Throughout the school year, City Garden School celebrates festivals to connect us with the cycle of nature, establish a yearly rhythm for the children, and strengthen our community. The Lantern Walk Festival is traditionally celebrated on November 11, between the fiery out breath of Michaelmas and the deep in-breath of the winter holidays. It honors, in a universal way, the story of St. Martin, the patron saint of beggars and outcasts, who was known for his gentleness and his ability to bring warmth and light to those in need.
The Meaning of the Lantern Festival
From France comes the story of St. Martin, who as a young man, passed under an archway of the city of Amiens and discovered a poor beggar huddled there. The man was barely clothed, and shivering with cold. On seeing him, the young Martin took his cape from his own shoulders, tore the garment in half, and covered the poor man to warm him. The following night Martin had a dream in which he saw an angel wearing this same piece of his cape. The experience confirmed in him his devotion to all mankind regardless of their station in life. Martin went on to become the patron saint of beggars and outcasts and was known for his gentleness, his unassuming nature, and his ability to bring warmth and light to those in need.
As we journey into the darkest time of the year, it is increasingly important for each of us to kindle warmth and light in our hearts. Martin’s cloak can remind us to share with those in need. The gently glowing lanterns of the Lantern Walk will give way to the candles of the Winter 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!
During our annual Lantern Walk, children and parents are invited to gather together as the sun sets, carrying handmade lanterns, symbolizing our own individual light.
This is a quiet, meditative celebration. Following the lighting of the lanterns, the children walk with their class, singing lantern songs. They also enjoy fresh bread and hot apple cider. Parents walk with their children and help preserve the mood of the evening by joining in the singing and encouraging the children in reverence and calm.
These are some of the songs that different classes sang during this year’s Lantern Walk:
Days Grow Shorter, Nights Grow Longer
“Days grow shorter, nights grow longer.
Autumn winds are blowing stronger,
But I’ve got a lantern gleaming bright,
To guide my way through darkening night”
“Yo voy con mi farolito, y mi farolito conmigo.
Yo voy con mi farolito, y mi farolito conmigo.
Arriba brillan estrellas, abajo brillamos nosotros.
Arriba brillan estrellas, abajo brillamos nosotros.”
The Latern Festival is such a special way to hold and remember our inner flame and share it with those in need.
This year, we also collected winter gear to donate to refugees in Columbia, Missouri.