Thursday, November 10, 2011

Martinmas Celebration

Martinmas is the feast day for St. Martin of Tours. St. Martin was born a Roman citizen in 316 A.D. He was raised in a pagan household yet began to attend a Christian church at the age of 10 and was baptized at the age of 18. At the age of 15, as the son of a veteran officer, he was required to join the cavalry. Yet, even as a Roman soldier he was committed to living out his Christian faith. Legend has it that "on a cold day, Martin met a poor man, almost naked, trembling, and begging from passersby. Martin had nothing but weapons and clothes. He drew his sword, cut his cloak into two pieces, and gave one to the beggar. That night in his sleep Martin saw Christ dressed in the half of the garment he had given away, and heard Him say: "Martin, still a catechumen, has covered me with his garment." (Excerpt from Picture Book of Saints). I present St. Martin to my children as an illustration of charity and being God's light in a dark world. Interestingly, traditional activities related to Martinmas include making lanterns and going on a lantern walk, which, particularly during this time of year with its shortened days, seems to symbolize taking God's light out into a world that is increasing in darkness, and planning and participating in a charitable activity. It, also, is a good opportunity to begin preparing our hearts for Christmas, the celebration of the true light entering this world.
St Martin's feast day is on November 11, we chose to celebrate Martinmas a little early.
The evening before, I set out our lanterns, those made this year and those made in years past, the picture book of Saints, a coloring sheet
and the elements needed for our charitable project so that we could get right to work in the morning.
By the light of the lanterns we read the biographical information regarding St. Martin and colored the sheet to add to the history notebooks.
We then assembled festive packages of hot chocolate and cake or cookie mix with a tag saying, "From Our Home to Yours. Merry Christmas!"
We serve at a community food pantry and will give these to each family that comes to the pantry just before Christmas.
In the evening, we roasted hot dogs and sausages over a campfire,

went on a lantern walk,

and then came home to hot apple cider (or hot chocolate for the one who doesn't drink cider) and a sweet treat,

all enjoyed by lantern light!
Happy Martinmas!
And don't forget to let your light shine!

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