Spielwelt celebrates Laternenlauf / Lantern Walk 2024

An article from our President, Tobias.

Ich gehe mit meiner Laterne und meine Laterne mit mir“ (I walk with my lantern and my lantern with me). With a bright lantern in their hands, the Spielwelt children sing in Haig Park and continue a centuries-long tradition of lanterns lighting up the depths of winter. For the parents, the event often brings back fond memories of their own childhood: making creative and individual lanterns, learning the songs at home and preschool, and finally dressing up warmly to go out into the cold and dark.

The tradition of Laternelaufen, or lantern walks, dates back to at least the Middle Ages. In some regions, lanterns would be made out of turnips to mark the end of the autumn harvest, similar to Hallowe’en traditions with pumpkins. The tradition became associated with St Martin’s Day, held around the middle of November to celebrate Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier living in Gaul in 316 AD. According to the legend, Martin slit his cape in two, and shared it and his bread with a shivering homeless beggar in the depths of winter.

The Lantern walk therefore celebrates the warmth in our hearts, the light of hope and the importance of helping others when it is cold and dark. In many parts of Germany, the lantern walk is often accompanied by someone dressed as St Martin in his red cape, on a horse, with a bag full of bread that is passed to the children. Spielwelt has honoured this tradition for over a decade in Canberra, albeit in June rather than November!

“Come join us in sharing this beautiful tradition again this year in Haig Park!” says Spielwelt Committee President Tobias Beckmann. The Laternelauf / Lantern walk will be held on 22 June 2024 from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. There will be a lantern contest for the most creative lanterns, as well as singing, food and company.

In the traditional sense of this celebration we would appreciate a plate to share, and to consider our environment when making your lanterns.

The Spielwelt German Parents Association runs a variety of fun and supportive programs to develop German language skills for children and young people aged 0 to 26, as well as build a strong community that celebrates the cultures of German-speaking countries. We welcome children, young people and their families with all levels of German language ability. The programs are centred around the Scout Hall in Haig Park, Turner, and include:

  • Spiel und Spass (Play and Fun), a playgroup for children aged 0-5 and their families that meets 9:30-11:30am every Wednesday.
  • German Australian Playschool (GAP) offers a play-based educational program for children aged 3-5 on Mondays and Tuesdays from 8:30 to 2:30. From 2025 GAP will also operate Thursdays and Fridays.
  • Pfadfinder, a Scout group for children aged 6-26. The Pfadfinder meet on Monday nights (for young people in high school and above) or Tuesday nights (for primary school aged children), between 6-7:30pm.

“We are welcoming enrolments for 2024 and beyond, and cater for children who are fluent speakers and those who are learning German as a second or third language”, says Tobias.

For more information, song booklets, or lantern making instructions and the lantern contest see spielwelt.org.au/events/lantern-walk-june, visit our Facebook group facebook.com/SpielweltGermanKidsCanberra, or email special.events@spielwelt.org.au