Martinmas for Older Kids

Martinmas is one of my favorite autumn events. For me it marks a turn toward the season of giving. At our Waldorf School only the young children go for a Martinmas lantern walk and hear the story of St. Martin who tore his cloak in two for a beggar. For years I have felt that by middle-school, the older children are ready to re-engage with the festival in a meaningful way. But, how to do it?

So, this year Martinmas began for Liz and her class about a week ago when they launched a food drive for a local nonprofit that is in dire straits because of the increased demand for food and clothing in Vermont. They doubled their goal for food and delivered it all on Friday afternon. I slipped into their classroom and snapped this little photo. The room was filled with food.

We invited her class and all their families to our house for a party that night. We knew that the kids were too old for a lantern walk, but weren't too old for lanterns and hanging out in the dark. So, we pulled out all our old lanterns (and after 15 years at a Waldorf School, we have A LOT--probably around 40-50). We have paper lanterns, tin lanterns, balloon lanterns, mason jar lanterns as well as about a dozen Ikea lanterns.

We lined a path with lanterns that ran from our drive up to our fire pit and put battery-powered strings of lights in the treehouse. There were lanterns hanging in trees and on stumps.

Even though the moon was just about full, it was spitting snow and so dark that we decided to make MORE lanterns. At first we decorated mason jars with tissue, but then decided to just put mason jars with tea lights out along the path. You can also see in this photo that I had just about every dish I owned out for dinner!

Nelson got a fire going and supervised hot cider, sausages, and s'mores up at the fire while I manned a massive potluck at the house. Here are most of the kids crammed in the dining room for dinner. I think the total number was 37.

My mudroom lived up to its name that night because with the spitting snow and kids running in and out, there was a lot of dirt, boots, coats, hats, and flashlights. In addition to just crazy fun in the dark, a teacher brought glow sticks and they had a big romping game of tag in the dark.

It really was a perfect end to the day. The kids were surrounded by lanterns, the adults got to visit (which we never get to do), and we all felt the spirit of the coming season. I really feel like we got Martinmas right for these older kids this year. And, from what I hear this week, they do too.

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