Martinmas Lanterns Four Ways

Martinmas (November 11th) is one of my favorite festivals. It’s an old Christian festival which is still very popular in Germany, France, and of course in Waldorf schools around the world. Our family isn’t Christian but we love this festival because it’s all about shining a light into the darkness.

The sunlight fast is dwindlingMy little lamp needs kindlingLet your light shine brightInto the darkest nightLittle lantern guide me With your precious light

A lantern walk after dark is a very special experience for a young child. This festival is beautiful and powerful whether you gather with community to walk and sing together or just go out in the backyard for a quiet lantern-lit walk with your family.

Lanterns are easy to make with just a few supplies and a tealight candle - here are four ways to make lanterns for Martinmas.

Glass Lanterns

Take an empty glass jar and cover with bits and scraps of colorful tissue paper using paintbrushes dipped in mod podge or white glue mixed half-and-half with water. Use three pipe cleaners to make a handle: Twist two pipe cleaners together to make a long handle and attach them to the third pipe cleaner. Twist the third pipe cleaner below the rim of the jar in a tight circle.

Old-Fashioned Turnip Lanterns

Use a knife to carve out a turnip into a lantern - just like a jack-o-lantern but much smaller and portable!

balloon lanters

balloon lanters

Balloon Lanterns

Blow up balloons and put them in bowls to keep them steady. Use paintbrushes and a mixture of half white glue, half water to stick on many layers of colorful tissue paper. Take your time and add lots of layers, being careful not to leave any thin spots. You can also add pressed leaves or flowers. Let it dry at least overnight and then pop the balloons and slowly pull them out. Use a hole punch to make two holes and fashion a handle from thin wire or pipe cleaners.

Last-Minute Lanterns

If you need to make lanterns quickly or you are making them with a group just before a lantern walk, this works great! It’s also helpful to have these supplies on hand if you’re organizing a lantern walk for a school or community group so siblings or anyone else who shows up without a lantern can participate and feel welcomed.

Take empty glass jars and cut strips of contact paper to the right size to wrap around the jar. Lay the contact paper flat and remove the backing. Stick on flat pieces of tissue paper (ripped or cut into shapes). Leave a few bare spots open so it stays sticky. Wrap the contact paper sticky side in around the glass jar and smooth it on. Make a handle out of pipe cleaners.

Go out and shine your light - Happy Martinmas!