Today is the festival of Martinmas. It is definitely my favorite of the lesser-known festivals that our family celebrates. It's a Christian festival -- more commonly celebrated today in some European countries, I understand -- that commemorates St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who (dramatically!) sliced his cloak in two to share with a beggar. Later, he dreamt that the beggar was Christ and became a monk.
The festival has also come to be associated with light. It is a time to remind ourselves, as we enter the darkest time of the year, to anticipate the coming of the "light of the world" at Christmas. This element felt very important to me when we celebrated Martinmas two years ago, as I was coming out of severe depression. Since then, I have come to regard Martinmas very highly -- for me, it has really become a time of reflection.
There are many traditions associated with Martinmas, and we have our favorites that we like to incorporate -- and each year, as with all the festivals of the year when our children are small, something new is added, as well.
This morning, my children awoke at dawn to find four gifts beside their beds: an apple, an orange, a piece of chocolate, and and new handknit from Mama. Later, we'll drop off a clothing donation to a charity that supports teen moms. At dinner, we'll have our daily bread in the shape of muffins, which we'll split in two and share with one another to commemorate St. Martin's act of sharing (this idea is new this year, shared by Donna), and after dinner, we'll take our homemade lanterns (shown throughout this post), and walk around our neighborhood by candlelight, singing Martinmas songs.
(That's my knitting in green, and Elisabeth's in pink! We have a new knitter in our house, and I need to devote a couple of posts to it in the upcoming weeks.)
Anyway, yesterday was the busiest day I've spent in a long, long time. I find myself thinking, "One day soon, I'll be having a good day (sickness-wise), and I'll be able to get x, y, or z done." Unfortunately, the elusive "good day" never seems to arrive in time, and then at the last minute, I find myself having to do too much in one day (not wise for someone who feels like throwing up most of the time). At any rate, I had a long list to check off yesterday -- from running to a sweet and generous friend's house to borrow yarn to finish off James's handknit gift, to weaving in a lot of ends and adding finishing touches on Elisabeth's (don't worry, you'll get to see both soon, I promise!), to actually making the lanterns for Martinmas (luckily, we had planned to make the balloon-papier mache version [scroll down on that link] this year which are much quicker than the watercolor ones we've done previously), to picking up the chocolate for this morning's surprise (no, we don't have Halloween chocolate left over -- we didn't have that much Halloween candy!). Anyway, by the time I dropped into bed last night -- all finished -- I was feeling more than slightly crazed, and nauseous. But what a relief to be finished in time to celebrate today!
As long as I'm feeling moderately well over the next few days, I'll get pictures up of the rest of our celebration very soon! ;)