Celebrating Martinmas



Last week we celebrated Martinmas. As I mentioned in my last post, Martinmas is a continuation of the celebration of Michaelmas, as we continue to carry light with us into the darkest time of year. Martinmas draws inspiration and meaning from the story of St. Martin and the beggar. One very cold November night, Martin – a Roman soldier – was riding home to his city when he encountered a beggar at the city gate. Having nothing else to give the beggar, Martin took off his red wool cloak and sliced it in two with his sword, giving half to the beggar and keeping the other half for his own warmth. Later that night Christ appeared to Martin wearing half of the red wool cloak, and proclaimed that Martin would thereafter be a saint.

Though we don’t celebrate this holiday in the Christian faith, we do celebrate the message of generosity and light that this story exemplifies. Over the last week, I’ve gathered a bag of warm clothes to donate for those who need extra layers this winter. To celebrate the holiday at home, we made a simple dinner of soup and cornbread, and lit candles. In the Waldorf School, Martinmas is usually celebrated with a lantern walk. The children make handmade lanterns of paper, paper maché, or beeswax, and gather at dusk to parade around the neighborhood singing lantern songs together. The lanterns are a way to physically manifest each individuals’ light and spirit of kindness and generosity.

For me, this holiday came at a particularly appropriate moment. The last week has been difficult, and I’ve been filled with uncertainty, fear, and anger. Now more than ever I think it’s important to embrace the things in life that give us joy (listening to podcasts, visiting the art museum, gluten free chocolate chip cookies!) and to try and see the light in one another. I’m not naïve enough to think that this will magically solve all the world’s problems, but in moments of worry and sadness, I’m trying to take care of my own light, and share it with others instead of giving way to fear. This desire for connection and compassion is one of the most human things I can think of, and when, if not now, should we share our humanity with each other? This week, I’m trying to reach out to friends, call them on the phone, write a letter, send a funny picture. I’ve also resolved that as we forge our way through this difficult time I’m not going to be passive or fearful, but instead am going to work on transforming those emotions into determination and action.

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others” – from “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson

Sending love and light to all.


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