“There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.”–Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism (563-483 BC)
Each November, Madison Waldorf School celebrates a version of Martinmas as a reminder that each of us has a divine spark and inner light that we must ferry out into the world and share with others. This festival is held after dusk, when our lantern light breaks through the outer darkness of approaching winter. It marks the end of harvest and the beginning of winter.
Martinmas originates from St. Martin of Tours (Latin: Sanctus Martinus Turonensis; 316 – 8 November 397), who started out as a Roman soldier. He was baptized as an adult and became a monk. It is understood that he was a kind man who led a quiet and simple life. The most famous legend of his life is that he once cut his cloak in half to share with a beggar during a snowstorm, to save the beggar from dying from the cold. St. Martin is known as a friend of the children and patron of the poor.
In Preparation for this annual tradition, children make their own lanterns in class and learn lantern songs. On the actual day, grades 1+2 perform a short play of St. Martin and a german recitation. As darkness falls, we will quietly walk along a path, carefully carrying our lanterns in a mood of quiet reverence. Afterwards we come back together and break bread before going home.