Martinmas is traditionally held on 11- 11. Each November the younger children have a Lantern Walk to celebrate Martinmas, a festival of inner light in the outer darkness of the approaching winter. St Martin was a soldier in Rome in the 4th century. Legend says that one wintry night he met a poor beggar, half-naked and freezing. Martin removed the heavy military cloak from his shoulders and, drawing his sword, cut it in two, and gave half to the beggar. That night, Christ appeared to Martin in a dream, wrapped in the same piece of cloak Martin had given the beggar, and said: “Martin has covered me with this garment.” Martin became the patron saint of beggars, drunks and outcasts, dedicating his life to assisting pariahs. As we journey into the darkest time of the year, it is increasingly important for each of us to kindle warmth & light within our hearts, which becomes a beacon of light to the world. Martin’s cloak can remind us to share with those in need.
The gently glowing lanterns of Martinmas will give way to the candles of the advent spiral as we draw nearer to the Solstice, showing how our inner light must shine ever brighter against the cold. As nature sleeps, we must be wakeful! Celebrating Martinmas serves as a reminder that each of us has a divine spark that we must ferry out into the world and share with others. The children hear the story of St. Martin, sing songs and, as darkness falls, venture out into the night with their lanterns walking along a path lit with glowing luminaries, carefully carrying their lanterns in a mood of quiet reverence. This symbolic act brings home the deeper truth, in the words of Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism (563-483 B.C.): “There isn’t enough darkness in all the world to snuff out the light of one little candle.”