Sunday, 16 November 2014

Fall Lanterns - This little light of mine

A few days ago, on the 11th of November, people in different countries were celebrating St. Martins Day. This festive day remembers one of the most famous Christian Saints, the bishop Martin of Tours, who lived in the 4th century, who is a patron for the children and the poor.

He dedicated his life to Christianity, first by living as a monk and later on by serving as a bishop. He continued to live a very simple and humble life which inspired many people of his time. 

The legend says that while he was in service for the roman military but already believing in Christianity, he helped a beggar during a snowstorm by sharing his only belonging, his coat. He took his sword and cut the coat in half and gave one half to the poor man. Later in the night he dreamt of Jesus, who revealed that the beggar was actually himself.

 This festive day of St. Martin became the marked beginning of harvesting. People also started to do a fasting period after St. Martins Day which later was later shortened and which was named Advent by the church.

St. Martin doesn’t seem to be a festive day here in the UK, but I remember celebrating it when I grew up in Germany. As kids, we used to go with paper lanterns through the streets at night and singing songs about St. Martin. I loved to carry that little light though the darkness and to see so many others crafted lanterns from my friends. The air was getting colder and you could see your own breath creating a in a little white cloud when exhaling. 

In nursery school we would build a lantern as followed:
-          Round cardboard box from the supermarket (normally for camembert cheese)
-          A 4 transparent paper to decorate
-          Metal wire
-          80 cm long wooden stick with a little hook on one end

We would then decorate the transparent paper in different ways.

-          Paint on leaves and use them as stencils to print onto the transparent paper
-          Paint onto the transparent paper with crayons and melt the wax with an iron
-          Cut out shreds of different coloured tissue paper to glue onto the transparent paper.

We would glue both ends of the transparent paper together, which would create a cylinder shape.  Then we would glue the round cardboard lids onto both ends of the cylinder to make a bottom and a top for the Lantern. Obviously we would have to cut out a circle of the top so that the candle doesn’t burn through the cardboard. Then you would bend the wire, and fix both ends onto the lid of the lantern. Finally you have to hang the lantern via the wire onto a little hook fixed to the wooden stick.

 My lanterns are made slightly different. I bought a transparent hard plastic sheet from paper chase (roughly £2). I cut it into shape (80 cm long, 20 cm high) and decorated it with coloured transparent paper. From my experience it’s not as easy to get here in the UK, so a good alternative is coloured tissue paper, which you can get in any craft shop.

It’s not yet Advent, so I prefer having a little fall lantern in the living room that creates a cosy atmosphere. Steven discovered a 3 hour video of a burning fireplace on YouTube which we like to watch on our Xbox. Hopefully we will be able to have a real fireplace one day. But what is better on those long dark nights then having burning candles and a fireplace in the living room. 

What do you do to decorate your home to make it cosy in those dark days leading up to Christmas? Please share :) 

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