St. Martin’s Day, a magical holiday for children

When? On 11 November.


Where? Austria, Germany and many other Catholic countries.


How it is celebrated. The most important symbol of the holiday is a lantern. On St. Martin’s Day people - especially children - move with the glowing lanterns through the park or another appropriate place. They sing special songs and act out the scenes from the story about St. Martin. After that, children are offered children's punch, ginger cakes or baked “Martin’s geese”.


St. Martin’s Day at the Waldorf kindergarten. Barbara Dedenbach from Klagenfurt has been working as a Waldorf teacher for 16 years. She started in Klagenfurt seven years ago, after maternity leave with her daughter, and then continued in Villach, where she founded a new Waldorf kindergarten with other enthusiasts.


“Every year we make the lanterns ourselves and then meet outside at the nature, either on the lawn or in Warmbad forest”, she says. “When children and parents get together, we light the candles in the lanterns. Then we follow to our place with the glowing lanterns and sing, it’s so beautiful! We organize the short games for children: “Martin’s game” or “gnome’s game”. Then the children give out the baked Martin's biscuits and drink warm tea. They are happy. After Martin’s snack we say goodbye to each other with the evening song “Euch allen eine gute Nacht”.


Barbara says that for children it is a very strong and vivid experience. Flashlights look beautiful in the dusk and the children sing songs with their parents in a circle. The cosy atmosphere makes the holiday a very memorable event.


German songs for St. Martin’s Day can be found here. 


Text und photos: Vita Vitrenko