Darkness and Martinmas

I love the time from Michaelmas (9/29) to Candlemas (2/2). But it hasn’t always been that way. Daylight becomes shorter during this time, with darkness greeting us as we head to and from school each day. I use to dread this time of the year. I would wrestle with the inner turmoil of loving winter and detesting darkness. The darkness and the cold made me feel trapped, sluggish, and unmotivated. The only part I enjoyed was after swim practice I would walk outside and my hair would freeze. I would smile and laugh about it. Within minutes of being back inside my hair would return to the wet mess it was.
As our children arrived in our lives my perception of this time of the year began to change. It wasn’t just because our oldest was born during the darkest of winter. Rather, it was because I decided to love the darkness and celebrate it as a time of renewal and reflection. To accept that the darkness could actually snuggle me through the winter to the light of spring.
I decided to bring light – the stars and the sun – inside. Twinkle lights. Candles. Fires in the fireplace. I began to see light all around me, and I began to understand that I may choose to bring and be light as well. Now, as a family we journey towards the deepest darkest days of the year and have steps along the way which help us to know that the light will once again return and to know that we can be and bring light as well. Our family will mark this time of the year with:

  • Michaelmas
  • Halloween
  • Dia De Los Muertos
  • Martinmas
  • Thanksgiving
  • Advent
  • St. Nicholas Day
  • Santa Lucia Day
  • Winter Solstice
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • The 12 days of Christmas
  • New Year’s Day
  • Epiphany
  • Candlemas

Today is Martinmas, the middle point between Michaelmas and Christmas Day. We will reflect on the story of St. Martin, celebrate with our lanterns, and enjoy a Martinmas Spice Cake. As the legend goes, while serving in the army at Amiens, Martin met a poor man at the city gate. The man was half-naked and cold. Martin drew his sword, cut his warm coat in two, and gave one-half to the man. The following night, Christ appeared to Martin, dressed in the piece of coat that Martin had given away. Martin recognized the divine light in the poor man of Amiens and gave it the protection of his coat. Our lanterns give protection to our own little “flame” that began to shine at Michaelmas, so that we may carry it safely through the darkness. It may only be a small and fragile light – but every light brings relief to darkness. (pages 163-164, All Year Round by Ann Druitt).
Light is infused into each of the celebrations we honor at this time of the year. Whether its as candles or lanterns or rings all are designed to help us see our own inner light and how it is powerful enough to drive away darkness. We are reminded that light brings love and the more the world is flooded with light and love the more we are able to conquer darkness where ever we find it. Just imagine the impact if we bring all of our little lights together and shine bright as one.
I strive to learn
To learn to give
To give my heart
To all I see.
I see that I
With heart aflame,
Aflame with Love,
Can light the world!
-verse for ending main lesson written by Rudolf Copple (waldorfpublications.org, blog 14 Dec 2015)
How do you bring light into this time of darkness?