Making Lanterns for Martinmas

St. Martin, St. Martin,
St. Martin road through wind and snow
on his strong horse his heart aglow
He rode so boldly through the storm,
his large cloak kept him well and warm.

By the road side, by the roadside,
by the roadside a poor man arose
out of the snow in tattered clothes
"I beg you help me in my plight
or else I'll die of cold tonight."

St. Martin, St. Martin,
St. Martin stopped his horse and drew
his sword and cut his cloak in two
one half to the beggar man he gave
and by this deed his life did save.

Martinmas is one of my children's most favorite festivals. We celebrate in many ways--singing, crafting, feasting, giving, and filling the dark with light. We've made many kinds of lanterns over the years.

My favorite lanterns are balloon lanterns which are made by simply glueing tissue paper onto balloons, letting them dry, and then popping them.

Materials: balloons, big brushes, lots of white glue, soup bowls, colored tissue paper, string or wire, a paper punch, and a candle.

Here we've begun to put glue onto our balloons. We use a watered-down glue (50% glue, 50% water). We use the soup bowls to steady the balloons so they don't go dancing away.

Here, H is applying the tissue paper over her glue. She is using large pieces of tissue. I like to use smaller ripped pieces.

Once the first layer is on, we hung them to dry. We aren't so sure this is necessary because the girls became impatient and ended up not drying between the rest of the 3 - 4 layers. It still seemed to work fine.

Here are the balloons hanging after the final layers were applied. A few tips--It looks nice to go from dark layers to light. While the green and blue are beautiful, I like to restrict the colors to the glowing oranges, yellows and reds. They feel more seasonal. I added pressed leaves after my first layer of tissue.

Here's the final product. I punch a hole and add either wire or finger-knitted yarn in order to carry it. There is a little tealight in the bottom which I stuck down with a bit of melted wax. These lanterns just absolutely glow in the dark. I can't wait to use them on Sunday when we are having a neighborhood walk.

ps: I have a PDF of the Martinmas songs and some of the music. If you'd like it, leave me a comment with an email address. I've just posted the songs.

Anonymous –   – (November 7, 2007 at 1:53 PM)  

I also love the martinmas lanterns !
The "balloon" version are wonderful !

All those glowing lights on martinmas, its a lovely and very special sight!

the darker it gets, the more light we bring. Let the dark days begin !!

Amber Dusick  – (November 7, 2007 at 7:30 PM)  

Wow, love those balloon lanterns! Thanks for the detailed tutorial pics, I'll have to try this out soon.

Jennifer  – (November 8, 2007 at 7:39 AM)  

We too often miss the special days of the church year... I need to find a book which will enlighten me. And then make these lanterns for the holidays - the kids will be so happy for the messy project!

Anonymous –   – (November 8, 2007 at 3:22 PM)  

We are making lanterns for the first time this year. My question - when children carry a lantern by the handle, is the heat from the flame too hot? I see some illustrations depicting lanterns on the end of a stick and am wondering if that would be the safer way.

I am enjoying my first visit to your blog, BTW!

Henitsirk  – (November 11, 2007 at 8:10 PM)  

Hi Maymom...I love making those lanterns with my kids too. Even my 3 yo daughter can do it!

Caitlin  – (November 24, 2007 at 7:19 PM)  

thanks for the instructions! I remembered seeing this kind of lantern made by other classes in the waldorf school, but never made one myself, so was looking for instructions to do so for a martinmas-type walk next week. I can't wait to make a lantern!

About Miss Audrey  – (September 3, 2008 at 8:00 AM)  

please do send me the songs for martinmas that you have on pdf....
thanks for the great lantern ideas.....
a waldorfy homeschool mom of three-

Carol ッ  – (September 14, 2008 at 4:44 PM)  

Love the lanterns! Would love the pdf if you still have it handy. Thanks!

Its_Lily  – (September 22, 2008 at 4:36 PM)  

I love these. Thank you for sharing. I will be making these very soon. I found you through a comment on Salt and Chocolate.

Anonymous –   – (October 24, 2008 at 5:29 PM)  

I would love to have the pdf link! Our newly formed Waldorf group is getting ready to celebrate our first Martinmas. Thank you.

Lisa  – (October 24, 2008 at 9:36 PM)  

We made the balloon lanterns for a community autumn equinox celebration, and are now planning a Martinmas lantern walk for November. Would love the pdf! Thanks, Lisa

Anonymous –   – (November 2, 2008 at 3:30 AM)  

Please could you forward me your pdf - it would be very handy for our waldorf homeschool groups first martinmas.

Wendy  – (November 6, 2008 at 7:58 AM)  

Would you tell me approximately how long before these dried? I'm considering having our first graders in our co-op make them for our lantern walk next week. We would only have 1 day's drying time.


Sarah  – (November 6, 2008 at 11:28 AM)  

If I remember correctly these dried fairly quickly. Kristen at Kleas just made them and I've sent her an email to double-check. I think you could make them the day before as long as you hang them somewhere where they can really dry.

Sarah  – (November 7, 2008 at 6:26 AM)  

Hi Wendy--Here is Kristin's response about the drying time. She's right, just make sure the kids don't go glue-happy!

Hi Sarah! Yes, for the most part they dried overnight...some of the kids got a little glue happy and if there were more than say five or six layers, it took a little longer. Thanks again for all the inspiration!!

jessica  – (December 15, 2008 at 4:32 AM)  

thank you.
my boys are going to freak out about this. so good.

Alyss  – (October 9, 2009 at 1:21 AM)  

What beautiful lanterns! I'm getting ready to make a lantern or two for my front porch.. these might be the winners! :)

Anonymous –   – (October 21, 2009 at 11:11 PM)  

I would love to get the PDF. Thank you for such a wonderful post, we are preparing to celebrate for the first time.

katie  – (November 4, 2009 at 3:57 PM)  

I'd love the pdf for our co-op if still available!

Goodenough Mama  – (November 8, 2009 at 8:57 PM)  

Hi There! I am in Vermont homeschooling the mostly Waldorf way also, with a dd 5 and 3/4s. We are hoping to make these lanterns with friends on Tues. How do I get the PDF?
I am also wondering if I could e-mail you and see if we are near each other. I am in SE VT.
Thanks for sharing so much good information...:)

Goodenough Mama  – (November 8, 2009 at 9:23 PM)  

Mama in VT here again...just read through Lou's story, my goodness. I am so glad she is well now. She was born on my daughter's due date - dd appeared via unplanned C-section on Feb 19th! I'd love to meet you sometime!

Gae  – (November 13, 2009 at 9:25 AM)  

A very lovley craft.
Very creative
Thanks for sharing

Playing by the book  – (November 16, 2009 at 7:33 AM)  

I've linked to this from my balloon post ( - can't wait to do it with my girls - I don't think we'll be waiting till next November!

Mama Meeshell  – (October 27, 2010 at 5:05 PM)  

We would love the PDF. Please send to

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous –   – (November 3, 2010 at 6:43 PM)  

Please send the PDF to It would be very much appreciated.

Thank You!

Carine  – (November 6, 2010 at 8:18 AM)  

I would love this pdf, thanks !

Anonymous –   – (November 8, 2010 at 9:23 AM)  

I would appreciate your pdf very much. Thank you for the wonderful info.

Anonymous –   – (June 18, 2012 at 4:14 AM)  

can you please send me this pdf! Thanks, Anja

Anonymous –   – (September 27, 2012 at 7:46 PM)  

Would love a pdf!
Thanks so much for the balloon lantern post. We are going to try it this year.


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