Martinmas Lanterns

by | Nov 11, 2013 | Celebrating the Saints, Crafts, Martinmas, St. Martin of Tours | 11 comments

“But undoubtedly the main festivity on St Martin’s Day especially in France and Germany is that of making paper lanterns and carrying them in procession. Children form groups – either informally or as part of an official organization with a band – and walk through the streets with paper lanterns that they have either made or bought. Shops produce a large variety of lanterns depicting everything from spacemen to Mickey Mouse for the processions. Undoubtedly, it is as much a celebration of the arrival of winter, with its long dark evenings, as of St Martin. There are lantern songs and nonsense rhymes to accompany the processions.” – Joanna Bogle, A Book of Feasts and Seasons
We are getting ready to have friends over once again and will be celebrating the feast of St. Martin of Tours, also known as Martinmas!  Our plans include reading and learning about St. Martin, coloring pictures, decorating lanterns for an evening walk, roasting hotdogs over a bonfire, and enjoying St. Martin cookies and Il-Borża ta’ San Martin (St. Martin bags).

I plan to share with the children that one of the symbols of St. Martin is a “globe of fire” (which isn’t too different from a glowing lantern) and (also inspired by a comment I read written by Jennifer Gregory Miller) that “Because St. Martin was fighting some of the pagan beliefs and gods of Gaul and Rome, one could say that the light of Christ and Christianity that St. Martin was teaching and spreading fills the night, overcoming the darkness of ignorance. Or that the little lanterns each represent our souls, lit up with the grace of Christ, overcoming evil darkness. Not too much of a stretch, because light and dark are constant symbols.”

After Sunday morning Mass, Rose and I spent some time decorating her lantern to use as a sample for all the other children.  We had so much fun together and her lantern turned out lovely!  (You can also find the lanterns the older children decorated when they were younger in the archives.) 
Martinmas Lanterns 

Materials needed:

Tissue paper in various colors
Mod Podge
Sponge brushes or Paint Brush (dedicated for glue)
Jars (I purchased canning jars at the craft store, but any clear glass jar would work fine)
Light Floral Wire (similar to this)
Decorative Garland (optional)


Cut tissue into strips, squares, circles or whatever shapes you prefer.

Cover the jar with a thin layer of Mod Podge.

Apply the tissue to the jar, covering each piece with additional Mod Podge.

Continue applying tissue and more Mod Podge until the whole jar has been covered.


Let it dry (this can take up to 24 hours so allow plenty of time – we placed ours next to the wood stove to speed up the process).

Wrap the rim of the jar with some wire, forming a handle, and tighten.  Add star garland if desired.

Tip: Drip some wax from a burning candle to the bottom center of the jar, before placing your tea-light or votive candle inside, to hold the candle in place.

Note: You can also create lanterns with balloons! Just blow them up first and set them in a bowl to stabilize while decorating. After the glue has dried, pop the balloon and cut out an opening in which to place the candle. Punch a hole on each side and gently thread the wire through to make a handle.

Oh, and be sure to find a good stick to hang the lantern on for the Martimas Lantern Walk!

Happy Martinmas! 


  1. 9peasMom

    She is so proud, and so adorable! Thank you for the tutorial, we've not made the lanterns before but plan to this year!

  2. Jessica

    I love this! Thanks for posting Jessica. My son was St. Martin for All Saints Day, and let me know last night that today was his feast day…Perfect for a last minute project! 🙂

  3. Eliana

    A pretty lantern that is easy to make! And Rose is doll! 🙂 Thank you for the lovely Martinmas ideas!

  4. Erin

    Oh my, we are on the same wavelength… this is exactly how I am planning to make lanterns next week with my Little Flowers group! I was planning to use watered down Elmer's glue instead of Mod Podge. We aren't really doing it for St. Martin's feast since it will be over a week from now when we make them, but it ties in for the month, at least! My idea was to make them for the virtue "love of God" since Christ is the light of the world and we should let our love for him shine/burn brightly in the darkness! We are going to have a bonfire cookout after our meeting and will light their lanterns!

