On Martinmas & Lantern Making


Beneath the leaves that lie about, the seeds and bulbs do sleep

Safe and warm in Mother Earth, through the cold and winters deep

The days grow short, the nights grow long, our lanterns we will make

And through the dark of winters nights, a glowing light we’ll take.

This Sunday our family of five will walk slowly in song with our lanterns lit around a grove of trees after sundown for Martinmas. Together we will walk and sing honoring the new season of darkness with candles flickering and aglow with sentiments of warmth, compassion, togetherness, and hope. St. Martin is a festival the Waldorf community we are a part of celebrates each year, traditionally on or around November 11th, in the last stretch of autumn before winter arrives. It’s a celebration of compassion and light – a festival that connects us to the rhythms of nature as the ties of our community are nourished and strengthened.

Story of St. Martin is one of action and kindness for those in need. He is the patron saint of the marginalized who brought warmth and light to the outcasts who lived with very little, both in terms of belonging and respect. This festival is a way of honoring his life of service and the message of goodness he spread in the world.

The colorful lanterns we’ve made symbolize the warmth in our hearts and the glow represents how we can share that with others. As we draw nearer and nearer to the Solstice, we are invited to draw inward to light our own candles so they may shine outwardly in a dark world that could use some brightening.  We will walk meditatively together (babies too!) holding and sharing our handmade lanterns, each one unique and beautiful, just like each the lights each of us carry within the inner landscape of our souls.

Below is a simple tutorial how you and your little ones can make lanterns of your own. And if you don’t happen to follow Waldorf ways, these make for beautiful and meaningful decorations to have around your home this winter. These are lanterns our family has made over the past three years, and today we’ll be making some more!


You’ll Need: 

  • colorful tissue paper
  • glass jars without labels
  • glue (Elmer’s is good)
  • water
  • paint brushes
  • something to make a handle, such as jute, yarn, or copper wiring
  • glue gun (optional)
  • tea lights

Steps to making a Martinmas lantern:

  1. Dilute the glue by mixing it with equal parts water in a small bowl.
  2. Tear, rip, or cut the tissue paper making shapes or a design. Little ones love this part.
  3. Lay tissue paper on the outside of the glass jar, and paint the diluted glue over it. It should stick immediately, but be mindful that dark colors will run!
  4. Once the entire jar is covered with tissue paper, set aside to dry overnight. Once dried, use yarn, wire, or jute string to make a handle on the top of the jar under the lip where the lid goes. You can secure it with a glue gun, or not.
  5. Pop a tea light in, and you’re set.


Do you and your family take part in any Waldorf festivals throughout the year? Which ones are your favorites? Mine is the Spiral of Light, but Martinmas is a close second. xx Amanda


  • Lisa - Thank you so much for posting this! I’m having a little potluck for my colleagues tomorrow evening to build connection as a team. We work together in a community mental health clinic. Wouldn’t this be a fabulous project for us to refresh our spirits for ourselves and our work? Perfect timing!ReplyCancel

    • admin - Lisa, wonderful! They are such a meaningful but simple craft that a wide range of abilities and ages can do. Have fun with your community! xx AmandaReplyCancel

  • heaether Johnson - We attended our first lantern walk this past weekend and it was so lovely! What a beautiful tradition.ReplyCancel

  • Anne-Marie - With a recent shooting here in a Marin County just 3 days ago & another down in southern CA last night I want to light up the sadness in our hearts with warmth and glow and the magic that is within all of us.

    Thank you for this. My family and I will be doing this this weekend. We will continue to glow, no matter what ✨ReplyCancel

  • Chelsey - Thank you for sharing this wonderful tradition. I admit I had never heard of this holiday so it was fun for me to learn along with my kiddos. My three year old and I had a blast!ReplyCancel

  • Mariclare Forsyth - I love that Waldorf celebrates Martinmas! We do because we’re Catholic…so many wonderful feasts connected with the rhythm of the seasons.ReplyCancel

  • Kristina Sklar - We’ve just celebrated this with our school here in Switzerland, and carved lanterns from turnips of all things! The kindergarteners all meet to walk through the village, singing as they go, and we finished at the school with more songs, hot cider and little sausages. It’s beautiful!

    So glad you’re doing it in the US!ReplyCancel

  • Happy Friday: Volume 6 - Baked BreeBaked Bree - […] is a sweet German tradition. We watched the preschool classes walk by our house with their little lanterns. […]ReplyCancel

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