To lighten our inner selves: The Lantern Festivities

“I go with my bright little lantern

My lantern is going with me

In heaven stars are shinning

On earth shines my lantern for me.´´

Song from “The girl of the lantern´´ play

On November 11th, several communities celebrate Saint Martin. His history lightens the good all of us have inside.

Born at the beginning of the fourth century, in which is now Hungary, grew up in northern Italy. Martin was the son of a Roman army officer and a pagan woman. After serving the emperor cavalry, he established a monastic foundation and was acclaimed bishop of Tours. [1]

Besides the vast number of miracles attributed to Saint Martin of Tours and his life of humbleness, there is a legend that sparkles the light of this festivity.

Legend of Saint Martin´s cloak (The whole story was taken from reference [2])

The Charity of St. Martin, by Jean Fouquet . Retrieved from:

“Accordingly, at a certain period, when he had nothing except his arms and his simple military dress, in the middle of winter, a winter which had shown itself more severe than ordinary, so that the extreme cold was proving fatal to many, he happened to meet at the gate of the city of Amiens a poor man destitute of clothing. He was entreating those that passed by to have compassion upon him, but all passed the wretched man without notice, when Martin, that man full of God, recognized that a being to whom others showed no pity was, in that respect, left to him.

Yet, what should he do? He had nothing except the cloak in which he was clad, for he had already parted with the rest of his garments for similar purposes. Taking, therefore, his sword with which he was girt, he divided his cloak into two equal parts, and gave one part to the poor man, while he again clothed himself with the remainder. Upon this, some of the by-standers laughed, because he was now an unsightly object, and stood out as but partly dressed. Many, however, who were of sounder understanding, groaned deeply because they themselves had done nothing similar. They especially felt this, because, being possessed of more than Martin, they could have clothed the poor man without reducing themselves to nakedness.

In the following night, when Martin had resigned himself to sleep, he had a vision of Christ arrayed in that part of his cloak with which he had clothed the poor man. He contemplated the Lord with the greatest attention and was told to own as his the robe which he had given. Ere long, he heard Jesus saying with a clear voice to the multitude of angels standing round — “Martin, who is still but a catechumen, clothed me with this robe.” The Lord, truly mindful of his own words (who had said when on earth — “Inasmuch] as ye have done these things to one of the least of these, ye have done them unto me”), declared that he himself had been clothed in that poor man; and to confirm the testimony he bore to so good a deed, he condescended to show him himself in that very dress which the poor man had received.

After this vision the sainted man was not puffed up with human glory, but, acknowledging the goodness of God in what had been done, and being now of the age of twenty years, he hastened to receive baptism. He did not, however, all at once, retire from military service, yielding to the entreaties of his tribune, whom he admitted being his familiar tent-companion. For the tribune promised that after the period of his office had expired, he too would retire from the world.

Martin kept back by the expectation of this event, continued, although but in name, to act the part of a soldier, for nearly two years after he had received baptism.´´

But why there is this celebration in Waldorf Schools?

Multiplying the light. Lakeside School 2019 Lantern walk.

“My light shines bright all through the night Ba bim ba la bim ba la bim.

My light grows deep as we go in ba bim ba la bim ba la bim.´´

Song from “The girl of the lantern´´ play

There are a handful of traditions since middle ages on St. Martin’s Day. In Flanders, parts of the Netherlands, and the Catholic areas of Germany and Austria still participate in paper lantern processions. A man in a horse representing the Saint, songs about him and lanterns chanted when the sun is already set on November 11th.

And Waldorf schools bring to this celebration a deeper meaning. 

In the Northern hemisphere, the Autumn is intensely undressing the trees and welcoming the cold. You may find schools that represent the legend told above in verse and music. The goodness and this kind of act reverberate in the children´s and the adults´ hearts. After the presentation, lanterns are lit, and a procession with the community in the schoolyard or in neighbourhood streets is made. Candles´ flickering fire and melodies about the inner light in all of us enlighten the paths and the present souls.

As well in the Southern hemisphere, this celebration happens in the Autumn, which means May or June. As Saint Martin´s festivity occurs in the South in Springtime, an adaptation was made. In some schools celebrated with Saint John´s festivities, in others as a singular festival. Still, in both cases, the light in the lanterns warms up hearts while “The girl of the lantern´´ story is performed by parents or older students. 

The girl of the Lantern

The story of “The girl of the lantern´´ drawn in a lantern.

As Saint Martin´s, this story encourages us to do what is right. This girl, whose lantern was extinguished by the wind, tries to find help to gain her light back, but no animals or humans were willing to support her. Then the stars show her the way, and the Sun relumes her candle. Even after her long journey, she shares her fire with the ones who denied help to her. The light of compassion and love is reinflamed after this staging.

Shining our lights

Lanterns shining waiting for the walk. Lakeside School 2019 Lantern walk.

The cold air softly strolling among coats and hats, the candles inside handmade lanterns waiting for their big moment, hearts avid for inspiration among a busy routine: the atmosphere is magical. One by one, the lanterns gain hot orange colours with the help of teachers who go with their long candles multiplying the fire. Families walk and sing some well-known melodies in a respectful and hearty ritual that leads all to look inside and increase the flame of hope and love that gleams in our hearts.

The expectations, the music, and the silence after the walk echos for days after the celebration. 

And our lanterns still shine brightly into days and nights.

Love and Gratitude,

Juliana Troll Trujillo

IWalComm creator

Lanterns made of paper glimmering in the dark night.

“The sunlight fast is dwindling,

my little lamp need kindling,

the beam shines far in darkest night,

dear lantern guard me with your light.´´

Song “The sunlight fast is dwindling


[1]Saint Martin history: 

[2] Legend of Saint Martin´s cloak

Lakeside School – Kelowna, BC – Canada