I’m looking forward to celebrating Martinmas next month with another campout and soup and bread potluck.
According to French lore, St. Martin was a soldier passing into the city of Amiens, when he passed a shivering beggar. He stopped, took off his own warm woolen cape and slashed it half with his sword and gave one half to the beggar. I love this image – one, it’s more practical to share what you have rather than give it ALL away and I love the complete surrender of material possession to human generosity with the slash – and I love the magnificent gesture of a sweeping sword to give rather than to kill.
From Diana Carey and Judy Large’s book, Festivals, Family, and Food: “Martin went on to become patron saint of beggars, drunkards, and outcasts. He was known for his gentleness, his unassuming nature and his ability to bring warmth and light to those who were previously in darkness.
On the evening of Martinmas [Nov 11] he is remembered in many French households with a festival of lanterns, carrying light throughout the darkened home, singing songs, and sharing a simple cake, perhaps decorated with the symbol of the sun.”
Inspired by my dear friend Darlene’s 20+ year tradition of celebrating Martinmas with a homemade soup and bread potluck, I’ve decided to do the same here in Orange County with my friends.
We’ll start the potluck around 5 pm with a short blessing and explanation of Martinmas. The bread and soup directs our mind to the meals of the poor – but really, we’re taking a moment to be intentionally simple to reflect on our own lives of plenty. And one of my greatest riches lie in the community I’ve found here, who will camp with me in November!
Shortly after dinner is done, we’ll gather to watch a puppet show about the shortening of days, and the idea of making a lantern to carry light through the dark days of winter. This is the puppet show Darlene wrote years ago. I posted it in full last year here.
Then we’ll practice a few songs together from Sing Through the Seasons: “Down with Darkness” and “With a Lantern in the Hand.” When we’ve got the melody worked out, we’ll light our lanterns (we’re making balloon and tissue lanterns) with glowsticks and have a lantern procession through the woods. The kids love this part and so do I.
This celebration has become one of my favorite holidays.
*All photos by Jaimie and Alex.