What Does Lantern Walk Celebrate?
Each November, an evening of beauty, wonder, and inspiration takes place for Waldorf schools around the world. The Lantern Walk commemorates Martinmas, as it is more commonly known in Europe, in honor of St. Martin, whose story (below) reminds us all of our shared humanity. The Lantern Walk is a simple, reverent event bringing to life for our youngest children their role as a spark of light in the dark of night — a spark of light in the world. Processing peacefully along luminaria-lit paths, children carry their handmade lanterns, and all those walking sing traditional Lantern Walk songs that encourage us to be that warmth and light for ourselves and for others. Martinmas celebrates hope and kindness and being called to help others and be the good in the world.
The Story of St. Martin
Once upon a time there was a young man named Martin. He was kind and gentle. One day he was going to the city of Amien. As he walked along the country road, he rejoiced at seeing the tall trees with their branches swaying in the breeze and flowers of many colors growing from the ground, and at hearing birds chirping and singing.
He said, “The world is good,” and felt happy to see the trees and flowers and hear the birds. The sun shone down on him, and he felt its warmth on his shoulders.
Soon he came to the gate of the city of Amien. He walked through a large archway. The sun was fading, and it began to get dark, so he lit his lantern. As he walked along, he came upon a man crouched on the ground shivering and cold with hardly any clothes on. Martin took off his cloak, tore it in two, laid one half over the shivering man, and gave him his lantern so he would have warmth and light.
Then he went on until he came to his place of rest, lay down on his bed, and went to sleep. While he slept he had a dream. In his dream there was an angel who said, “Thank you for giving part of your coat and your lamp to the shivering man so he could have warmth and light. Your name shall be St. Martin.” Again and again St. Martin gave clothing to those who were cold, food to the hungry, and light to those in need. (Borrowed from Waldorf Yarns)
The Light That Lives Within
As we walk together in light, we may ask ourselves, “What ‘light’ — in other words, unique talents and gifts — lives within me that I can share with my family, with my community?” There are countless ways, every day, in which parents and teachers act on behalf of their children. Loving guidance and patient understanding shine on the children like a lantern leading them on their journey through childhood.
Let our Lantern Walk inspire and rekindle the light that lives within, and remind us to take that light, those gifts that each of us harbors, and share them in the innumerable ways that are meaningful to ourselves and those around us.