Martinmas – Lanterns and Stuffed Goose

It’s bonfire night this week, a tradition going back centuries and widely celebrated with fireworks.

Instead Steiner families in Stroud will be celebrating Martinmas on Saturday with a Lantern Walk. The parenting passageway explains Martinmas;

“This festival is the middle point between Michaelmas and Christmas; the light of Martinmas fortifies our souls for the dark winter [Hence the lanterns] and prepares us for the birth of Christ”.

A Christian feast observed in commemoration of the death and burial of Saint Martin of Tours, celebrated on the 11th of November, Martinmas marks the burial of St Martin of Tours (316-397 AD). It is also one of the four term days in Scotland, fixed on November the 28th.

In this country the 11th of November is better known for being Remembrance Day.

From a website explaining Catholic rituals;

In many countries, including Germany, Martinmas celebrations begin at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of this eleventh day of the eleventh month. Bonfires are built, and children carry lanterns in the streets after dark, singing songs for which they are rewarded with candy. And on a macabre final note, old superstitious folklore (not Catholic teaching, of course) says that if you stand in the back of the church and look out over the congregants on St. Martin’s Day, you can see auras of light around the heads of those who will not be among the living at the next Martinmas.”

A recipe from the German embassy is included in the page for Martinmas; Goose with Apple Stuffing (Martinsgans mit Apfelfüllung).

I suppose the lanterns seem quite fun to parents with small children, an alternative to Halloween and the more English tradition of Bonfire night. Do they realise what they are celebrating?

Never mind the rather unpleasant tenets of the huge global business of anthroposophy they are supporting by taking part in Steiner festivals, as long as the lanterns look pretty, what does it matter if they are giving credence, not to mention their cash, to spiritual science?

Surely people don’t choose a school because of the lantern walks? Tell me it’s not true…



  1. Helen

    The sun is so bright today; walking up the lane this morning I was so distracted I couldn’t see what was in front of me.
    So I can understand why parents don’t notice what a school is really like until it’s too late, when their attention has been diverted by some novelty.

  2. Helen

    Gregoire Perra, former Steiner student and teacher, writing on his blog about “celebrations” such as Martinmas;
    ” I want…to suggest that the word « celebration » is actually a deception. Just as Waldorf teachers call prayers verses, so the term “celebration” is used for public relations purposes. Today, this term is normally used to describe rather a festive gathering or memorial. But to characterize what is happening in these schools more accurately, I think the word « observance » or « ceremony » comes closer to the reality.”

Any thoughts?

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