Benjamin’s school hosted a “lantern evening” tonight. Other than assuming that lanterns would somehow be involved, we really didn’t know what to expect. I suspected there was going to be a performance of some kind, because Benjamin had been talking about “practicing his song” at school this week. Excited about B’s first school “concert”, we went to the school this evening and assembled in the garden to see what would happen next.
The teachers had made paper lanterns for each child (complete with real, actual candles!) and each of the kids had helped to make his or her own costume. They all lined up and then got arranged in a circle, and began to sing. There were three songs, none of which I understood, but each of the kids had a part to play in the performance, which mainly involed the kids taking turns walking around in a circle and the teachers doing most of the singing.
It was great. Benjamin was a cat (the cutest cat EVER, for the record) and was part of the first group to perform in the first song. He did great during “his” song, but when the props came out for the second song, he burst into tears and cried for me, so I ran around the circle to hold him for the last two songs. (Turns out, in the dark, he hadn’t been able to see me and was “worried about me”.) Liam wanted nothing to do with the singing and spent the entire performance toddling around the playground with Dan in tow (on the plus side, as long as he was wandering, he was relatively quiet).
I’m so proud of my little guy. I know it’s a “mom thing” to be proud of our kids, whatever the situation, and there’s definitely that aspect to what I’m feeling, but I’m also truly impressed by him. I know plenty of adults who would balk at participating in a performance where the entire show (and much of the direction) was in a foreign language. Until relatively recently, he wasn’t too thrilled about school at all, so to see him out there, participating in his class activity, and enjoying it (at least the first part) was really amazing.
After the show, the kids all got to run around the garden in the dark and play, which was a lot of fun for them — Benjamin particularly seemed to enjoy getting to show us all around his school play yard.
(This evening also brought back very fond memories, for me, of a tradition called Lantern Bearing which we celebrated at Sweet Briar.)
Apparently, these “lantern evenings” happen in schools all around Vienna, across Austria and throughout Europe. It’s part of the celebration of the Feast of St. Martin (who I had never heard of, apart from the island) which is seen as the first part of the Christmas season, the beginning of a 40 day period of fasting or an excuse to drink wine and eat goose, depending on your view.
Benjamin did great, and we all had a great time. This was another very Austrian experience, in that we don’t (to my knowledge, anyway) particularly celebrate St. Martin’s Day at home, and at the same time, really universal — my pride in watching B, his excitement, and even his tears, are the stuff of preschool performances, wherever they happen.