Friday, 11 November 2011

Laterne, laterne, or the one where Stevie buys us a house-pony

Like he cares how many trees I cut out...

It's Laterne Fest time again. Seems like hardly any time at all since I was last coated with a fine layer of PVA and glitter, but here we are again. Last year it was all a bit of a mystery to me. I had no idea who St. Martin was or what exactly the celebration was meant to entail. All I knew was that I was told to make two lanterns out of cardboard and tissue paper and anything else that I could find that was highly flammable, insert two burning tealights, and set my children loose, swinging them and whacking each other until every last hair on their heads and eyebrow was burnt off. Fortunately, I had just misunderstood, and what I was actually being asked to buy was a 'Leuchtstaebchen' - which is a tiny light bulb on a stick powered by batteries and often with some kind of flashing mechanism. (Also doubles as a weapon/switch in the hands of a toddler, so you'll be able to coordinate your body glitter with the bruises across your knees and thighs).

Of course if you are embracing integration into German life with gusto, you can buy a 'traditional' kit and with a "Viel Spass!" to your toddling 2 year old flame-swinger, cast aside all your UK/USA Health & Safety ingrained paranoia. The irony of course is that your decidedly-non-German child will expose you as the hapless foreigner as they wander around setting light to all the other kids lanterns as they bash them together. So I would probably recommend spending an extra Euro or two and getting one with a bulb.

As regard the lantern itself, well you have 3 choices. You can buy one ready-made (most tend to look like paper ball-type lightshades with pictures printed on them); you can join all the mummies at Kita and make on on the day of your Kita's Laternefest (I have heard that it is normally a far more civilised affair at other Kita's, but it's a real 'elbow-sharpening' event at ours where there can be nearly 100 parents squeezed into a small room at a time all desperately snatching the nicest bits of paper); or you can make one in the relative peace and calm with or without child input.

In actual fact my greatest concern last year was not that there was a possibility of my children inadvertently setting the Kita alight, but that I didn't know what the 'theme' was meant to be. I assumed that all the lanterns should be decorated with let's say pumpkins or something representing the occasion, but it's a freestyle decorating event. Last year I made both Orla & Hamish's lanterns though they chose the materials. Hamish went for some lovely translucent flame printed paper that I thought would be hideous, but actually worked quite well. They also chose sparkly coloured card which I used to cut out the letters of their names - as I was clueless on the theme thing I decided to go 'neutral' in case ballerinas and tigers were a real no-no.

This year my work is greatly reduced as Orla is making her lantern at school. Hamish is interested in making a lantern as far as choosing the materials and giving the odd bit of art direction goes. He chose a black lantern frame with blue translucent paper, and green holographic sticky-backed paper. I was worried by my eh... creative limitations with the black on blue thing (I considered 'bruises' as a theme), but I decided on making it a dark sky with a green holographic forest and I am adding some foxes and a moon. Hamish heartily approves. Phew. I've started on it, but I have until next week to get it finished and I am bored of cutting out trees already.

Orla's Laternefest is this evening. Sadly, I don't think I can go as I already had plans for tonight. So Stevie will get to do his first Laternefest with Orla & Hamish. I was looking forward to it as well, especially after I did a double-take on the school newsletter which says "If the weather is kind the event will be held outside. There will be sausages and hot chocolate available after our lantern-lit walk through the woods. In order to cover the cost of the ponies we will have to ask for donations on the night.". Do you think we get one to keep? Or will we be eating horsey-sausages???

Info on St Martin (
Idee Laterne supplies (
Songwords to 'Laterne, Laterne' - lower down they have the full song in both German & English (


  1. Ok, now I really want to go to Kita. Arts & crafts AND pyrotechnics?? Sign me up!

  2. It's more 'arts, crafts & pyromania'!

  3. As ever you really offer a great insight into life as an expat.
    And I am sad to admit hat I was thrilled to see the words to the Lanterne Lanterne song.Why on Earth didn't I think to look it up myself (too busy making lanterns I guess)
    So far we have one parade down (turnips) and only 2 to go.
    I'm off to practice my singing....

    And as a sight aside did you know that a standard fire blanket fits neatly into a normal sized handbag.

  4. Ha, ha, ha, ha!!!! Now I didn't know that! I am woefully behind on Hamish's lantern. It may end up just having the trees on it unless I can get my act together tomorrow. Not only that I totally messed up on something with Orla's Laternefest - we arrived to locked gates, no My little ponies, nothing....I am slightly worried that I may have got the dates wrong. But not too keen on telling Stevie that who cancelled meetings, didn't get his dinner, had two upset children crying in the car on the way home, etc, etc

    (Can't believe I am back to having to comment almost anonymously on my own blog....grrr...Blogger & Internet Explorer just don't mix well.)

  5. Haha, "I considered 'bruises' as a theme." I've already told the Beard that these German holiday things will be his job, me being the clueless foreigner and all.

  6. What do you think they meant with the ponies? We missed you on Friday- let's meet up again sooooon :-)

  7. Ah, but Click Clack, it's so much more fun for everyone else when you turn up and do all the wrong things. Believe me, I've seen German eyes sparkle with delight with my faux pas' and it's a shame not to give them something to go home and talk about!

    Cuppa, I have NO idea. I still don't know what went wrong on Friday (maybe it's this friday - who knows). I have Hamish's today and guess what? His light stick doesn't work and I can't get another one. So I am having to decide between sticking our torch in it, or gluing a tealight inside. I couldn't bring myself to go all the way to IKEA yeasterday just for one of those battery-operated tea lights. But first I guess I should finish the actual lantern, as it still looks like the picture above.


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