One of the things that I like about Waldorf education is its seasonal focus; the emphasis on traditional festivals throughout the year and the way that the natural world is part of this. Some of the festivals seem so far removed from our modern, far-too-fast-paced lives, but I believe that celebrating them and letting them resonate for us today helps to ground us, and to understand where we are coming from and where we are going.
I found myself being especially drawn to Martinmas (Nov. 11) this year. For our ancestors, this time of the year, falling almost exactly between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice (or the natural "new beginnings" of autumn and the quiet and peace of winter right at Christmas), was an important time to remember that the light would yet return. Because I have been struggling with my own "inner darkness" this year, holding onto the belief that there is light, and it will come back to me, has become very important indeed.
Of course, I don't go into my struggles with inner darkness, etc., with my children. For my four-year-old, this was a fun craft project and a charming holiday celebration which involved getting to go on a walk after dark and receiving a gift. (Inspired by an idea in Festivals, Family, and Food, we have a tradition of setting out a little tray for her which has an apple, an orange, a new warm woolen item of clothing [this year, a pair of cozy wool socks], and a little piece of chocolate for her to find on the morning of Martinmas -- it's always so thrilling!)
So, here we are in the process of making the lanterns. It took four work sessions over the course of one week.
Oiling the paintings (we used cheap cooking oil):
(Elisabeth did not want to be in this picture)
All lit up (behind them you can see the remnant of our Michaelmas candle):