Thursday, November 14, 2013

Martinmas Celebration for 2-5 Year-Olds

Martinmas is a popular festival in our home. I and L both really connect with the story of St. Martin, and both adore reverently carrying their little lights with purpose on a dark night. I was sitting at the computer Monday night, thinking about this, and decided to throw a spontaneous Martinmas celebration and lantern walk. Evites were sent out immediately, and the whole night came together with relatively little preparation.

Monday night we sent the evite, which read:

"We would love your company Wednesday night for an evening in celebration of the little lights in our lives that keep our paths aglow, even in times of darkness.

*Please bring a washed, chopped vegetable to add to our soup pot for dinner, and warm clothing for you and your little ones.

5pm - arrive and add vegetable to soup pot
5pm-5:30pm - lantern making craft
5:30pm - Stone Soup story and St. Martin puppet show
5:40pm - Lantern Walk in the dark!
6 or 6:15ish - Soup and bread dinner, and apple cider

If you would like the words to our lantern song:

"I walk with my little lantern
My lantern goes with me.
Above the stars are shining,
Below, on Earth, shine we.

The Moon, she glows
The cat meows
Hey, hey, hey!
La Poomba La Pumba La Hey!"

Hope to see you there!"

Then the planning began. Tuesday I got everything I needed for the lanterns and food.

For the lanterns, you will need:

enough baby food jars for each child, plus a few extras
pipe cleaners to twist around the mouth of jars, and up into handles
mod podge or other glue
tissue paper in red, orange and yellow
electric tea lights or beeswax tea lights

Wednesday afternoon we set the dining table with a bowl of apples, cucumbers and other snacks

And made some gluten-free muffins with persimmons from our friend's ranch. (The secret here was to get a gluten free muffin mix and add hochiya persimmon pulp and pumpkin pie spices.)

An hour and a half or so before guests were to arrive, I roasted a butternut squash and an acorn nut squash. While they were roasting I filled the crock pot with cider and cinnamon sticks, and set a couple of jars beside it with cinnamon sticks in them for garnish. Then I got out our biggest pot and sautéed garlic and onions in some butter. Then, in went vegetable broth, lots of chopped veggies, and the squash. As guests arrived, each brought a washed, chopped vegetable and added it to our soup:

The children decorated their lanterns at a little table outside, ate muffins, apples and cucumbers, and ran around the yard and house. After everyone - all twelve of them - had made a lantern, I went around and let the children know that we would have a story and puppet show in five minutes. Everyone was enthusiastic and gathered in the living room, which was now dark as I had turned off all the lights. I sat at the story table and lit some candles, told my version of Stone Soup, and then sang a St. Martin puppet show.

Next, it was time for the lantern walk. Each child collected his or her lanterns, and I passed out the lights. They lined up at the back gate and we sang the lantern song while we walked (ok, and sometimes ran) out along the nature path out back in a big loop. The children did so well!

It was so beautiful to see these tiny ones with their little lights, all walking in a long procession in the darkness. Of course the pictures I took from my phone do not do it justice:

The children returned to our home for a bonfire, apple cider with cinnamon sticks, the Stone Soup they had made, and bread.

They loved playing with my husband:

And I think the last guests left at around 7. Short and sweet, and absolutely lovely. Here is Isla's rendition of the event:

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