    Great tip on using melted wax to keep the tealight candles in place at the bottom of the jars… thanks!!

  5. Jessica Gordon

    You're welcome! I loved seeing your lanterns on Instagram! 🙂

  6. Jessica Gordon

    Thanks, Jessica! Yes they really are a great last minute project!

  7. Jessica Gordon

    Love all your plans – perfect for "Love of God!"

  8. Anonymous

    I just have one question. Honestly, how do you do all that you do? I'm an organized person but couldn't possibly do all that you do with the chores, school, etc. Maybe you could give me a couple of pointers please. Everything you do is always so beautiful and perfect. Help:)

  9. Mylo

    I have he same questions as anonymous above. I was actually thinking right before I read their comment that I may have to stop reading this blog because it makes me feel so inadequate. I'm a Catholic homeschooling mom that can barely keep up with laundry let alone celebrate nearly every Saints' feast day with special food and a craft. I suppose my children know the Hail Mary. I'll have to be content with that for now.

  10. Jessica Gordon

    If it makes you feel any better, my dryer (and a number of other things) broke last week due to a power surge and we have clothing piling up and hang drying all over the house (shower rods, door jams, near the fire place, and anywhere else I can find) as I try to keep up with the necessities while we wait for the repair man to fit us in… Combined with our daughter having a bad poison oak outbreak all over her face/necks/arms, it's been a really hard week around here…

    In the past I have joked with a friend that sometimes I will look through my archives here and also think "How does she do it?!" 😉

    This year, with two highschoolers, a kindergartner, and three other children in between to home educate (plus an eager pre-schooler!), not to mention hockey season and high school robotics, it's definitely turning into one of the (much!) harder seasons for fitting in the "extras" while trying to maintain my health at the same time. There is so much more I need to keep up with now and I just don't have the same amount of extra time or energy that I had in the past.

    Our family definitely goes through different seasons – sometimes we place more emphasis on doing extra little things to celebrate the saints and seasons, and other times it just isn't possible. Other than pulling out these lanterns (since they are already made) from a couple years ago (and donating the extra winter clothes I've been sorting) I don't have big plans for Martinmas this year. If it's not raining we might light another fire outside before bedtime (we live out of town and have a fire pit) to use up some of the leftover marshmallows from our All Hallows' Eve.

    Focusing on the sacraments and teaching our children to pray is the most important. Celebrating the feasts with food and crafts is fun (and something that I really enjoy), but it is not at all necessary for our salvation.

    The year we made these lanterns and invited friends over to celebrate with us I was "trading" math tutoring for teaching my friends' children about the saints… I was spending extra time on feast day celebrations that year, but I had extra help with math. I blogged a little about that here: (Of course knowing I had them coming encouraged me to do more than I probably would have done otherwise.)

    There are certain feast days that we do try to celebrate every year (Michaelmas, St. Patrick's Day, Santa Lucia Day, etc), espeically those of my children's patron saints. Sometimes it is something very simple (at least it seems simple to me since I've been doing it for so many years – like baking a boxed cake mix in a heart shape pan for the feast of St. Catherine of Alexandria) and other times it will end up being much more elaborate (like for the canonization of St. Therese's parents – something I was very excited to watch and celebrate and only happens once).

    We started these little family traditions very small and one at a time. They have grown over the years along with our family. Incorporating the saints feast days into our family life/meals is something that now comes pretty naturally for me. Please don't feel inadequate if it is something that you just can't do with your own family. I really hope that my visitors here at Shower of Roses can look at my posts as just possibilities and ideas, and not feel like these are things you should be doing with your own families.

    Hang in there and may God bless you and your family!


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Hi! I'm Jessica, a Roman Catholic wife and home educating mother to our nine children. I was home educated myself, along with my eleven younger siblings. I have a special devotion to St. Therese, through whom I have been given much help and many blessings--the beautiful "Shower of Roses" that she has sent my way! Here I will record a few of the blessings I treasure. Please remember that what you see here is just a little glimpse at our lives, so please say a prayer for us, as we continue to strive for holiness.

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