Embrace the Darker Evenings With a Lantern Walk
Now that the clocks have gone back, a Lantern Walk is a lovely way to embrace the darker evenings and remember that the more light will come back again in spring. Whether as a big group of friends in a local park, as a family in your own garden (if you have one,) or even just taking a walk around the block, there is something lovely about bundling up in warm clothes, and taking a tiny light with you to explore your local space in the dark.
Lantern walks are a German tradition know as Laternelaufen, ‘Walking with Lanterns’, which has been brought into popularity in the UK mostly via the Waldorf tradition. They usually happen around 11th November, as part of the celebration of St Martin. However lantern walks can happen any time in early November or whenever you like.
You can read more about Laternelaufen here.
How to set up a Lantern Walk
Make your lantern from things you have around you – My favourite lantern to make with my children uses jam jar and thin wire to make a handle. There are lots of tutorials for how to make your own lanterns here.
If it is appropriate for your family, learn about the Legend of St Martin – You can read more about the Legend of St Martin and his cloak, as well as his life here.
Learning some Lantern Walk songs – There are some lovely, simple Lantern walk songs that your family can learn and share during or before your lantern walk.
There is also a specific song about St Martin, though I couldn’t find the lyrics online.
To add the light to your lantern you can either use an LED or a real tea-light. If you use a real tea light you can light the end of a piece of spaghetti to use as a long match, and light the candle at the bottom of the jar. (I have tried this, and it does work!)
Decided where you will walk – a local park, around your local streets, or within your own garden (if you have one.)
Invite friends to join you – you could get together on one day to make the lanterns, and then another to go for the walk together. (Most home made lanterns will need time to dry before then can be used.)
Consider warm snacks for when you get home – hot chocolate or warm apples juice and cinnamon, gingerbread men, or apple cake. Whatever feels cozy and warming to your family.
Note – If you don’t have the mental space for making lanterns, and have some small battery torches or LED tealights, then you could just concentrate on learning one of the lantern walk songs and walk together with the lights that you have. That would still be lovely and totally in keeping with the spirit of the walk.
Using the lantern walk as a discussion on how your family can help others
The legend of St Martin is one of compassion and sharing, and has the potential to be a great starting point discussing how your family could help others as we move towards the end of the year.
As a non-Christian I like the legend of St Martin because it is about a person’s choice to help someone thing without expecting a reward, rather than doing it because he was told to do so by god. Therefore it feels like a universal story of kindness. (Your mileage might vary.)
You could discuss together how you could help your community over the next few months, or support charities that are important to you. Given it’s proximity, you might plan to do something for this year’s Children in Need, or make a plan to buy things for your local food bank over the winter months.
(On a related note there has been criticism about the Operation Christmas Child Shoebox appeal. This is a scheme that regularly comes up in community groups in the run up to Christmas, so I am sharing this information so that you can make an informed decision which is aligned to your values.)
If you go on a lantern walk, I’d love to hear about it! Either here, or share your instagram posts with me @homeedvoicespodcast.