the stars are shining, And down below shine we. Shine bright my light! All through the night! Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum. Shine bright my light! All through the night! Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum.

Lantern Ideas

This  is a tutorial for the leaf lantern. My children age 3 and 18 months loved scribbling with wax crayons and collecting the leaves yesterday. The best bit is it looks wonderful no matter how crazy the scribbling as long as you get loads of wax on there. Here is a german website full of lantern ideas, there are also lots on pinterest.

Sharing ideas

To encourage sharing, try a special Martinmas breakfast of a croissant or bread that can be cut in half and shared with the person next to you, to remind us of St Martin cutting his cloak in half and giving it away, and to value community and the gifts we all bring to others. Given that wool coats last through many children,  Martinmas is a good day to hand on coats that your family have grown out of to a new family to enjoy.  No need to cut them in half though! There are more nice ideas at The Wonder Of Childhood's Martinmas post - here.

Wrap up Warm

Finally here are are a few tips to keep you warm if you go on a lantern walk.
  • Wool socks inside boots for children and grown-ups (even if the boots leak or feet get wet, they'll still be warm and cosy).

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