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The eleventh of November is the festival of Martinmas. You may not be familiar with this old European celebration from the Middle Ages but as the legend goes, a young soldier named Martin passed under an archway in the French city of Amiens discovering a poor, cold beggar resting there. Martin was moved to take his own cape tearing it in half to cover the poor man in an attempt to warm him. Martin had a dream the following night where he saw Christ wearing this same piece of cape.

This experience inspired Martin to devote the rest of his life to helping all mankind regardless of their station. Saint Martin of Tours is known as the patron saint of beggars, drunkards and outcasts.

On the evening of Martinmas, many European countries celebrate with a festival of lanterns symbolizing the light of love and generosity that illuminates darkness and lack.

I love celebrating all that is good and kind bringing traditions such as Martinmas into family life. It gives parents the opportunity to instill the gentle, caring virtues of love and generosity in their children.

Bring this custom to life by having your own festival of lanterns making it as simple as creating handles for paper cups, placing battery-operated candles inside or tying a wire around a mason jar with a candle and attaching to a stick. Turn the lights out and march around the kitchen table or bundle up and parade outside in the late evening. As a family, gather together outgrown clothing in good condition, wash and donate to a charitable community organization.

Be inspired by the goodness of the lessons this festival of lanterns represents and incorporate it into an annual family celebration.

Janet Nicole Meyer

Janet Nicole Meyer

The founder and author of Golden Days at Home preschool curriculum savors all opportunities to play and travel with her now grown children. She and her husband hike, bike and enjoy living on a stream in Boulder, Colorado with their elderly English Mastiff, Roxy.

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