11 Nov /14
Lantern privat XS


Lantern - Word of the day - EVS Translations
Lantern – Word of the day – EVS Translations

As the days become shorter and the nights become longer, more light is needed and something is required to protect the light against the wind and the rain. Enter the lantern.

Of course the lantern has been around for thousands of years, but the word only came to English via Chaucer in the late 1300s. Troilus (Troilus and Criseyde) grieves for his absent lover and empty dark heart and palace where the lantern is without light.

The lantern provided illumination and even created jobs – “the lantern and candle man”, the “lantern bearer”, “the lantern carrier” and “the lantern maker” are all jobs described around about 1600.

On 11 November, St. Martin’s Day is celebrated in many parts of Europe by children walking down the streets with lanterns. How did this come to be a festival? The story goes that St. Martin was a relatively rich Roman soldier. In the middle of a snowstorm he saw a cold beggar and cut his coat into two halves, giving one to the shivering man. Now comes the tricky part – why is St. Martin connected with a lantern? No one has yet been able to explain to me why. I took a survey among the mothers of our company to see who could come up with the story why their children are running around the streets with lanterns. The best anyone could come up with was this fantastic story from France. St. Martin lost his donkey on a pitch dark night (why was he was riding a donkey on this day when he normally rode a horse remains a mystery). The whole event happened near a town which apparently had a lot of good children. They went searching for the donkey with lanterns. And they soon found the donkey and paraded the poor beast back to the town with their lanterns. The end of the story is even more incredible. St. Martin turned the donkey’s droppings into rolls. This was just what the children wanted to eat.

The festival of St. Martin actually was a fasting session of 40 days, starting as stated on 11 November and finishing some time before Christmas. This fasting period was taken up by the church and called Advent. In Germany, Carnival starts in earnest on 11 November, always on the same date of 11.11. This period of “fasting” broken up by Christmas and celebrations continues until Easter when the next season of fasting begins.

The lantern is connected with the new season and the hope of the beginning of darkness being the start of spring and new dreams.