Friday, November 09, 2007

St. Martin and the Lantern Walk

November 5, 2008 update: You can find videos with lantern songs right here on A Storytelling of Crows.


St. Martin and the Beggar by El Greco

On the evening of Monday, November 12, Lucia's class will take part in her school's annual Lantern Walk. The children and their parents will gather outside to walk through the woods holding homemade lanterns and singing songs. Afterward, we'll gather around a bonfire, drink warm cider, and listen to a story. The Lantern Walk coincides with the feast of St. Martin of Tours on November 11. According to the most famous story of the saint, Martin was a Roman soldier who was traveling one cold winter night when he saw a begger in the streets. Even though Martin felt frozen to his toes, he was compelled to cut his cloak in two and give one of the halves to the beggar. That night, in a dream, he saw Christ clothed in the piece of the cloak he'd given the beggar. Afterward, Martin was less interested in the business of battle. When Martin finally left the service with an honorable discharge, he founded a number of monastaries and was elected Bishop of Tours in 371. According to the legend, Martin did not want to be elected, and tried to escape by hiding in a barn full of geese. However, the geese gave him away with their honking! Ergo, it's tradition to eat roast goose on St. Martin's feast day. Here's a more in-depth blog entry about St. Martin and his feast day (called Martinmas) from Mama Lisa's World Blog.

Sketch by Tony Dowler

One of the traditional songs to sing on the Lantern Walk is Ich geh mit meiner Lanterner. An English translation:

I go outside with my lantern,
my lantern goes with me.
Above us shine the stars so bright,

down here on earth shine we.
So shine my light in the still dark night,

Labimmel, Labammel, Laboom.
'Neath heaven's dome till we go home,

Labimmel, Labammel, Laboom.

We walk with our little lanterns,

our lanterns so shiny bright.
We wander through the darkness,

with winking, twinkling lights.
Like stars that swing are the lanterns we bring,

Labimmel, Labammel, Laboom.
'Neath heaven's dome till we go home,

Labimmel, Labammel, Laboom.

12 comments:

Sara said...

Oh! I just remembered this one. My daughter learned it when we were stationed in Germany and she was part of a German immersion first-grade class. It's beautiful when they march and sing with the lanterns.

Cloudscome said...

I would love to hear this sung. My dad's birthday is the 12th and he has studied German so I am going to remind him of this.

Phil said...

Geese: honk honk honk HONK!

People: "Thanks to these geese, we were able to find the noble Martin and make him our bishop! Let us celebrate by... eating the geese!"

Geese: Honk honk?!?!

Melangell said...

I can tell you now, "Labimmel, Labammel, Laboom" is awfully hard to erase from the loop playing in your head. The Kindergarteners also erupt with that part of the song at the oddest times.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Sara, Cloudscome, Phil and Melangell: Thank you so much for commenting today.

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks for sharing this story. Now I'll have to see if my husband knows about St. Martin. I like to test him on all his saints knowledge...

The Lantern Walk sounds like fun. Thanks for sharing this one!

Kelly Fineman said...

I'd love to hear the tune, too. It's lovely.

It's traditional in England to eat goose on Michaelmas (Jane Austen research comes up with interesting stuff) - if you eat goose on that day, it means you'll have a profitable year.

TadMack said...

I'll bet somewhere here in Scotland there's a Lantern Walk. Although this city is aggressively Protestant, it's a light festival, and here in the dark, that's the thing to do. Bonfires and cider sound like a plan. It's interesting how it segues with Veteran's Day, a story about a soldier.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Kelly: I just scanned the music for this song! I hope it's of use to people. I would be happy eating goose on Michaelmas, Martinmas, Christmas-- as long as someone else is baking it.

TadMack: That is an astute observation about Martinmas and Veteran's Day. I can only imagine how lovely a lantern festival would be in Scotland, especially if one used turnip lanterns. I want to make a turnip lantern.

Phil said...

But what about the geese?

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Phil: If you cook a goose, I will eat it.

diana said...

I love all of these traditions...the Spanish have a tradition of Posadas (?) which seems really neat to do...

In my dutch/german/polih family we only did St Nick and Christmas. But other families we know celebrate St Lucy's (with a girl of the family dressed in a gown with a crown of candles) serving cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate), King's Day for the Epiphany with a lot of neat things for that...plus some other traditions.

This is a first for hearing about St Martin.