Tonight I was invited to the Steiner School, where the kindergarten pupils had been preparing all week for the annual Lantern Festival. I was a little puzzled by the timing, since our Halloween has passed and winter solstice is a month away, but evidently the Lantern Festival commemorates St Martin, and a French story about him giving his cape to a poor man who was cold.
Paper bag lanterns lined the pathway,
and hanging from the trees were pumpkin lanterns. This one was helped by a drill for fancy decorations.
And maybe this one as well.
Each child had painted a piece of heavy paper during the week. The paper was then rolled into a tube, stapled and given a heavy cardboard bottom. Little windows were cut out of the sides and transparent paper glued on, so that the total effect once the candle at the bottom had been lit with a long gas lighter,
was really beautiful. Each child had made their own handle, using finger knitting to make the cord.
We gathered in the kindergarten and heard a story of how a lantern was born. Then each lantern was carefully lit, and flanked by parents/grandparents, each child stepped out into the dark night and walked in procession along paths, up and down steps, and around corners.
A large crescent moon lantern smiled on the procession of smaller lanterns. Overhead, a silver full moon shone upon us all. Mysterious music — guitar and violins — sounded from different locations as we walked (played by a parent and some children).
Finally we gathered around the bonfire, and sang songs while big dishes of roast kumara and other warming food were passed around.
The children were so sweet, totally absorbed in the magic of what they had created. I could feel that universal feeling of being safe in community that comes when we gather around a fire at night. I felt rich in blessings, and like a little child again myself, immersed in the wonder of life.
PS If you’d like to view a beautiful video about a Lantern Festival in England, click here.http://vimeo.com/53616672